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Update #32: Meet the Developers - Steve Weatherly

Project Eternity Steve Weatherly Development Programming

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#1
Adam Brennecke

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As promised in Update #30, it's time to meet the people making the game. In today's update, we interview Steve Weatherly, a programmer on Project Eternity.

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Q:Steve, can you tell us what you do on Project Eternity?

A:
I'm a gameplay programmer primarily responsible for making combat happen. What that means is that I look at what Josh and Tim design for the game, and tell them it can never be done. After that, they tell me it has to get done, so then I figure out a way to make it happen. I spend most of my day writing code, either for AI (to make the enemies act like they know what they're doing), or the underlying code that makes characters fight and take damage, etc. I'm also our chief Reddit ambassador, which I sort of fell into but it has been a lot of fun.


Q:What are you currently working on today?

A:
Today I'm actually working on building our equipment system. When I'm done, designers will be able to take a weapon that an artist models and drag it onto a character. The character will then hold it in their hand, swing it, and cause damage to their enemies. My weapon of choice is currently the flail, which Unity made surprisingly easy to create.


Q: What’s your typical work day like on Project Eternity?

A:
When I start my day in the morning the first thing I do is check email and make sure there aren't any outstanding issues or meetings I need to think about. I frequently also log into Reddit to see if I have any fan questions. After that I fire up Unity, update my build to see everyone else's work, then run the game to make sure it still works like it did when I left the night before. If there are any major issues I'll take care of them, otherwise I'll start working on whatever the next thing is that I need to build. I usually head off to the gym at lunch because my office is a dark cell and I need sunshine (or the fluorescent lights of the gym). Then more programming after lunch. Around 3:30pm I'm about ready to fall asleep, so each day all of the programmers gather up and walk across the street for coffee. That might seem like a waste of time to some, but it gives all of the programmers a chance to talk about what they are working and bounce ideas off of each other. Also coffee.


Q: What feature are you most looking forward to programming?

A:
I got into the game industry wanting to be an AI programmer. So, while I enjoy the challenges of engineering other systems, AI is where my heart is. I can't wait until we have a full complement of spells so I can write some cool wizard AI and give people an epic wizard battle!


Q: What's been one of the largest challenges so far?

A:
So far the biggest challenge has really just been getting familiar with Unity and building stuff so that when the design team starts making levels they will have a solid set of tools, easy to use and ready to go.


Q: What other projects have you worked on at Obsidian?

A:
I've been at Obsidian almost 7 years, so there's been a lot. I started out as tools programmer on the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset, followed by my first job as an AI programmer on the cancelled Aliens RPG project, after that I helped out with Alpha Protocol's AI system doing bug fixes. Then I moved to Dungeon Siege 3 where I was responsible for building the AI systems both for the game and our Onyx engine. I served a tour of duty on South Park integrating the Onyx combat system with the turn based design of that game. They hired Tim Cain to replace me on South Park and I moved over to the (now cancelled) North Carolina project. Between North Carolina and Project Eternity I worked on various prototypes we were doing to try and pitch games.


Q: Where do you like eat for lunch?

A:
Being a California native I really love Mexican food. We tend to go to Wahoo's Fish Tacos a lot because we can walk there from the office and it's pretty good.


Q: Who's your favorite programmer?

A:
Well, I would say Adam Brennecke, but he's a producer now and is dead to me. So it's going to have to be Tim Cain. I definitely envy his ability to design, code, and bake well. He's a triple threat and that's also earned him a spot on my list of most job threatening co-workers. Fortunately I know his weakness...


Q: What's your favorite game?

A:
That's easy, my favorite game of all time is Baldur's Gate. It was the first RPG I played and the first time I felt like I was in another world that I could explore. I'd never experienced that before and it's what inspired me to want to make games for a living.


Q: What do you like to do when you aren't programming?

A:
Drink... heavily. Preferably whiskey, but I'm also happy with vodka.


Q: How many push-ups can you do?

A:
More than the average programmer, but significantly less than Chris Avellone.


Q: What's your favorite Thanksgiving dinner dish?

A:
Cornbread stuffing!


Thanks for reading. We want to have weekly updates on Tuesdays from now on, so be sure to drop by every Tuesday for the next Project Eternity update.

If you have any additional questions for Steve - post them on this thread and he will be happy to answer some of them!
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#2
Melanchior

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Hahah, nice one :D

#3
509dave16

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Hey, Steve! If you don't mind me asking, what does it take to be a programmer in the gaming industry? Does it depend on what I as a programmer want to focus on in game development? Or should I know a sprinkling of everything? I've been interested in game development, because I want to see AI improve. But I'm going for a BS in Computer Science. Got any suggestions for me?
-David

#4
Zed

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Do you read RPG Codex?

What do you have on your walls besides a Blade Runner poster?

What programming languages do you know? Which ones are your favorite?

What is Tim Cain's weakness?

You say Avellone would outperform you in Push-ups. Are there many gym dudes at Obsidian? If the zombie apocalypse strikes during work hours, who would you team up with?
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#5
Wirdjos

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Wow, updates every Tuesday? That's down right madness! Exciting madness, but madness none the less. I like the idea of getting to know more people that are working on the game, so keep them coming!
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#6
Zed

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What would happen if you Fraps'd your work on the inventory system and sent it to me? Would you lose your job?

How fast are the game systems shaping up? Is unity like the best thing ever? Will we get some UI screens soon?

Have you played Arcanum?

Edited by Zed, 20 November 2012 - 07:49 PM.


#7
Falkon Swiftblade

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Fun read guys! Can I make a suggestion or request? Can you code the data in such a way that the stats change the animations? So that maybe someone with low dexterity is a lil clumsy or sluggish, while someone with high Dexterity is very smooth and fluid in their attacks or animations? Maybe a wizard with average Intel or magic juice does his thing like normal, but someone really smart & awesome casts a spell and their animations are more exaggerated and hands have much more followthrough. Similarly since you guys have more $ than Uganda, can you ask your animators to animate different idle animations that give the characters some personality, so they're whimsical, bored, angry, flirty, or whatever. I have a feeling there's gonna be more words than a room full of stuttering Rainmen, and I hope the hero's expressions show how they feel, as well as hope you and your team can take time to code some mannerisms and cool combat encounters.
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#8
Zeckul

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Hey, Steve! If you don't mind me asking, what does it take to be a programmer in the gaming industry? Does it depend on what I as a programmer want to focus on in game development? Or should I know a sprinkling of everything? I've been interested in game development, because I want to see AI improve. But I'm going for a BS in Computer Science. Got any suggestions for me?
-David

I've been a programmer in the gaming industry (very briefly, but still) and I have friends from university working there, so maybe I can answer. There's a variety of programmers there: engine developers who need to master memory management and all the dark corners of C++ and bit fiddling; graphics programmers who need very solid math skills; AI programmers who need to know, well AI techniques and have a good understanding of game design as well, because the two go hand-in-hand; tools programmers who must know how to build traditional windowed applications (typically in .NET); and gameplay programmers who should just be really smart at figuring **** out. All of these need to be pretty good at math and geometry.

IMO just reading the right books and coding on your own, outside school assignments, goes a long way towards making you stand out for a game programming (or any programming) position.
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#9
Zeckul

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My question to Steve: In a recent interview (question 16), Trent Oster (of Overhaul Games, i.e. BGEE) said he wouldn't use Unity for an eventual BG3, citing optimization concerns. What are your thoughts on that quote or on using a pre-made engine like Unity instead of developing your own specifically for the game you're building?
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#10
Theobeau

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Great way of introducing various members of the PE team.

Interesting in that it is suggested that Reddit is the main forum where PE team members engage with the fan base.

I wonder where the official forums fit into that picture

Re:
Q: How many push-ups can you do?

A:
More than the average programmer, but significantly less than Chris Avellone.

My very important question is

How many can Avellone do? :biggrin:

#11
FrostPaw

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That sir....is the most epic cheesy photo I have seen today, /tiphat
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#12
Elerond

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Nice interview but one thing still bothers me, what is your favorite whiskey irish or scotch or woo woo (everything that aren't irish or scotch) :biggrin:

#13
Frisk

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Weapons, eh?

I am simply going to assume we will have swords, axes, bows, daggers, clubs (and flails), but what about other weapons - crossbows, polearms or spears, for exa,mple. Any truly exotic weapons? Any "oriental" weapons (shuriken or "ninja" weapons?)

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sesobebo

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Q: What feature are you most looking forward to programming?

A:
I got into the game industry wanting to be an AI programmer. So, while I enjoy the challenges of engineering other systems, AI is where my heart is. I can't wait until we have a full complement of spells so I can write some cool wizard AI and give people an epic wizard battle!


huzzah!

#15
Grinsevent

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Hi, I don't know if it's possible, but will the opponent be able to set traps ? Create ambushs? Kill us while we sleep (maybe it's a bad idea), be "alive" ?

Will you design a new type of AI or will it be the same as the one un BG ? I mean, will you program it from scratch ?

#16
Gyges

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Considering your involvement in so many canceled projects, do you believe you are entirely to blame for their failure? Are you a saboteur? Look at my sig, now look at my post, now look at my sig again, now back to my post. Can you see i want a variety of weapons? I want a variety of weapons.

Edited by Gyges, 21 November 2012 - 03:57 AM.


#17
norolim

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Pleased to meet you Steve :) Please make sure PE doesn't get cancelled ;)

#18
BruceVC

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Nice update, its great to get to know the people involved in PE through these types of interviews :)

#19
mokona

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Today I'm actually working on building our equipment system. When I'm done, designers will be able to take a weapon that an artist models and drag it onto a character. The character will then hold it in their hand, swing it, and cause damage to their enemies. My weapon of choice is currently the flail, which Unity made surprisingly easy to create.


Will there be a relatively shorter list of sword shapes (like scimitar, longsword, short sword, falcata, khopesh, katana, broadsword, bastard sword, and flamberge) or a humongous amount of sword variety of wireframes?

Edited by mokona, 21 November 2012 - 07:29 AM.


#20
Keyrock

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Is there no mortal in this world that can match Chris Avellone's unearthly strength?

What is Tim Cain's weakness?

I also must know this.
:fdevil:





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