Graduates making games at Derivco

In the latter half of 2016, we had two exceptionally bright software development graduates from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University join us for work experience for three weeks. Now in their third year, Jason Cross, 25, and Nicholas Jordan, 20, spent their holidays with the prototyping team to learn about the work we do here at Derivco. These two bright students spent their days developing and prototyping games. We interviewed them to find out what they thought of the experience.

So guys, what got you interested in software dev?

Jason: I previously studied 3D animation and visual design at Touchvision in Cape Town. In my 3rd and final year we had a subject where we did Python Scripting. This made me realise that I actually quite enjoy coding. I always wanted to take the path of game development, so I decided to move from design to software dev the following year. I’ve been doing game development ever since.

Nick: I started messing around with programming during 10th grade as the school I went to didn’t offer IT as a subject. I started with a very basic website for the fun of it – just to see what I can achieve. I only started to delve deeper into the desktop application side of things during my Matric year, when I created a small windows command line program. This is when I decided to study software development. A few months into my first year of university, I converted the command line program into an easier to use desktop application for personal use. Since then, I have been constantly expanding my coding knowledge.

How did you get to be part of this three week experience?

Jason: Well, our lecturer put us in touch with one of the researchers at Derivco. We had entered the Microsoft Imagine Cup (a student technology competition) and we did really well, so our lecturer thought we’d enjoy spending time at the company.

Tell us more about the Imagine Cup!

Nick: We’ve made it to the world finals with our project called “Of Dragons and Sheep”. It’s a fast paced 3D sidescroller where the hero must save his sheep from vicious dragons. We’re off to Seattle on the 24th July to compete in the finals. We’re hugely excited!

Wow, sounds amazing! So, what sorts of things did you work on while you were here?

Jason: In our first week we were tasked with developing five new and unique concepts for Casino Feature games. We then had to prototype those as very rudimentary versions of the games. In our 2nd week we had to pick the three of the best concepts and refine them with more advanced features and an improved player experience.

Nick: In our 3rd and final week we took the single best concept and gave it some production value. This meant adding graphics and sound to it as well as developing it for PC as well as Android devices which required some cross platform compatibility to be done.

Sounds like you were kept busy! What did you enjoy the most about working here?

Jason: The feeling of working here is unlike anything we have seen or experienced before. The teams are all so close-knit and they work so well together. There is an amazingly laid-back and fun feeling to everything everyone does but there is still such a sense of dedication and disciplined work ethic. We also had an opportunity of a lifetime to play with the HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset. It is an amazing experience to be in this type of work space.

What most excites you the most about this field?

Nick: The instant gratification is something you can’t get in any other field. Being able to sit down for two or three hours and work at something and see the result of your work straight away is an amazing feeling. The constantly evolving technology is also incredibly thrilling. Now, the department might be using PC and android for screen-based games. In five years it could be a complete virtual reality experience. It’s amazing.

What are your goals for the future?

Jason: We’d both ideally like to work for a company like Derivco. To be part of a Video Game Development team within a company like Derivco is the dream.

What technology do you see shaping our future?

Nick: After going over to the research department and playing with some of their tech it definitely seems that Virtual Reality will be the future in some shape or form.