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ArenaNet's Ask Me Anything Has Started!

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#1 Khalija

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:15 PM

ArenaNet is doing an AMA over on Reddit in its /r/gaming subreddit. You can check it out here. It's about the programming side of things, so make sure to keep that in mind when you post questions. I'll keep this post updated with questions that have been answered.

Here's who will be participating, their names, titles, and Reddit usernames:
  • Cameron Dunn - Technical Director - cameronjdunn
  • Chad Taylor - Engine Programming Team Lead - ArenaNetChad
  • Stephen Clarke-Willson - Server Programming Team Lead - StephenClarkeWillson
  • Braeden Shosa - Gameplay Programming Team Lead - ArenaNetBraeden
  • Josh Petrie - ArenaNet Programmer - jpetrie
  • Mike Lewis - Security Coordinator - ApochPiQ
  • James Wright - Senior Game Engine Programmer - ArenaNetJamesW
  • Habib Loew - Gameplay Programmer - ArenaNetHabib
  • Ryan Diederich - Gameplay Programmer - ArenaNetRyanD
  • Evan Lesh - Gameplay Programmer - ArenaNetEvanL
  • Eric Rane - Gameplay Programmer - ericrane
  • Kat Dugan - Gameplay Programmer - KatDugan
  • Caleb McCombs Gameplay Programmer - ArenaNetCaleb
  • Branimir Karadzic - Engine Programmer - bkaradzic
  • Felipe Romero - ArenaNet Programmer - ArenaNetFelipe
  • Patrick Laukaitis - ArenaNet Programmer - ArenaNetPatrickL
  • Patrick Mera - Engine Programmer - meranator
  • Mike Popoloski - Engine Programmer - ArenaNetMike
  • Francis Crick - Content Pipeline Programmer - fcrick
  • Stanlo Slasinski - ArenaNet Programmer - ArenaNetStanlo
  • Garett Bass - Content Pipeline Programmer - ArenaNetGarett
  • Jordan Massey - Gameplay Programmer - ArenaNetJordan
  • Steve Bikun - Server Programmer - ArenaNetSteveB

Quote

  • What programming methodologies does your team use? ie. agile, scrum, etc.
  • What do you use for source control and how do you handle refactoring code for optimization? Or do you try for best optimization on the first pass?
  • What standards and practices do you use?
  • How does someone that is a new graduate get into the game programming job market when most jobs require being part of a published title already?
  • What is your engine written in?
  • How often to you dive down to the bit level of data manipulation?
  • Ever have to write Assembly code?
  • This depends on the phase of the project which we're in - during "normal" development (like now!) we use a customized scrum-based project. When we're finalling we tend to go back to a traditional team-based just-fix-the-bugs process.
  • We use perforce for source control. We have a few branches which we can work in to do refactoring (for optimization or any reason) so we can roll things out when they're ready.
  • Game development is actually pretty normal software development - we use technical design documents, coding standards, code reviews, etc, etc.
  • Write games in your spare time! They don't have to be massive, just small polished games. People who are passionate about game development can't help themselves - they write games no matter what. That's how I got into the industry - I wrote a Game Boy emulator.
  • It's mostly in C++
  • Very often :-)
  • Sometimes, although these days it's fairly rare [Source]

Quote

Is the culling issue in WvW (making other players invisible for sake of server/client issues) going to get better? Do you like the state that it is currently in?
The issues with invisible players in WvW comes down to a couple of factors. One is to do with when the servers notify any given client about other characters in the game (I'll call this reporting/culling) and the other deals with the time it takes the client to present the character on the screen after it has received that notification (I'll call this asset load).

The asset load issue is all about how quickly the client can show you something it knows it should show you. We're looking in to ways that we can make that process faster, but it's always going to take non-zero time. However, that's not where the bulk of the invisible players come from. For that we have to look at the reporting/culling side of things.

In the situation where the local population density is relatively low, when another character comes in reporting range of your character the server sends a notification to your client with all of the data that it will need to track and render that character. That includes appearance data, race, gender, profession, weapon sets, etc. etc. It's an easy model to think about and works well, until the local population density goes up. When there are a lot of characters in reporting range we start to get into a situation where, under the current system, there's an overwhelming amount of data to send to the client (hello n-squared problem!) - after all, resources like client CPU/Memory/etc. and bandwidth are finite. In order to deal with this situation we elected to change the criteria for reporting characters slightly. Rather than just using a fixed range we instead also limit reporting to the closest N characters. By doing this we help to ensure that we're not overwhelming the available bandwidth and, since clients clearly can't draw or process characters they don't know about, we get some savings on client performance "for free". This works out pretty well in PvE and doesn't seem, at least as far as I can tell, to have a detrimental impact on gameplay.

Unfortunately in WvW, where large battles are quite common, we find that players are bumping into these limits quite often and the effect has a real, and unfortunate, impact on the gameplay experience. Do I like the state that it's currently in? No, honestly I don't. WvW has been my baby (though not mine alone!) for quite a while now and I really want to see EPIC battles play out in all of their glory. If there was a switch I could flip to just make this work then I would have flipped the hell out of it by now, believe me. However, when you're dealing with resource utilization issues like this there are rarely any easy answers. I'm currently, actively looking into what exactly our options are in this regard. The fix is likely to be large-ish in scope, with changes on both the client and server, but we have some ideas that look like they may work out. So, will it get better? I can't make any promises because we're still experimenting and building new tech, but as a person who works on this every day I certainly believe that it can and will do everything in my power to make that happen. [Source]

Quote

What I want to ask is, if I want to do game programming, what languages should I learn? Right now at college we use ANSI C (we'll be using C++ in 2nd semester though). I'm familiar with every language from the C family (C, C++,C#...), but neither of which I have deep knowledge (well, maybe C#, but I don't like that language).

Ok, that's general programming, how about graphics? OpenGL or DirectX? I read a lot of discussion about this topic and found lot of opinions. "Don't learn openGL or DirectX, start with libraries like SDL or Allegro5","Don't start with libraries, go for DirectX, it'll be hard at first, but easy later on" "DX sucks, openGL rules!"
What's really important is learning the core concepts behind programming and graphics. The actual APIs change all the time, and you have to be adaptable. Lots of beginners get hung up on choosing the "perfect" starter language/API, when really they just need to get making things with whatever they happen to know.

That said, C# and XNA are a great way to get into game development; we use C# for our biggest content tool. [Source]

Quote

So I guess the questions are: What advices can you give me on how to get started on the field? How did you guys started?
Start making games! There are now many online communities where you can be part of a team, like Kongregate, or you can just work on your own project on your own. The most valuable experience you can only get by just working on projects and solving the real problems those projects face. Also, there is a difference between wanting to do something you've never done, and knowing it's what you want to do after doing it for a while - prove to yourself and others that it's actually what you want to do by putting in the time. [Source]

Quote

As a computer science student at a small university that doesn't offer many classes, what would you say the most important things I learn(in and out of classes) to get into game development?
Just take as much math and computer science as you can and apply it to actually making a game or modding an existing game. Nothing will prepare you more for making games than actually making games. [Source]

Quote

  • Guild Wars 2 started development in 2007-08 I believe? Over the years I imagine new technologies that were discovered may have outperformed old technologies. What would you suggest that others start to learn today that you would have like to have known in ’07 –’08.
  • I don’t know how well the programming team delved into the design portion of the game but I imagined everyone had a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” What was the best “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” that never made it into the release?
  • Finally I would like to thank you guys for working on such a wonderful game. It has truly blown my expectation out of the water.
(1) Technologies change all the time; in terms of advising somebody what to learn now ... to be successful as a programmer you'll want to be able to adapt to the the fact that technology does change so often. Experimenting with new technology is a great way to broaden your horizons as a programmer (especially if that means learning a functional language when all you've previously known are other paradigms, for example) as well as a good way to teach you how to learn new things.
Although, that said, concurrency and concurrent programming techniques have become even more important in recent years than they already were.
(2) Asuran paratroopers.
(3) Thanks! The feedback we've gotten from the players has been wonderful and inspiring. [Source]

Quote

  • Do you think a Master's or PhD help or hurt an applicant's chances of being hired as a programmer?
  • What was the interview process like?
  • What's it like to work at ArenaNet?
  • It certainly doesn't hurt! Especially if you have a game-related thesis topic.
  • Mostly it's in-person interviews. We have a few technical tests which we ask people to do depending on where they are and on their background.
  • I've worked at a few games companies, and for me this is the best place I've ever worked. I honestly think that we have one of the best teams in the world (not just the programming team, everyone). [Source]

Quote

  • How did you learn to code?
  • What programming language is your favorite and why?
  • How was it to work on Guild Wars 2?
  • Do you prefer working on a small game or a big game? Why?
  • Do you have any tips for a "youngling"?
1.I've been writing code my whole life. At first I was self-taught and wrote terrible self-taught code. Then I did a Computer Systems Engineering degree and learnt how to do it properly. But in general you get good at coding by writing code.
2.We mostly use C++ - so I guess that's officially my favorite language for writing a game like GW2. But from a pure language perspective, C# is probably my current favorite. I used to use Delphi (ObjectPascal) a lot, so that's probably why.
3.Working on it was fun. Shipping it was amazing.
4.When I started in the industry I worked on a bunch of smaller "boutique" titles, so I feel like I've done that, and now I love the challenge of big games.
5.Write games! Seriously, just write lots of code and put something together in your spare time. Or anything technically challenging - I wrote a Game Boy emulator, that's how I got into the industry. [Source]


#2 Azure Skye

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:21 PM

OOo this should be good!! I'll checking up on this one. :D

#3 MazingerZ

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:37 PM

The only thing worth its salt is the WvWvW question.

Why did they post this in /r/gaming?  Most of their questions are going to be softball industry questions with no one putting their feet to the fire game-related issues.

So far, this has been a lackluster AMA.
It's okay to enjoy crap if you're willing to admit it's crap.
Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#4 ilr

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 07:00 PM

Where's Joe?  Did he go back to working on Gw1 again already?
...oh well, guess it's for the best



PS:  That's [b]exactly[/b] what I told everyone back when they were raging about "Invisible players"... that some of the Culling scripting was Server-side  (b/c if it was all Client side, everyone would be wall hacking to see players on the other side of the map).   ...the REAL solution to it however is to De-incentivize Zerging itself by scaling the Survival of their outnumbered opponents just like in PvE.  You simply can't solve every problem with Technology, some problems are completely Incentive + social-behavior inflicted.  Unfortunately software engineers aren't big on common sense so they'll keep drilling this hole till they run out of drill heads.

Edited by ilr, 17 October 2012 - 07:09 PM.


#5 Noa

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 07:02 PM

[quote name='MazingerZ' timestamp='1350499063' post='2025813']
The only thing worth its salt is the WvWvW question.

Why did they post this in /r/gaming?  Most of their questions are going to be softball industry questions with no one putting their feet to the fire game-related issues.

So far, this has been a lackluster AMA.
[/quote]

Agreed! Not even one question about Guesting or any bugs/lag issues or anything! I know it's a 'ask me anything' board but could they focus less on trying to get into the industry and more on the actual game/gameplay?

#6 hysteriamk2

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 08:42 PM

[quote name='Noa' timestamp='1350500573' post='2025867']
Agreed! Not even one question about Guesting or any bugs/lag issues or anything! I know it's a 'ask me anything' board but could they focus less on trying to get into the industry and more on the actual game/gameplay?
[/quote]

Except they aren't designers so asking about gameplay would be pointless. As stated by them, gameplay programmers focus on developing internal tools for their designers to use to create gameplay.

Also, you clearly haven't read any of their posts because lots of them talk about optimization for lag (handling what data to send to the user) and WvW culling.

Lots of questions that were asked are actually very interesting to a lot of real programmers. Like source control, bug tracking, patching process, reasons behind language choice, tabs vs spaces, how they detect bots, where programmers get involved in the game dev process, what was the hardest to implement... the list goes on.

This was not intended as a place for people to bitch about bugs and gameplay issues. They already have forums for that. This was for technical people to have technical conversations and if you aren't in that group, then move along nothing to see here.

or... [url="http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/11mz4k/i_am_a_programmer_for_guild_wars_2_amaa/c6nw3rj?context=3"]http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/11mz4k/i_am_a_programmer_for_guild_wars_2_amaa/c6nw3rj?context=3[/url]

Edited by hysteriamk2, 17 October 2012 - 09:16 PM.


#7 XgreatArtist

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 09:05 PM

Well i do have 2 questions that i didnt have a chance to ask..
1. Whats with the ruined ori when you have an ori mining pick
2. When are you going to remove trahearne from the game?

#8 Omega X

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 09:22 PM

[quote name='MazingerZ' timestamp='1350507915' post='2026123']
Most of their questions are going to be softball industry questions with no one putting their feet to the fire game-related issues.
[/quote]


You assume that they would even answer those questions to begin with. Its not like a live face to face exchange on 60 minutes.

Edit: Fixing faulty web script copy error.

Edited by Omega X, 18 October 2012 - 05:59 AM.


#9 XgreatArtist

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 09:28 PM

[quote name='Omega X' timestamp='1350508953' post='2026156']



You assume that they would even answer those questions to begin with. Its not like a live face to face exchange on 60 minutes.
[/quote]

I believe you quoted thr wrong person or sentence. I never said that... I dont even know what softball is. My post is right above and i didnt type thosr sentences...

I said, ' Well i do have 2 questions that i didnt have a chance to ask..1. Whats with the ruined ori when you have an ori mining pick2. When are you going to remove trahearne from the game? '


It was mazingerz who said that. Please read the posts carefully instead of quoting the wrong person.

Edited by XgreatArtist, 17 October 2012 - 09:38 PM.


#10 Oh Vanity

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 09:59 PM

game designing is no joke! i totally forgot everything about programming with c+, etc. seems arenanet has some very skilled developers. which is always good to here

#11 MeltyLotus

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 10:53 PM

I want to know when they will quit hiding at reddit and come talk to their community on their forums or someplace like this.

#12 Arshay Duskbrow

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 10:55 PM

I really wish they would disqualify "how can I get a job in the industry" questions from these things. It's always that same question over and over and over.

#13 Zenh

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:44 PM

Guys, guys.. stop acting so entitled. This was clearly stated an AMA regarding programming and software development. Don't like it? Don't read it, don't complain.

Games wouldn't exist without programmers. It's not going to kill you if ArenaNet takes the chance to fuel some interest in the field.

Edited by Zenh, 17 October 2012 - 11:45 PM.


#14 Arshay Duskbrow

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:06 AM

The field doesn't need "interest". It's a dream job field with many times more people seeking to enter it than will ever actually succeed in doing so.

Edited by Arshay Duskbrow, 18 October 2012 - 12:06 AM.


#15 hysteriamk2

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:31 AM

[quote name='Arshay Duskbrow' timestamp='1350518777' post='2026429']
The field doesn't need "interest". It's a dream job field with many times more people seeking to enter it than will ever actually succeed in doing so.
[/quote]

Dream job might be an exaggeration. But I think it's fair to say the amount of GAMERS out there who think they would enjoy a profession in MAKING games is greater than the number of people who actually enjoy the creative process. Many gamers have a starry eyed perception of what is actually involved with the game making process and think they would enjoy it. Then they get a foot in and find out they hate it.

It is possible they are trying to gain interest in people that would enjoy it and be good at it, rather than the ones who think they would like it. Like the devs said in their posts, the ones who are meant to make games make them to get paid or not, they just can't help themselves. I think that separates the ones who are meant to do it from those who won't succeed but want to try it.

that's my current thoughts on that. your thoughts?

#16 Arshay Duskbrow

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:17 AM

[quote]Many gamers have a starry eyed perception of what is actually involved with the game making process and think they would enjoy it. Then they get a foot in and find out they hate it.[/quote]

That's what a "dream job" is. It's a job everyone wants, or thinks they wants, regardless of whether they'd actually be good at it or have realistic prospects for succeeding in it.

My thoughts are that Anet has already canvassed the subject repeatedly in past AMAs, interviews, articles, and so on.

#17 Zenh

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 03:01 AM

View PostArshay Duskbrow, on 18 October 2012 - 12:06 AM, said:

The field doesn't need "interest". It's a dream job field with many times more people seeking to enter it than will ever actually succeed in doing so.

My comment was a roundabout way of saying ArenaNet is trying to recruit talent. It's not uncommon for developers to reach out to the wide audience of Reddit. Hence why they posted in /r/gaming and not /r/guildwars2

#18 Omega X

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:57 AM

[quote name='XgreatArtist' timestamp='1350509313' post='2026168']
I believe you quoted thr wrong person or sentence. I never said that... I dont even know what softball is. My post is right above and i didnt type thosr sentences...

I said, ' Well i do have 2 questions that i didnt have a chance to ask..1. Whats with the ruined ori when you have an ori mining pick2. When are you going to remove trahearne from the game? '


It was mazingerz who said that. Please read the posts carefully instead of quoting the wrong person.
[/quote]

I can't control faulty web scripts. I quoted the other guy but the scripts put your name there instead.

#19 XgreatArtist

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:02 AM

[quote name='Omega X' timestamp='1350539842' post='2026887']
I can't control faulty web scripts. I quoted the other guy but the scripts put your name there instead.
[/quote]

heh i know :D
It happens always. Dont worry.

#20 brendavilleg

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 02:14 AM

My thoughts are that Anet has already canvassed the subject repeatedly in past AMAs





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