2 years in Digient Technologies

WARNING: Gonna be a long lengthy post

Exams over, College is over, very dry / depressing part of life: Job Hunt. Actively looking for job, attending interviews with friends, practicing aptitude problems, solving sample interview question papers and many. Have full day to play games, watch animes, but some fear/responsibility not letting me delve into those.

Game Development???

Another Big Question for me? Will I be able to get a game development job? Frightening question, getting a job in a small IT company itself seems to be a nightmare. Game development? What choices do I have? Only a very few handful of companies in Chennai does game development. Mailed all game development companies around India. Got few interview calls from Bombay, but I couldn't attend. There is no plan of leaving Chennai. Then why did I send my resume to those. I dont know. I want to start my career in gaming industry. Thats all I cared. So much confusions. None of the companies in Chennai responded.

Almost 1 month passed after exams are over, tension increasing day by day (cant watch Naruto episodes peacefully with so many things running in mind). I told myself that I need to get into things more deeper, planned to call up people in companies directly and speak.

Phoned Digient Technologies, a flash game development company in T.Nagar, near my home and told about myself. It was Mr. Johnson Irudayaraj CEO of the company, with whom I spoke. He told me to send my resume, I sent again to his another ID and I was called up for interview. Unlike other interviews I attended, this seemed very intensive for me, as it is a game development job.

Interview (June 1, 2010)

Interview started with Karthikeyan VJ, one of the flash game developer. Few math related questions like how u make an object move in a circle (still remember those questions), some series/pattern generation, timer, game loop. Responded okay to those questions. Then came my downfall. He asked about socket programming. I got no idea :( Openly told him, "sorry in socket Programming labs, I didnt shown much interest and so got no idea about those, but I am very much willing to do learn all those". All Out !!! I admitted my mistake openly. What they will think of me, atleast I could have answered with the theories I studied. I did a big mistake.

Then next round immediately with Mr. Harish, technical lead of Flash team. Few questions, which are not so hard and I remember responding well. He told that I did good and regular response at the end of all interviews, "You will be called in a week or so" :(

But they actually called me in a few days asking me to come up for next round on June 8th, 2010 with the company CEO, Johnson Irudayaraj.

I got a Job, not just any job, but a Game development Job :-)

I went on 8th and interview started with Mr. Johnson Irudayaraj.  It was a general interview, not a technical one including regular About yourself, your interests, dream, passion (spoke good, since all these my favorite topics). Not at all felt like attending an interview, he spoke very casually and it was like a friendly chat.

At the end, he told I was selected (felt like jumping into air, as if finished all challenges in MW, as if killed Kamira in LC with just fist, but just gave a smile and thanks being diplomatic). Then spoke about salary packages and other such things. Told mom, she was very happy for me, though she personally dont like me getting into gaming industry. Walked to home with full energy, calling up friends and informing them the good news. Surprisingly and unexpectedly met Tarun, Nitesh and few others in T.Nagar. There were going for some interview.

I am to join next week on 14th June, 2012.





Flash Game Developer to iPhone Game Developer

I was given training on Flash development (actionscript) for first few days by Venkat and Hari. Karthikeyan VJ was developing Facebook Flash Physics game named Goalz. I am to design levels for the game. They needed 100 levels. Karthi and myself split up the work and started designing the levels. At first, I did it manually by editing level files in text editor. Karthi then came up with a visual level editor, which handled all the mundane tasks and made level creation much simpler.

Then a managerial decision came to start researching on iphone game development, feasibility of developing for iphone in windows and many. There were many tools like airgap, shiva, unity3d, dragonfire, etc., but none of them seemed good as developing in Mac, the Apple's recommended way.  Meanwhile Digient mobile team got a new recruit, Stalin Pusparaj. He is from KCET, a hacker and a passionate guy with good technical skills and a strong attitude to learn new things. He learn things at random, sometimes he practices some C program, then suddenly switches to Box2D Physics, then goes to solve a math puzzle and such things.

Days passed and we decided to try out something using DragonFire SDK and purchased it. Myself and Stalin Pusparaj got some time to study the SDK, practice few things. Then we started our first project Dolphin Dash, an iPhone game that revolves around a dolphin, item collection, various levels with different environments.

Dolphin Dash


Things went super good, myself writing the core of the game, with Stalin Pusparaj doing some modules of the game and he is mainly into developing a level editor for the game in .Net (C#). 75% of the development work has been complete and unexpectedly a technical problem rose in our SDK. The team told they will fix it asap, but a month passed without any updations.

We got another recruit Rooban Ponraj. An JAVA expert from the same college as Stalin Pusparaj.  He is into Android development and single handedly learned Android SDK, practicing all by himself and started doing projects on his own.

Expanding Mobile Team

Then our company Digient Technologies acquired another company named Maag Studios, whose main focus is on mobile development. Several people from Maag Studios joined our team including Avis Manoj, descendent of Picasa himself, an extra ordinary graphics artist I seen with admirable passion towards game designing; Sumesh Elumalai, another gaming freak who worked in EA (yes, Electronic Arts) as game tester; Sree, our new team leader; pranav, swamination and Jagadeesh.

These new people brought Mac with them and they were developing using it. Once they joined in, we dumped Dolphin Dash and started a brand new project named Battle Castle in Mac using cocos2d framework.

Battle Castle (work of extra ordinary artist, Avis Manoj)
We started with Battle Castle and an application named Money Manager and while the project is on development, we started getting business projects from external clients which had tight deadlines, frustrating change requests when the project is on testing phase and much more stressful times.

I learned a hell lot in my first year of work from mastering cocos2d to learning the beauty of Objective-C, several third party frameworks, design patterns, professional programming with documentation, code refactoring and many many more. I guess I am not supposed to write about client projects here, which will help keep the post a bit smaller.

Dynamic Team

People kept leaving from our team and new people joining in as time passes. We got two new heads Raghul Raghavan, iPhone developer and Aruna, Android developer and even our lead changed as Sree left company. Karthikeyan Veeran was our new Project manager. Raghul Raghavan is a dynamic person, an innovative geek, our team's Steve Jobs.

For some time, our iphone team (myself, raghul and stalin) focused on development of a big productivity app named Total Agenda for our client. It was a big learning experience for our team in app development space. Unfortunately the app never did reached the app store as we expected, but it was being used by our client internally in their company.
High Speed Racing Madness

Cannon Carnival

We had an official 2 day trip to Yelagiri hills in the month of March, 2011 and it was an awesome experience full of joy and fun.

In between the client projects we got some time to do experimentation by doing in-house projects, which we used effectively producing a physics game, Cannon Carnival on both iPhone and android and a racing game in android named High Speed Racing Madness. Myself and Stalin Pusparaj developed Cannon Carnival headed by Karthikeyan while Raghul Raghavan was doing an kid game named Learn Kids. We both learned box2d and lot of other physics related things in Cannon Carnival.

Warnest

Then myself, stalin and raghul worked on a big military based Tower Defense game named Warnest for our client, headed by Satish. It was a game of little big scope than our average games with tiled maps, A* path detection, AI, various gameplay modes, dynamic input, etc., Apart from all this, game assets were heavy and loads of performance optimizations had to be done to make the game run smoother. It was a very challenging task and for the first time we did threading and it helped improving the performance very well. Full credits goes to Stalin Pusparaj in implementing Threading in our engine.

Our team got few new recruits Vishnu Priyan, Tamil vaanan (a tamil poet), Yogendra in our android development team and Srutha Keerthi, our testing Engineer.

HTML5

After launch of Warnest, we got big time to study on cross platform app development. I focused fully on HTML5 in that time, trying out various new things on HTML5, Google API and technologies. I couldnt come up with any furnished product in the mean time, but implemented several prototypes to learn many things.

Then we designed an in house Casino game backed by a JAVA server in HTML5. We used google closure library and compiler for this project. Google Closure was really awesome, compiling and minimizing all the dozens of js files into a single compressed file. We focused mainly on mobile platform, checking our work on all our office devices frequently. In our oldest 2nd generation iPod Touch running iOS 5, the FPS never crossed 2/3. But in our iDevices and android devices, we got decent frame rates.

HTML5 Pirate Slot


As myself and Raghul were experimenting with HTML5, Tamil, Yogendra and Satish were very busy with the project Ara Tap for our client Yeldi. Its a very innovative new concept which might revolutionize the way buyer-seller interacts in current market. Its a project of very big scope for our small team.

Unexpected Twists

Our client YELDI is planning something very big and so they want us to work directly under them and so some business collaborations were done and they acquired our team. Yeah, we were officially relived from Digient Technologies and joined YELDI Softcom, with added responsibilities, new area of exposures and many new things. Adventures continue :-)

Myself, Raghul, Tamil, Yogendra, Satish, Karthik moved to Yeldi. I am very much surprised to see our old Project Manager, Karthikeyan Veeran here in Yeldi who was working here for past 1 month.

If I started writing, I wont stop till my hand bleeds, loads and loads of things to write. But already the post is very lengthy. So stopping myself here !!!

Digient Technolgoes, my first company. Will never forget it and its memories :-) Thanks to all those who were part of it :-) Love you all :-)

Farewell Digient :-)