Interview: Game Client Department
Today we continue our story about the World of Tanks Blitz team. This time we spoke to Yuri Danilov and Dmitry Belski from the Client Department. It’s these guys who merge elements of the other departments, implement the boldest ideas of the game designers and add physics to the game, bringing legendary military warfare to life.
Yuri Danilov, the game client developer, is responsible for vehicle visualisation and the game physics of World of Tanks Blitz. Visual effects — tanks’ shooting, shell hits, dust and mud motion — are part of his job as well. He also used to work on in-game camera behaviour.
“I enjoy every single day at the office,” smiles Dmitry Belski, the game client developer in charge of the Garage screens player combat education. “It’s nice to see your coding turn into in-game elements. Going further into details, I’m responsible for the garage screen and assisting rookies, tutoring them on the game’s basics.”
Yuri is sure that basic skills in programming, as well as knowledge of physics and math, are vital to excel in what he does. With a degree in Automated Control Engineering, he has all of these: “Tо work as a game developer, a sound knowledge of physics and math within the high-school curriculum is more than enough. You have to be careful, persistent, and scrupulous to succeed.”
Dmitry believes that being passionate about one’s job is what makes a good specialist: “The principal rule here is to love programming. I try to execute my tasks as meticulously as I can to make the person reading my code happy. It’s hard to achieve that without vivid imagination and — I agree with Yuri here — being careful.”
When asked to describe “an interesting task”, Yuri applies a time-based approach: “Any problem that may not be solved within 40–60 minutes is interesting. When you contemplate it for a day or two—well, you know this is the one. Sometimes, you dive into a problem so deep that you even fall asleep thinking about the best solution. It may strike you first thing when you wake up the next morning, or even in your dreams. All that’s left then is to wonder how you didn’t see it coming earlier. This is when you get emotional! This is what you call a “cool routine". Mechanical labor, when you know the outcome in advance, is not anywhere near as exciting."
By contrast, Dmitry thinks that it’s within everyone’s power to make just about any task interesting. Even a routine one may be transformed into a thrilling project when you find the way to optimise it."
Trying to recall a challenging task from his experience, Yuri thinks of the in-game camera settings. It’s been a real challenge to adjust settings to make the camera work correctly without flying into the environment.
Dmitry recalls how he designed an in-game tutorial. Everyone had to go through it a thousand times and was hardly grateful to him for the new feature. Yuri even had to code a special function that allows the player to skip the tutorial. “It’s hard to describe how happy everyone was when I introduced that option,” says Yuri.
For a hard task, Yuri goes to Alexey Prosin, the head of their department, and describes the task to him.
Dima takes a short break before storming a hard task: “I may go out of the office to the bakery or someplace else just to catch a break. It really helps and, even if it doesn’t, I have so many cool specialists around me. There is a physicist, a mathematician, many kinda of specialist — I can always ask them for advice.”
Yuri enjoys telling the story of his team. “It’s divided into two major camps: the Leshas and the Yuris. To tell the guys with similar names apart we invented a system of nicknames. Yuri Benesh is ‘Yuri the Dangerous’, Yuri Drozdovski is ‘Yuri the Middle’ (he had his desk in the middle of the office when he first came) and I’m ‘Yuri the Big’.”
It’s much simpler with Dima: he goes just by his own name.
Dima and Yuri weren't anxious about the global release of World of Tanks Blitz: “We’d been anxious so many times, there was no anxiety left for the global release. The positive reviews gave us confidence and the feeling we’d done everything right. As the global launch approached, we stayed perfectly calm. We were sure the game was polished and balanced. We double-checked!”