Today we'd like to introduce you to Thomas Wollenzin, our Lead Audio Programmer! Thomas took some time to talk to us and answered all of our questions, even the weird ones! So without further ado, come read what he has to say.
Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?
Even in early childhood I felt magically attracted to all kinds of technical systems. I always wanted to understand how they worked, what made them tick and what their purpose was. Later, when I came into contact with my first computers, such as the famous C64, Amiga 500 or Atari 1040 STF, I got hooked by the magic that one could produce with those machines. A few years passed and I followed other trails thinking that there was something more fun and interesting for me to do in life, but about 15 years ago I realized that my future would be in the games industry and that I wanted to become a programmer. After a few years of studying games programming I was hired by a small company which unfortunately went bankrupt two years later. At that point I applied to Crytek and was luckily accepted.
What are you working on at the moment? What's first on your to-do list?
As Lead Audio Programmer for Crytek and CRYENGINE, my main responsibility is to provide our customers with the most flexible, streamlined and reliable audio production pipeline. We also have an obligation to customers that wish to use any audio middleware that they like, so we have to enable CRYENGINE to support those. In particular that means that we are currently working on the world’s first audio translation layer system that allows users to conveniently plug in and out of those middlewares. A side effect of that technology is that an audio middleware switch can even happen at runtime. A small gimmick that I’m personally pretty proud of.
What music do you listen to at work?
Well, unfortunately I cannot listen to music too often as I naturally have to listen to what’s going on in the game world. But whenever I’m working on tasks that don’t require me to find auditory issues in a game I like to listen to a wide range of music. Sometimes I feel like listening to rock, sometimes electronic pieces and sometimes even a bit classical.
What tools are you using at the moment?
At Crytek programmers write mainly C++ based code. For that, most of us use Visual Studio as an IDE. For a quick text editor, Notepad++ and many other small helpers.
What types of games do you like, and what is your favorite game of all time?
I don’t have a favorite game of all time as I remember many that gave me fun times, but let me say that I like mostly FPS games, of course, but also RTS, adventures, puzzles or skill-based games. For FPS's I definitely have to mention Kingpin: Life of Crime (hope they make a sequel one day), Counter-Strike, of course, and Far Cry for its graphical fidelity at the time. For RTS's definitely C&C and for adventures the famous Monkey Island. There are also many games that I loved to play on the C64, Amiga or Atari. Just to name a few: Wings of Fury, Prince of Persia and R-Type.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Going out with my girlfriend, meeting family and friends. Also, whenever there’s time and the weather is nice enough, I grab my motorbike, get onto the Autobahn and enjoy the pure power the machine produces.
Where are you going on your next vacation?
Oh, that’s something my girlfriend and I haven’t decided on yet. We went to Greece two years in a row and next year definitely needs to be a different country to see and experience something new. I lived for many years in the USA, in New Mexico to be precise. I always wanted to take my girlfriend there and show her where I lived and worked for many years. So a USA trip has always been on the agenda. Maybe this will become a reality next year.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to get started in the industry?
Commit to it with all of your heart! This industry can be tough at times, especially since there is so much to learn, to know and to handle. I was a starter once too, so I know it can be daunting. Stay on it, don’t allow yourself to get demotivated. Always focus on the goal that you want to achieve and one day you will realize that you’re there while writing up a text for an interview giving advice to new starters.
If you have more questions for Thomas, ask them here
All the best,
The CRYENGINE team.