Path of Exile Interview With Gameplay Programmer Rian

Path of Exile is a great game which is made by G.G.G (Grinding Gear Games). The result as it is how the game looks, thanks to all 90 hard working members who did participate for making this project possible. In an early interview with one of the gameplay programmers, Rian Drake gave a close-up on what he actually does in G.G.G and how hard his job is in this Path of Exile interview.

Introducing Rian and his history as a programmer and gamer

Rian’s last name is Drake. He says that he started studying engineering university 2011 at University of Auckland. After he got introduced to gaming and development and him decided to start studying for game development and media design school. Graduating in 2015, he got a chance to be interviewed by two of the head devs in G.G.G (Chris and Jonathan) and got lucky to get the job.

He was playing games with his dad and his first game at the age of 5 was StarCraft. His childhood was fulfilled with different RTS games because of his father, such as Age of Empires, Warcraft and Civilization. he also says “Since then, I’ve become a big fan of RPG games. My favorite games to date have been the Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age and Fallout series”. He admits that “he is hooked” for the advanced packs and premium stash in Path of Exile and enjoys playing it since the open beta was announced.

Avarage work day and all of his duties

Starting the day with a big coffee he turns on the PC and awaits for all source changes. Meanwhile, chatting with his co-workers about some game that they have been playing whether a good one or any current they play and they whine about it. After comes the list for checking all the components he needs to work on during the day for any league or expansion. He also applied “Work never gets boring! Gameplay programming is what I do, but that’s rather vague when we’re talking about Path of Exile”. Just to give us an idea what he needs to take care of every day there’s skills, unique items, ascendancies, bosses, maps, prophecies, recipes, and more. Also, co-op is needed with his coworkers in design department about other staff that needs to be fixed such as QA, visual effects, sound, animation, terrain, and UI every day.

The actual process of making a new skill

Starts with an idea from Rory or neon and they are discussing if they like that idea to be done. With a huge specter of effects from their library, almost never he has a problem choosing the right one that will work with that skill. And then the prototype is done with using placeholders and animations. After the prototype is made, he passes to the designer to choose the right effect for later. It goes back and forwards several times to design and me, just to make sure that everything is running smooth.

The fun part is “One of the perks of making skills is that I’m free to implement it however I like, and there are plenty of opportunities for me to share my own ideas or feedback” he said. He also add “A friend will say to me “Look at how awesome this skill is”, and I’ll reply “I know, I made it”.

Behind the scenes of making a boss and boss fights

Probably most of you who plays Path of Exile at least ones he got a chance to fight Rigwald. The scary boss that turns into a wolf. He actually doesn’t. Check this out “We spawn a wolf at the same location and hide Rigwald’s model for the duration. In fact, to make it easier for me to make Rigwald reappear I attach him to the wolf’s body while it chases you around. This means that technically Rigwald is riding the wolf the whole time, you just can’t see him”. All of this skills are done by written description but with his endless imagination, he can do whatever he wants with the item.

Path of Exile most challenging gameplay programming

Player skills. Deffenetly the player’s skills. It’s all depending on a player how he wants or knows he a certain player needs or he chooses to play. There is also numerous ways of how did hi skilled it. The list of combinations for every each one of them is endless and can affect in a different way for input, network, build, location, party/solo etc. Also, the difficult part is when my colleagues from design are applying new items into a league. Very hard indeed.

“Golden rules” in programming?

His golden rule is “less is more”. Sometimes when certain changes need to be made or implement a new skill or whatever he prefers to do it simply. “It’s very important to think about me when I’m not around and somebody needs to take care if something goes wrong,something” he something is complicated or requires a whole day to do that means it’s too much. Usually things can be done very fast if you know your job of course. He also said that using a mouse is for lazy people. He doesn’t like the mouse because he thinks that he can do faster and more accurate job with his keyboard.

Favorite thing that he worked on in Path of Exile

“I’d have to say the Breach skills were easily the most satisfying. The Breach Lords and lieutenants were all thrown at me to make at once, and I was nearly overwhelmed by all the cool skills I was working on” Rian said. He found it amusing when someone for the first time experienced that skill for the first time. Mr. Drake also likes to see people streaming, playing and enjoying skills that he made. He says that always brings smiles to his face. Skills are difficult to make, but jet comforting to work on. I assume he loves his job too much.

Advice for all the programmers?

“I’ve only been programming for four years, so I don’t think I’m really in any position to be offering any advice to anyone. Programming really isn’t that complicated once you realize that “algorithm” is just a fancy word for “recipe”, and that all you’re really doing is writing a recipe that a computer can understand. If you’re already learning or looking for a job, my best I can say is determine what you enjoy most about programming and just keep throwing yourself at it. I really like taking shortcuts (positive shortcuts, of course), so I would spend a lot of time making my own tools that did things for me that I couldn’t be bothered doing myself.

These things slowly add up over time, and before you know it you’ll have a sizeable resume of skills and a portfolio of demos to talk about when you next walk into an interview. And if you want to be in games, make games. Try them all, find what works best for you and don’t let anyone talk you out of using something before you try it for yourself. Be open to trying something different from game-to-game depending on what you’re trying to do”. Rian made that very clear.

Sneek-peek what he is working right now

The first-hand info says that there will be a five boss fight in the next expansion, but it’s too early for coming out yet. The expansion is in it’s “imaginary phase” so what we can do is actually wait and see. Also, Rian made it clear that one of his colleagues Rory is planning to add skills from the bosses to actual players. Anyway, Mr. Drake is quite excited for that coming and he can’t wait to be the first to lay his hands on.

That is about it with one of the devs from Path of Exile, Rian Drake. Let’s hope that this young game programmer has a lot to offer for the near future in Path of Exile or maybe some other projects that G.G.G are willing to do. Until then, stay with us for more awesome stories in the world of games.

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Angel Kicevski

I am ANGE1K. I started playing video games a long time ago. In a blink of an eye, I became a hardcore gamer. A couple of years later, I traversed to the professional Counter-Strike 1.6 scene. After the competitive ERA, I managed to find the gaming industry amusing and started working on FGR. My mission is to lurk and discover secrets, create guides and provide you with some important news. I mostly play FPS and love experimenting in good MMORPGs.

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