Interview

Jobs in Games: Outplay Entertainment’s Riccardo Tramma on how to get a job as an engineer

Jobs in Games: Outplay Entertainment’s Riccardo Tramma on how to get a job as an engineer

The games industry plays host to an excellent cast of colourful and diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.

The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing. With each position requiring mastery in its field. As such, seeing a game come together is a beautiful thing akin to a puzzle as an overall picture becomes whole.

To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz has decided to reach out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.

This time we spoke with Outplay Entertainment engineering and technical manager Riccardo Tramma.

PocketGamer.Biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?

Riccardo Tramma: I'm the engineering and technical manager at Outplay Entertainment. I work with a fantastic and multinational team of talented people and together we create games and experiences for everyone to enjoy.

I was fascinated by the fact that you could write code and see an interactive visual representation of it.
Riccardo Tramma

My role is to ensure the teams and individuals within it have what is required in order to build amazing games and tech, offering both technical guidance and hands-on support as required. Bottom line is ensuring everything keeps running smoothly in this fast-changing and exciting industry.

How did you first get into games and how did you progress into the role?

From a very young age, I've always had an interest in games, electronics, etcetera. I was fascinated by the fact that you could write code and see an interactive visual representation of it. Here my passion grew, always finding an excuse to code something and more importantly to understand what I needed to do to realise what I had in mind.

I graduated in computer engineering in Rome, Italy and I haven’t always worked in games. I think this has been very useful, giving me the opportunity to learn many different subjects and appreciate challenges across disparate areas. This has helped me in learning how to find solutions to problems, as well as tackling them from varied perspectives.

One day I decided that I wanted to do it professionally, so I started applying for positions in the games industry. I was lucky enough to have a few choices to select from - that's how everything started. From that moment on it has been an intense journey of discovery, growth and excitement. I progressed from a coder role through to a senior then to a lead coder and now I act as tech manager.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

During my childhood, thinking about a professional career in games was not really something obvious to consider. Growing up I started forming an initial idea of being a professional programmer. To be fair, I never set a final goal for what I wanted to achieve and instead was looking at what was the next realistic goal for me to reach. I worked hard for it.

Tramma has contributed to the Creeps franchise, which has been played by over 31 million players to date

Fortunately, the education, support and experiences my family offered me taught me a lot and I ended up developing an intrinsic curiosity towards all aspects of the world. This in combination with the studies allowed me to progress on my path while continuing to learn and more importantly understanding how to continue to learn more.

For this reason, everything I’ve done has never been something planned in detail from the start but more an evolution of a journey where I took one step at a time.

What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

From the age of 14 through high school to university my main studies were in the computer field, where I graduated in computer engineering. It has been an eye-opener. It has allowed me to learn a plethora of topics and taught me how to think and solve problems. This, combined with my programming and games passion did the rest.

Some advice I can easily give to anyone is to put your mind and passion into what you really want to achieve and work hard to get to it. Understand what you need to learn and ensure you put a real effort into learning it.

Don't stop at the first obstacle but use it to grow further. After that, keep challenging yourself and your ideas. Most importantly, keep an open mind and always be ready to learn more.

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

There are many aspects that make it fulfilling, from the challenges it presents - especially when you are working on top quality products as we do - to the joy of seeing people all around the world playing, being passionate and enjoying the games we create.

Gaming is one of the technology fields that require a lot of expertise, as it continues to push the boundaries of computing and what's achievable.
Riccardo Tramma

Working with multi-disciplinary and super talented people is just incredible and provides an opportunity to be amazed at the amount of craftsmanship that goes into these products every day.

Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?

In the past it was probably different but now the games industry is a huge part of the entertainment business.

The advances in technology and the quality of the games have contributed to creating completely new professional fields of expertise on top of continuing to contribute in advancing many other sectors beyond pure gaming. 

Gaming is one of the technology fields that require a lot of expertise, as it continues to push the boundaries of computing and what's achievable.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

It's a specialised industry with a lot to learn and it evolves fast.

What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

Ask yourself "why" then research "how" and finally just "do".

If you have a passion for games and you want to explore how it really works under the hood, you’re already on the right track. With the internet and widely available tools to code, create art or any other sort of content, all you have left to do is put yourself into the equation.

Getting into the games industry can be challenging. One way to demonstrate your skills and passion is through a specialised portfolio to show your effort and achievements.

Staff Writer

Matthew Forde is a freelance writer from Yorkshire, who's work has been published for Tech Radar, Nintendo Life, Kotaku UK and more. He regularly attends Smash Bros. tournaments, while trying to keep up-to-date on everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes. You can find him on Twitter @Forde999.

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