Anita Haurie’s Profession: Gameplay Programmer

This week is the turn of Anita Haurie, Gameplay Programmer on rainbow Six Quarentine, to tell us about her job and the best ways to get started.

Can you describe your job at Ubisoft?

There are four types of programmers who work on video games:

User interface programmers work on the menus and everything that appears on your screens, such as your radar and the number of lives you have left.

The programmers who work on the main character and controls deal with the way the buttons on your controller make the main character behave, how they walk, run, jump and swim.

Artificial intelligence programmers code everything related to non-player characters, that is, characters that players don’t control, such as enemies or allies.

Last but not least, there are the gameplay programmers like myself, who take care of all the rest. We’re the ones who create essential systems, such as inventory systems; systems that affect the game, such as temperature changes or day and night; and all the items that are used in the game, like magic potions or weapons. In a nutshell, gameplay programmers deal with pretty much everything in a game that doesn’t fall into the other three groups.

What is a typical day like for you?

I almost always start my day by getting the latest version of the game. That means I download all the changes my colleagues have made on the game since the day before. Then I compile all the changes to the code. Since it takes the computer some time to do that, that’s when I like to have my coffee and check my email. After that, I can start working. I check which tasks are the highest priority and start with those. These tasks could include fixing bugs (when something in the game doesn’t work as it should), reworking parts of the code to make it easier to read or more efficient, or even writing new code to add a feature to the game. I get to play the game a lot when I’m writing code, to check that my code does what I want it to do and to make sure the changes I made don’t create new problems. I often interact with my colleagues from the game design team to discuss new developments, as well as with our technical managers and level designers to discuss how to integrate my code changes into the game.

What do you love most about your job?

The part I love the most about my job is seeing tangible results immediately. I write the code, I click play and I can see my work in action! I find it really motivating to see the results of my work like that. I’ve been playing video games for a long time, so I think it’s really cool to write code and see the results of my work in the game. When I was just a gamer, I never really thought about the people who code everything you can do in a game and what happens to your character, so it’s super cool to be one of those people now!

What type of education do you need for this job?

I have a degree in computer engineering, but any programming degree would do the job. I would say that a degree in computer engineering, software engineering or computer science is a good choice if you want to be a video game programmer.

What was the moment that made you say, “I want to work in the video game industry”? Who was your mentor/coach at the time?

I’ve always loved playing video games and I love programming. When I was in university, I was looking for an internship in programming and I found a gameplay programmer position at Ubisoft.  It seemed absolutely perfect, because it combined programming with one of my favourite pastimes. I got the job and I knew from the very start that it was exactly what I wanted to do. The job is very stimulating, I’m surrounded by incredibly passionate and talented people and I can work on a product that I like and use myself.

Do you have any advice for young people who are thinking of getting started in this profession?

Honestly, just give programming a try, and practice! There are plenty of resources online to learn how to program and plenty of resources on how to create a video game. Game engine tutorials like Unity are great starting points, and they’re really fun!

Want to know more about career opportunities at Ubisoft Montreal? Take a look at your career!