Crytek Staff Developer Spotlight: Doug and Elmer, Technical Writers for CRYENGINE

Crytek Staff Developer Spotlight: Doug and Elmer, Technical Writers for CRYENGINE

People from all kinds of backgrounds and from many different disciplines are involved in the production of CRYENGINE. One area we are working hard at is our learning offering, and, at the community’s request, we’ve been putting more and more resource into this area in a range of ways. In this spotlight, we’re chatting to two of our technical writers from the team delivering CRYENGINE education to users, Douglas Perkins and Elmer Haan. And if you’re passionate about CRYENGINE and want to spread the love, stick around at the end for a job offering that might be right up your street....

Hey Guys. Thanks for joining us. How did you end up joining Crytek?

Doug: Prior to CRYENGINE, I had spent 13 years in an academic related role at a UK university. My wife is German, and when we relocated to Germany I saw that Crytek was looking for a Technical Writer to work on their patent writing tasks. I applied and here we are almost six years on! I continue to work with patents, as we are always generating plenty of them here, but I was also involved with CRYENGINE documentation. In the summer of 2016 I was appointed to the position of Documentation Manager for CRYENGINE.

Elmer: A friend of mine worked at Crytek and was in charge of the Content team. He told me about this job and said he thought I’d be good at it. I applied, did the test and I guess I passed it, because here I am!

I have a degree in translation (English and German to Dutch, as I’m from the Netherlands) and worked as a translator until I got this job. I think my degree and my previous work experience helps me do this job better, because I’ve been trained to look for inconsistencies and make sure what I write is easy to understand for the target audience.

What are your most satisfying moments working on CRYENGINE projects at Crytek?

Doug: Being part of a great Engine release and seeing it in the hands of our CRYENGINE users is always an exciting moment. I know that members of our community reading this know exactly what it takes to make and maintain a great Engine, but I am very lucky to work with many really smart, talented, and dedicated people across so many different disciplines.

Elmer: The period just after I joined was quite exciting for me; I didn’t know anything about the Engine yet, so I had to learn everything by doing it and asking people around me. That’s when I wrote the Beginners Guide, because I was a beginner myself and we thought it would be great to write it from a beginner’s perspective. This CRYENGINE Beginners Guide is probably a bit outdated now, and it will in time be replaced by our Learning Manager Brian’s new course.

Screenshots from current documentation overhaul are WIP - final layout is subject to change.

What does it take to do your job well?

Doug: In my role you have to be very well organized and it is essential to be able to multi-task. There are lots of plates to keep spinning!

Elmer: I’d say you need a willingness and ability to learn quickly. You need to be able to condense several paragraphs of technical information into easy-to-read English. It also helps to have good people skills, because you have to talk to many different people to get the information you need. It’s also important to be independent, to be able to set your own deadlines and tackle multiple tasks at once.

What role does the community play in what you do?

Doug: The community is hugely important to everyone who works at Crytek. We know we have some way to go to get our documentation to a better level and we have a roadmap in place. We are already working very hard to make the docs better and easier to use, especially for non-professional game developers. We do hear the feedback, and we know we’ve not achieved the level expected in the past, but that work is already being undertaken. I’d like to say that if anyone out there reading this has suggestions where we can improve things, then please let us know through the recognized Crytek channels – in the forums, on Facebook, Twitter, and of course via email. Everyone at Crytek is very open to feedback and ideas from the community.

Elmer: The community is very important! After all, the documentation is mostly for our users, so the community is where we look for ideas to improve the documentation. So if there’s anything missing for you in the docs, don’t hesitate to let us know, and we’ll try to add it to the docs as soon as we can.

Screenshots from current documentation overhaul are WIP - final layout is subject to change.

What is the process for dealing with feedback?

Doug: We normally get to hear from the community through our Community Developer, Nic. We really do care about the feedback we get and we do listen to what the community is saying to us, so if we can react immediately to a request/suggestion then we always do so.

Screenshots from current documentation overhaul are WIP - final layout is subject to change.

How is the restructure of the documentation coming along?

Doug: The restructure is progressing well. The overall goal is to make our documentation easier to find, and also make it more complete. The first part is not easy to do with such a complex tool as CRYENGINE, but we have been working hard to achieve it and we are sure that CRYENGINE users will see a more intuitive feel to the documentation. The second part is more difficult to achieve, but be assured we are working hard on it and we are sure that you will see better documentation over the course of 2018.

Elmer: The new structure is based on not having to use the page tree that much anymore. Instead, the pages will be easier to navigate by clicking links and buttons on the page itself.

It’s progressing well, albeit a little slower than we’d like. But now we’re getting close to rolling out the first part, starting with a Getting Started section; a collection of Quick Start guides for different disciplines, content examples, sample projects, and the basic Reference information (an overview of the tools’ UIs and what every single option does) for the tools in the Editor.

We want to add some short “How to” docs about the basic functionality of the tools too. It also contains a glossary (which we’ll of course be updating constantly) and Migration Guides for those who want to move from other engines to CRYENGINE.

Screenshots from current documentation overhaul are WIP - final layout is subject to change.

What are you most excited about coming to CRYENGINE?

Elmer: I’m excited about this overhaul, but I’m also excited about the collaboration with Brian, our Learning Manager. Together, we’re planning to add tutorials and other learning materials from (or based on) the courses he’s teaching at SAE to our documentation

Doug: Brian is hard at work developing some great CRYENGINE courses, which will go a long way to make learning CRYENGINE much easier. I know he has a long list of things he wants to do so watch this space.

Do you have any advice for readers who would like to get in to your field?

Doug: Get some experience in using any game engine, ideally CRYENGINE of course. No-one is expecting you to self-develop the next best-selling AAA game, but get a free version of an engine and experiment with it. Try and build something very simple, get a feel for how the editor works, how the various tools and systems all work together and the general logic of how the engine puts everything together in order to make a game. Demonstrating this kind of experience and knowledge in an application for a Tech Writing job in the games industry will really make you stand out to the Hiring Manager. One last thing, don’t forget that all of your written application materials must be consistent/error-free; these materials are an advertisement for your attention to detail skills. So if the Tech Writer role at Crytek sounds like your thing, then we would really like to hear from you.

Thanks guys!

We’re currently recruiting across all disciplines at Crytek, so if you fancy being our next Tech Writer or checking out what other roles are available, head to our current job offerings. If you’d like to discover more about life at Crytek, and find out about the people working to make CRYENGINE better every day, you can check out our previous Meet the Team features, including David Kaye, Lead System Engineer, Brian Dilg, Learning Manager, and Project Manager Sopo Esiava. As ever, we welcome feedback from the community, so we look forward to your comments, insights, and ideas on the official CryDev forums, Facebook, Twitter or our CRYENGINE Community Discord server.


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  • Show all comments (10)
  • nanaminer

    (translated from Russian by Google translator, if that does not swear at the syntax) Excellent!  Always considered the documentation one of the main problems of cryengine.  At the moment, the documentation is not thorough: everything is told very superficially and in addition to many aspects of the engine (such as animation, programming in C # / C ++, various systems such as a response system, a system of quests and dialogs, a face animation system, a mission system, an editor materials) it is very lacking.  There are good video lessons, but they are few and they are not posted on youtube, so I can not include the translated subtitles to the video (I do not speak English, I'm Russian).  I hope that this rework of documentation will greatly change the study of cryengine, that the documentation will not leave questions, but will be complete and convenient. Cool guys, inspiring confidence that this engine can finally be conveniently and effectively studied.  I would like to advise you not to hurry with the completion of the reconstruction of the documentation, we are ready to wait a year or more, if this really justifies the expectations. Good luck in this necessary business!

  • Ryan3dArtist

    This is a very good article, thanks for taking the time to go this in depth. Looking forward to seeing lots more documentation updates.

  • BrUnOXaVIeR

    Could some CryTek engineer make a blog post about the internals of the engine?! Explaining a bit on how the engine handles entities, properties and values... Like this extremely helpful blog post example from Unreal 4 developer; This is extremely vital information and should be of easy access for any programmer lurking around:

  • TinFoilHat


  • opermaks

    Glad to see the glossary page, it's a good idea. HDN, I agree with you. Something like CryMSDN will be very helpful for users. And perhaps this will also entail more dynamic discussions on the C#/C++ Programming forum to reach CryStackOverflow level :) Will see.

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