Saturday, May 5, 2012

Interview with Greg Walker of Catching Features

As some of you know, I have been quite sick and unable to train. Instead of telling you how I have not been training, this blog post is an interview with Greg Walker.  He's the creator of the popular orienteering video game Catching Features (and also my boyfriend).

You're probably best known in the orienteering world as the creator of Catching Features but before we talk about that, what is your orienteering background?
My family started orienteering about 20 years ago through boy scouts and we just never stopped! I went to a few JWOCs but once I started college, I focused on wrestling and track and field.  After college, I got into cross country skiing and that led me to ski orienteering.  I have been a member of the US Ski Orienteering team for six years now.
What motivated you to make Catching Features?
I was in college and need a resume!
Did that work out for you?
Yes! The interview for my first job consisted of me playing Catching Features with my boss.  Then we played soccer. I then spent seven years living in LA making video games, which was not really the best move for (ski) orienteering!
How long did it take you make Catching Features?
It took four years, all of college, to make the first version of the game. Then I did another two years of serious work to develop the online features.
Are you really good at Catching Features!
 No, I'm terrible!
Do you have any future development plans for Catching Features?
Yes, but they're super secret!
Did you ever expect Catching Features to become such a highly regarded training tool?
No, not at all.  I originally made it cause I needed an idea for a video game and orienteering was fun.  Then other people seemed to find it useful, which led me to develop the online side of the game, which I never would have done just for fun.  Without that interest, there would never have been the ability for users to create and upload their own maps and courses, which is probably the best part.
What's the neatest thing you've seen someone do with Catching Features?
I saw someone try to disable the monkey once. It didn't work. But people have also made some really great maps, ranging from well-known maps such as WOC terrain to fantastic terrain created from scratch.

What other orienteering tools have you developed?
I'm currently developing an iPad mapping tool called ghettocad.
So have you used it to make maps?
I have quite a few partially complete maps around Truckee and another half done one in Amherst, MA.
Do other people map with ghettocad?
I think so. I've given quite a few people copies but I haven't heard much back.
What do you do if it's raining?
It never rains in Truckee! But if it did, you could just throw the iPad in a map case.
What kind of maps do you think ghettocad is best for? Do you think it will ever replace traditional mapping methods?
It's meant as a complement to Ocad, since ghettocad only does the fieldwork stuff.  It's especially good for making quick maps of small areas like school yards because you can do all the fieldwork and digitizing immediately in the terrain.

If you are interested in Catching Features, you can find a free demo here.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post idea. Super interesting. Thanks Carol! Thanks Greg!