There is a Programmer in the quiz hot-seat today, as we speak to one of the new members of the Kwalee team, Evan Harris.
What is your first gaming memory?
Probably my earliest gaming memory is loading a game from a tape on my brothers Atari 800xl and carefully leaving the room so we didn’t jolt the tape drive. Those were definitely simpler times! The first games I remember playing were Cosmic Pirate, Rescue on Fractalus and David Darling’s The Last V8.
What made you want to work in the video game industry?
My interest in technology stemmed from an early love of video games. It felt like a logical step to put the skills I developed at University and in my previous work to use in making so something I could feel passionate about and could be proud of. I also feel that working on video games, especially on mobile, offers a far wider range of challenges and opportunities than many other industries.
What did you study at university?
I studied Computer Science at the University of Portsmouth. During my final year I focused heavily on AI and my dissertation was on the application of nature inspired methodologies for complex problem solving. Basically this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant_colony_optimization
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a video game programmer?
The advice I would give to any programmer is to make an effort to develop your skills as you would any craft. Program in your own time, take an interest in the process. Read around different topics, learn new programming languages and frameworks. Basically get interested in programming for the sake of programming. Most importantly: learn from and take ownership of your mistakes.
What is your favourite video game and why?
System Shock 2. At the time it was as close to a perfect game as I had ever played. The immersive environment, the storyline and the range of choices available to the player completely drew me in. The pacing was spot on. Plus, exploding robots.
What is your gaming pet peeve?
It’s a common one, but I can’t stand quick time events. You can be happily zoning out through a long in-game cinematic and all of a sudden BAM! you’re told to press B not to die. I’ve got the reactions of a sloth dipped in tar so it’s usually 50/50 whether I 1. remember which button is ‘B’ and 2. manage to hit the button before my character dies. Other than make sure the player is paying attention, I’m not sure what purpose they really serve.
How did you come to work at Kwalee?
I saw the advert on Stack Overflow careers and applied directly. I’d been looking for a new challenge for a while and when I researched a little bit more into the company I felt that the opportunity to work with David and Andrew, two hugely influential figures in the gaming industry, was too great to pass up.
What is your favourite thing about working at Kwalee?
Other than the people, who have blown me away with their talent and creativity, it’s been the atmosphere. Everyone has a genuine passion for making great games, I’m very excited to see what the next year will bring!