Nathan Fouts Misses His Wife

Games Features Nathan Fouts
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Remember that flannel-wearing loner from high-school algebra class? The one who never paid attention, and who staved off boredom by doodling elaborate comic-art illustrations in his notebooks: Spider-Man hoisting a rocket launcher, flaming skulls with snakes bursting through the eye sockets, mutated lobsters severing the torsos of half-naked women? Sure, that dude might’ve been a slacker, but his imagination was working overtime.

Nathan Fouts’ wildly ambitious indie side-scroller Weapon of Choice feels like that high-school slacker’s notebook jumper-cabled to life in vivid Technicolor. Weapon’s hand-drawn, Contra-on-crack presentation and over-the-top artillery—including a flamethrower that can propel you through the air if you angle it downward—points to a truly feral creativity.

Still, when you’re in charge of programming, animating and drawing every last detail that appears in your game, your creativity must come packaged with superhuman commitment. Case in point: Fouts quit his job at top-tier game studio Insomniac and moved with his wife Amy from sunny Los Angeles to Indiana, where the cost of living was low enough to allow him to work full-time on Weapon of Choice.

“Nobody comes over and says, ‘Hey, what are you doing? I’m paying you. Get up and go do this or that.’ You are going to push yourself harder than anybody else could push you,” Fouts says. Family time, however, is at a premium. “My wife and I set aside Thursdays to hang out together and watch Scrubs or just chill out. Outside of that, unfortunately, I don’t get to spend much time with her. We’ll have dinner, and then I start loading the game and go through the night until about one or two in the morning, and then wake up and work again.”

Fouts’ self-discipline is already being rewarded. Weapon of Choice won third place against stiff competition in Microsoft’s 2008 Dream-Build-Play competition. And now that his action-packed, metal-soundtracked labor of love is finished and available for purchase on Xbox Live’s Community Games channel, it won’t be long before this gifted indie developer’s doodling will consist of his own signature on the back of royalty checks.