Interview with Programmer Fernando Secco

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"Afterlife Ambient" by DeviantArt user Hidrico. See the original image at http://Hidrico.deviantart.com/art/Mass-Effect-Afterlife-Ambient-295700254

Who are you and what is your role at BioWare?
Hello, my name is Fernando Secco and I am a programmer at BioWare Montreal. I am currently working as the architect for our next great game. That basically means that I am responsible for taking a problem and writing a program to solve it. Let’s say the artist wanted the camera to shake when the main character receives damage. The problem is the artist wanted to shake the camera but he can’t so I get a task to write, or update, a tool so he can control the camera and the amount it will shake. Most times, it can get a lot more complex than that J.

What is the best part about your job?
This is hard to say. I love coding, I love puzzles and I love games. When I get to work a big part of our job is finding solutions and think out-of-the-box, I can spend hours and lose track of time when coding. Another thing I love is when I have to interact with the artists about their vision, their needs and how we could improve our tools to deliver a better experience. It’s priceless to work with such group of talented people that, when explained their ideas, you can see what they are talking about, you can live that experience, right there.

What does an average day look like for you?
In the morning, I catch up with emails. We have teams working on different time zones and morning is always full of surprises. At lunch time we have our team scrum meeting and we head for lunch. We usually have a big table filled with programmers at our cafeteria. I keep coding in the afternoon and in the end of the day, we do a synch with our lead programmer to make sure we don’t have any blockings.

Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments working in game development?
Probably playing my first game was something I enjoyed a lot but I think the proudest moment was when my nephew, he is 11 years old, called me one night and he said he had an idea for a game. He spend 30 minutes on the phone explaining to me and giving me the details about his idea and when he was finished, he asked me if I could make that game, because he liked a lot the last game I “made” and he thought I could really make a cool game with his idea. That was super fun.

What’s a geeky thing about you?
I am not sure… I like videogames and table top RPGs since I was very young. I used to play a lot of Atari, Nes, Genesis, and Snes… then I got a PC. The PC drove me away from table top RPGs and consoles for some years (mainly because of Ultima, MUD and Baldur’s Gate) but in college I’ve found some good friends and we started to play Shadowrun and D&D 3.0. I also love reading H.P. Lovecraft, Willian Gibson and comic books and I have a podcast about games with some Brazilian friends (www.thepodquest.com)

Do you have any advice for those wishing to get into the video game industry?
I think a good advice is always to say that playing games is very different than working with games. One can love and know a lot about games. But videogame is not only about making games, is about working in team, building a vision, dealing with costumer, studying, learning and finding out that your ideas may be not as good as you thought. I think the most important thing is make sure that is what you want. Not many people want to mix their hobby with their work. If you are sure what you want then pick an area you like, try to understand what a professional on that area does, which are his responsibilities, what he has to deliver, which tools he needs to know and start practicing.

If you weren’t working in the industry, what would you be doing?
Nice question. I think I probably would be a cook. I found it amazing how much cooking is similar to videogame programming; once you know the basics, you can explore and try new things, use patterns to resolve simple problems and, the most importantly, create something that people enjoy. Sometimes they enjoy it so much that they may want buy DLC!

What are you currently playing, reading, or listening to?
I am currently playing: Mass Effect 3 multiplayer and Sonic Generations on Xbox360 and Legends of Grimrock on PC. I am always listening to heavy metal from 80’s and early 90’s and I am revisiting HP Lovecraft stories.

Author: BioWare Community Team

BioWare Community