Now that Harmonix is approaching its 20th anniversary, it seems appropriate to spotlight one of the studio’s longest standing members, Ryan Lesser. Ryan has been at the company for just about 16 years, where he’s served most of his time as Harmonix Art Director. Ryan is currently one of the driving forces behind the new Amplitude reboot as the project’s Creative Lead.
Hometown: Providence, RI
Time at Harmonix: 15+ years
Known for his work on the following: As Art Director, Ryan has had influence in most Harmonix projects. He was even the Art Lead on the original Amplitude.
Background: B.F.A. in Animation and Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Favorite Harmonix game: It is tied between the original Guitar Hero games and Amplitude. “Both games were highly addictive while simple and pure. They were filled with personality and had pretty singular visions.”
Best Amplitude player at Harmonix: Right now, and to my knowledge, I would probably say Roger Hanna (Lead Coder). Many of us are pretty high level, but I think he is numero uno, for the moment. :)
Proudest accomplishment: “I’m happy to have worked here for so long and to have helped create so many things. I’m credited in about 30 games here and that is a big accomplishment in an industry where most people seem to move from job to job (intentionally, or unintentionally). I also believe that our games have made the world a better place. Games developed by Harmonix really bring people together for positive experiences. I’m pretty psyched about that.”
What it’s like working at Harmonix: "It is great! Excellent people, amazing games, caring management... I wouldn't have stuck around for 16 years if it was not amazing.
Go-to karaoke jam: "Rat Salad" by Black Sabbath
Favorite musician or band: "REALLY?! This is one of the hardest questions to answer. Favorite of all time? Current? Jeez. I refuse to answer with just one. Instead, here is a list: Black Sabbath, Melvins, Led Zeppelin, OM, Iron Maiden, ACDC, Slayer, Thee Hydrogen Terrors, High On Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, SLEEP, Heart, and My Bloody Valentine. Those are classics. Recently, I have been digging Blood Ceremony, Big Business, Horseback, Sólstafir, Elder, King Woman, Fever Ray, Wardruna, All Them Witches, and Vǫluspá. For years now I have been maintaining a Spotify playlist so that people can listen to the stuff I am checking out. It is typically filled with 80 percent new-to-me music and 20 percent classic stuff. It is also typically about 80 percent metal so be forewarned. You can subscribe to my playlists here."
Hobbies/side projects: “I ran a successful Kickstarter for my project High Heavens, which is an expandable board game that includes miniatures. Beyond that, I make a lot of art and music outside of Harmonix, which can be seen and heard at my website.”
Tips for breaking into the industry: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Or, keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel. Or, for real, educate yourself and work really hard. Learn as much as you can as often as you can. When you finally do get an opportunity, push yourself and make a huge impression.”
With Amplitude coming out later this summer, what aspect of the game are you most excited about sharing with fans: "That is is coming out again! I love this game so much and am just so psyched to be playing it with everyone again."
Any words for our Amplitude supporters: Well, first of all, thanks! The game is coming out great and is nearing completion. Also, we have some livestreams planned to share progress where you'll be able to chat with us about the game. Stay tuned for that."