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8 QUESTIONS FOR: Niklas, Senior Developer

Niklas Grebe, 29, Senior Developer

The time has come for another sneak peek into the creative minds of the people that make playing our games possible. Today we get to talk to Niklas, Senior Developer at Bytro whose mission is to give all our players the best experience possible. In this piece you’ll get to know about the challenges he and his team face, the fun parts of the job and of course, some very wise words of advice for everyone who wants to get into the industry and for life in general. 

Niklas, What do you do in your job as Senior Developer Java Backend?

At the moment I’m working more on the infrastructure side of things. The buzzword is called “DevOps” in the industry. Being a developer is not only about programming apps in a certain language. For example, I am coming from Java but I’ve always been open minded for other languages and been curious about everything else related to running applications at scale as well as the workflows and processes we, as an agile team, follow. Some concrete examples:

The build and deployment process (Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment) is a super critical part of modern software development which I focused on the last couple of months here at Bytro.

What did you do before working at Bytro?

On paper the same job (Senior Developer Java Backend) at InnoGames. There I was a bit more focused on the programming part and worked on an (internally) shared library code base for game backends & centralized systems. But of course the structures, processes etc. are very much different compared to a 400+ people company from where I was coming from to Bytro which has around 45 people.

What does a typical work day look like?

I know you probably heard this answer before but there is no typical day which makes my work at Bytro even more enjoyable. It for sure also means a bit of (positive) craziness since it’s hard to plan for anything at least on a day to day basis. There is only one constant in my day: the stand up. Every day at 10:00 am we will come together as a team and discuss what we did yesterday, what we plan to do today, and raise problems where we might be blocked by something. I wear many hats during the day, e.g. in code reviews I do some sort of QA of the code my colleagues wrote, and I give suggestions on how to improve it which also includes mentoring my fellow devs and sharing knowledge on a very technical level. Another hat would be to investigate why a system is unreliable or slow, which we find out with our monitoring tools which proactively ping us. On a regular basis we also kick off new projects and do some planning, breaking down high level requirements/tasks into chunks of work which we can tackle. Another thing I do is “Translating” business requirements into technical requirements. And okay, I lied earlier…. there is one more constant in a typical working day despite the stand up: I log into one of my active game rounds and play 😉

Which has been your favorite project so far?

Definitely migrating our dev workflow to Github and integrating static code analysis like SonarQube to it. This gives us such a better dev experience and helps us to detect code defects early on. It kinda automated parts of our code review process which gives us time to concentrate on more important things rather than on typos.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing at the moment?

We have such a diverse landscape of systems and services that we need to keep them manageable with a rather small team of developers. In the last couple of months we had to scale our infrastructure quite a bit to cope with increasing numbers of players in our games. Which is super positive but was also quite a challenge for us. We want to give all our players the best experience possible, that’s what we strive for.

What is your favorite videogame? 

I love the Counter-Strike series. The competitive aspect and that after over 17 years I still play and love the game. Hitting insane shots or fully focused in a clutch situation gives the extra kick for me in this game.

What advice would you give to a developer that is trying to get into the gaming industry?

Follow your heart and passion. I for example really enjoy participating in game jams. A game jam is a time boxed event (usually ~48hrs during a weekend) in which you create a game prototype. The creative energy is amazing at game jams and since it is recommended to group up with other people which you don’t know it’s also a great event to get into contact with other people who are as passionate about game development as I am.

Give us 3 tips for developer teams trying to improve their workflow/productivity/creativity.

  1. Never stop learning! In our industry the environment changes quickly. Find time to educate yourself and share knowledge within your team/company. This can be going to conferences, books or even recorded talks on a video platform. In our team we organize regularly a so called “video lunch” where we pick an interesting talk and eat lunch together while watching the video.
  2. Be humble & listen to every voice. (Game) development is a team effort. The best teams are the ones that listen to each other and have a shared & aligned vision of what they want to achieve, and at least roughly know how to get there. What I mean is that it doesn’t matter who gives feedback, e.g. a senior dev should never neglect feedback because it was voiced by a junior. The same is true for cross department feedback, because maybe a super passionate developer has valuable ideas for game design.
  3. Keep feedback cycles as short as possible. Iterating over and over to steadily get progress. This means it should be as easy as possible to release a new prototype/version of your game, regularly playtest new features – if you work on a live game do a/b tests and receive player feedback early on. Time is valuable and one of the worst things that could happen is that you work weeks/months or even years on a feature which doesn’t make fun in the end.
  4. And an extra one, because this is important: Think outside of the box & don’t limit yourself by constructively challenging the status quo.

Thank you so much, Niklas!

Want to be on board?

You can find further information about our job openings at bytro.com/career. Your contact person is Susanne Zander. If you are currently not looking for a new challenge, we are happy to invite you to follow us on Social Media!

8 QUESTIONS FOR: Linus, Marketing Manager

Linus Otten, 28, Marketing Manager

We welcome you to the first piece of a series of short interviews with the people that bring our games to life. Here you’ll get a peek inside the minds of the creators, designers, developers, marketers, and every single element that is involved in delivering our products to your hands. In today’s interview we’ll introduce you to our beloved colleague Linus, Marketing Manager at Bytro, and responsible for making it easier for players to find our games.

What do you do in your job as Marketing Manager?

While I also work on presenting our games to the public in the best possible way, my main focus is scale. Understanding who likes our games and for what reasons is key. We leverage that information to find potential players for our games and make them love the flavor of grand strategy multiplayer that our titles represent.

What makes working at Bytro special?

A common goal. When looking for a job one of my major concerns was competition amongst the workforce. While I like being competitive, I don’t think a company benefits greatly in playing employees against one another. Whether it is comparing their results against each other, pointing at hours worked compared to colleagues – neither of these metrics strengthen motivation and are rather damaging.

Working at Bytro is great because we all share a goal that we have inherent reasons to work towards. Providing a game that is fun to play, a solid technical foundation to prevent interruptions in the experience, engage and acquire user to generate a healthy playerbase to ultimately support a workplace that we all like to go to (or think about from the safety of our homes) 5 days a week and make it better every day, month and year.

The team is growing in size and variety. Several professions are found in our teams ranging from developer work, data science, marketing, finance and a great HR department. We are also quite international with many unique people to meet and we fit it all into a tower that is shaped like a refreshing beer and gives the greatest view over Hamburg.

What did you do before working for Bytro?

Living in a small apartment located in the beautiful 3rd district of Vienna studying Communication-Sciences and preparing myself to influence the gaming marketing landscape.

Which project holds a special place in your heart?

Launching on mobile was a transitional moment for our team and myself. Seeing our game grow across hundreds of thousands of new devices, having to rethink my work quickly and reaching an audience that was waiting for a game like ours, but lacking a viable alternative before, was amazing.

Over the following months and years it proved to be a highly important step to stay relevant and keep growing, although our heart and core business still is anchored on Desktop PCs.

What do you do in your free time?

Either grab my running shoes, sit down and enjoy competitive matches in Counter-Strike or lie on the balcony and read a good biography of someone that I believe I could learn from. Sometimes, if I can’t sleep, I get up in the middle of a night, put a good 80s action movie on and mumble the quotes alongside it – which I used to do almost every night when I was a student.

What is your favorite videogame?

It is tough to nail it down, but the one game I always come back to is Counter-Strike. I do play a lot, but when it comes to Single Player I am always excited for a new game from From Software – hopefully we’ll see Elden Ring soon!

How do you keep motivated and productive during quarantine?

Don’t forget to go outside (as much as you are allowed to!). When the time came and we started working from home I had a very rough transition. Usually I wake up at 5:30am, drink a coffee and go for a run, the gym or play some video games in the morning – sometimes I repeat this in the evening as well. In the first few weeks of home-office it was very difficult for me to stick to my rituals and ultimately I felt very tired and overworked for most of the days. Where I always thought that home-office something to work towards, I realized that over longer periods of time it drags me down.

So I fought hard, getting up early again, trying to separate work from free-time harder and got back to my original self – motivated and productive.

So, don’t treat your day differently just because you work from home and pay even more attention to keep your rituals intact!

What advice would you give to the people trying to keep their work teams united and motivated while working remotely?

Communicate with video and audio! I am very much a digital person and don’t put too much effort in meeting someone face to face. So one would think that not going to work and the overall quarantine changes little for my life. And that is true, but still the distance in communicating with others shows harsh effects. Just reading what colleagues and friends write without the context of their “person” created distance, misunderstandings and sometimes conflict.

Try to bring as much of the “person” back into the conversations. It will help keep the teams united.

Thank you so much, Linus!

Want to be on board?
You can find further information about our job openings at bytro.com/career. Your contact person is Susanne Zander. If you are currently not looking for a new challenge, we are happy to invite you to follow us on Social Media!