Virtuos Insider: Engineering Great Games with Adalberto Bruno
Above:The streets of Dublin
Games today are a varied bunch. While they come in a wide variety of genres and art styles, all of them share similar qualities, such as amazing art direction, or engaging and responsive gameplay.
But it's not enough to look good and be fun; to make a good game great, you'll need top-tier engineering to ensure steady framerates and enough quality-of-life features to provide a seamless experience for every gamer.
Virtuos wholly believes in the importance of game engineering. With a crack team of more than 40 engineers sited in our Dublin and Paris offices, we assist European studios in overcoming an array of technical hurdles from creating tools and APIs and integrating cloud gaming services, to engine version upgrades and optimization projects.
This list might look daunting for the average person, but to Adalberto Bruno, it's just another day at work. As Senior Technical Director at Virtuos Dublin, Adalberto has years of experience under his belt, stemming from his prior stints at Marmalade Technologies and Electronic Arts, among many others. This week, we spend a few minutes together for a quick chat about his life and experience at Virtuos.
Above: Hard at work inside Virtuos Dublin
Can you give a brief description about your career history, and how you eventually joined Virtuos?
AB: I started as a Software Engineer back in 2000, working on 3D Graphics, Visual Simulation and Virtual Reality. I was involved in Engines and Tools for Research and Production projects. Back then,VR was a really niche market and I'm happy to see the evolution in this space.
Gaming was always my passion, so after 6 years I decided to move from Italy to the UK and started my journey in this industry with Electronic Arts. As a Technical Director, I initially worked on an internal cross-platform Engine before getting involved in multiple iOS and Android titles due to the rise of mobile gaming. These ranged from casual to high-def simulations that used a variety of proprietary and commercial game engines such as Unity and Unreal.
After 8 years with EA (the final 2 in Montreal) I moved back to the UK where I joined Marmalade, a high-performing abstraction layer solution mainly used to bring games to multiple platforms, as their VP of Technology Services and later CTO.
I then moved to Barcelona for a couple of years to drive a team working on freemium / free-to-play webGL-based games. That experience was critical in granting me a closer look at how to build solid game-servers and backends.
At some point, I had an inspiring conversation with Virtuos and I was immediately captured by the idea of building up and leading a Dublin-based Engineering team, working on fantastic PC and Console projects. That idea soon became reality and now here I am, with the team growing at a rapid pace.
You've worked in many places around Europe over the years. Which country is your favourite and why?
AB: I like to travel and have moved quite a lot in the past. So far, I've worked in Italy, UK, Spain, Ireland and even in Canada!
Italy will always be a special place for me and Barcelona is probably my favourite city, but I have to admit that I've been charmed by Dublin - it's a real gem.
Above: the team at Virtuos Dublin (Black Shamrock)
You're currently at Virtuos Dublin, aka Black Shamrock. As Technical Director, what are some of the highlights of your work in Virtuos so far? Are there any exciting or challenging projects that you’ve worked on?
AB: I'm in charge of the Engineering team here and we work on fantastic projects with some great partners.
The bulk of our work is devoted to create client-side APIs and improving the back-end, which means building Telemetry tools and APIs, integrating managed back-end solutions such as MS Azure PlayFab and also ad-hoc Amazon Web Services. We've also upgraded several key titles to the latest version of their engine (Unreal and Unity), built API and tools for modding and proprietary cross-platform content sharing systems. In addition, the team handles a good variety of performance and rendering optimizations.
Finally, we're also in the midst several – totally immersive – VR projects with key customers and tinkering with some innovative future technologies at our studio.
Tell us a bit about your personal life. How did you get exposed to technology and games?
AB: I have always been a gamer. My passion for games began ever since my father bought me a Commodore Vic-20, which is really ancient by today's standards.
Although my absolute favourite game of all time is Half-Life 2, I'm also a proud father which means I often play games like "LEGO Marvel" or iconic titles such as the "Monkey Island" series with my daughter Alessia. You know - so she can start to appreciate the 'classics'!
Games aside, I also like comics, reading and listening to classic rock and blues.
From a tech standpoint, what will the future of gaming look like?
AB: Personally, I find the emergence of next-gen VR and Cloud Gaming services extremely appealing from a technology perspective. I can't wait to see how they will improve in the years to come.
What advice would you give to Engineers looking to enter the game industry?
AB: Be passionate, play games, participate in Game Jams and build up a portfolio. There are lots of tools and documentation freely available that can help you stay abreast with new technology at every level. Game Engines have become more user friendly and accessible over time too, so feel free to experiment with them. Good luck!
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Founded in 2004, Virtuos Holdings Pte. Ltd. is a leading videogame content production company with operations in Singapore, China, Vietnam, Canada, France, Japan, Ireland and the United States. With 1,600 full-time professionals, Virtuos specializes in game development and 3D art production for AAA consoles, PC and mobile titles, enabling its customers to generate additional revenue and achieve operational efficiency. For over a decade, Virtuos has successfully delivered high quality content for more than 1,300 projects and its customers include 18 of the top 20 digital entertainment companies worldwide. For more information, please visit: www.virtuosgames.com