Delve into the analytical mind of our game programmer Tobias Lilja

#Heistuesday 15: Coding Of The Heist – Meet A Game Programmer

Happy Heistuesday!

This week we’re starting a series of interviews with a number of people of the SteamWorld Heist crew. We’ll interview our artists, programmers, designers and many more! A few months ago I had a chat with Markus Månsson about his stellar work on level design. Today we’ll let you delve briefly into the analytical mastermind of one of our game programmers: Tobias Lilja.

Julius: Hi Tobias! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Tobias: Of course! My name is Tobias Lilja. I’m a 27-year-old guy from the northern parts of Sweden. I’m married, have a dog, and I’m very much into space stuff. I like writing short stories but I’m also way too good at procrastinating .

J: Do you have any favorite types of games?

T: I like most games! I have a soft spot for strategy games but I have yet to play something really serious like Crusader Kings, so I stick to the likes of Civilization and Starcraft. Shadow of Mordor and Far Cry 4 were highlights for me last year. I also like adventure games, and am playing Telltale’s Game of Thrones game with my wife right now (Day of The Tentacle is my all-time favorite, though). My most played game on Steam is Kerbal Space Program, with 102 hours played.

The Image & Form Office Dog: Louie

Louie is Tobias’ trusty doggy friend and a regular visitor at Image & Form.

J: What is your role as a game programmer?

T: Planning, designing and implementing the design choices we make for SteamWorld Heist. I work with everyone else on our team when coordinating what should be done. I also work on adding features to the level editor we used for SteamWorld Dig, and now use for Heist.

J: What was the latest thing you worked on for SteamWorld Heist?

T: I’ve worked quite a bit with adding sound effects, recently. We have quite a solid sound system, so adding new sounds to play is simple. For adding footstep sounds when the characters walk around, I’ve modified the Python script (which we use for exporting animations from Blender) to support adding markers with text strings to individual frames. Now our animators can add markers to frames, which are then read into the game, so that sounds (like footsteps!) can be triggered by animations. I’m now working on importing these markers into the game and getting the sounds to play when the markers are hit.

J: Are there any challenges when programming a game?

T: Programming a game is nothing but challenges! It’s always about weighing different aspects against each other: performance, memory consumption, implementation time, etc. And as a programmer it’s very important to write code for your colleagues rather than for yourself. You know that in six months someone is going to look at the code you just wrote, scratch their head and wonder how you were thinking. It’s really important to make sure the code you write is concise and clear.

J: Cool! Thanks for the chat 😀

T: No problem! 🙂

Question: Who do you want us to interview next? Check out our “Meet the team” page and leave your suggestions in the comments below!