Developing a game may start with a simple vision, a loose idea to be molded into a universe, but it falls on the software developers to bring it to reality. Without a skilled team ready to tackle the technical challenges, an idea will simply remain an idea and nothing more.
In this Meet the Team series, we will meet Charlie Mckenzie, one of our most skilled and valued software engineers. With decades of experience under his belt, he has contributed immensely to Gods Unchained and continues to tirelessly advance the game as we speak.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Growing up, I was a massive gamer. Doom, Quake, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Dune 2000, and Diablo are all titles I grew up with. All these games had a defining influence on me, and one day I realized it was actually someone’s job to envision and create all these worlds. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do.
As much as I enjoyed studying Arts & Graphic Design at school, I dropped out at 17 and started working as a Flash developer at a small digital agency. I never looked back and was fortunate enough to have some amazing mentors and support along the way.
My north star was my passion for building and crafting great user experiences, experiences that brought surprise and delight to the player. Experimenting and pushing technology as far as possible to fulfill this desire has now taken me to Web3.
Tell us in a sentence or two about your career to date.
As mentioned before, I started out as a Flash developer creating animations, games, and interactive documentaries. I built games for ABC Kids and other similar production houses for several years. I found working with kids really rewarding, as the feedback was always so honest and sometimes frankly brutal.
Working as a freelancer for a decade allowed me to travel around the world and get a taste of how different studios and companies operate. Settling back in Melbourne, Australia, gave me the opportunity to work on Armello with League of Geeks, and other indie games in Unity.
I also spent a fair amount of time in enterprise SaaS products and was part of many startups, but unfortunately, none were very successful. I do believe the time wasn’t wasted, though, as I learned some great lessons along the way.
Why did you join Gods Unchained?
I joined the team back in November 2021. A year earlier, during the previous bull run, I wandered deeper into the crypto rabbit hole and got excited about the possibilities and promises of blockchain and Web3 technologies. Immutable’s mission and core values aligned with the kind of company culture and environment I was looking for and wanted to work in.
Having a truly passionate and collaborative team means there is a lot of opportunity to push yourself and keep a supportive growth mindset. For me, this continual learning prospect is crucial to reach success in my role and responsibilities. I feel that is true for most technologically intensive roles, but even more so in Web3 as the space evolves rapidly.
Ultimately, I get to work with good people who care about creating a world-class Web3 game for dedicated players, and I couldn’t ask for more.
What’s different about being a software engineer at a blockchain game?
It’s so damn interesting and exciting, and it reminds me of the early days of Flash (love it or hate it). The technology allowed creators to blend programming and animation so seamlessly and push the boundaries of what was possible and what was expected of the web.
Working on a blockchain game in these early days, I get that same sense of limitless potential to discover and create awesome new experiences. You’re presented with all these new questions:
- What does it mean to take a piece of the game with you?
- How do you “put” that piece in your wallet and have it exist outside the core game engine?
- What would it mean to use that asset in a different game, a completely different universe, or a totally unrelated context?
- WTF is even a wallet?
Long story short, I can’t wait to see what crypto offers, and I am excited to start exploring whatever comes down my way next.
You made a lot of games in the past; what makes GU different?
One of the aspects of GU that is different from other games I’ve worked on is Web3. It’s the first time players have had true digital asset ownership. This opens up a lot of potential for new experiences and modes of thinking.
That unique Web3 journey GU is currently on makes it super intriguing. I don’t think anyone is sure where the journey is leading, but I’m confident it’s going to be a tasty adventure. All the ingredients are in place; an extremely passionate community, a fun TCG, a wild crypto space, and an amazingly talented and diverse team of developers. I’m eager to see what our efforts amount to in the end.
I believe that a strong community and team diversity are key to making it a truly great journey. It’s not just the differences in gender identity, religious and political views, and cultural background. It’s also the caliber of talent from AAA and indie studios, web2 and startups, crypto natives, and economy masterminds. All these unique perspectives focused on the same goal of crafting the best possible Web3 game for the players are the necessary ingredients for success.
What’s the most exciting feature you want to work on?
Hmmm, you can keep a secret, right? Wen secret feature? Oh, there are many! Today I’m most excited about the forge! I really think we can expand on it in the future and add more fun elements to the mechanic.
What’s the ideal state for Gods Unchained?
Part of me thinks that success is when players don’t realize the game uses blockchain or NFTs, GU is just an enjoyable and challenging game to play.
But lately, I’ve been thinking that the ideal version is when the user experience of interacting with the blockchain is seamless and intuitive but intentional. The player’s choices help build value and utility for digital assets. All of this is interwoven with the game’s narrative and lore. Ideally, the technology complements the player’s experience, making it more enjoyable.
What’s Gods Unchained future in 5 years?
While we’re still in the early days of development, we have the opportunity to pioneer new experiences and new partnerships through player-owned digital assets. One of the potential benefits of Web3 is greater interoperability. I imagine an evolution of remix culture. This explosion of mashups and content creation is currently all around us, from music sampling, game modding, trending actions on TikTok, memes, open-source software, etc., but it often hits up against copyright or is siloed to a platform.
Web3 can change all that. Community and content creators could add their own utility to the digital assets, and creators don’t have to lose out.
I hope to see a whole range of new players from around the world enjoying the GU universe in their own language and in their own way. I’m looking forward to seeing where the community and other content creators take GU!
How do you spend your time on the weekend?
I’m all about food and nature, and all my inspiration comes from nature. I’m fortunate enough to live in a really lush green part of Australia, at the base of Gondwana rainforests on Gumbaynggirr land. So I’m Forest bathing as much as possible, hiking, camping, and canoeing with my sea dog and the family.
I also have a real passion for organic food and small-scale farming. Something where I can explore deeper integration with IoT hardware and visualizations from mapping tools and stay a little grounded.
Any closing comments, and where can we reach you?
I’m looking forward to elevating GU to a higher level, and I hope you also like where we’re going with the game. My discord is dreamoftrees#6640; feel free to leave a message!