A Software Engineer from the seaside city of Plymouth, Ryan joined MPG just over 2 years ago. He’s always worked from home, and feels like the pandemic has brought him and his team closer together. Ryan is part of the fabric of the company, which is probably why he’s passionate about MPG swag.
- Role Software Engineer
- Location Plymouth, UK
- Years in the industry 9
- Number of games 14
- Superpower Bipolar (I feel happy and sad about this)
- Kryptonite Unskippable cutscenes
- Favourite language C++
- Favourite Software Unreal Engine 4
- Game that changed you TimeSplitters 2
- Rock / paper / scissors Two Birds, One Stone. Richard and Linda. Remember 430.
What attracted you to working in games?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories in many different forms – whether it be crudely drawn comic books based upon Abe’s Oddysee when I was a kid to very abstract doodles on napkins in the modern day, I’ve always enjoyed being able to express myself and my ideals in ways I might not be able to communicate properly with my words.
Games have always been a core pillar in my life due to the fact my parents worked a lot of the time whilst I was growing up and I quickly learned that games can be used as yet another form of communication – to connect and talk to people in ways that I can’t quite get across with my spoken words.
How did you get into the industry?
Whilst I was in school, I loved messing around with Macromedia Flash, but I never expected to do anything more substantial with the tool apart from making small little quiz games and animations that could either be seen as crude or super abstract (Glass half full and all that).
As my school days were coming to an end, I had the bright idea that I could take Flash more seriously and so went to University to study animation so I could join the games industry that way… The only problem was, I ended up hating it.
I quickly realised that being an animator might not be for me but I wasn’t ready to give up yet (Ignore the fact I just told you I gave up)!
I started serving pints at my local bar by day and hunting Youtube for tutorials on video-game development at night. Before I knew it, I knew my “for loops” from my “switch statements”.
Then one day it all changed. That day was March 19, 2014.
Unreal Engine 4 released that day and I rushed to see the new, exciting and shiny engine everybody was talking about. It was glorious. It did everything I wanted from an engine and more – the only downside was the documentation at the time left a lot to be desired.
Using everything I had learned to that point, when I wanted to learn about a new feature in the engine I would look at the source code to learn how a feature worked, then I’d write a tutorial about how to use said feature so others could use these cool features too.
A couple months later, I was the author of a number of books (with terrible grammar and plenty of spelling mistakes in them), I had a game dev educational website amassing thousands of users a day and I got myself one of those fancy Unreal Dev Grants.
A short time after that, Epic hired me based on my educational endeavours with the engine (They sure didn’t hire me for my looks!) and the rest is history.
How is it different now from when you joined?
When I first joined the industry, everyone was working in an office and not using Unreal Engine 4. Nowadays, hardly anyone works in an office and it feels like they all use Unreal Engine 4.
I have always worked remotely (partly due to convenience, partly due to I’m a little too weird for a civilised environment) so to have all of my peers working remotely has greatly changed my workflows and pipelines (for the better!).
I think the industry adjusting to a remote-focused workflow is here to stay and for people like me, that is a great thing. I hope the industry continues to diversify, be more inclusive and well as cater to workflows that aren’t seen as “by the book”.
What's your proudest achievement?
“Bloodborne – Bloodborne. Platinum trophy. All trophies acquired. Hats off! Unlocked 25th Feb 2020”.
Oh, you meant achievement as in LIFE achievement? Most likely the educational website I setup and spoke about earlier.
The idea behind it was I believed information shouldn’t be behind a paywall and I wanted to teach other people the cool game development things I was learning. Before I took it down for a rework that hasn’t yet come to fruition, the website has 20 million users and 250TB of bandwidth consumed – no easy feat!
What led you to join MPG?
MPG first came on my radar when Vaughan [MPG’s Head of People] slid into my DMs. Almost instantly he sold me on the ideas that drive the company and just three weeks later I was on a train (literally) to join the company and I haven’t looked back since.
What game do you wish you'd worked on and why?
TimeSplitters – it was such an instrumental part of my awakening as a game developer and a big part of my childhood. Everything about it from the worlds, the characters and the gameplay showed me what true craftsmanship in the games industry could be and it today continues to inspire and drive me to be a better developer.
Do you have any heroes in the industry, or anyone who has had a big influence on you?
There are many people I look up to in the industry for many different reasons but the two that really stick out to me are Luscious Lorne Lanning because well… it’s Luscious Lorne Lanning, but one my main hero would have to be Chris Kirby. [Technical Director at MPG.]
Being able to work alongside him continues to be a pleasure and he is one of those unsung heroes that seemingly everyone I talk to in the industry knows well and has an enlightening story to tell about him and his escapades.
It never gets old bringing up an older game I grew up with to him and for Chris to give me the story of “Hey, I worked on that” and to have him tell me an interesting story about the development of many games from my childhood and beyond.
He’s always happy, always quirky and is all in all a massive inspiration behind my continued love for the industry.
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
I think the industry works best when it likes to push on the boundaries of what has come before – I believe it thrives when it truly tries something new. Risk taking with innovative ideas consistently pushes us forward and I feel over time, we as an industry are making safer and safer bets.
I hope we can steer away from “playing it safe” and go back to our “all in, 13 black at the roulette table” mentality as I believe our biggest successes as an industry come when we have no mercy for normality.
What are you looking forward to?
The generations below us who are growing up with games like Minecraft, Fortnite and other games, where creativity is at the forefront, are going to eventually become the face of the industry. I am really looking forward to what the industry looks like when that generation is in charge, as I believe we’ll get some really out of the box experiences that blow our minds.
How has the pandemic changed the way you work?
I usually work remotely, which if you’re not prepared for it can be quite an isolating experience. The pandemic has definitely made me feel less lonely and I think having people going through the same things as I have has really brought me closer to my team and friends.
I think this time has also given my peers understanding that remote working isn’t simply the same experience as brushing shoulders in the office and that has helped all of us grow together and understand each other’s idiosyncrasies and best work practices a lot more than before the world ended.