Studio Life

Junior Software Engineers Reveal What It's Like To Work In VR

Posted on 29 January 2016

At Archiact, we take pride in mentoring the next generation of game devs, software engineers, and VR creators. It's one of the reasons we host our game jams and why we regularly bring on co-op students. Two of our departing Junior Software Engineer co-ops shared their insight on what working at a VR studio was like from a student perspective and to offer advice to students that might be interested in pursuing a career in VR or gaming. 

What responsibilities did you have at Archiact Interactive?

IM: In my role as a Junior Software Engineer, I contributed to the development of VR experiences by writing scripts for controlling behaviour and logic in the games, as well as working in the Unity editor to integrate art and audio assets in the scenes.

CB: I worked on improving the workflow of the development team through the implementation of new tools. I worked on porting the pre-existing games to new platforms, in other words, I altered the source code of pre-existing games to tailor the game to new platforms. I also did feature development for one of our Cardboard games and helped fix bugs in one of our GearVR games.

What did you learn? What skills did you gain from working on VR games and experiences?

IM: Technically, I learned a lot about game development using the game engine Unity and its built-in functionality - directly in the editor and via scripting. I learned to use C# as well as a little bit of JavaScript. I was able to practice and learn more about version control systems, and ways to integrate them in the development cycle. In addition, I learned a great deal about the developing for VR, the possibilities and constraints of the medium.

The gaming industry was very new to me when I started, so I learnt a great deal about the workflow and the company structure for a project-based industry. I gained experience working as a part of a team, and maintaining effective communication between group members. Personally, I also learned to ask questions, and that I need to do that even more as I move forward in my education and career! I think Archiact very successfully applies an open business model, and I enjoyed learning to work in such an environment.

CB: I gained a deeper knowledge of development tools as well as a greater understanding of Linux and Unity.

How did this experience affect you?

IM: With no previous experience in the gaming industry, working at Archiact opened up for a whole new range of fields that I am very interested in exploring further. It was inspiring to learn and actively participate in developing content for the emerging field of VR, and to find a direct application for what I am learning in my degree. It was also very valuable to have colleagues that continually create an inspiring and positive work atmosphere by sharing their own interests and research with the rest of the team.

CB: Working at Archiact was valuable to my career because it taught me to be flexible. It was a completely different experience from previous work at a large corporation. Being in a studio, you have to wear a lot of hats; not only might you work in development, but you might be working in system admin or IT. 

What advice would you give to students that want to work at a VR studio or a game studio?

IM: Start with getting familiar with the workflow and responsibilities in the game development cycle, and definitely to learn how to use a content development engine like Unity. For any software development job, I would also advise getting familiar with using version control systems. Read up on the hardware and good practices for developing content for games and VR. During my time at Archiact, I learnt so much from articles about game development shared by members of the team. Ask questions from the people around you - they have a lot of wisdom and experience to share. 

CB: Look into standards and best practices for making games comfortable in VR and have a strong foundation in either Unity or Unreal. 

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A big thank you to the students that graciously shared their experiences. An even bigger thank you to all of our Fall co-op students! Your hard work and contributions are much appreciated. We are glad to have been a part of your learning experience. You will be missed! 

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