Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Dan Marshall

Dan Marshall

Game developer (Size Five Games)

Posted in developer, game, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name's Dan Marshall, and I run Size Five Games. I've been making and releasing indie games since about 2006, back when people baulked at the idea of buying games that didn't come in a box.

I made Ben There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please!, Gun Monkeys, The Swindle and Behold the Kickmen. I'm currently hard at work finishing up my next game Lair of the Clockwork God which is a game about a die-hard old school LucasArts point-and-click fan and a wannabe indie darling platformer teaming up to save the world from all the Apocalypses, which are happening at the same time. So, one character refuses to jump or walk off ledges, but has an inventory and can talk to people, and the other refuses to do anything that isn't just running around standing on switches. You play as both, switching between them to solve puzzles. It's kind of like an old point-and-click for the modern era where no one has time to play point-and-click games anymore.

What hardware do you use?

I run a fairly simple Windows 10 desktop PC. I try to keep hold of graphics cards as long as I can, because I've made the mistake before of developing on the latest hardware and then finding out the framerate is dreadful on everyone else's computer, so I have a GTX 970 which strikes a nice middle ground as being beautifully workable but not so high-end it's a problem. So it's a good PC but not, y'know, the gaming PC I used to maintain years ago that could handle anything you threw at it.

I have two LG ultrawide monitors side-by side, which is really handy because making games tends to require a lot of windows on-screen at the same time.

I also have a Wacom Cintiq Pro 13, which I bought specifically to do the art for Lair of the Clockwork God, and it's been a life saver. I don't know how I ever drew game art with a mouse, or even with a tablet without a monitor. The thing is a godsend, I love it.

I also have a really cool Logitech wireless keyboard with solar panels on it. I'm not a fan of batteries, this thing works really well for me and it's super tactile. I used to have big problems in the winter with it because it wouldn't get enough direct sunlight to survive a day's work, but I shifted my office round a bit and I don't have a problem anymore!

And what software?

I use Unity to make the games, which, I mean, it's not perfect but I don't think I'd be in business today without it - it does a fab job of getting things up and going pretty quickly. I'm not a naturally-clever man, so it's nice to have something doing the heavy lifting of programming for me.

I use Photoshop CS5 a lot for making art - I bought it when I first went indie and it was £1500 and it still runs fine, so I refuse to update it. It works pretty well for my style of pixel art, and it's obviously adaptable nice and easily for making the kind of stuff it's supposed to like logos and what-have-you.

I use Spine for animation - it's a really neat little tool that they've recently updated to have some serious bells and whistles. I'm looking forward to getting this game done so I can upgrade!

I use Audacity for audio, because obviously. It's brilliant, and perfectly easy to get to grips with.

I use HitFilm for editing - I used to use Premiere Elements, because the kind of stuff I edit doesn't really need any heavy work, but Adobe stopped doing 'dip in and out' pricing - I only use it for trailers and stuff, so I'd only need it for a month every couple of years. Anyway, HitFilm is a really nice alternative. Powerful enough to do the job, but not so overly-complicated I need to read manuals every time I'm making something for youTube.

What would be your dream setup?

Hah, I think I'm alright for hardware - I don't have time for gaming much anymore, so this PC serves my needs really well. The one thing I'd love is a dedicated office - I work out of our spare bedroom. I'd really like to build a cabin in the garden, and deck that out with cool toys and stuff to wallow in. Maybe one day.