It’s time for another installment of On The Court, where our developers give insight into the game design of Tennis Clash. With the recent celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke with some of the incredibly talented women that work on Tennis Clash!
Gabriela, Game Developer Engineer
Hi Gabriela, can you tell me about your role as an engineer and the type of work you do on Tennis Clash?
My current responsibility as an engineer is to develop and support the new Tennis features. We understand a new feature idea, transform it into code, run tests and support it after release by fixing any bugs that may occur.
How did you get interested in becoming an engineer and what skills did you learn to come into this role?
I’ve always preferred studying STEM subjects, so it was natural to transition to an Engineering role. Being an engineer, the skills I need the most in my daily work is logical thinking, programming skills; time management; and team working skills.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Discussing possible solutions for the new features with other engineers and business stakeholders; make the feature live by coding it and fixing bugs that may appear. Also, we improve the code quality of our game whenever it is possible, by refactoring the old stuff.
Is there a specific part of your job you enjoy the most?
I really like creating new UI for the game. I like to make everything as close as possible to our UI art prototypes.
What is the hardest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your current role?
Be a game engineer. Before Wildlife, I was a ‘default’ full stack developer, and here, I need to go beyond and deep in game development skills, which I learn more every day by myself and colleagues.
Alla, Creative Team Lead
Hello Alla, thanks for taking time our of your schedule for this. Can you tell me a little about your responsibilities as a Creative Team Lead?
My team includes graphic designers and copywriters. We provide creative solutions, visuals, and text for all communications for our Live Games. We create assets both for in-app pop-ups, inbox messages, and offers; and for other channels: social posts, emails, landing pages, etc.
Did you grow up interested in drawing and design? Was there anything, in particular, you saw that convinced you to turn this interest into a career?
One of my first memories was my mom being furious with me because I drew on the walls in our apartment when I was about 3 years old! Since then there were art schools, linocut courses, lettering workshops, lots of money spent on good paint sets and brushes… The turning point was in 8th grade when I met our new computers teacher and fell in love with technology and programming. When I found a new faculty “Information technology” (a combo of front-end programming and graphic design), I realized that it was a match made in heaven.
What is the hardest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career so far?
I would say that the switch from a graphic designer to a team lead was the hardest challenge in my career. For me, it was extremely important to find the balance between keeping the bar of creativity high and giving my team enough freedom to go wild and express themselves. I feel that I need to keep redefining this balance every day.
How has the pandemic affected the way you work?
I used to work with 500Mb-2Gb files that were saved on the company’s server. When it all started I couldn’t keep doing that remotely. Pandemic pushed me to optimize my work and find those “cheap” solutions where the design looks great with minimum effort and minimum weight
Mari, Senior Game Engineer
Hey Mari! Can you tell us about the importance of an engineer with a game like Tennis Clash?
The engineers write all the code that makes the game work. The game is constantly evolving, whether it’s bug fixes, staying up to date with platforms and regulations, improving existing features, or developing whole new features as we did with Club Slam last year. The engineers are responsible for delivering these solutions and making sure they work. To do this we collaborate with a bunch of other roles also working on the game, such as product, art, and quality engineers.
What tasks are you responsible for in your role?
Coding is an important one, of course. As a senior engineer, I’m also responsible for the technical design of new features or feature improvements, and estimating the effort required so we can build a plan to deliver it. On top of that, I’m the Tech Lead of a team of 6 engineers, which means I organize who will work on what project and give feedback on their designs. There are many other responsibilities, but these are the main ones.
How did you get interested in this line of work?
I grew up in the 90s: we didn’t have mobiles then, and I didn’t have a videogame but we had a PC and I played a lot of games on it, and browsed the internet when it came to my house. I didn’t know the first thing about programming, but I enjoyed using these programs, and all the possibilities they brought, so I decided to study computer science.
What skills are required for this role?
Problem-solving and analytical thinking are important ones. Also, being good at learning new things because the industry is always evolving. Another essential skill is communication — especially if you’re working in a cross-functional team with people from different backgrounds like we do in Tennis Clash.
What are the biggest challenges you encounter as an engineer?
The challenges I’m most interested in are about the technical design of the game — not just to write code that works, but to write good code, that can evolve as the game evolves. It’s easy to write a lot of code, but if you don’t write good code — and I’ve seen this a lot in my career — you can end up in a situation where every change you try to make breaks some unrelated feature or another; and adding features, improving features or even fixing bugs becomes really hard and expensive. Technical design is challenging because most problems don’t have a correct answer — it’s all about coming up with different alternatives, evaluating the advantages and limitations of each of them, and making a good enough decision so you can move forward and deliver the feature.
Is there any advice you would give to young girls and women interested in getting into engineering?
- Everyone starts from the start, and each person has their own pace of learning. When you start studying, there will be people who started earlier or pick things up faster, or slower.
- Don’t be discouraged by that — find your passion, find out how what kind of learning works best for you, and go for it.
- Look for mentors and role models you identify with, build a network of people who can support and encourage you, and help you find opportunities.
- Don’t stay in a job you don’t like, and don’t self-select out of a job if you think you don’t qualify — that’s the recruiter’s job.
Bruna, Associate Visual Designer
Hello Bruna, thank you for talking to us. How did you get interested in visual design?
It was a long time ago I was 17 (I’m almost 29 now). I was thinking about doing Advertising in College, but a friend of mine told me how that could be of distant from what I really wanted to do. So I did my research and found out that crafting, creating compositions, and being creative with forms and colors was much more interesting to me. There was my joy!
At first, I was into graphic design but a little bit later, once again, I found out that I was much more of a “digital girl” and that’s when I started working with interfaces, and digital products such as video editing and social media ads.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Mostly I try to start my day looking through other channels such as Behance and Instagram or news about design and everything which actually inspires me a lot. I then talk to my coworkers and understand what we as a team should go for on that day. Later I start to create new explorations, try new techniques – combining new and current assets to achieve what is best for the project. I also always discuss my layout proposals with other designers and product managers to get feedback and improve my skills.
Is there any work, in particular, you’ve done that you are most proud of?
Yes! Many years ago I felt I needed to change career. I wasn’t happy with my results as a professional and decided to create a project of my own – one that I would be proud of. That’s when the idea of recreating the NASA Website came to me. Their website at the time was not that good, and NASA is a very big organization, so I thought “hey! What about doing a whole new experience for fans of outer space?” So there were a lot of weekends and Friday nights at home, thinking about this idea and trying new things, but in the end, everything worked out and this project opened so many doors to me!
My lesson was: sometimes, it’s better to take time to do something you actually believe in… than having a lot of projects you’re doing day-to-day but you’re not happy with it.
Do you have any advice for young female artists who may be interested in getting into the industry?
Yes, I do! Please, believe in your potential and trust the process. It may be hard sometimes… with people or even learning new things to get to the next level. But there are a lot of good people ready to help, good content on the internet and also good companies to work with as well. Just keep going with the hard (and healthy) work and everything should fall into place.