With a new project coming out this year, we’d like to kick off another round of Q&A’s with Bethesda Game Studios developers. Today, meet Jeff Lundin, one of our systems programmers.
What is your job at BGS?
I am responsible for creating and maintaining Skyrim’s brand new scripting language. This usually involves not only creating new language features and functions, but also writing up a metric ton of wiki documentation, various external tools (which includes a full-blown compiler), editor additions, and on-the-spot support for other coders, designers and artists working with the new system.
How did you break into the industry?
A lot of extra-curricular work and a small bit of luck. The school I went to was actually pretty close to Cyan Worlds, which was where I got my first after-school job, and a professor of mine knew Rand Miller. One of the computer science classes I was in took a kind of “field trip” to visit Cyan, see what they did, and to get to talk to people there about what it was like working in “the real world.” At the time I was about a year away from graduation so I brought along a printed resume and a CD with a few of my side projects on it. That led to a short on-the-spot interview which then led to a followup interview later. I ended up getting hired right after I finished my classes.
What’s your favorite memory/proudest achievement while working at BGS?
Getting the chance to pretty much go back to the drawing board and making a powerful scripting language from the ground up has been a great and very rewarding challenge. We’ve got crazy awesome designers that are doing really cool things with it and I can’t wait to see what the mod community will do with it.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your job?
I think the biggest misconception is that all I do is write code. I end up spending a decent chunk of time every so often writing documentation. Every feature and function needs to be explained in the wiki somewhere, hopefully where someone can actually find it, and in a manner that doesn’t fly over a less technical person’s head. I will also help people over e-mail, the phone, or in person when a script isn’t behaving like they expect, or when they just want to know how to do something in an efficient manner.
If there was one developer you could meet, who would it be?
I would love to meet Tim Sweeney and talk with him for a long time about the Unreal engine and UnrealScript in particular since it provided inspiration for some of my work.
If you weren’t developing games, what do you think you’d be doing today?
If I could still be programming I would probably be doing that. I think it would be cool to work on operating systems, either for the desktop or mobile devices. If I wasn’t programming I would probably be an electrical engineer working on robotics or something similar.
I think it’s a toss-up between Chicken Cordon Bleu and the stir fry.
If you could trade jobs with someone else in the office for a day, who would it be and why?
Probably a concept artist. Of course, I would never get to do their job because I can’t draw to save my life, but I’ve always wished I could draw something half as well as they do. And it’s easier to impress people with art then code!
Worst job you ever had?
I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’ve never really had a really bad job. Though out of the jobs I have had I have to say that working at Staples was the worst — if only because of the customers. The people I worked with were (almost always) great. On the upside you always get stories to tell of customers that come in, usually when they want to buy a computer or related items. Or the ones who would bring their computers in from home to be upgraded or serviced. People do some strange things with computers…
What do you like to do in your free time?
I usually play various video games, watch anime, and some programming on my own projects at home. Outside of that I’m currently running a Dark Heresy game with a few other people here at work every so often, and sometimes get in on the board game action after work as well.