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Wichita video game developer takes creative passion from Lego to level design

Raymond 0.jpeg
Daniel Caudill
/
KMUW
Jeremy Raymond, a senior level designer for Tripwire Interactive, poses next to a figure of Master Chief from the Halo franchise. Raymond previously worked on online multiplayer stages for the fourth and fifth installments in the game series.

Jeremy Raymond has built levels for well-known titles like Halo and Elder Scrolls, and now works from his home in Wichita.

Wichita native Jeremy Raymond has been passionate about creating for just about as long as he can remember.

“When I was a kid, what kind of got me into building levels in video games, is because I loved Legos,” he said. “I loved building stuff.”

And as a working adult, he’s exchanged those toys for what could be described as virtual Lego blocks – using them to create the foundations for fun and engaging levels in video games.

“We basically use usually gray or white cubes and use them kind of like Legos to build out the world,” he said.

Raymond works from home in Wichita as a senior level designer for Tripwire Interactive. It’s a Georgia-based video game developer known for titles like Killing Floor and Chivalry.

From behind his three monitors, Raymond collaborates with artists and people who play-test his levels to fine-tune them into something that can be published in a finished release.

Raymond’s first love affair with the craft came while creating custom levels for a game called Quake in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

Quake gameplay
Quake
/
id Software
"Quake" was one of Raymond's first online multiplayer video game experiences, particularly the popular "Team Fortress" mod, which would go on to become its own game.

He published his own custom levels online for years before attending a prestigious game design school in Texas, where he earned a two-year specialization in level design.

“Being able to play [Quake] with other people was a big push into, you know, the passion for me because I got to share my work with other people and we got to play together,” Raymond said.

Over the years, Raymond’s career in the $90 billion video game industry has taken him to major cities like Seattle and Atlanta. But the pandemic ultimately brought him back home to Wichita about a year ago.

Employees at Tripwire were quickly given the option to work from home, and he did so in Georgia for about a year.

Raymond 1.jpeg
Daniel Caudill
/
KMUW
Raymond collaborates with artists, play-testers and other designers to create levels for video games.

But when the company offered employees the choice to work from home permanently, Raymond — due to concerns about his health — accepted and decided to return to Kansas.

“And one of the biggest things for me was being able to move back here to my hometown of Wichita and be with family again,” he said.

Raymond’s latest project was developing levels for Tripwire’s Maneater.

It’s a game in which the player controls a bull shark who must evolve and survive in an open world, all while seeking revenge on a fisherman.

Safe to say, the game is not a typical big-market title. And it was a project that pushed Raymond into new creative territory.

Maneater gameplay
Maneater
/
Tripwire Interactive
Players control a bull shark in an open-world environment in Tripwire's "Maneater."

But players appreciated the unique experience of the game, and it’s sold more than 1 million copies.

“Normally I wouldn’t think that I would want to work on something like Maneater,” he said, “but I got in, checked it out and became excited about it.”

Ultimately, Raymond said he can see himself staying at Tripwire for the foreseeable future. And he’s just happy he gets to keep building games.

“That’s what we’re all kind of always hoping to do — is to make that one big game that, you know, sets us for life,” he said.

“However, we would probably continue doing what we’re doing ‘cause we love what we do.”

Daniel Caudill is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. He was a reporter, photographer and digital content manager for The Derby Informer and an editor and reporter for The Sunflower. In the spring of 2020, Daniel helped cover the legislative session in Topeka as an intern for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @CaudillKMUW.