Hey, Dram. Please, tell us a bit about yourself...
G'day everyone! I'm Dram, also known as Martin Melicharek I was born in the Czech Republic but grew up in Australia, where I modded games since around 12 years of age, starting in the original Unreal. I love stealth games and had the wonderful opportunity of working on The Dark Mod (a Thief-like mod for Doom 3) during this time too. Then, in 2009, I joined Bohemia Interactive right after finishing my studies in Sydney. Starting out, I worked on Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead. I truly got to go all out on Take On Mars though, thanks to which I worked on a research paper for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts along with veteran NASA engineers (it was about using a game interface to control real rovers on Mars).
Can you tell us a random fact about yourself...
For our second date (we were to go roller-skating) I arrived with torn and bloodied pants, a ripped knee with gravel bits still attached and a smile. Despite thinking I was regular, bat-poop crazy, my girlfriend did not run for the hills. I guess it worked out as we are married and together for about 10 years now.
What was your first positive interaction with video games, that you can remember?
It was Lost Secret of the Rainforest, a point-and-click adventure game set in the jungles of South America. It was a difficult (for a child) but rewarding and fun game that truly spurred creativity and imagination.
And your most memorable video game moment?
That would be in The Elder Scrolls: Redguard. There is a section where you walk into a dragon's lair beneath the castle, his name being Nafaalilargus. In EVERY other main figure encounter you would have the option of dialogue, in many cases having a way to negotiate your way out of it. In this case however, Cyrus (your character) walks in, the dragon magically closes the door behind you, lights a brazier with his flaming breath and begins to talk. Instead of getting the opportunity to bargain, good old Cyrus decides it is the best time to fight the dragon.
What's your all-time favourite video game? And what sort of game do you like to play generally?
This is a difficult one. I would name titles such as TES: Redguard, TES: Morrowind, Thief, Thief II, Aliens vs Predator II, Doom 2016... But were I forced to pick only ONE, it would have to be Thief II. It essentially defined stealth in games and indeed when I play RPGs, action games, or practically any game that offers it, I choose stealth. Apart from Doom – there I am happily blasting away demons with a coffee to the side.
What’s the worst — or most memorable — bug you’ve come across in a video game?
Oh that would have to be Valentina Galkina in Arma II, when the rigging broke and turned her into The Thing. She was a victim of opposing forces in the game and you were supposed to help her, but with this bug the only thought that came to mind was "GET OUT".
What's your favourite movie, TV show, and/or book?
I would have to say Interstellar for film. For me, the portrayal of the human effects of time dilation when getting close to the gargantuan black hole were brilliantly portrayed, with people ageing and dying back on Earth, which made it a very powerful film in my opinion. As for TV show, I'll probably sound quite common in saying Game of Thrones. As for book, it would have to be the original Dune. The unbelievably detailed writing creating direct pictures in one's mind are exactly the fuel for the creative fire that one needs, especially for this industry.
And your go-to music playlist is...?
Doom (2016) OST
So, as a Lead Scripter, what do you do?
I take care of the scripters, ensuring they have tasks that help push the project forward while trying to balance that with each person getting to work on what they are interested in most, if possible. At the same time, I clarify scripting guidelines, partake in technical design, and luckily, I still get to write some features myself too.
What do you think are the most important skills / traits to have for someone in your position?
To be honest, I find the most critically important trait to simply be human. Treat others as you would wish to be treated, do not feed your own ego on the lesser experience of others, conversely, mentor them and help them learn so that the team grows as a whole. Of course, it is important to deliver on deadlines and make the game as best as possible, however, too much focus on deadlines and delivering means less focus on the personal growth of individual team members, and thus a tendency of said members to look for more rewarding opportunities elsewhere in the long run. The most efficient team is the one that is most happy and this especially applies to creative industries such as game development.
What do you enjoy about your job, and game development in general?
That feeling when the puzzle pieces fall into place and you click 'Play' (or equivalent) and are presented with a fun experience, are immersed, transported into another world for a time – being part of the team that is responsible for giving that to someone else to enjoy.
Will SQF be replaced with something new anytime soon or is it still the scripting language best suited for the Arma engine? (Penney Keegan)
For our future games built on Enfusion, we intend to fully empower the modding community with the in-built scripting language, resembling C# in many ways. Arma 3 will continue to use SQF.
Is Enfusion using DirectX 12? And if so, what about Raytracing? (@caminoonpc)
DirectX 12 is something being looked into at present, however, I personally am unsure it would be of particular benefit to use raytracing, as for most cases screen-space reflections and baked reflections are more than adequate. Though certainly for interior games/mods/levels it would be great to have it available, so I guess we'll see how things go!
Will there be a demonstration of the Enfusion game engine? (@Astronotic_s)
DayZ utilizes Enfusion as its core tech, though a newer version is in the works. As for a demo of the newer version, I'm hoping we'll have it available as soon as possible.
How much did you enjoy swimming with the fishes in the Mnisek garden? (@Homesikh)
Oh it was fantastic. I still remember the smell now :-D But I couldn't leave a friend to take the hit alone! Hehe.
Will full Enfusion have any new features (lambda), syntax or other additions compared to DayZ SA? (@Jacob_MangoR)
Definitely, we've been working on improving the engine and toolset to allow the community to create mods till their heart's content. Certainly, the scripting language itself has seen many improvements and the tools have moved forward a lot too.
Will scripters be given more power over the memory management? (@Jacob_MangoR)
Definitely. On one hand a fantastic feature is reference counting (which compared to C# garbage collector is significantly more pleasant), soft pointers allowing automatic nulling of pointers, and so on.
Will more things be exposed and will there be proper implementations with systems such as 3D Math or Physics? (@Jacob_MangoR)
Yes, much of the API is moved over from (and improved upon) the Enforce engine, on which Take On Mars, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, and so on, are built. Take On Mars specifically was practically entirely written in script. There is a ton of physics and 3D math API that modders can look forward to.
Will the free fall above 200m in Arma issue ever be fixed/configurable? (chase.guitard)
In our future games, running on Enfusion, this issue will certainly not be present.
Cats or dogs?
Both! Back in Australia we had a dog, a Dachshund, but here in the Czech Republic we have Siberian cats.
Is there anything else you're currently working on in your spare time?
To continue self-development I've been messing around with a project or two on the side – one of them evolving from a project I and two friends did at a Game Jam last year.
To finish, tell us one of Dram's Top Tips...
To paraphrase Elbert Hubbard – Don't take yourself too seriously, no-one ever got out of life alive.
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...