To sustain a successful game in the unforgiving market of Web3 games, a talented and knowledgeable team of partners dedicated to making the right decision at every step is critical. Members must pull their own weight and contribute as much as possible to the cause.
In this “Meet the Team” series, we will get to know Hendrik Schoenmaker, a man who goes above and beyond what’s expected of him. Having been a part of Gods Unchained from the very beginning, he’s an irreplaceable member of our team. Get a glimpse of what the ‘devs do’ at Gods Unchained!
Tell us about yourself, Hendrik.
I love people, tools, and automation. I like seeing things run smoothly and hindrance free. Outside of work, I enjoy collecting Legos and exploring culinary experiences.
Tell us about your career.
I started off studying design and arts overseas. However, I soon decided to take a different path, and initially, through tool development in computer graphics, I worked my way into programming and game development.
I worked in flash and mobile game development in my earlier career. I joined Gods Unchained in early 2018, even before the official beta was released, and my first contributions were the creation of developer tools. I later worked on other projects like the early reconnect functionality, the new UI design, the bug reporting tools, and the mobile version of Gods Unchained, which is still in the works!
What drew you to Gods Unchained?
When I first joined the company, things like blockchains, Ethereum, or “play and earn” were not big things or something I knew or even cared about. I simply joined because they hired experienced staff, and the game looked like it had potential.
I was also looking to take a break from mobile development, and GU did not have a mobile version when I joined. Now, years later, I believe it was the start of a great opportunity.
What does a day in the life of a senior game engineer look like?
I am responsible for the timely patch releases and look after the Gods Unchained development team members. On a week-to-week basis, I try to ensure that we have cargo and work ready for release.
Regarding the development team, I try to smooth out any friction points that may arise and guarantee that upcoming features can be released without delay.
What is the most exciting feature you’re working on right now?
Recently we have been working on the game release automation. So, as Gods Unchained gets bigger, looking after every detail and performing quality assurance can become a challenge. We speed up the development process by using machine learning algorithms, automatic QA, and creating reusable assets.
I am also developing automation solutions to release game and card changes more reliably for the card team.
Previously, it used to take us 4-5 weeks to release game updates. These days, we primarily deliver patches weekly. Reaching this benchmark across the whole team is an inspiring achievement for me.
My work is mostly behind the scenes, but it’s what makes a player’s experience so much better!
Can you share any more about game release automation?
We create each card’s rules (effect) through a visual flow graph language. As game engineers, we make the building blocks for these graphs, and then our technical designers set up the graphs for each card.
Currently, we have 1700+ cards that we have to maintain through this system. Had we not created this system early in place, I don’t think it would have been possible to grow so much during a couple of years. We are overhauling many of these systems to reduce bugs and make them easier to maintain and scale.
We also have some very cool developer tools that help debug multiplayer matches, reproduce game scenarios, or re-create reported bugs. I would love to share some more behind the scenes in the future through our blog posts.
What’s your most significant achievement at Gods Unchained to date
I would like to say mobile development, but we haven’t released that yet 😀
I think the most impactful this year has been the release process automation. That project was a real conversation starter with various teams on how we can have a more satisfactory impact with our updates.
This breakthrough allows us to create internal release notes automatically, send synced Discord messages, and better track upcoming release dates. Thanks to all this, we can reliably update the game every week.
What game would you want to work at if you weren’t here?
For me, where I work is less about the game or the company name but rather about the people and the opportunity to have an impact. With the right team, any project can reach success. Moreover, I believe we’re solving the correct problems at Immutable X, and we’ll impact the overall landscape of how blockchain technology shapes up.
You made a lot of games in the past. What makes Gods Unchained different?
The games I previously worked on had smaller teams, development cycles, and, generally, a much lower complexity level. Gods Unchained is a very complex and extensive project; it’s in a whole different ballgame! We maintain about 130,000+ lines of game code, 1700+ game cards, several development teams, and many complex systems that require constant attention and tweaking. Moreover, our aim is to reach a million players, using the latest innovative technology to give power back to players. Our mission is very different from traditional games.
Speaking of technology, do all games need to go the blockchain/crypto/web3 route?
I certainly hope not. Diversity is vital in the market, and until there is one definite “best” way to finance game development, I think that developers should all be open-minded and explore new possibilities. The future is not yet written. Web3 is undoubtedly an exciting game design development, but not the last innovation to come along.
What does the ideal version of GU look like to you?
You probably have guessed, but I like when things run smoothly. It would be great if we had fewer moving parts internally. Also, performance enhancements for mobile and desktop versions wouldn’t hurt. I would love to see the load times halved and, generally, better stability within the game.
As for the game, I think it can do better with enhanced accessibility and usability. Perhaps, a card history to see what was played in the match. Some previews of the card’s abilities would also be great.
Creating decks is one of the more time-consuming parts of the game, and it’s not beginner-friendly. I think the game would benefit from new game modes that take deck building out of the equation for those that just want some quick games or different challenges.
Where do you see the game in 5 years?
I see GU available on more platforms, like macOS, rolling out mobile much before that, having more localization options, and many more cards. I also hope to see new titles and games within the GUniverse!
Where can we follow you on social media?
Follow me on Twitter @TheShooe, or watch out for my posts on our Discord.