In our ongoing series introducing you to the members of Mobius, we talk to our wunderkind programmer, Jeffrey Yu, about what he does for the studio!
So you're a Software Engineer on Outer Wilds: What does that mean you do on a day-to-day basis?
If I'm not hunting bugs (often of my own making), I generally get stuck on developing new systems for Outer Wilds. It often starts with a long discussion with the game designers, with me trying to suss out the parts that are important to me in terms of software design. Once all those requirements are sorted out, I get to implementing it in game:
*insert Hollywood hacking sequence*
*insert rage sequence*
*repeat above as many times as needed*
*insert Houston Mission Control Center celebration*
Inevitably after some play-testing, the game designers will come back with tweaks or fixes they want to make, and the whole software development cycle begins again. It's a story familiar to most programmers, I'm sure.
How long have you been working on Outer Wilds and Mobius?
How long has it been... I officially started coming into the office around July of 2014. Prior to that I had done some contract work for them on their mobile games. I got my feet wet working on porting Terra Chroma from iOS to the Android platform. Then afterwards came Beacon 38. On the tail end of development for that, most of us moved on to start work on Outer Wilds, but I was finishing up the last few niggling issues on Beacon, so I started work on Outer Wilds maybe a month or so after everyone else did.
So you got a degree in aerospace engineering. How does that relate to programming for Outer Wilds?
I'm not sure it has much direct relation at all! I did get a minor in computer science which probably helps more in that regard.
That said, the experience I gained from working on that degree likely helped me work out the more difficult math bits without my eyes glazing over. I'd like to say that I developed all the cool physics bits like gravity or flight, but Alex is enough of a space nerd that all that stuff is already in the game and working, so he doesn't need me to mess with it.
How is developing for Outer Wilds different from developing mobile games?
Mobile games are... unique. Especially with the Android platform where I have to worry about a bewildering variety of different devices with their own little quirks. What worked perfectly on most devices, might fail completely on another. At least with a desktop-based game like Outer Wilds, I don't have to worry quite that much about the specifics of people's systems. (knock on wood)
What excites you about making games?
I think the exciting part of making games is the variety of tasks and problems. They're like multifaceted puzzles. I like to make things and I like to fix things, despite the annoying bugs that appear in the process, so games development satisfies that desire quite well.
What is your hope for the future of Outer Wilds and Mobius as an engineer?
Well I certainly hope we get Outer Wilds done and with the bugs all sorted out by release! And if are any bugs, I hope they're at least amusing. I'm definitely looking forward to watching people do Let's Plays!
With a new game comes a new set of puzzles for me to rage over, so I'll raise my mug to more games from Mobius. And I seem to be out of coffee, so I should get more.
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