Team Spotlight: Michael

Team Spotlight: Michael

What's his secret from 34-years in the industry? Never stop learning.

Mark Jessup

Gameplay Engineers: The glue that binds us together.

Tell us about your role and what a typical day looks like.

I’m an Advanced Software Engineer that has been in the games industry for 34 years, the last ten of which have been spent at Monolith specializing as a Gameplay engineer. Gameplay engineers are kind of like the glue that binds all the creative groups together, from the designer’s ambition to the artist’s vision, we are the ones that functionally bring it all together. We tend to work closely with game mechanics and systems but can just as easily find ourselves working in networking code, installers, tools or anything else that needs to be done to bring the game to fruition.

My day can go in multiple directions based on what the current hot topic is; sometimes talking to designers about ideas, writing new game features, designing new systems, talking to content creators about improving their workflows, talking to other engineers about their systems or just squishing bugs.

Generally, half of my day is spent talking and discussing ideas.

If someone wanted to pursue a career in your field, what skills are essential?

Gameplay engineering is 50% technical and 50% creative. The hard skills would be programming (C++), Math, problem solving, game design. The softer skills are a sense of FUN, knowing when something isn’t playing right and a tenacious desire to build the best you possibly can.

Small piece of advice for anyone considering a career in game development, you will never stop learning.

What’s it like working with the Firebird engine?

The Firebird engine was originally written in the late 1990’s. [Known then as LithTech. – Ed.] I like to think of it as having the style of a Rolls-Royce, Silver Shadow with an engine under the hood that is finely tuned with the latest technology, continuously upgraded and improved. Basically, because it’s ours, we can go in there, walk around with the internals and make it whatever we want. We get to unlock the full processing power of the computers we run on which you don’t necessarily get with other engines.

What word would you use to describe your team?

If I was to choose one word it would be “Trusted”.

What’s the most important trait someone can have as a teammate?

An open mind. When someone isn’t open to listening or learning they can’t grow or evolve and game creation is most definitely an evolutionary process.

What’s your favorite Monolith game?

No One Lives Forever.

What do you see as a core value of our studio?


What’s your favorite thing about working at Monolith?

Monolith is a small team, at least when compared to many triple-A studios but we are also part of Warner Brothers which means we get the best of both worlds. Fun fact… I might have been with Monolith for 10 years, but Warner Brothers has published most of the games I have worked on for the past 21 years!

What’s a hopeful trend you see happening in the games industry?

As an industry we’re growing up. Not only are we becoming more mature about how we make our games but we are making games for much wider groups and ages.

What are you looking forward to working on at Monolith?

The technology, each new game we make pushes the boundaries of what our tech can achieve and through that we are able to create richer and more immersive worlds.

What was one of your fondest moments from quarantine last year?

I have two fond memories from quarantine; the first is finishing work on my first fictional book, “Journeyman: Origins” and releasing it to the world. The second is getting up in the morning when there was rotten weather outside and knowing that I didn’t have to go out in it.

If you weren’t in Game Dev, what else would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in game development I would probably of followed the family tradition and joined the military. I would have joined the same unit as my father, grandfather and great grandfather… The Royal Engineers. Failing that I would probably have become a mad scientist poking away at the substance of reality.

Thank you, Michael!

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