As promised in Update #30, it's time to meet the people making the game. In today's update, we interview Steve Weatherly, a programmer on Project Eternity.
Q:Steve, can you tell us what you do on Project Eternity?
A: I'm a gameplay programmer primarily responsible for making combat happen. What that means is that I look at what Josh and Tim design for the game, and tell them it can never be done. After that, they tell me it has to get done, so then I figure out a way to make it happen. I spend most of my day writing code, either for AI (to make the enemies act like they know what they're doing), or the underlying code that makes characters fight and take damage, etc. I'm also our chief Reddit ambassador, which I sort of fell into but it has been a lot of fun.
Q:What are you currently working on today?
A: Today I'm actually working on building our equipment system. When I'm done, designers will be able to take a weapon that an artist models and drag it onto a character. The character will then hold it in their hand, swing it, and cause damage to their enemies. My weapon of choice is currently the flail, which Unity made surprisingly easy to create.
Q: What’s your typical work day like on Project Eternity?
A: When I start my day in the morning the first thing I do is check email and make sure there aren't any outstanding issues or meetings I need to think about. I frequently also log into Reddit to see if I have any fan questions. After that I fire up Unity, update my build to see everyone else's work, then run the game to make sure it still works like it did when I left the night before. If there are any major issues I'll take care of them, otherwise I'll start working on whatever the next thing is that I need to build. I usually head off to the gym at lunch because my office is a dark cell and I need sunshine (or the fluorescent lights of the gym). Then more programming after lunch. Around 3:30pm I'm about ready to fall asleep, so each day all of the programmers gather up and walk across the street for coffee. That might seem like a waste of time to some, but it gives all of the programmers a chance to talk about what they are working and bounce ideas off of each other. Also coffee.
Q: What feature are you most looking forward to programming?
A: I got into the game industry wanting to be an AI programmer. So, while I enjoy the challenges of engineering other systems, AI is where my heart is. I can't wait until we have a full complement of spells so I can write some cool wizard AI and give people an epic wizard battle!
Q: What's been one of the largest challenges so far?
A: So far the biggest challenge has really just been getting familiar with Unity and building stuff so that when the design team starts making levels they will have a solid set of tools, easy to use and ready to go.
Q: What other projects have you worked on at Obsidian?
A: I've been at Obsidian almost 7 years, so there's been a lot. I started out as tools programmer on the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset, followed by my first job as an AI programmer on the cancelled Aliens RPG project, after that I helped out with Alpha Protocol's AI system doing bug fixes. Then I moved to Dungeon Siege 3 where I was responsible for building the AI systems both for the game and our Onyx engine. I served a tour of duty on South Park integrating the Onyx combat system with the turn based design of that game. They hired Tim Cain to replace me on South Park and I moved over to the (now cancelled) North Carolina project. Between North Carolina and Project Eternity I worked on various prototypes we were doing to try and pitch games.
Q: Where do you like eat for lunch?
A: Being a California native I really love Mexican food. We tend to go to Wahoo's Fish Tacos a lot because we can walk there from the office and it's pretty good.
Q: Who's your favorite programmer?
A: Well, I would say Adam Brennecke, but he's a producer now and is dead to me. So it's going to have to be Tim Cain. I definitely envy his ability to design, code, and bake well. He's a triple threat and that's also earned him a spot on my list of most job threatening co-workers. Fortunately I know his weakness...
Q: What's your favorite game?
A: That's easy, my favorite game of all time is Baldur's Gate. It was the first RPG I played and the first time I felt like I was in another world that I could explore. I'd never experienced that before and it's what inspired me to want to make games for a living.
Q: What do you like to do when you aren't programming?
A: Drink... heavily. Preferably whiskey, but I'm also happy with vodka.
Q: How many push-ups can you do?
A: More than the average programmer, but significantly less than Chris Avellone.
Q: What's your favorite Thanksgiving dinner dish?
A: Cornbread stuffing!
Thanks for reading. We want to have weekly updates on Tuesdays from now on, so be sure to drop by every Tuesday for the next Project Eternity update.
If you have any additional questions for Steve - post them on this thread and he will be happy to answer some of them!