Humans Behind the Game: Steven Hill, Game Programmer

Humans Behind the Game

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Steven Hill, Game Programmer, joined us 5 years ago in our Toronto studio, and he feels like he’s exactly where he should be!

His job allows him to unite his two passions, art and programming, and constantly gives him new creative challenges to solve with the help of his amazing team.

Find out more about his career path and why he loves working at Gameloft below!

Hi, Steven! Tell us about yourself.
My name is Steven Hill and I am a game programmer at Gameloft Toronto on the Features Team for Disney Magic Kingdoms.

I was a young boy when computers started making their way into people's homes, and they immediately captured my imagination. I spent many hours of my youth experimenting with the family Commodore 64 and PC just because it was fun and rewarding to create with them.

I've always had a passion for art, and computers are an amazing tool to create art with. I was accepted into the Ontario College of Art after high school but left after the first year.

Steven hill gameloft toronto game programmer Solarback2020

A screenshot of Solarback, one of Steven's game jam projects. They're a great way for him to use his creative and technical skills!

I worked at an art supply store until they offered to train me to be an assistant manager. After some consideration, I decided I'd rather be doing something with my computer skills, so I went back to school and earned a software programming diploma instead.

Diploma in hand, I found programming work at an e-commerce startup for online grocery shopping and delivery. A few years later, I was contacted by one of my programming teachers about a programming position in the company he was working for. I was interviewed, and despite no Flash experience, the lead developer was sure I could pick it up quickly.

They were correct, and I spent more than 15 years developing many Flash-based game clients. During this period I was also using my favorite programming language (C++) to develop the games I wanted to make for independent release.

Eventually the company I was working for was bought by a larger company, and my position was made redundant. A few months later, I was interviewed by Gameloft Toronto, and I've been here ever since!

Steven hill gameloft toronto game programmer

What is your role, and what do you enjoy most about your job?
My role is largely what we call "content integration", which is to say I work closely with our art team and game designers to bring their work to life inside our game engine.

Often it's as simple as making sure the correct data gets set in the correct place, but sometimes it's as complicated as extending what our game engine is capable of.

There are many things about my job that I enjoy. As someone who loves both art and programming I feel like I'm in the right place. I get to use my technical expertise to help our artists and designers solve technical challenges and bring their magic to our players.

While the work is sometimes routine, each update brings new creative challenges and solving them as efficiently as possible is something I've always loved about game development.

I enjoy that we are all trusted to make good decisions within our domains of responsibility. When I'm unsure, I can always count on my team to provide good direction. We have great technical discussions about how to solve problems that help us all grow.

I also love how our studio is run. Everyone really seems to understand how creative people work, and that's reflected in the policies and work methods.

Above all, what I enjoy most about my job is the people I work with. It may sound cliché, but it's absolutely true. We are genuinely kind to each other. We support each other as a team and celebrate each other's achievements, both professional and personal.

While part of our success is undoubtedly the rich IP we have to work with, I believe I could succeed with this team anywhere.

What are some of your most memorable moments at Gameloft?
Before the pandemic we sure had some good parties! And I know they'll happen again once it's safe to gather.

I started attending update planning meetings to advise on what could be done technically so they didn't get too carried away with ideas our game wouldn't be able to handle. During these meetings, we found that I also had creative input to offer, and some of it makes it into the game.

Slightly less fun memories are when I see screenshots from the community of a bug that I know is my fault. Whoops! I'll try to get that fixed in the next update!

What advice do you have for people who want to work in gaming in a similar role?
Be kind! People will remember who they enjoyed working with and who they did not.

Be honest! People can't help you fill your knowledge gaps or help solve the problems you're struggling with if you hide them.

Be curious! We live in the Information Age, so keep learning new things because it's never been easier. Then experiment with the things you've learned. Your brain will start combining it with things you already know, and you'll end up in places you'd have never imagined before.

Put the work in! Theory is great, but consistently practicing what you know will make you better at it.

If you’re looking for a group of kind, supportive, and passionate people to work with, check out our job opportunities at Gameloft Toronto and our other studios around the world here. Stay tuned for another edition of Humans Behind the Game!

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