This article is part of Virtuos Insider, a series of interviews where Virtuosi share about their careers and experiences in the company and video game industry at large. In this installment, we chat with Qing, an assistant technical director at Virtuos Shanghai, who shared with us some snippets of his decade-long journey in the company.
Like most Virtuosi, Qing is an avid fan of technology with a passion for understanding how games work beneath the surface. Perhaps it’s no surprise how this veteran has risen from being a junior programmer to an Assistant Technical Director over the course of a decade working at Virtuos.
Aside from honing his skills in programming, Qing’s time at Virtuos has enabled him to learn soft skills that has served to enrich both his professional and personal life. Check out the full interview below to find out more.
Tell us a bit about your history leading up to your current job at Virtuos. How did you come to join us?
I love PC and console games. In the early years I had out-of-date hardware and the gameplay experience was not always good. It was only until I read about some ‘war stories’ from developers that I realized it could be improved via software optimization. It made me want to become a game developer too, which led me to study Computer Science. After an internship stint, I got an offer from Virtuos as my first real job.
I started as a junior programmer, with everyone in my team mentoring me and helping me greatly in understanding the like writing tools to enhance our pipeline, setting up equipment and drafting technical handbooks for best practices. After completing my first AAA project, I learned so much from the experience that I became a senior, as well as a mentor. It was slightly busier than before, but I enjoyed it; I felt that my help made a difference for others.
As Virtuos grew, there were more and more AAA projects. I eventually became the lead programmer and was the one to solve the most difficult problems in the team. It also took time to hone my communication skills. Now I’m an Assistant Technical Director, a new challenge.
How long have you been at Virtuos now?
I have been with Virtuos for 10 years.
As someone with a few years of experience at Virtuos, you must have some memorable moments at the Shanghai studio or with your team. Do you have any that you would like to share?
I remember working on for a few months when the title went into the pre-marketing phase. When I viewed the news feed on the next morning, I was surprised by the amount of attention it was getting from the public, and felt the weight of responsibility in making the perfect game for them.
Do you have a favorite project that you worked on in Virtuos? Why was it your favorite?
. I had previously played this game a lot on PC and enjoyed it, but I’m also inspired by the creativity needed to solve problems on a software engineering level for the adaptation. To me, Stadia is an interesting platform – cloud gaming itself presents a unique solution to overcome various network problems, some of which I had not been able to imagine before.
What about your personal favorite game?
The Battlefield games. As a game programmer, I’m able to recognize the sheer technical complexity behind the rich content and the versatile sandbox gameplay powering it, which makes it fun.
What does an Assistant Technical Director do?
Usually, an Assistant Technical Director would perform a variety of functions, such as choosing proper solutions on how to implement gameplay features, controlling the overall quality of the technical aspects such as reviewing the work done by team members, estimating potential risks and keeping deadlines in mind. Also, they’re also required to keep themselves up-to-date with the designers and project clients on their requirements, and to report progress to the higher-ups.
What’s a normal work day like for you? Give us a quick description of your daily routine.
My daily routine starts with a stand up meeting. The team members would discuss about the progress of their tasks or potential problems. Then I will start clearing my emails and replying to some of them. The rest of the morning will be spent reviewing code, or helping out with some emergency bug fixes.
In the afternoon, if there aren’t any meetings to attend, I would work on my own coding tasks or update the planning on our tracking tool. At some point in the afternoon, I would have a quick sync-up with the producer and my line manager, sharing some ideas.
Is there anything about working in the team that you wish more people should know about?
It’s important for us to communicate as much as we can until all of the team members are on the same page regarding current issues and other important info. It’s the basis of accurate planning. Sometimes we have to work with remote studios, making this more difficult. The only way is to talk and listen more.
Another thing is the concept of trust. At some point, we will have to offload some tasks to others and trust them with it. Projects can scale up quickly to the point where the ‘One Man Army’ strategy just won’t work. Sometimes it’s better to train other people first, then let them help you with your tasks.
Lastly, as a programmer working within a team, I think the most important thing to remember is to maximize the readability of the code as much as possible.
What kind of benefits would you say you have enjoyed in your time at Virtuos?
Personally, I think I’ve benefitted the most from the mid-level management training that I received in the past 4 years. I learned about proper time management, how to communicate on difficult topics, breaking down problems and creative problem solving.
These soft skills don’t just help in my career development, but has come in useful in my day-to-day life. For example, I’m able to prioritize better my activities and make the most of my time during vacations. Or when I’m helping someone, I can decide on the proper course of action by analyzing the situation and asking the right questions. Finally, it has also made it easier for me to reach out and connect with new friends.
What do you like to do to relax after work?
I love watching vlogs (video diaries) about pets, travel or cooking. I also like working out and having a good dinner right afterwards.
Is there anything you would like to say to anyone reading up about Virtuos?
If you want to make blockbuster titles and work with the biggest names in the industry, joining Virtuos is one of the shortest paths to get there. With Virtuos constantly expanding and incorporating new technologies, you will always get the opportunity to work with cutting edge tools and methods.
Thank you very much, Qing!