Report In! - Interview with Lukáš Gregor and Filip Zigo, programmers

Next up in our new 'Report In!' series, a discussion with the team members from the Bohemia Interactive's studios in Brno, and some exclusive 'behind the scenes' images have been declassified and are ready for immediate analysis!

Report In! :: Filip´s workspaceNext up in our new 'Report In!' series, a discussion with the team members from the Bohemia Interactive's studios in Brno, and some exclusive 'behind the scenes' images have been declassified and are ready for immediate analysis!

We're often asked to let some of our people talk about what it's like to develop a game at BI. So, stepping aside from our usual PR activities for a moment, 'Report In!' gives you a more personal perspective on our team, and a more detailed look at the way we go about our work. Our next victims are Lukáš Gregor, programmer in Brno team, and his colleague Filip Zigo, who discuss engine upgrades to be brought along with Arma 2: Private Military Company, answers questions about developing games for the PC, and talks about life at the Brno office.


Tell the people a little about yourself. What's your role? How long have you been with BIS? Which games have you contributed on and which is your favourite BIS game or mission?

Lukáš: Before I started working on Bohemia Interactive projects, I worked as a junior programmer in Altar Interactive. At Bohemia, I worked on several minor features to get acquainted with the Real Virtuality engine, and wrote some of the localization tools used for our projects. BI wasn't an unknown studio - I'd played the original Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis. It was the first game like that I'd played and, particularly back in those days, it was really impressive.

Filip: I joined Bohemia Interactive when Operation Arrowhead was being finalized. Before joining BI, I worked in a software company dealing with multimedia. I currently work on implementing some new gameplay mechanisms. And my favourite game from BIS? It's certainly our current project. :)

And can you give us a random fact about yourself?

Lukáš: I study at the University of Technology in Brno. I've changed my main subject to Computer Graphics during my work for BI.

Filip: Random? 11000110. :)

Engine Questions

How will the engine upgrades brought along with PMC improve A2OA's gameplay?

Report In! :: Creative Director Ivan Buchta motivating the teamLukáš: Shotgun shells are something quite common, and now the game's arsenal certainly feels a lot more 'complete'. The new shotgun ammunition will add some additional tactical option, especially in close quarter battles.

Filip: Video playback can give us a great boost for storytelling. People seem to love the cutscenes from the Flashpoint times on, and this technology enables us to deliver the videos in desired quality to anyone regardless of their PC power, contrary to the traditional cut-scenes, where the result depended strongly on the hardware performance.

Specifically, can you reveal a little more about how the shotgun ballistics are modelled?

Lukáš: The main difference compared to the single bullet shot is the spread simulation of the shot pellets. Now the shotgun ammo is simulated differently and is approximated by several small projectiles behaving similarly as in real life; although, the amount of simulated pellets is much lower compared to reality. Normal ballistics still apply, and it is assumed that the shotgun ammunition cannot penetrate materials effectively.

Is there any other use for this technology, or has it been developed solely for the shotguns?

Lukáš: The feature started with an intention to accurately simulate common shotguns shells, but we realized the use could be much broader. The damage cone effect can be configured for various other weapons types, e.g., claymore mines.

In-game video playback is a feature that has been requested for a while, can you give us any more information about it?

Filip: Video playback is based on the 'Theora' open-source codec. Theora allows us to support any video format needed, and furthermore, we can easily port it to any different platform in the future. The community might also be interested in the fact that video is played in a resource. We still don't support the video playback as a part of 3D scene, which would be much harder to achieve.

Brno Questions

Lukáš, you've worked on the British Armed Forces (BAF) DLC as well. What features did you work on?

Lukáš: My task on BAF comprised of support to final distribution and data preparation. As this has been the first real DLC, we had to alter the installation process for the online distribution. I also keep supporting the localization tools, which was naturally used for BAF as well.

Filip, you haven't worked in Brno office for too long. So, How's life of game programmer compared to your previous job?

Filip: I work on things I've been always interested in. I definitely enjoy working with people sharing the same passion for computer games. The job of a game programmer is demanding, but it is great to see the results of my work well used in a game.

On the other hand, Lukáš, you've been part of the team for a long time. Can you compare the work on Arma products compared to the team's previous projects? (advantages, disadvantages, how hard it is, opinion on the engine)

Lukáš: It’s difficult to compare, generally I would say that main change is that we are now sharing tools, technologies and knowledge across all of BI's studios.

Does the Brno team have any special team-building or socializing events? (breakfasts, barbecue parties, whatever)

Lukáš: Yes, we have Monday breakfasts, in fact, it’s a weekly kick-off meeting with some snacks. We all meet, and the results of last week's work are demonstrated. Occasionally, we have little barbecue after the work, ussually during the summer.

Filip: I'm the new guy to the team, so it's hard to tell. But I must say I really enjoyed the last (my first) barbecue party.

Development Questions

Did you have any experience of BI's games before you started working on them as a part of Bohemia Interactive? (tell truth, no problem)

Report In! :: George in work Lukáš: Yes, I played the first Operation Flashpoint. It felt just "ultimate" - mostly in terms of how deep it was, how much one could do compared to a common shooter game.

Filip: Of course I know Bohemia's Operation Flashpoint - as Lukáš said, it was very different from anything else I've played.

What would be your personal choice of extension in the engine, if you would be given the freedom to do so?

Lukáš: Personally, I’m quite interested in graphical effects myself, so I would go for some additional graphical improvements, more elaborate light and particle effects.

Filip: Actually, we currently work on a lot of extensions of the engine which I'd choose. Personally, I would like to improve the AI behaviour a little.

Is console development something that you would be interested in moving toward in the future?

Lukáš: It definitely requires different approach compared to PC games, it’s necessary to deal with different controls and hardware parameters but I think it's interesting and challenging part of the game development. As most developers learn to appreciate these days, there is a big advantage in clearly defined conditions on console hardware.

Filip: The console development is interesting, but there are many hardships which are hard to predict - the hardware might be standardized but the performance is usually much lower compared to an average gaming PC. The different hardware architecture of consoles means it's a challenge.

Other questions

What kind of career advice would you offer to an aspiring game programmer?

Report In! :: Beauty and the Beasts Filip: Always listen to the customer, even if he's a game designer. :)

Arma 2 has a thriving community, what stands out for you?

Lukáš: It's very satisfying to know we have such a mature and productive community enjoying our games and supporting us. Just look at the amount of people playing with scripts and configs - both the quantity and quality of what people make are unbelievable.

In a cruel twist of fate, The Large Hadron Collider creates a time-space vortex, sending humanity back to the stone age. Given the chance to invent computer games all over again, which game would you make?

Lukáš: One of the first games I played was 'Stunts', a racing car game with a built-in track editor. If I could go back and re-invent it, I would add multiplayer option to avoid endless fights with my brother about who's gonna play next, that's for sure.

Filip: It's hard to tell... It would be either 'Deus Ex', 'Baldurs Gate 2' or 'Longest Journey', due to their unique atmosphere.

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