Hi! Could you please tell us who you are and what do you do at MADFINGER Games?
- Hi, I'm Zdenek and I'm one of the programmers in our development team. My job is writing the source code for our games and tools. However, my job is not always just about sitting down and writing code. Often this is preceded by meetings with designers who have some requirements for the game system or the tools they need for the game, and only after coming up with and planning the technical solution do we start implementing it.
How does one become a game programmer? What did you do before?
- I've been into computers and everything around them since I was in elementary school. Of course, it was games that got me into them. We only had one computer and I have two other brothers, so we had to take turns. Even back then I was trying to make some of my first games in Game Maker, trying to figure out what makes them tick. I went to high school and college for computer science with my twin brother. We're both programmers, but we're each in a different field. I chose games. Before Madfinger, I was a front-end developer at a non-gaming company, but I was still attracted to games. After gaining experience, I sent my resume to Madfinger Games and here I am.
How would you describe your normal day at work? What are you mostly working on nowadays?
- Mornings always start with a good cup of coffee and looking at the tickets that are currently scheduled for a given time slot. We have daily short meetings with the team where we talk about what everyone is working on, how it's going and if there's a problem, we try to solve it together. The most fun is of course inventing and prototyping new systems, which there is a lot now on the new project, but we also don't forget about our older projects where we occasionally need to fix, update or add something new. It might seem that the job of a programmer is boring and repetitive, but the opposite is true. Almost always we encounter some new problem and it always needs to be solved in a different way. It can be quite a creative work, especially in the games industry.
What tools do you use most often for your work? Would you say you work in isolation, or do you have to communicate with the rest of the team?
- As a programmer, most of the time I look at the source code. We write and edit it in an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) such as Visual Studio or Rider, which helps a lot with navigating or pointing out any typos or incorrectly written code. I also have a lot of browser tabs opened, most of which are documentation for the engine we're working with and Stack Overflow :) Then, of course, it's the engine itself (Unreal or Unity) where we test what we've written and last but not least, some of the best tools are plain paper and a pencil.
- Communication with the team is very important here, even for programmers, because often multiple of us are working on the same thing and the same code. I personally like working in a team, because everyone can look at a problem a little differently, which opens up a different perspective, so you can use others to solve the problem.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to do the same thing as you?
- It's definitely good to have some experience with programming classic software (desktop, console, web or mobile apps), and to have a small game of your own created in a freely available engine (Unreal, Unity) so you know how it all works. But most of all you need to have the desire and enthusiasm to do it, like in any job. Games are very specific, but they're still software. You have to remember that it's a combination of technical and artistic disciplines within projects that can take years to make. But the end result is worth it and it's great to see the work of the whole team from different areas come to life on screen.
Since you work at a game studio, are you also a gamer? If so, what are your favorite games, both new and old?
- I'm a gamer, but not as much as I used to be. I like to play a game now and then, but after a day of making games, I like to relax with something else. But when I do play games, I tend to go for the stuff that's dear to my heart like Alan Wake, the Bioshock series, or games from Naughty Dog. I'm also very fond of classic point & click adventure games, which were also often created here in the Czech Republic in the past, such as Black Mirror or the Polda series.
And what about your time outside the studio? Any hobbies or other interests?
- I've been running for a few years now and luckily there are enough nice places here in Brno where you can go to clear your head and it doesn't even seem like you're in the city. But right now I'm mostly training Krav Maga, which my colleague got me into and it's absolutely great. Outside of that, I'm also into ballroom dancing (standard and Latin). When I'm not playing sports, I'm working on my own projects or learning new trends from game development and beyond. Of course, when I have some time left, I don't miss a good movie or series.
Thanks for the interview!