AMY HARMAN | Gameplay Programmer | Dunedin
Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?
We didn’t have any coding classes in high school and I didn’t even realise it was a thing until I had nearly finished a film degree. I read a book where the protagonist was coding and decided to try it for myself. I loved it and thought learning coding through making games sounded super awesome and decided to study it even though it meant another 3 years of being a student. My advice is to try tutorials online and see what interests you. There are so many different things you can learn about. It’s not easy, but stick at it and it will be rewarding. Also most cities in New Zealand have game dev meet-ups where you can meet others, share what you’re working on and see what others are working on.
Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?
I am really inspired by the game The Sims because there are so many different objects in that game that the sim people can interact with. In the game we’re making, the player can place down different objects that characters can interact with, and I wanted to try copy The Sims system. They have a thing called “smart objects” which means the object tells the agent how to interact with it rather than the agent knowing how to interact with each of a bazillion objects. For example, a table tells an agent to play the animation to sit down in a chair and then play an animation to eat some food. This has worked for our project making it simpler to add new objects and have agents use them in the game. So far, so good!
"I would like to see and make more games
where there are interesting social interactions
between the player and the characters"
Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?
I do artificial intelligence (AI) and gameplay programming, but I want to specialise in AI programming. My first piece of AI programming was doing A* pathfinding, and while I didn’t understand how it worked immediately, it was amazing seeing a path appear and twist around obstacles. At work, we’re hoping to release our game sometime this year, and after that I would like to work on a project that has more AI as well as continuing to watch talks, do tutorials and practice AI programming in my own time. There are so many games where the combat is awesome but I would like to see and make more games where there are interesting social interactions between the player and the characters. Amy codes in C# and C++.