Jason Anderson (artist)

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Jason D. Anderson
Born 1968/1969 (age 45–46)
Nationality American
Occupation Creative Direction, General and Production Management, Game Development, Game Design, Technical Artist, 3D Artist & Animator
Employer Turtle Rock Studios
Notable work Fallout (video game) series, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Project V13 (unreleased), Wasteland 2 (main story outline), Evolve

Jason D. Anderson, usually credited as Jason Anderson, is a video game developer. He started out as a contract artist for Interplay on the USCF Chess project. He was later hired to work on Fallout for which he became Lead Technical Artist, working on the original game design, interface, and quests. After working on the prototype design for Fallout 2, Anderson left with fellow developers Timothy Cain and Leonard Boyarsky to found Troika Games. After Troika Games collapsed, Anderson left the game industry for a short time to sell real estate.[1]

Interplay reopened in-house development and in 2007 hired Anderson as Creative Director for an unannounced Massively multiplayer online game.[2]

In March 2009, Anderson joined inXile Entertainment as Creative Director.[3] In January 2011, he left inXile to join Turtle Rock Studios.

In March 2012, inXile announced the fan funded development of Wasteland 2 with Anderson as the game's storyline author.[4]


Jason Anderson grew up being the youngest of 10 children. He got into Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) around the age of 10 when his mom bought him the basic D&D set. Already at a young age, he enjoyed using the D&D and Avalon Hill settings to imagine his own adventures set in other universes such as Blade Runner. He learned basic programming on the Apple 2 and created his own dungeon crawling program to simulate dungeons and random encounters from the D&D table top game. After high school he nearly stopped using the computer altogether, focusing on working in construction and getting his degree as Recording engineering from Golden West College in 1992. He later purchased an Amiga with which taught himself to use 3D Studio. He sent a sample of his work to Interplay, which got him started in the computer games industry .[5]

He has mentioned X-Com and Jagged Alliance as being some of his favourite games.[6]


Interplay Entertainment (March 1994 - July 1997)[edit]

Fallout development team. Boyarsky can be seen second from the left (back row) while Cain and Anderson are first and fourth from the left (front row), respectively.

Anderson started his career as a contract computer artist, as he had taught himself to use LightWave 3D.[7] He was working for several clients [8] including Interplay Entertainment[5] where he got his first contract working on USCF Chess and was subsequently offered a full-time position. His first job was 'clean-up artist' on Stonekeep, which was just about to ship.[5] In 1993 he was assigned to the GURPS-related project being developed by Tim Cain; the yet to be named Fallout. Within a short time, he rose to a lead position and became a key member of the Fallout team. His role in making the game started out with supplying Cain with art to test out with the graphics engine he was building. Even though Anderson was hired as an artist, he was allowed to take on several roles in the development process. He attended all design meetings and ultimately designed the way art would be implemented into the Fallout (video game) engine.[5]

The small team size also contributed to the diversity of the tasks. Anderson created a large part of the opening cinematic, modeled and animated around half of the creatures, including female humans and mutants. He also built the interface, created many of the landscape tiles and wall sets. Finally, he did significant design work as well, especially concerning the story and the quests.[5] Anderson’s wife also contributed to the development of the game, creating the death screen and doing several animations (including the two-headed Brahmin and Mr. Handy) and in-game movies shown when the water levels are lowering, the "dipped in the vats/turn you into a mutant movie"[7] and "the exploding mutant vats movie".[7] One of Anderson’s fondest memory from Fallout’s development was coming up with the ending to the game in conjunction with Leonard Boyarsky. They figured it would fit the tone of the game, including the xenophobic nature of the vault dwellers, if the main character would actually be rejected by his former people. Cain was skeptical at first, given its unorthodox nature compared to other RPGs which were usually about empowering the player and becoming a hero. But he eventually gave in to the idea.[5]

Anderson at Interplay tuxedo party during Fallout's development

Fallout shipped in October 1997 and became a commercial success. Therefore, Interplay began the initial design work for the sequel. However, the initial team, notably Cain, Anderson and Boyarsky, felt that many design decisions were being taken without their consent such as who should work on the project.[9] Anderson recalls that they "were unable to come to an agreement with Interplay as to how (the) next team should be structured".[1] Owing to the fact that Fallout had received little attention internally from Interplay during its development gave the designers extensive freedom to craft the game the way they wanted to.[9] However, that began to change already in the final months before it shipped. Cain says that "while Fallout was in production, I was unhappy at how development worked at Interplay. People who didn’t play games, or didn’t even seem to like games, were making decisions about how to market the game, what features it should have, and when it should ship".[9] Consequently, Cain became increasingly discontent with the new working environment at Interplay. Already in July 1997, three months before Fallout would ship, he had decided that he did not want to work on the sequel.[9] Before Thanksgiving that year, he told Feargus Urquhart of his plans of quitting the company, as he was afraid that increased interference from different units of Interplay would hamper his creative freedom of working on the game. Cain ended up working on Fallout 2 for a few more months, and was given the role of lead designer and producer.[10] Boyarsky and Anderson wrote the main story line for the game .[11] However, the problems persisted. According to Cain, marketing and sales took counterproductive decisions pertaining inter alia to game box design without consulting him. His wish to become division manager for the marketing department was met with resistance from Urquhart, who saw this as an infringement on his own authority and responsibilities.[12] Cain recalls that his "role as a producer appeared to consist of arguing with people and trying to defend the game from devolving into a lesser product"[9] Boyarsky and Anderson, who could tell Cain was not happy, told him that they were unwilling to work on a sequel (for Fallout) without him.[9]

Screenshot from Boneyard: JDA did many landscape tiles and wall sets in Fallout

In mid-January 1998, Cain decided to leave Interplay. Anderson and Boyarsky submitted their resignation the day after. Having left Interplay, Cain, Anderson and Boyarsky met the day after to discuss their next moves. None of them had approached any other gaming company to inquire for a job.[9] Originally, they "never planned to make their own company"[9] as "none of them were businessmen"[9] but knew that they "enjoyed working together".[9] In the following weeks they contacted local companies such as Blizzard Entertainment and Virgin Interactive, who were more interested in hiring them to work on ongoing projects, rather than let them work on their own idea.[9] Subsequently, they figured that their game "would only be made if we formed our their own company",[9] so they "switched tactics and began approaching companies for a contract and not for employment".[9] This is when Troika Games was founded.

Troika Games (April 1998 - April 2005)[edit]

Troika Games was incorporated on 1 April 1998 by Tim Cain, Jason Anderson and Leonard Boyarsky, with all three having the title of "Joint CEO".[13] According to Anderson, they "…each had (their) specialty", with "Tim being a talented programmer, Leonard a talented artist and I have a knack for technical things allowing me to develop ways for the programming and art to merge together".[13] The name ‘Troika’ was originally coined by Feargus Urquhart, referring to Cain, Anderson and Boyarsky’s ability to work together and complement each other's skills.[9] Anderson described the workplace at Troika as having a "…casual environment" and working hours, with frequent social activities such as barbeques and trips to the movie theatre.[13] Also, Troika offered competitive remuneration packages including retirement plans.[13]

Founders of Troika Games (left to right); Jason Anderson, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky

Anderson carried out a plethora of tasks at Troika. While doing considerable work on two of the company’s three released titles (Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines), he also handled managerial tasks related to running the company. These included creating design documents for future games, managing projects, interactions with publishers and directing artists.[8]

Arcanum was the first game from Troika Games. The initial design of the game was conceived by Cain, Anderson and Boyarsky after leaving Interplay. While reflecting on what game to make next, they decided that they "really wanted to make a fantasy computer role-playing game".[9] The post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout had been a conscious design-choice to distance themselves from "the Might and Magic series and all of the games based on Dungeons and Dragons".[9] But now they wanted their turn at making an RPG set in a fantasy setting. However, they did not want to make a ‘typical’ fantasy game set in the 14th century, as seems to be the case for most games in the genre. Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura was thus set in the 18th century, imaging what would happen in a world where magic co-existed with the industrial revolution.[14] Indeed, the "desire to mix magic and technology was present from the outset"[9] of their talks. They drafted ideas for how each race in the world would be affected by technology,[9] with Boyarsky stating that "the orcs would be used as the slaves of all the capitalist machinery".[14] Cain remembers that "everything seemed to come together very quickly, and we were pleased with our outline for the game". Cain, Anderson and Boyarsky worked on the initial design of Arcanum by themselves for five months until they landed a contract by with Sierra Entertainment, which let them expand the team to 12 people.[9]

Because Arcanum was made with a modest sized team (later increased to 14 people), Anderson took on a number of different responsibilities.[5] These included art, movies, design, dialogue, scripting, music and sound effects. Added to this came also business-related tasks where he "wrote business plans, managed budgeting, wrote proposals, pitched games to publishers, co-negotiated contracts and created and maintained schedules".[8] The decision to keep the team small "was a decision that would cost us many nights and weekends",[13] remembers Boyarsky. He recalls that the company was in a near constant state of ‘crunch mode’ (working beyond the normal 40 hour work week), and the staff always felt under pressure.[13]

According to Boyarsky, "Troika's original goal had been to just be exclusive to one publisher, kind of their external RPG dev team",[13] he says, "so we wouldn't have to always be scrambling for contracts. At first, Sierra seemed to be that publisher - even when they weren't sure about an Arcanum sequel, they had us working on something else. But then Sierra had its own problems, and that was the end of that.".[13]

Having concluded their dealings with Sierra Entertainment, Troika got a contract from Atari to work on The Temple of Elemental Evil (video game) in 2001. Cain spearheaded that project, which was released in 2003[13] to generally favorable reviews.

Anderson and Boyarsky would focus on a game set in the Vampire: the Masquerade universe. Boyarsky states "we wanted to challenge ourselves move from our comfort zone of making isometric-view role-playing games to try something completely new and challenging."[15] The project began when Boyarsky and Anderson were invited to Seattle to see the latest build of the Source engine.[15] Subsequently, they had discussions with Scott Lynch of Valve Corporation about using Source (game engine) "to create a brand new, groundbreaking first-person RPG".[15] Troika was thus the first external team to be allowed using the Source engine. Activision (who had recently founded a partnership with Valve Corporation ), suggested them to make a game using the Vampire: the Masquerade setting, for which they had the license. Troika "began to diligently research the World of Darkness and the Vampire system and agreed that it would be a great fit".[15]

Anderson being interviewed while at Troika Games

Anderson’s responsibilities on Vampire: Bloodlines included game design, level design and creation, sound effects, and design and implementation of interface and artwork.[8] He considered the game world as "a welcome change"[16] compared to his last two games (Fallout and Arcanum), and was happy that he was "actually going to get to create a game about vampires".[17] However, he was not familiar with the Vampire: the Masquerade table-top games, and had to do some research to understand the setting and "figure out how to bring that experience to a computer game".[17] First, he learned that "Vampire's role-playing seemed to be firmly rooted in character interaction"[17] while "stats, items, and powers took a backseat".[17] Main elements for the players’ experiences were "the intricacies of vampiric society"[17] and the "world itself",[17] which was constantly changing. Second, Anderson had "to reproduce as much of the pen-and-paper experience as possible in a computer game" in order to satisfy fans of the setting and give newcomers an "accurate introduction."[17] Generally, "all of the character attributes from Vampire were easily implemented into the computer game,"[17] but he needed to leave out ‘knowledge of law’, which would not have translated well. Also, dice rolls and randomness were removed as they would not have fit in a first-person setting. Disciplines were the "biggest challenge to implement",[17] as they were too confusing. A deviation from the board game was made to streamline the disciplines into the game. Furthermore, Anderson designed the ‘haunted mansion’ level of the game, which is famous for being "eerily atmospheric, filled with all sorts of scripted events that will keep you on your toes, as well as a fair bit of puzzle-solving".[18] Boyarsky recalls that "several people took turns trying to make that work, but it wasn’t until Jason took it over that it really began to shine".[19]

The development of Bloodlines was challenging for Troika. First, compared to the relative freedom they enjoyed during the development of Arcanum, Vampire’s design choices had more checks and balances as they "had to run everything not only by White Wolf but by the publisher as well".[13] Second, the deteriorating working relationship with Activision and constant deadlines had damaged the morale of the development staff. Cain recalls an embargo being placed on the game. In fact, Troika was not allowed to work on it for several months before the release date, as Activision kept a gold version master until the release date. Any patches and fixes that Troika worked on, where thus not allowed to be included in the game. This also included improvements made to the Source engine such as "advancements in physics, modelling, facial animation"[9] and other features which Bloodlines did not have. The embargo "demoralised the team",[9] as "they had finished a game that couldn’t be shipped, or changed, or talked about". Furthermore, "Activision had become impatient and wanted to game to ship as soon as possible",[9] resulting in many features being cut and forcing the Troika staff to work long hours . Anderson later stated that "it might be better to think of [Bloodlines' development] in terms of non-crunch time. Arcanum had about a year of non-crunch time and Vampire about one or two months".[13] While Bloodlines received favorable reviews and praise from RPG fans, its numerous bug and imperfections were flagrant.[18] Anderson finds that "right or wrong, we just needed more time to test and polish the games, and none of our three publishers were willing to give it to us. Each and every game was pulled out of our hands before we were through with it. In all fairness, I have to say that we were late and over budget, but that still does not justify giving the public an unfinished product".[13] Furthermore, Cain adds that "we never imagined that Activision would ship Vampire on the same day as Half-Life 2". He finds that postponing the day would have "...given us time to polish our game with a stable engine"[9] and would "not have put us in direction competition for consumer dollars during our important first few weeks on store shelves, because we all knew that consumers were going to choose Half-Life 2 over Vampire".[9]

Bloodlines was finally released on 16 November 2004 and has become somewhat of a cult classic among RPGs, which is still being updated to this day.[20] Nevertheless, initial sales figures were weak, failing to ensure financial stability to the company. They continued to present game ideas to publishers, Anderson’s favorite being "Dreadlands, an [MMOG] set in mythical mid 19th century Eastern Europe".[13] They also worked on a game set in a post-apocalyptic setting reminiscent of Fallout, for which an engine demonstration was released .[21] However, Troika was "unable to secure new deals with Activision or other publishers, presumably due to what had then become a track record of great design with poor implementation".[13] Consequently, Troika shut down their business operations in 2005.[13]

Reminiscent on the fate of Troika, Anderson has said that "Publishers aren't interested in games from developers that consistently turn out B titles. Unfortunately, although our games had depth and vision, we were never able to release a game that had been thoroughly tested and rid of bugs. The large quantity of errors in our product automatically rendered them B titles".[13]

Post-Troika hiatus (2004 - 2007)[edit]

After Troika shut down, Anderson took some vacation with his wife and family. They decided that they needed a break from the entertainment industry, in order to spend more time together. 2004 had been a difficult year, with several family issues on top of the demise of Troika.[7] Anderson spent a few months repairing his house, "remodeling the kitchen and baths, removing the sound room"[2] and "replacing the balcony".[2] After selling the house, they settled down in Phoenix, Arizona and got active in the real estate business. His wife acquired her Real Estate License[7] and the couple bought another old house, which Anderson spent around 3 months fixing. Anderson also home-schooled his daughters during this period.[2]

While contemplating his return to the game industry, Anderson had "entertained the idea of working at both studios"[2] of his former Troika partners (Boyarsky and Cain subsequently found jobs at Blizzard Entertainment and Carbine Studios, respectively). However, Anderson did not get along with Boyarsky’s project leader at Blizzard, and never got around to applying at Carbine. Moreover, he reflects on the seven years he spend with Boyarsky and Cain as "closely...related to a marriage",[2] with "a lot of stress with constantly looming milestone deadlines, stressful publisher relations and the constant worry that our project would be canceled or that we wouldn't be able to find a new contract and would have to let all of our employees go (which is ultimately what happened)".[2] He recalls that "when Troika fell apart, we drifted a bit. We still talk and get together for lunch every once in a while, but not as much as we used to. I certainly would like to work with them again someday".[2]

Spending time away from game development also allowed Anderson to reflect on the aspects he liked and did not like about his career as a game designer. Also, he had the opportunity "to look at things with fresh eyes and to actually play games just for the joy of it",[2] regaining the enthusiasm he had upon first entering the game industry.[2]

Interplay Entertainment (October 2007 - February 2009)[edit]

In November 2007, it was announced that Interplay Entertainment had "restarted in-house development and hired...Jason D. Anderson to head their first project".[22] Anderson worked on Project V13 with fellow Fallout creator Chris Taylor.[22] Although it was never officially stated, the project he worked on was believed to be a Fallout-related MMO. Interplay retained the rights for such a title after selling the Fallout rights to Bethesda Softworks. However, Bethesda later disputed this right in a legal case, which further stalled its development. Anderson had been in talks with Hervé Caen (Brian Fargo's successor after Titus Software's acquisition of Interplay Entertainment in 2001) about the project for nearly a year, and felt "it was one of the few projects that could entice (him) to get back into the game industry".[2] Nevertheless, although he enjoyed working on the project, Anderson later decided to leave Interplay to accept an offer from InXile Entertainment who presented him with "a more stable opportunity".[22]

InXile Entertainment (March 2009 - December 2010)[edit]

Anderson was hired as Creative Director at InXile Entertainment.[8] His role was to work on the "design and story material"[23] for Wasteland 2. Before successfully funding the project via Kickstarter, Brian Fargo attempted to generate publisher interest and secure their backing by having "the co-creator of Fallout working with the lead designer of Wasteland (Mike Stackpole) and the guy who helped produce them both all on the heels of a massive success with Fallout 3."[23] Fargo was "quite surprised at how little interest there was". Subsequently, Anderson left the company before Wasteland 2 launched on Kickstarter. However, Fargo has stated that they used a lot of Anderson’s material in the game, as "he was here for a year generating storylines, characters, and filling out the tone of the Wasteland 2 world".[24] The Kickstarter campaign directly mentions Anderson’s work on the storyline, which was retained for the final game.[4]

Turtle Rock Studios (2011 - present)[edit]

Anderson subsequently joined Turtle Rock Studios in 2011. They shipped the successful first-person shooter Evolve in 2015. Anderson’s exact role in that project is unknown, although he is credited as 'level design' on the company’s forum. He has stated that "one of the things I love about the company is that there are no titles, everyone are equals. So I don’t have a title".[25]


Title Year Role
USCF Chess 1993 Artist
Stonekeep 1995 Artist/Designer
Fallout 1997 Lead Technical Artist, original game design
Fallout 2 1998 Main story outline
Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura 2001 Creative principal
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2004 Creative Director
Project V13 2007 Creative Director
Wasteland 2 2014 Main Story Author
Evolve 2015 Unknown

Personal life[edit]

Apart from video games, music is one of Anderson's main hobbies. He has had an ear for music since being a child, and has composed several pieces on his own. He enjoys playing his guitar and prefers heavy, aggressive music such as Quicksand, Tool and Sepultura, which he listened to during the development of Fallout (video game).[5] He has also cited Bleeding Through, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Silent Civilian and Blessthefall as being some of favorite bands. [5] Anderson is married and has 3 children. In his spare time he enjoys swimming and hiking in the woods.[2]


  1. ^ a b Blancato, Joe (26 Dec 2006). "The Rise and Fall of Troika". Escapist. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Thomas Beekers (2 December 2007). "Interplay MMORPG Interview with Jason Anderson". Game Banshee. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  3. ^ Chris Remo (19 March 2009). "Interview: Fallout Co-Creator Jason Anderson Discusses New inXile Post". Gamasutra. Retrieved 23 December 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Wasteland 2 by inXile entertainment — Kickstarter". 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Beekers, Thomas (25 September 2007). "Fallout Developer Profile: Jason D. Anderson". No Mutants Allowed. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Beekers, Thomas (2 December 2007). "Interplay Unannounced MMORPG Interview". Gamebanshee. Gamebanshee. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Beekers, Thomas (2007). "Fallout Developer Profile: Sharon Shellman". No Mutants Allowed. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Anderson, Jason (8 August 2015). LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=18102538&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=s4rc&locale=en_US&srchid=1649270241439218046353&srchindex=2&srchtotal=1504&trk=vsrp_people_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A1649270241439218046353%2CVSRPtargetId%3A18102538%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary%2CVSRPnm%3Atrue%2CauthType%3ANAME_SEARCH. Retrieved 8 August 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Ramsay, Morgan. Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play. Apress; 1 edition (February 8, 2012). pp. 96–106. ISBN 1430233516. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Ramsay, Morgan. Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play. Apress; 1 edition (February 8, 2012). pp. 96–106. ISBN 1430233516. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Bee, Crooked (7 May 2012). "RPG Codex Retrospective Interview: Leonard Boyarsky on Fallout, Interplay and Troika". RPG Codex. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Ramsay, Morgan. Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play. Apress; 1 edition (February 8, 2012). pp. 96–106. ISBN 1430233516. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Blancato, Joe (26 December 2006). "The Rise and Fall of Troika". The Escapist. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Barton, Matt (11 June 2010). "Matt Chat 68: Arcanum and More With Tim Cain". Matt Chat. Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Designer Diary #1". Gamespot. 17 October 2003. Retrieved 15 July 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  16. ^ "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Designer Diary #2". Gamespot. 19 November 2003. Retrieved 15 July 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Designer Diary #2". Gamespot. 19 November 2003. Retrieved 15 July 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  18. ^ a b Ocampo, Jason (17 November 2004). "Bloodlines Review - Gamespot". RPG Codex. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Bee, Crooked (7 May 2012). "RPG Codex Retrospective Interview: Leonard Boyarsky on Fallout, Interplay and Troika". RPG Codex. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  20. ^ Greyson, Nathan (25 April 2014). "Vampire: Bloodlines Achieves True Immortality, Hits Patch 9.0". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Noir82, Film (29 July 2006). "Troika Games Untitled Post-apocalyptic RPG". Escapist. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  22. ^ a b c "Jason Anderson Discusses Next InXile Post=Chris Remo". Game Banshee. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  23. ^ a b "Wasteland Kickstarter Project Interview with Brian Fargo". No Mutants Allowed. 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  24. ^ "RPG Fireside Chat with Brian Fargo and Chris Avellone AMA=2012". Reddit. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "Knights of the Roleplaying Table. Jason Anderson: "People don’t relate to ideas or concepts"". Gamestar.ru. 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 

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