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Software Engineers

By Valerie Anderson

Name: Justin Quimby

Company: Turbine Entertainment Software
Job Title: Lead Software Engineer
Education: B.S. in Computer Science from Brown University, Providence, R.I.

1) How long have you been at your job and what do you do there?

I've been working at Turbine Entertainment Software for the past five years, and during that time, we have completed three titles in the "Asheron's Call" series.
My job is to design and code game systems for multiplayer, online games. We create three-dimensional worlds where hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world adventure and socialize together. Basically, I define the rules and formulas of the game world. For example, I code how much damage a sword swing does or how a monster will react to seeing a player peek around a corner.

My primary development language is C++, but, on occasion, I do additional coding in Perl. As a lead software engineer, I have to build and track project schedules, write proposals and update documents. I am also responsible for making sure that my team has a clear understanding of the tasks ahead of them, and I track their progress toward that goal.

2) What's the best aspect of your job?

I truly enjoy the process of developing games. Rather than being handed code architecture plans and told "code this according to this specification," I have a hand in developing those specifications. Sometimes I catch myself in the midst of an argument regarding the effectiveness of axes versus long bows-it definitely beats discussing the stress values of thermal welds in hot water boilers!

3) What's more important: salary or job satisfaction?

If money is your top priority, I would recommend looking into business applications or investment banking. You will make more money working in those fields as a programmer than you will in the video game industry. For me, job satisfaction is more important than money. If you want a job that makes you smile as you drive into work, I highly recommend the game industry! (Pssst, Turbine is hiring.)

4) What's the best career advice you've ever received?

The best career advice I ever received was "learn how to learn." In the programming field, all knowledge devalues over time. If you rely on what you learned in school, in five to ten years the folks just out of school will have more up-to-date skills than you. So keep reading books and online forums!

5) What's the best way a fresh-out-of-college employee can impress you during the first week on the job?

The best way to impress your co-workers the first week is to be enthusiastic but humble. Ask lots of questions, but be proactive in trying to answer them yourself. Arrive early to the office and be on time to meetings-you only get one chance to make a first impression.

6) How did you learn to work with non-IT staff (i.e., staff outside of your department)?

The best way to learn how to interact with people is to be observant. Watch your co-workers and learn from the way they interact with different people in the office. The important thing is to realize that people have different communication and listening styles. A quiet and low-key approach may work for one person but may not work well with someone else.

7) What trait do you admire in co-workers?

I value dependability in my co-workers. Making video games is a high-pressure undertaking, and it requires contributions from a multitude of people. If you have an innate trust in your co-workers, then it raises everyone's confidence that you will ship a great game on time.

8) How do you relieve job frustration?

Job frustration is inevitable in any work environment, so it is important to be able to realize when it rears its ugly head. After sitting at a desk for eight to eleven hours a day, exercise is critical. I jog, play soccer and work out on a regular basis to relieve stress.

9) What one thing do you know now that you wish you could have known when you first started your job?

Making games is an entirely different matter than playing games. As the saying goes, one percent inspiration, 99% perspiration. Making games does involve discussions postulating on the "killer" features that a game should have, but a lot more time is spent actually implementing the vision of the game, fixing bugs, testing and documenting the results.

Name: Derek Dupras

Company: Turbine Entertainment Software
Job Title: Senior Server Engineer
Education: B.S. in Computer Science from University of Massachusetts Boston

1) How long have you been at your job and what do you do there?

I joined Turbine five months ago. I am a software engineer working on the servers that run Turbine's massive, multi-player games-"Asheron's Call" and "Asheron's Call 2."

2) What's the best aspect of your job?

Having impact and getting things done.

3) What's more important: salary or job satisfaction?

That's an easy one! Job satisfaction. Before working for Turbine, I worked for one of the largest software companies in the world-the money was good, but the job was boring.

4) What's the best career advice you've ever received?

Be a professional. Act professionally. Don't gossip.

5) What's the best way a fresh-out-of-college employee can impress you during the first week on the job?

A new employee can impress me by having a great attitude, being motivated and having an open mind.

6) How did you learn to work with non-IT staff (i.e., staff outside of your department)?

Working with non-IT staff starts with good communication skills. Clearly expressing yourself and listening carefully to others is the first step in solving any problem. It is also important to ask questions. I certainly don't know everything, nor does anyone expect me to, so I would rather ask a 'stupid' question than do a 'stupid' thing.

7) What trait do you admire in co-workers?

I admire professionalism in my co-workers.

8) How do you relieve job frustration?

If I get frustrated during work, I usually go outside for a walk. Occasionally I will find a group of people and play online games.

9) What one thing do you know now that you wish you could have known when you first started your job?

I wish that I had known earlier in my career that following my dreams and aspirations would be so fulfilling. I advise people to follow their dreams.

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