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Media Consumption: Secret Level's Morgan Hastings

Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic food groups of audio, video,...
Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic food groups of audio, video, printed word and games, speaks to Secret Level Environment Artist Morgan Hastings. Hastings has worked as an artist for a variety of companies over the past ten years, contributing assets to Ronin Entertainment's Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon, Big Ape's Justice for Hire, LucasArts' Star Wars: Republic Commando and RTX Red Rock and, most recently, created environments for Secret Level's America's Army for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. He has also given lectures at Chico State covering social interaction within companies and philosophies of environment design. Currently, Hastings is working on an unannounced PSP game for Secret Level. Sounds: "I've been listening to a whole bunch of different music," said Hastings. "I was a classically trained orchestral french horn player from Eastman, so my taste in mysic is pretty diverse." Currently on Hasting's playlist are Gypsy jazz musician Django Reinhardt, rock bands The White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Marin, California-based Chrome Johnson. "They call their style 'Junkabilly,'" he said, "it's like a cross of Johnny Cash, Rockabilly, and Punk. I used to be heavy into angry girl music like Ani, Bikini Kill, Eleni Mandell, and P.J. Harvey, but now I just want everyone to just get along." Moving Pictures: "I used to be a major movie junkie," said Hastings, "particularly of the 40s. I was really into Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Hitchcock, and my favorite woman of all time, Grace Kelly." Hastings has a habit of watching his favorite movies repeatedly, including Blade Runner, To Have and Have Not, and Fight Club, which he describes as "the one movie that liberates a man's psyche through violence." Recently worthy of his repeat-viewings is Sin City. "I love the camp, and the great camera work. It really mimicks the graphic novel genre." On the theater front, Hastings found himself disappointed with Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. "And it wasn't just because my ex was sick in the bathroom for half the movie," he insists. "The movie was just cliche. I have a sliding scale with movies, they can be dumb like Cabin Boy, or brilliant like Delicatessen and I'll like them the same. Almost." Words: Hastings is particular to Dave Eggers' McSweeney's work, particularly A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. "I went through Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking pretty fast," he said. "I used to read tons of books on psychology, but now I'm more into fiction and journalism." Games: "I'm into first person shooters and the occasional RPG, but no online games, I've got way too many projects to devote that much time," said Hastings. "But I was completely addicted to Quake, back in the old days. I sucked so bad, that I became 'Nudge.' I'd run around and never use anything other than the axe, and piss the hell out of people when they'd get all into a big fire fight, and their health was low, and I'd pick 'em off." Hastings also recently played and enjoyed Fable, and says that his favorite game of all time is the early 90s RPG Tunnels and Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan. "There hasn't been a game yet that beats the fun I had with that," he said. [Frank Cifaldi is a Las Vegas-based freelance author whose credits include work for Nintendo Official Magazine UK, Wired, and his own Lost Levels website.]

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