Hey. Please, tell us about yourself...
Not unlike many of my co-workers, I am a Bohemia Interactive customer who turned into a Bohemia Interactive developer.
Before joining Bohemia Interactive in 2013 I hadn't given a career in the games industry much thought. I studied Geology, Musicology, and, finally, Media Studies at Charles University, and I did a lot of various freelancing and part-time jobs during my endless — and ultimately unfinished — studies.
Nevertheless, video games have played a major role in my life; starting during my pre-school age with the ZX Spectrum and a simple Pong console we used to connect to our "Merkur" Tesla TV. Then there was one notable game (not a video game) which has contributed to my homo ludens the most. Dračí Doupě, a Czech role-playing game, akin to Dungeons and Dragons. Since primary school, through high school, and up to the university years, we'd play it more than it was healthy — we'd adjust its rules, bend them, and create and add our own.
My 'relationship' with Bohemia Interactive started in 2001 with the Operation Flashpoint demo. The game was a dream come true. Everything I was only able to enjoy before in dedicated simulators, or watch as useless props in other titles, now became an interactive part of one experience. I played the Ambush mission over and over again, exploiting the last bits of it, and later expanding the OFP demo with mods and missions downloaded from the internet. Over the next decade I spent countless hours in the series and was always eagerly awaiting the next upcoming Arma.
However, when the first news about Arma 3 — its future setting and the style of its campaign — arrived, it left me slightly disappointed. Around the same time I wasn't getting any reply for my job application at BI, and I was fighting with game-breaking bugs in Arma 2. As a customer, I was losing hope. However, I then sent another job application, and I received a reply. I got hired as a QA and in January 2013 I joined the Arma 3 team. Finally, with new insight, my opinion turned upside down. What I had perceived as a large triple-A company too big to care was actually a family-like band; dozens of daredevils making a game bigger than they were and greater than what anyone else would even attempt. An awesome bunch of people and gamers who loved what they were creating.
Can you tell us a random fact about yourself...
I once cancelled a date to play TES III: Morrowind...
What was your first positive interaction with video games, that you can remember?
Since I don't remember the names of the ZX Spectrum games, I'd just randomly pick one of the later, notable ones. Wacky Wheels — this game stuck in my mind. I played it in split-screen with my friends, sisters, and father, and we had some good laughs back then.
And your most memorable video game moment?
There are many, each with a different "memorable" aspect. Be it the euphoria when flying a redeemer nuke in the Dr. Strangelove Unreal Tournament mod at 4 am after coming home from a party. Or the fatigue and weird sense of achievement after driving in Le Mans 24 Hours for 12 hours. Or having my throat tightened by This War of Mine or my soul crushed by That Dragon, Cancer.
Regarding Arma; I used to play a lot of public Arma 2 Domination!. There were sessions when everything (and everyone) clicked together: random people cooperating, communicating, and coordinating an effort to clear and seize the AO. Everyone in a different role. In one of these sessions, I flew an Ah-64 with some other guy and we kept providing CAS on call for the ground units for maybe 2 hours. Empowered by their emergence, those were probably some of the most memorable moments I had in Arma. And for me it's also what Arma is about.
What's your all-time favourite video game? And what sort of game do you like to play?
Arma, ez. :)
I enjoy games I can not only play, but which I can also "play with". Explore, alter, exploit, break, and create in. Or the games where I can try something I wouldn't be able to afford in real life. Generally speaking, it is simulator games of all kinds; open worlds and technology showcases (e.g. BeamNG) or games that push the boundaries (e.g. Super Hot).
Gravity-defying tanks would be one of those. Then funky ragdolls. Who doesn't love physics bugs?
What’s the worst — or most memorable — bug you’ve come across in a video game?
Gravity-defying tanks would be one of those. Then funky ragdolls. Who doesn't love physics bugs?
What's your favourite movie, TV show, and/or book?
And your go-to music playlist is...?
Anything really; primarily jazz, electronic, and classical. Depends on the situation and on the mood. E.g. a high-BPM drum&bass as a good night lullaby.
So, as an Associate Project Lead, what do you do?
I associatively led the best project there is. I wasn't superior to anyone. Instead, I stole people from other projects. I coordinated patches, hotfixes, and tried to be a connecting and a collecting element. And then I jumped in to fill whatever spot required it, or to do a task no one else was available for.
Because the needs across company projects are continuously shifting, I am now moving out of this role in order to return to my game design duties. I'll share more details about the change later and there will also be more exciting news for Arma 3 to come this year. ;)
What do you think are the most important skills/traits to have for someone in your position?
My position has been a specific one. Even though the label says "lead" I was not directly leading anyone. Regardless of that, what I believe matters in the leadership roles in game development is the following...
Hands-on experience with the development. Bits of knowledge from every trade. Critical thinking, zero prejudice, and an ability to improvise.
And last but not least: empathy. Imagine being in someone else's skin, seeing things from their perspective, anticipating their actions, and understanding their motivation — I believe this is the most crucial.
And, of course, not being a psychopath.
What do you enjoy about your job, and game development in general?
The immediate feedback to what you do. The love and hate you receive. The appreciation when you react to and change something in the game. The sight of how others build upon or mod what you've contributed. The passion we put into what we do — both as developers and as players. The stories of players we hear: how the game brought them together or even how it helped them cope with their own problems.
Also, what I like about my job is that I create and contribute to something that — once I'm finished with my work — I can run up and play until the next morning and then say "A well wasted sleep!"
What was the source of inspiration for the current Arma 3 weapon sway? (@jantrecha)
This is really a tricky question. The gamer part of me wants to shout "getting drunk". Part of me knows how game design works in mysterious ways. Especially when developing a game in a team there will always be things you may not like or agree with. The best you can do is to state an opinion or, better yet, offer grounds.
I can't speak of the inspiration for the sway as I don't actually know it. But I will try to offer the train of thought about the related design problems.
Sway is one of the game mechanics that tries to simulate certain real-life behavior but it cannot directly abstract its real life challenges. The problem of muscle control, breath, and focus when aiming a weapon has to be transferred into challenges applicable on keyboard and screen. Such features are innately subjective and — unlike, for example, ballistic simulation — require some creative invention; an invention of some game rules. This can easily lead to controversy.
You can take inspiration from other games, check players' feedback and improve on that. Or you can try to come up with something new. And, in the end, you have to make a call. The information at hand is rarely enough to provide any certainty that the call will be the best one possible. So you try, you fail, and you try again. But then you run out of time and resources, or maybe players already got used to your original design. And even if you know the state is not ideal, you can no longer change it.
What are some of the strangest bugs or glitches you have encountered during Arma 3’s development as an encoder? (@Arma3Aegis)
When we were implementing Rotorlib to Arma it was possible to fly the helicopter to insane speeds by rolling it around its longitudinal axis.
I've got it in a video collection of Arma 3 bugs from my first QA year at Bohemia Interactive. One day I'll release it. Or maybe for 10k retweets? ;)
If you could click your fingers and make one improvement/change to Arma 3 instantly appear, what would it be? (@ImperatorTfd)
Interactions. i.e. accidentally ejecting when all you wanted was to switch your lights off.
Who's your favourite current Arma3 community manager, and why? (@Homesikh)
What is your favourite Arma 3 map (Modded and Vanilla) and why? (@NTF_Timo)
Love them all. Just like music I'd pick one depending on my mood. But there's one special and at this point it's both vanilla and modded — Desert Island. Good memories, good optimization.
What's your favorite type of cookie? (@dedmenmiller)
With a lot of chocolate chips and zero data stored on my PC.
When does [Ondřej] come by to down a pint or three? (Florian)
Is there anything else you're working on in your spare time?
My family, my awesome wife, my two sons, and our household. If there's time left — or when I feel like sacrificing my sleep — then gaming or playing the bass guitar.
To finish, tell us one of Ondřej's Top Tips...
Don't be a wannabe. Game development is not about you looking cool as a game developer. It's not about whether your decisions will look "professional" from the outside. It's about your players; it's about fun, entertainment, and enrichment. As long as your goal remains the game itself you'll find other people — players who will identify with your goal, will jump on your boat, and will row with you. If you start focusing more on the forms, on fighting the competition, racing through company hierarchy, becoming bigger, getting a better nametag and what not, your game will suffer.
Also, stay critical, and avoid both happy bubbles and blame cultures.
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, learn more about working at Bohemia Interactive by checking out our Careers may just have the perfect job opening for you. Until next time...