Developer Interview - Khari

June 20, 2015 by Etaew

 

In this article we chat with Khari, a UI developer for Trove. We talk about who he is, what he does, and what it's like to work on Troves UI.

Forum Discussion: http://forums.trovegame.com/showthread.php?22484-UI-Developer-Khari-Trovesaurus-Interview 

Can you introduce yourself, what's your job title and how long have you worked for Trion Worlds?

Heyo! Howdy Earthlings! My real name is much too difficult to pronounce with the human tongue. However, you may call me Khari. *(sounds like CAR, with an EE on the end)*. I’m a senior UI developer for Trion Worlds, and unofficial Butt-Kicking Security Provider for the Trove team.

How did you get started with Trion and in the games industry?

Life on my planet is a little boring. After you’ve visited all of the rings and made space-sandcastles all day, there isn’t much to do. So I decided it was time to blow this hot dog stand and find a new world to Explore.. I heard about this place called Trion World, and was told that there’s a load of fun and adventure to get into there, so I hopped in my teleport machine, and baby here I am!

Where does the name Khari come from?

Since pronouncing my true name requires 2.73 tongues and hypersonic hearing, I have chosen a human name from the continent Africa, on your planet. The name literally means “Kingly”… When I picked it, all of my friends just rolled their 3 eyes.

What responsibilities does your position cover?

I have a great time at Trion. I am responsible for taking designs from our artist, and sprinkling magic bits of sparkly code dust to make them function.  I’m not sure how it works, I just hope I don’t run out of this bag of code dust.

What is it like coming on to an existing team and product?

I’ve worked with a lot of teams putting software together, but never in my 2,300 years of life have I worked with a team like the Trove team. During development, this project moves near light speed! The time travel technicians back at home would be pleased with seeing how quickly things happen here. It’s almost like they are already done before they start! If you stay away from the game for a few days and come back, it might possibly be a new game! That’s more than I can say for my home planet, where ‘space invaders’ is still the #1 played game.

Is there anything you can think of that makes working on Trove unique?

Trove is a huge stewpot of great ideas mixed into one hugely glorious game. (Can you tell I like it?). What makes trove a unique game to work on is the variety of content and varied concepts that we get to work with every day. The insane ideas that get put into the game are so much fun, and the backstage conversations that produce and surround these ideas make every workday a comedic experience..

That…. And once in a while we get donuts. Mmmmm…… Donuts…..

Working on a UI, what level of interaction does that require with other team members?

Interaction with others is crucial. My homeplanet was 183x the size of earth, and less populated, so working as a team was difficult. Luckily, at Trion, we all work in a pretty tight-knit unit to make sure we are all in sync. This, to me, is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the development process; communication. I’m fairly certain that everything here would crash and burn, plunging to a crimson, blood-filled firey death if our team didn’t communicate. Things are moving THAT fast.

What kind of skills and talents are required to design a User Interface?

A lot of people thing that UI / UX Design is all about graphics, color and layout.  However, the truth is much more complex.  There are multiple aspects that all play a solid role. Aside from the typical “where should this item go?” decisions, there is a much deeper underlying understanding of human reaction, cause and prompt.  It takes a lot of experience to truly know how to put together an interface that is not only intuitive, but also friendly to the eye, while being ultimately effective in its use.  I leave most of the color decisions and ‘look and feel’ to the main artists.  My responsibility is to ensure that it works correctly in both concept and in actual usage. Actual usage means I have to program it too, which is an entirely different topic.  I code. I write logic based instructions. I make stuff work. That’s the easiest way to describe the code part.

 

Can you walk us through one of your typical workdays?

 Sure.

  • A: Wake up, turn off alarm clock.
  • B: Walk through my instaclean, water free, cleaning pod.
  • C: Generate breakfast in my food cloning fridge
  • D: Hop into my ride and head down to the local Tel-U-Port station.
  • E: Teleport to earth, and head to Trion Worlds
  • F: Give a high-5 to Avarem and Atronos
  • E: Sit Next to NewtBoots and ask her for the latest design
  • F: Program that mofo
  • E: Complain about some art item that I don’t like
  • F: Get shot down because the art has already been decided upon.
  • G: Program that mofo.
  • H: Read our forums in hopes that the players simply LOVE the new stuff we’ve added.

Could you break down the stages of a typical task you work on?

I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you.

To give you a small taste though, it typically starts with a request for a new ‘process’. A process would be some task, procedure, or operation that a player has to do within the game (like use the Forging Bench). Once we know what this process is, we define a few rules on how it should happen. Once those rules are in place, we brainstorm on how the procedure should appear to the user, this is where the art and layout come into play. Usually, this involves getting into a small, padded room with the art team and having a no holds barred battle-royale of ideas and concepts. Once the battle is over, the doors to the room are opened, and we emerge victoriously with a new design. Then it’s up to me to program that mofo.

What are some of your contributions to Trove?

I can’t take any credit for my own ideas. I honestly believe that even the ideas that come from individuals end up being routed through multiple people on the team until they are polished ideas that we have all contributed to. Often, any one of us will have an idea, which turns into a conversation, which turns into an actual in-game reality.

However, I WILL say that I have proudly contributed to the reasoning behind the daily amount of “That Trove team is full of crazy people” commentary.

What contribution are you most proud of?

I’m honestly just happy to be a part of this team and this game. At the end of the day, the entire picture is what’s important, and just knowing that I helped make that a reality, is what makes me happy and proud.

What has been the most challenging task you have worked on so far?

Our UI engine uses a platform that is…“challenging.” Finding ways to produce the same type of magic I did back on my home-planet is extremely difficult and sometimes frustrating.  I was a whiz-kid super pro back at home.  But it seems that on Earth, my magic is limited.  It’s just a learning process, so I am rolling with it like…… Well like that old outdated technology you humans call a ‘wheel’. 

What's on your desk, and what's the strangest thing you've seen on someone elses desk?

(phew!) I am SOO glad you didn’t ask me what is UNDER my desk! I don’t need the interplanetary police force hunting me down for this Alien body…. Errr...I mean…shoes. Shoes are under my desk! On my desk is just a computer. Everyone else has the same exact thing. I think I need to leave now…I have said too much.

Grump seems to have a great deal of faith in your ability to keep him alive during a zombie apocolypse. Do you have thoughts on this?

I shoot zombies in the face. Also, I sip very small portions of human blood everyday as an antidote just in case I am ever bitten by a zombie. My mixture of alien and human blood just makes them drunk and run into walls. What Grump DOESN’T know, however, is that during the apocalypse, I will still need a source of blood. So while he is tagging along, he’s going to have to provide me with the fuel I need in order to protect him…and that’s just way too much work. So Grump is just gonna have to be sacrificed to the zombies as a peace offering. Sorry Bro.

Any other games UIs that stand out to you, for appearance, functionality or usability?

Life. Real Life. The UI is incredible, and very responsive. But in regard to games? Well, Call of Duty, Advanced warfare caught my attention with its slick motion graphics and highly technical looking displays. They fit the theme of the game very well, while not being intrusive and interfering with gameplay.

If you had unlimited resources, is there anything you would love to add functionality or design wise to Troves UI?

“SCALABLE FRIGGIN WINDOWS AND SUPPORT FOR HIGH RESOLUTION MONITORS!

…end rant. (It’s coming)”

Is there anything you want to say to people who want to mod Troves UI?

Whatever floats your boats, humans. We will use what we like, and ignore what we think is stupid. LOL. Just kidding. Keep the mods coming. Not only are they inspiring, but they also make us feel happy that people are so into our game that they want to go the extra mile to customize and show it off. Keep it up!

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