Questions for a high school computer science project


#1

To whom it may concern,

I’ve been a big fan of Overwatch for a while, and have always admired your company’s community involvement. I am a high school student in Ontario, Canada, and for a computer science project, we are tasked with contacting someone outside of Canada in the computer science field to ask some questions about what their job entails.

If somebody from the Overwatch team could answer these questions, I would be ecstatic.

  1. What does a typical work day look for you? What responsibilities or roles do you take on? Do you get to play Overwatch on the job?
  1. How do you think your work impacts the environment (positive, negative)? What is being done at Blizzard, and your job specifically, to help preserve the environment?
  1. What was your academic background? What did you do before working at Blizzard? How did you get your job at Blizzard?

The project also requires proof that you work in the computer science industry.

Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,

SushiDoge

P.S. Ryūjin no ken wo kurae!


Questions about about the development team lifestyle
(Bill Warnecke) #2

Hey there SushiDoge!

I’m a lead software engineer on the Overwatch team. My team is called Reliability Engineering and at a high level we focus on live operations, build systems, and automation.

As a lead engineer I split my time between individual contribution (like writing code) and managing projects and people. The actual split varies depending on what’s going on, I’m the most happy when it’s somewhere around 40% coding, 60% managing.

A typical day for me starts pretty early. I like to be in the office before the rest of the team. This gives me an opportunity to check on things like our morning scheduled builds. The reliability engineering team takes development productivity very seriously, we want to make sure everyone can do their job when they show up. If builds are broken, that can slow everyone down!

After I drink a coffee and do small things I try to write some code for whatever project I’m working on. Usually I can sneak in a few hours before morning standups.

Once people arrive in the office, sub teams get together and do a quick standup sync. Talk through what’s going on today, what blockers are in the way, etc. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the entire development team meets in our lounge and we show off new art and talk about upcoming milestones. This meeting is actually awesome! It helps connect you with the work that’s happening on other teams that you may not get a chance to talk to every day.

We have two scheduled playtest every day, but there are a lot of ad-hoc playtests depending on what developers need. The two scheduled playtests are led by our QA group and they do a great job of focusing the team on the next major milestone, making sure everyone has a chance to share their thoughts on whatever is next for Overwatch.

As a game developer it’s really common for people to ask us if we play games all day, our QA team is especially sensitive to this question. :slight_smile: Geoff Goodman, our lead hero designer, likes to compare us to a bakery. You probably don’t spend all day eating cakes if you work at a bakery! Still, it’s absolutely critical to have time for the whole team to play, we’re very connected to Overwatch. There are several groups that do competitive games over lunch, our animators are a particularly serious bunch, they’re very good at the game!

There was an awesome post on our forums a while ago about a community project called Ecopoint Brazil. The folks who created and participated in this project are amazing individuals, it felt amazing to see Overwatch as a source of inspiration for them.

One of our core values is to embrace your inner geek, it’s one of my favorite parts of Blizzard culture. I’m currently traveling, but once I return to the office I’ll follow up with our environmental geeks to see what they’re most excited about, I’ll try to come back here to share.

I’ve always been passionate about programming. Bulletin boards were popular when I was young (sort of before the internet), and I would work on the software for my friends. I went to school at the University of Minnesota for Computer Science. I think education is important, I love to do events with our university relations teams.

I’ve been at Blizzard for about 7 years, it felt a bit like coming home. I have a lot of great friends who worked here, they’ve been around much longer than me! I knew I wanted to work on video games but I wasn’t in a hurry. I’ve worked at a few great companies during my career including Boston Scientific and Electronic Arts. Blizzard is magical though.

Hopefully my flair here will work as proof, cheers!


Overwatch Blizzard/Developer Post Directory - Last Updated: 3/13/2019
#3

woah, congrats kid. Hope you do well on this thing.


#4

This ladies and gentlemen, is why I love this game. Because the creators care for the community.


#5

Wow, you got a response from Bill! Congrats! GL on your project!


#6

Dream job! Thanks for posting this Bill!


#7

Be nice if you could write some code to get Rocket Punch cancel unbinded from LMB :wink:

Nice post! Always love hearing about the inner workings of these types of places.


#9

This is actually super cool. A huge thanks to OP for asking the question and to Mr. Warnecke for responding. I’ve always wanted to know what working at Blizzard is like cause with luck, i’ll be applying for an internship there in 4-5 years and even more luck, working there soon after. If these guys are gonna be on the forums more often, might start asking some questions myself!

Best of luck to you on your Comp Sci project SushiDoge, knock 'em dead!


#10

You guys are the best.


#11

wow you are fantastic !


#12

Can I just say this thread is cute and I love that you responded? :blush:


#15

Glad you made it outta there in time!


#16

:clap: :clap: :clap: This is priceless


#17

Good luck in this, kid.


#18

Good luck on the project! hope it goes well


#19

Great insight, Thanks!


#20

Awesome that you got such a detailed reply. Much respect


(Josh Engen) #21

Hey, everyone.

A few more developers were kind enough to respond to these questions, so I’ve combined their responses into a single post. Enjoy!

Howie Yoo [Senior Software Engineer]

What does a typical work day look for you? What responsibilities or roles do you take on? Do you get to play games on the job?

I am a software engineer on the engine team and do systems and console related work. This consists of coding and debugging in C++ to make the game work correctly and efficiently on the wide range of hardware and platforms we support. I also spend a lot of time figuring out why it works on my machine and not yours.

How do you think your work impacts the environment (positive, negative)? What is being done at Blizzard, or your job/company specifically, to help preserve the environment?

I live 50 miles from the office so my commute has a negative impact on the environment. Blizzard offers a subsidized van pool as well as incentives for those who car pool.

What was your academic background? What did you do before working at your company? How did you get your job at your company?

I was once a high school student from Ontario as well and lived all around the GTA before going to the University of Waterloo for Computer Science back in the late 90s. As part of Waterloo’s co-operative education program, I got a work term at EA and have been in the industry since then. While attending BlizzCon 2014, the year of the Overwatch announce, I applied for a position and was accepted about three years ago.

Keith Miron [Lead Software Engineer]

What does a typical work day look for you?

Get into work, look over our team’s bugs for the day, review emails from last night, figure out what tasks I need to accomplish that day, attend meetings, do some actual programming, partake in playtests, watch Overwatch League whenever possible.

What responsibilities or roles do you take on?

As a lead for gameplay, most of my responsibilities revolve around working with our awesome engineering team who work on new features for Overwatch. These range from things like adding skin selection to hero select, cool abilities for our latest heroes, or supporting Overwatch League!

Do you get to play games on the job?

I would say that most of our time is actually occupied with making the game. That being said we do get to play Overwatch during our internal ‘playtests’ to try out new heroes, maps, features. This is an important part of development, since we are heavily iteration driven and it can take quite a few playtests to really figure out what needs to be added/removed/changed.

How do you think your work impacts the environment (positive, negative)?

It’s hard to gauge, but I would say most of my impact to the environment is negative in that I have about a 20-minute commute to work (by car). I’m looking to switch over to biking instead, which thankfully Blizzard offers incentives for doing!

What is being done at Blizzard, or your job/company specifically, to help preserve the environment?

For the stuff that I know of, we have on-site electric vehicle chargers, recycling bins everywhere, and rideshare programs to promote carpooling/biking to work.

What was your academic background?

B.S in Computer Science, and a bunch of programming during my early years and throughout high school.

What did you do before working at your company?

Went to school for Computer Science, worked a bunch of odd jobs and did a stint at a different video game company or 5 and a half years, before coming to Blizzard around 2011.

How did you get your job at your company?

I had a former co-worker who was already at Blizzard, and he was able to get me a referral to apply.

Andrew Wang [Senior Software Engineer]

What does a typical work day look for you? What responsibilities or roles do you take on? Do you get to play games on the job?

A typical day as a gameplay programmer usually starts with morning synch-up meetings, catching up on any outstanding email/messages etc. At this point I either continue coding what I left off yesterday or start talking to other engineers and designers about what we should be focusing on next. This might be as simple as checking up on my designers and making sure they have the technology they need to finish their own tasks, or fielding requests from them or other engineers. For example, a designer might say, “I need a way for Doomfist to gain shields whenever he performs a special ability, and these bonus shields need to decay to 0 over time.” I would then sit down with that designer, make sure we talk through all the use cases, talk about how urgent/complex making the change would be, and then give him an estimate as to when I could deliver that code, based on its complexity and urgency and what other work I have to do.

This is actually one of the most fun parts of my job because I love helping making the building blocks that make our game come to life. Other things I may work on during the day is giving advice to other engineers about how best to solve certain problems they are working on, or asking them for their feedback about something I am working on.

Do you get to play games on the job?

Obviously I get to play Overwatch in order to test it, though in that sense we are usually playing it to test something new, whether it’s a new hero, new map, or tweaks to abilities. Every time Blizzard releases a game, we usually take the next day to just sit down and play that game, so that’s fun. Most games though, I play on my own time, both for fun and to see what good ideas other people are coming up with (or in less fun cases, what isn’t working). It’s pretty common for people to say ‘oh you make games, so you must play games all day’. A good way to think about it is that we make games all day in the same way a baker eats cake all day. Eating cake might be part of it (to see if it’s any good), but there’s a lot more to it.

How do you think your work impacts the environment (positive, negative)? What is being done at Blizzard, or your job/company specifically, to help preserve the environment?

I’m not sure there’s much that I directly affect that then has an impact one way or the other on the environment. We’ve definitely begun focusing on selling our games digitally rather than physical, boxed copies, so that means less physical waste as people continue to move away from buying physical copies. I think that’s got to be a solid plus for the environment, as we go more digital. I do have to confess that I still buy most of my media physically, since I’m a collector/packrat, so if you can avoid it, don’t be like me!

What was your academic background? What did you do before working at your company? How did you get your job at your company?

I have a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. I took an ‘introduction to video game programming’ class (kind of by mistake, actually), that really turned me on to making games. I took an internship with a game company that one of the course instructors worked at, and that’s how I ‘broke in’ to the industry. I’ve worked at three other game companies before I came to Blizzard something like 8 years ago. I got the job by applying! We actually have the most reasonable interview process out of any company I’ve interviewed at, in my opinion.

Stephen Penson [Senior Gameplay Engineer]

What does a typical work day look for you? What responsibilities or roles do you take on? Do you get to play games on the job?

I work on the gameplay engineering team. I’m mostly responsible for the Overwatch animation system but also do various gameplay and hero related work.
Depending on the stage of the project, I may be working on a single feature (over days or even weeks) or I may be addressing various bugs or improvements (multiple per day). Currently it’s mostly work on new content, workflow improvements and bug fixing. Whatever stage of the project, there’s plenty of collaboration with Game Designers, Producers, Content Creators, QA (and sometimes Customer Service) as well as other engineers from the team or across the company.

How do you think your work impacts the environment (positive, negative)? What is being done at Blizzard, or your job/company specifically, to help preserve the environment?

I am personally quite concerned about the environment and try and keep my own carbon footprint in check. I cycle to work every day, try and keep appliances off, recycle etc. Blizzard help support this with a ‘rideshare’ program. We can re-cycle etc. Obviously a large number of PC’s switched on 24/7 would be a negative.

What was your academic background? What did you do before working at your company? How did you get your job at your company?

I have a BSc (HONS) Engineering Physics degree from a U.K. university. I‘d been programming games as a hobby throughout my school and college education but didn’t study for a software engineering career.

My first job in the games industry was after a career change (after 3yrs working as an electronics engineer in Aerospace/Defense). After a year out traveling (and working on my own project/demo) I applied via a recruiting agency to several local games companies. I was fortunate enough to be able to accept an offer with a very friendly group of people at Bizarre Creations. Back then team sizes were still small (I was programmer 30 or something?) so it was usual to be plunged into the deep end, taking ownership of several systems and areas of the game. Over time (and on multiple games) I began to specialize in player character/camera control and animation which I still enjoy working on to this day.


Overwatch Blizzard/Developer Post Directory - Last Updated: 3/13/2019
#22

This makes my heart so happy :sob: :sparkling_heart: I wish I could like it but I’m out of hearts


#23

Oh wow. This is so interesting to read about! I love behind the scenes stuff like this! Thanks for Sharing Mr. Engen :slight_smile: