English teacher voices character in alum's game

English teacher Adam Howard ’93 is voice acting for his old student, Sam Farmer ’08, on Farmer’s video game, Last Life.

Farmer put the game on Kickstarter April 9 to raise funds to finish development.

“It’s a bit of a different style from most games,” Farmer said.

Farmer plans to make at least two other episodes after this to finish the Trilogy.

“Once I’m done I’d like to stick to this universe, it feels like an extension of me,” Farmer said.

Farmer asked Howard to voice the main character, Parker, and to do the voiceover for the trailer.

Howard met Farmer when he was teaching middle school drama, where he cast Farmer in his production of “Twelfth Night.” Farmer contacted Howard again after graduating to do voiceover work for his iPad app Semi-Auto, and again for his thesis project, Blink, when Howard got to record at the George Lucas sound facilities at USC.

“Voice acting is a lot of fun,” Howard said. “It doesn’t matter how you look, it doesn’t matter how you’re dressed. It’s about you and a microphone, and one can completely transform themselves into whoever they want to be.”

Howard takes voiceover classes in the evenings, and plans to continue seeking other voice acting opportunities after completing the game with Farmer.

In addition to working with Howard, Farmer also works with the rest of his family. His mother, a published writer, helps write the story, his father, a musician, is doing the soundtrack and his brother is helping Farmer design the virtual world.

Last Life takes place on Mars in the colony MarsTopia, as Earth was destroyed 11 years before the game starts.

“I like the big questions [the universe] raises and the ambiguity of the questions — I’m a philosophical guy,” Farmer said. “It asks existential questions like ‘What is it to be human?,’ ‘Are you somebody?,’ ‘Are you still you if your body is made from a 3D printer and your mind is uploaded to a computer?’ ‘What if’ questions lead down all these roads.”

Farmer said Harvard-Westlake helped influence his ideas and creative process.

“I always considered [my time at] H-W important years — they made me what I am, and college gave me the skills I needed,” Farmer said. “Art was really important for the style I got, not just things like lighting and colors, but also learning that what things I really care about. It got me thinking creatively, and working on things I really care about which is important.”

Farmer started in the software industry right after college, when he sold his thesis app to a startup and moved to the San Francisco Bay area. There he started a consulting company to make contacts in the industry.

After developing some of his own apps and developing games for the British Broadcast Corporation based on multiple BBC television series, Farmer decided to go independent and make Last Life.

“I like Point and Click style games, so I was thinking about going indie on my project that I loved and wanted to give attention to, so I just got really hooked on this sci-fi world [in Last Life],” Farmer said.

Last Life has nearly reached its goal of $75,000 on Kickstarter and still has eight days left to raise funds for development.

“[Farmer] has something very special here,” Howard said. “He’s raised an insane amount of money and earned the support of thousands of backers in a very short time. There are a lot of people who are excited about where this thing is going to go. I’m honored to be a part of it.”

 

You must be logged in to post a comment Login