September 2010 to July 2011
I joined the start up games company Setgo near the start of September 2010. I had joined a company working on both platform agnostic games and games technology. When I started the team consisted of a Managing Director (Clemens Wangerin), a Technical Director (Jason Chown), a Creative Director (Christian Lavoie) and another programmer. My 3 bosses were all ex-Sony Liverpool employees. Over time the company grew to include a Design Intern, Art Intern and Research Analyst.
I was hired to work on a game, provisionally for Facebook called Castaways. The game eventually found its way to both Hi5 and a standalone website. (See the Castaways link for more information). I was mainly a UI and Gameplay programmer, but worked with both client and server side code, including data parsing and an action-event architecture.
Due to a shift in aim for the company, I was made redundant in July 2011. Setgo dropped the game section of the company to concentrate on their games analytics product. The company also had to downsize due to lack of funding as is always the risk of a start-up company. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the company and would happily take the risk again.
My training for this job was very brief, as it was mostly about understanding how client-server programming worked and coding in Java, even though I had not done so for the previous 3 years.
I was asked to create a simple noughts and crosses game that allowed user input for the noughts and calculated a random free space for a cross to be applied. This took me just under a day to complete.
Castaways required a lot of team collaboration, as well as daily Scrums, weekly meeting updates to make sure we produced what we wanted in as short a space a time as possible. Coding was done using Java with the Eclipse IDE whilst styling using HTML and CSS. We used Tomcat for building, Hudson (replaced with Jenkins) for deploying and Subversion (replaced with Mecurial) for version control. Apart from a small amount of basic Java coding and SVN software, I’d not used any of these before.
Each time I was tasked with using a new technology, I got comfortable with them quickly. Thanks to this, I have gained a new interest in learning about coding languages and scripts that I didn’t know much about before. For instance, with this website I started to look into the world of PHP as well as learning more and more about CSS and HTML.
Weekly deploys meant weekly milestones, which in turn meant the breaking up of and time management of activities was vital. Recently WorkFlowy has become a vital tool for organising everything I do at work and at home.
As mentioned before, we held scrum every morning, which was a brilliant way to make sure everything ran smoothly. We held regular design meetings, where every member of the team was present, which allowed everyone to voice concerns or appreciation for elements of Castaways, usually new features. We could also see what affect our latest changes made to our user’s playing behaviour, leading to dynamic design for the game.