Charles Palmer is the Lead Community Engineer at dot big bang. Based in Reykjavík, Iceland, he joined dot big bang in 2018. We caught up with him to find out about what he’s been doing, making, learning, and playing lately.
What do you do at dot big bang?
I’m a Community Engineer. Essentially I’m here to make games and help other people make games in dot big bang. Which means on top of actually designing and building games I’m also active in the community. I also help the other developers make the right decisions about new features for the engine and website.
The Community Engineering team is currently four people and as the team lead I help them out with whatever they need and work to plan the things we’ll be doing as a team in the future. Basically keeping the wheels turning.
What’s your current focus, or an interesting aspect of your work?
Right now I’m working on developer documentation for the game engine as we’re about to put out the first public version of our scripting system. This is going to be amazing because finally everyone will be capable of making games on dot big bang.
Documentation sounds boring but it’s going to be a big part of making dot big bang a fun and easy place to make games. We’re starting small but have big plans to make our documentation some of the best available.
What excites you most about the platform?
Being a web-first game engine we have so many unexplored advantages. I think we’ll see game makers do mad things in the future. We scratched the surface with Straits of Danger, the swarm game I made with Day. Being able to get a band of merry adventurers to join straight from Twitch chat and have the whole chat spectate, live, in 3D, is something that’s very hard to do without a webby foundation.
Then there’s the extreme ease with which you can build multiplayer games. We’ve gotten prototypes up and running of some pretty complex games in just a few days. And that’s whilst we’re still in alpha, with an engine we’re working hard on improving.
Finally, it’s watching the creators in our incubator program build games. This is, after all, the whole point of dot big bang – to make it easy to create games, and have people from around the world enjoy them.
What’s something you’ve learned working here?
Most game developers look down quite a bit on web development and I’ve learnt to get over myself in that regard. The browser isn’t just this amazing tool to access a wealth of knowledge and entertainment but a pretty neat development tool in it’s own right. I do all of my day to day work in Chrome these days which is a far cry from any development I’ve done before. On top of which I find dot big bang to be considerably more productive than other engines I’ve used in the past. As a game developer I get to see my changes basically immediately, even live whilst the game is running which isn’t that common.
Working on a small team I’ve also had a lot of freedom to stretch my design legs which has been really fun. One of the best things about my job is the level of creative ownership.
What’s a community-made game, environment or object that’s caught your eye recently, and why?
I love the entire output of starcookie (aka Lambda in our Discord). They’ve made an enormous number of games and a lot of them are fairly high concept and really stretch the tools we have.
I also really like gunch22’s The Parkour Pit for fiendish jump puzzling. It’s got a great community vibe with the hall of fame as well.
And Infernalviper11 has been slamming out mods to our FPS game in the incubator program. I’m really excited for them to be able to work on the main dot big bang site so other people can play them.
Do you have a piece of advice for someone looking to work in your field of video games?
My bread and butter is game design and game making, so my main advice is simply to make games. To be more concrete: it takes time to sit down and figure out all the different pieces. It doesn’t matter how or where you do this.
There’s a lot of snobbery about what real game development is, but honestly, if you are making games and having a good time, you’re a game developer. For people with no experience, I’d suggest they look at simple game engines rather than jumping straight into professional tools. One of our goals with dot big bang is to make ourselves that sort of tool. So we can provide a smooth progression from total beginner to professional all within the same family of tools.
What are you playing at the moment, outside of dbb?
I’m pretty obsessed with IL2:Sturmovik which is a combat flight simulator set in World War 2. You’ll find me spending quite a few hours a week with a VR headset strapped on dogfighting in their multiplayer servers. It’s really compelling to me because it’s really, really hard and very immersive in VR.
Otherwise I’m a bit of a stereotype of a middle aged gaming guy and love multiplayer shooters. But I also dabble in all sorts of games out of professional interest.
Do you have a closing message, for the people?
If you want to make games, come find us on the dot big bang Discord and we’ll all help you! And keep on being rad.