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Coconut Lizard welcomes Jason 'Jax' Whitaker, Senior Programmer to the team!

Jason 'Jax' Whitaker
Jason 'Jax' Whitaker

Please detail a bit of information about your experience/career background?

I started out writing music players for the Commodore 64 back in the 1980s, before then going on to tinker with the Amiga. I ultimately got my first real industry job in the early 1990s writing games in x86 assembly language, before moving into hybrid C/x86 for NBA Jam TE on PC, and eventually C++ on DOS/Windows and PSX-era consoles.

After 15 years in games (including stints at EA, and Disney in Vancouver, Canada), I spent a few years working in non-games engineering, mostly server and cloud-based infrastructure, but I always knew I’d return to game-dev at some point.

Why Coconut Lizard?

Coconut Lizard initially appealed to me because of the proximity, but also because I recognised a few of the current employees whom I’ve worked with in the past and who I respect.

Having interviewed at the studio I instantly felt a great vibe, despite many of the staff still working remotely. The setup and environment felt familiar, and everyone I spoke with was extremely friendly and positive. When I was subsequently offered the role, I had no hesitation in accepting it.

What do you love about games?

I love how games can shape a mood, even the frustrating parts when you finally get the payoff with an “A-ha…” moment.

They’re so varied though. For instance, a quick blast with friends can be great fun, whereas a good single-player game is something else entirely. I’m not a completionist for the most part, and I personally favour the simplicity of older games (probably an age thing!), but I do love the joy that players get from other genres.

What games are you currently playing, and what is your favourite game?

I’m currently playing Asphalt Legends 9, striving to reach “Legend” in multiplayer league (so far I’ve only managed “Platinum”). It’s maybe a little odd, but I tend to prefer making games to playing them, but in the past my favourites have included Unreal Tournament 2004, Battlefield 1942, and Quake 3 Arena. I grew up with PC, so I can hold my own with mouse and keyboard, but I’m abysmal at FPS with a controller!

Any fun facts or hobbies?

Whilst in Vancouver, I shared an elevator with John Delancie (“Q” from Star Trek TNG) and embarrassed my wife by saying “Bridge” when the doors closed. I also got a wink from Angelina Jolie and refused to give a cigarette to Paul Bettany. I also shouted “Alright, Billy!?” to Billy Connolly in a supermarket in Vancouver (he was on tour). We also failed to record Danny Trejo’s “blazing cry” in sessions for Def Jam Vendetta, so I recorded myself and processed the audio to be a bit more butch.

In addition to the above I like sci-fi, electronic music and cats. Oh…and I also support Newcastle United!

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