Logo: University of Southern California

Undergrads Get Game

How we spend our summer vacation: interning at Sweden's DICE building first person shooter
Eric Mankin
March 27, 2007 —

Electronic warrors: Tom Lewis, left, and Tyler Friddle right in Sweden flanking  DICE lead video designer Roland Smedberg. (click on image to see Northern Strike video segments.)
Two USC Viterbi School students are on the game development fast track. Years from graduation, “Battlefield 2142: Northern Strike,” containing their work hit the shelves last week. It's a “booster pack” continuation of the Battlefield 2142 franchise, “set a few years into the most desperate struggle in the history of mankind,” containing work Tyler Friddle (08) and Tom Lewis (08) did in Sweden as the first design interns the Swedish game company Digital Illusions (DICE) ever had.

As the title package describes, Northern Strike… "drops gamers deep into a desperate conflict for control of Earth's last scraps of inhabitable land following the onset of a cataclysmic new ice age. The Pan-Asian Coalition (PAC) has secretly moved into mainland Europe, using abandoned urban areas to establish new strongholds in a last-ditch push for superiority. The European Union must quickly mobilize north to dislodge PAC forces from a series of urban strongholds and regain the upper hand."

Friddle and Lewis helped give the embattled warriors new vehicles, maps, unlocks, and weapons. “Both of us were on the design team as interns,” said Friddle, “and assisted in the development of the new equipment - Lewis taking lead on a light jeep; Friddle on an armored personnel carrier. An independent game website review pays tribute: “there are also two new vehicles included to add an extra element of strategy to the proceedings. Designed to work as perfect foils to one another on the battlefield, the EU's Goliath is a huge, slow-moving firing platform that can provide cover and health/ammo for nearby infantry, while the PAC's considerably
Hachimoto hoverjeep, much design work by Lewis.
lighter (“Hachimoto”) serves as an invaluable vehicle destroyer that zips around the levels."

Friddle, from Washington, DC, and originally considered attending University of Pennsylvania but “looking further, I saw if I wanted to get into the entertainment industry, I needed to go where the business is.  So I chose USC." He and Lewis. who is from Hong Kong, met in ITP-280, the Introduction to Video Game Production when both were freshmen. The pair put together a game concept as an add-on to 'Half Life 2” called "Falling Off Highway 17," which opened up an underwater aspect to the best seller. Lewis helped in the implementation and Friddle focused on the game-play side of things. 
The two worked on another project, catching the attention of Bing Gordon, a top Electronic Arts executive who maintains close relations with USC game faculty.  Gordon recommended them to Sean Decker, an American working at the Swedish company; who gave them an invitation to Stockholm. Lewis left at the end of the summer, but Friddle stayed on through the fall semester, continuing to work as an assistant producer, while getting co-op engineering credit back at USC.

APC, much design work by Friddle.
Both Lewis and Friddle are continuing a path toward their undergraduate degrees with a focus on the game industry. Lewis looks forward to another summertime internship, maybe even back at DICE, - and after a degree and some experience in the field, "possibly a turn to academics and philosophy later in life.” Friddle is staying at USC for the summer semester. And in five years where does he see himself?

“Designing in the Games Industry”