Hey, Filip. Please, tell us a little about yourself.
Before jumping into the game industry, I studied at Czech Technical University and majored in Software Engineering. I've been with Bohemia Interactive since October 2015 and since then, my sole project has been Ylands. I was born and have lived my whole life in Prague, so when I saw a Facebook ad that people from a BI office in Prague are looking for a Programmer for an unannounced project, I applied (after my wife put a careful amount of pressure on me).
Can you tell us a random fact about yourself...
When I was a kid, I used to play chess professionally. To this day, I miss it and wish I had more time to get back to playing chess more often.
What was your first positive interaction with video games, that you can remember?
I've had many positive interactions since very early on (starting with playing Operation Wolf while sitting on my mum's lap when I was 3 years old), but the one that I'll never forget is when I played Half-Life: Opposing Force for the first time, and right at the beginning the aircraft you're in goes down. The scenes that follow were emotionally very strong for me – considering I was 10 back then – and I played the introduction over and over again.
And your most memorable video game moment?
We had no Internet connection in our home back in the early 2000s. One day, a friend of mine took me to our school's PC room where there was Counter-Strike 1.3 installed on all PCs. We played it with a bunch of other youngsters and I was blown away. It was my first true multiplayer experience and I still remember it as if it was yesterday. The first two maps I ever played were cs_assault and de_aztec. These two are still my favourite maps, mostly for the nostalgic feels I get every time I play them. :)
After a holiday-gone-wrong, you find yourself marooned on a deserted yland. Destined to live out your remaining days stranded in the middle of the ocean, what's the one game you'd miss the most?
Well, this one is tough. I tend to switch games very often and at this precise moment, I am obsessed with LOGistICAL, Rise to Ruins, and The Binding of Isaac. But generally, I think I'd miss the Half-Life series the most. Half-Life is the game of my heart and I still play all of the canonical games in the series once every few years. I'd also hate it if I couldn't try out Black Mesa after Crowbar Collective release Xen!
What's your favourite movie, TV show, and/or book?
I try to be politically conscious, because I think that the fastest way to lose our freedom is to simply not care (or care, but not verify information and get manipulated). For that reason, my favourite book is 1984 by George Orwell. You could cut the atmosphere in the book with a knife and the fact that it could easily become real is frightening.
I've actually got many favourite TV shows. I love British sitcoms and three of my favourites are Red Dwarf, The IT Crowd, and Black Books. My favourite movie would probably be The Wall by Pink Floyd. I love their music and knowing the history of the band and of their first frontman — the movie is an absolute gem for me.
So, as a Programmer for Ylands, what exactly do you do?
I am a Gameplay Programmer, which means I am responsible for some of the things that players can do in the game. For instance, I created energy stuff in the game and more recently, co-created blueprints. I also like to burrow a bit into less gameplay related parts of the game, such as file input/output, communication with our backend services — or even things like Steam Cloud integration or mesh baking in order to boost performance of the game when there are a lot of building blocks on the screen at one moment.
And what got you into programming for video games?
I've always wanted to make games and when I was about 9 years old, I started wondering how developers do it with GameBoy cartridges — do they look at the electronics under a microscope and write some really tiny computer hieroglyphs onto it? Shortly after, someone told me that they save code on them using PCs, so I renamed the extensions of all the files in our Red Alert folder to txt in order to open it in notepad and see how it works. Of course, I only found rubbish and, seeing my interest, the next day my dad bought a copy of Visual Basic 6 and taught me the basics of programming. I used it well and created a lot of various simple games to amuse my schoolmates. Basically, I knew I wanted to create games since I was a child.
What was the first programming language you learned, and which is currently your favorite?
The first programming languages I learned were Visual Basic and shortly after, HTML, if you can consider it a programming language. I can actually write code in more languages mostly thanks to my time at university and various work experiences before Bohemia Interactive. But my favourite languages are C++ and C#. You can write some advanced code really easily in C# (and I like how the code visually looks much more than Java), but I also like absolute control over what a program does, so when I program something as a hobby, I usually use C++.
What do you enjoy about your job, and programming in general?
Programming is challenging, sometimes even frustrating, but in the end it's very rewarding. In game development, especially when creating an open world sandbox game, most of the time you have to overcome challenges that no one had to solve before. However, as soon as it all clicks and you get a working piece, the feeling is like nothing else. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. In the beginning, you see a picture of what the result should look like, but you only have scattered pieces all over the floor at your disposal. As you start sorting the pieces and you stop to think about the puzzle for a bit, you begin to get the idea of how to do it. Then the process itself and seeing how the resulting picture is slowly being put together can be very addictive. During family meetings, though, explaining what exactly it is that you do at work to your grandparents is the hardest thing about programming. :)
What's the worst – or most memorable – bug you've come across in a video game?
I am a fan of speedruns, and there is a bug that is widely used in speedrunning Half-Life 1 that I find especially nice. Normally, if you get stuck in a door, it deals 1 damage per frame. There is one door in the whole game, however, that is wrongly set to deal minus 1 damage. If you get stuck in this particular door, it will effectively heal you by 1 HP per frame and it ignores the normal 100 HP limit. You can then use a thing called explosive boost and basically fly through the rest of game without caring for health.
Tell us, why do you think people should play Ylands?
The main reason is, I think, the in-game editor that gets more powerful with each update, especially now that we've added visual scripting. Even though we are still in early access, you can make some pretty amazing stuff in it, and, sometimes, even we are honestly surprised by what players make and then send us. I, on the other hand, enjoy relaxing gameplay and living on my own yland, so when I play Ylands, I usually start up singleplayer explore mode and just enjoy my own little procedurally generated paradise. There is something for everyone in the game.
Is there anything else you're currently working on in your spare time?
In my spare time (if I'm still in the mood for programming after programming 8+ hours at work), I try to create a 3D renderer in C++ and OpenGL from scratch. Other than that, I attend a four semester long astronomy course in Prague Observatory. But mostly, I just play video and tabletop games, usually together with my wife, who also happens to work at Bohemia Interactive. :)
To finish, tell us one of Filip's Top Tips...
If you are exceedingly good at something, chances are you are exceedingly bad at something else. Here are in fact two tips from me: If you’re trying to surprise your wife and cook the dinner for once, know that pans usually have a handle which doesn't conduct heat. The rim, on the other hand, does – make sure not to drift away in your thoughts and do notice the handle. Second tip: If you’re chopping wood, be gentle with the swings. If you overdo it, your head might find itself in the trajectory of the axe. Both tips were found out the hard way.
Our next Featured Bohemian is right around the corner, so keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest updates. But until then, feel free to learn more about working at Bohemia Interactive by checking out our Careers Page – we may just have the perfect job opening for you. Until next time...