The desire to learn and develop is a key trait that we look for in every candidate that applies for a role at Deep Silver Dambuster Studios.
Bettering ourselves, upskilling and learning from one another is a part of what makes our studio culture unique and helps our teams deliver the best possible game to the player.
To give you an insight into what this looks like, we spoke to our Learning and Development Officer, Emma Green and Gameplay Programmer, Robin McFarland to get both of their perspectives. (All questions asked by Toby Gallagher, Studio Community Manager.)
Talking to Learning and Development Officer, Emma Green
Toby Gallagher: Can you introduce yourself and your role at the studio?
Emma Green: My name is Emma Green, I joined the studio in 2019 as the Learning and Development Officer.
I look after the inductions, training requirements, personal development, appraisals and other aspects of our team members’ work life.
TG: What kind of learning and development training is available to the Studio?
EG: There’s a wide range of different training available to everybody in the Studio. Aside from the induction and health and safety modules that everyone must complete, we’re working on building a suite of courses and learning materials to support the personal development of all of our team members.
Although this sort of ‘learning library’ only started with few items, it is now really beginning to grow. On top of this, we are in the process of rolling out a programme to develop our Management Team into even better leaders, which includes modules such as: Time Management, Interview Best Practices, Delivering Feedback, Effective Meetings and more.
In line with our focus around inclusivity and diversity, we are also exploring options to deliver training around subjects such as unconscious bias and promoting an inclusive workplace, which we will be making available to everyone – watch this space!
TG: Are team members given the freedom to learn the skills they want to?
EG: Yes! Any type of personal development is encouraged in the Studio, especially if it can help support the individual in fulfilling their role.
Members of the Studio have individual development goals that are on-going, and we support these initiatives in any way we can.
We’ve also made the commitment to provide individuals with a Personal Development Plan (PDP) as part of the appraisal process, so we can help keep them focused on their own progression and encourage their success.
We know that our people are our biggest asset, so encouraging them to better themselves is very important to us and this is caveated in our values of ‘Passion, Quality and Teamwork’
TG: Is it just junior members of staff that can participate in training?
EG: Absolutely not. Everyone at the Studio is encouraged to participate in training from juniors right through to senior management. We ask all our team members to discuss their development needs and make suggestions during regular 1-2-1s with their line manager.
Then during the appraisal process, the manager can then make these learning and development opportunities part of the team member’s formal goals for the year.
However, team members don’t need to wait for a 1-2-1 or appraisal meeting to discuss their personal development. If an opportunity ever arises for someone and the Studio can support the member of staff, we will discuss it with them and try our best to make it happen.
TG: Why is such a heavy emphasis put on learning and development as opposed to just hiring people with pre-existing skills?
EG: Once you are a part of our team, we want to invest in developing you to be even better than when we hired you. Everyone we bring onboard has pre-existing skills, qualifications and attributes that support the Studio, but nobody is the finished article.
For us, keeping the learning cycle going will enhance everyone’s individual potential and talent and together, we can all be even better than how we were upon joining.
Talking to Gameplay Programmer, Robin McFarland
To make sure everyone can understand the terminology in this section, we have provided a short jargon busting guide, which you can find at the bottom of the blog.
Toby Gallagher: Could you tell me what your role is at the studio and the journey you’ve taken to get to where you are now?
Robin McFarland: I am a Regular Gameplay Programmer, I joined Deep Silver Dambuster Studios just over two years ago as a junior and almost exactly two years after joining, I was promoted.
Prior to joining the Studio, I undertook a degree in Computer Science at Cambridge University – but before then I was focused on Natural Sciences and I even completed work experience in the Chemistry Department at the University of Leicester.
A friend of mine mentioned that I might be interested in joining the Programming Club at school; I went along, and it completely changed my life. All of my free time was then spent programming.
I put together a portfolio consisting of work from game jams and personal projects, which helped me land an internship at Studio Gobo down in Brighton after my second year at university. After graduating, I applied at Dambuster Studios and I’ve been here ever since.
TG: What learning and development have you taken part in whilst at the studio?
RM: I’ve mainly been focused on learning more about C++. I’ll read up about a feature and see how far I can take it to then hopefully bring back that knowledge to share with the rest of the Engineering Team.
To give you an example, I was reading a book on C++ templates and found something that I had never seen before. An example used the ‘.*’ operator, which I assumed was new. I did some research and was surprised to find that it had been there since the 90s and I had never heard of it.
I continued to read up on the operator and found out that it could be really useful. I was given time to go away and make something using it, which I then presented to the rest of the team.
A lot of them – including some of the more experienced programmers – said that they had learnt something new from me.
I was then able to adapt the presentation format to deliver it externally at Tech Nottingham’s Lighting talks.
TG: How have your managers and other staff helped you learn and develop?
RM: In the Engineering Department, every other Wednesday from 1:30pm onwards is dedicated to learning and development. Some of these afternoons I will use to conduct the type of research I was describing earlier, other times I use them to create the presentations that I am going to be giving or document the important aspects of the code I am working on.
We are actively encouraged to take part in these sessions by our leads and managers, and there’s an appointment reminder in all of our schedules that pops up a couple of times each Wednesday beforehand.
This is crucial, as it is easy to push initiatives like this aside in favour of tasks that we see as a ‘higher priority’. But having the seniors and managers say ‘’no that can wait, please take part in the learning and development session’’ is really affirming.
As well as these sessions, every other Monday, a member of the Development Team will give a talk on a subject similar to the one I gave about that operator.
This is a chance for them to share something interesting they’ve come across or discuss an area they are knowledgeable in and for the rest of the team to learn from our colleague.
TG: How have you helped others in the studio learn and develop?
RM: I’ve now given quite a few talks to the Engineering Team. To give you an idea of the topics – as well as the talk I gave about the operator – I’ve spoken about: templates in C++, functional programming and I’ve also given three talks about various systems that I have created for the game we’re working on.
I’ve also discussed the SOLID principles, which is an acronym for five principles that can improve object-orientated programming when followed. These talks have sparked conversations between myself and other members of the Engineering Team who have come to me and said that they would like to start using SOLID as a framework. It’s great to see people embracing a new way of working off the back of the presentation I gave.
Be a Part of Our Team
If you would like to be part of a studio that encourages its members to develop and nurtures their progression, check out our current vacancies.
The programming language used by our Code Department.
An ‘operator’ is a symbol used in programming (and mathematics) to combine values in different ways. For instance, ‘+’ is known as the addition operator, and is used to combine two values by adding them together. The ‘.*’ operator that Robin discovered is known as the ‘pointer-to-member operator’ in C++.
Object-Oriented Programing (OOP)
A programming paradigm that allows programmers to simulate real world entities using little packets of data and functionality called ‘objects’. C++ is an object-oriented language.
A programming paradigm where programs are constructed by applying and composing functions. Certain ways of using templates in C++ require an approach that is much closer to functional programming than OOP.
Five principles of object-oriented coding intended to make software designs more understandable, flexible and maintainable.