What can you still learn as a Back-End Programmer in a Gaming company

An interview with Alexandru Tone, Senior Back-End Programmer at Bandai Namco Entertainment Romania

Alexandra Manolache: Hi Alex! Thank you for accepting my challenge and give us some insights of your programmer life. First, why did you become a programmer? What was the “thing” that attracted you to this world?

Alexandru Tone: Well, I always liked math, logic and solving problems, but still, I like to think I have a rather creative nature. All my life I was attracted to algorithms and always liked to solve complex technical issues. 

A.M.: How did you start your career?
A.T.: I started my career as a programmer with an internship and I must say I was lucky because it was very well structured and appropriate for a beginner. I was mentored by great professionals with really good communication skills.

A.M.: What are the skills that you need to become a very good programmer?
The best (and mandatory) soft-skill is to be passionate about what you do. As for hard skills, if you have a logical thinking and good problem-solving skills, all the rest you can learn in time, if you are eager to have a long and solid programmer career.

A.T.: What are the challenges you have now as an experienced Back-End Programmer for such a successful game?
Quick finding and fixing issues is critical for a live game with millions of users to avoid negative ratings. Also, adjusting code architecture on the go while maintaining high standards of security, scalability and performance is a very big challenge. Communicating with people with all sorts of backgrounds, with so many ideas can be sometimes overwhelming, but this is how great ideas come to life.

A.M.: What can you still learn?
A.T.: You'll always have something new to focus your attention to: you can always try using different caching systems, you can try non-relational database systems, and you can enjoy all the new technologies. It is always nice and rewarding to explore all the possibilities and flexibility given by systems like Monolog logging system and Doctrine ORM. Now, I’m exploring the new Symfony 4 that is so different from the previous one.

A.M.: What are your favorite tools and why?
A.T.: Music streaming service, xDebug and sometimes Search engines
Music relaxes me and helps me focus on what I am doing while search engines can help you find solutions by iterating and refining your search in cases when maybe you don't know what the exact cause to your problem is. Building a server for games means APIs and a proper debugging tool can be really helpful and can save the day.

A.M.: How do you enjoy the “gaming” environment? What about your team?
A.T.: The gaming industry is a fun and pleasant work environment for a programming career because involves a lot of creativity. Also, there are lots of challenges from the type of game you develop, number of users and other factors as well; My team is all fun, young, enjoyable and very good professionals.

A.M.: What motivates you?
A.T.: Over the years, the permanent drive to keep improving my skills never slowed down but kept accelerating.