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We chat with Jeremy about his plans for the SDK, including new content and features, the importance of community, and more.
Today we're chatting with Jeremy Wade, CRYENGINE SDK Product owner. Jeremy originally joined Crytek from the CRYENGINE community and has become a vital part of our team. He now has a new role as CRYENGINE SDK Product owner and recently helped ship CRYENGINE 5.7 LTS, the most advanced version of the engine, and the hotfix for it. We spoke to Jeremy to learn more about his future plans, some of the new features coming to CRYENGINE, and the importance of community feedback in the development of our engine.
Hey Jeremy! Can you tell us about your new role as SDK Product Owner?
A product owner essentially drives their product forward by filtering and expanding upon product features to grow and adapt the product to user needs continually. At Crytek, I have a unique position where I can directly talk to everyone in the company without restriction and coordinate the features with the other product owners, management, and developers as needed. This provides great efficiency and the potential to drive the development of new features and content. In particular, the SDK part of the job title, as you may have guessed, focuses on my ownership of the SDK and content portion of the overall product - think of GameSDK, GalaxSys, templates, and other content pieces.
Currently, I have been mainly focusing on CRYENGINE 5.7 LTS. It is developed independently from the main branch of CRYENGINE so that work towards the next major release is unhindered. This allowed us to focus on additions that fixed things. For instance, Scaleform 4 support allows users to create UI. The GamePlatformPlugin additions enable the use of the Steam API (among other platforms) much more quickly with Flow Graph or even Schematyc Experimental. And Schematyc Experimental also received some extensions.
What are your aims for the long term in this new role?
I aim to bring new practical and technical features to CRYENGINE users, including new content and features like components and other systems to the engine. I hope to provide more tools for developers to create their vision more easily and effectively in a general sense. And we want to provide good examples and reference material that will help show how to use different features and systems.
The old CRYENGINE GameSDK is being deprecated in favor of a new one. Why?
I think it is no secret now that we should move on from GameSDK. Over the years, it has served us and many others very well, providing a huge framework for users wanting to create first-person shooters or third-person shooters complete with vehicles, weapons, animations, AI, and everything in between.
However, making something more custom, like a game in a different genre or changing how something works, was always an issue for teams that lacked dedicated programmers. Even with dedicated programmers, it could be a challenge. We want something new. Something more usable and configurable, modular. How that will come to be is not set in stone as of today, but we'd like users to know that we are fully aware of the limitations of the GameSDK, and we will be improving the user experience overall in many ways.
In general, we aim for the user experience to be more configurable instead of only 'moddable.' This means more control for designers and artists without sacrificing the technical robustness the engine has enjoyed for many years already. There will be new features and content that will make use of all the new goodies in the engine. Unfortunately, we cannot go into too much detail right now as we are heavy in development, but we will show what we can when the time comes.
What sort of things are in the pipeline?
We are prototyping several ideas, systems, and content. To make the engine experience more configurable and modular, we will be updating the templates. It's too early to say too much, but the goal is configuration over modification. By that, we mean that instead of having a binary file you need to program to change controller inputs, all that will be configurable, and no binary will exist - at least not one that could block you from changing something. We are also working on new content and samples, a little like GalaxSys - but more so!
The SDK team has both programmers and artists, which gives us a unique opportunity to create the features CRYENGINE needs, and users want. Also, some very talented and enthusiastic artists from our game development team have already been hard at work on new content, especially for the engine, which we are super proud of. We hope to share news about that project sooner than later.
Community is super important to CRYENGINE. What's the best way to give feedback and let your team know what they'd like to see around the SDK?
The community is so important. In fact, the community is what motivated us to release 5.7 LTS. We are always looking at what the community is asking for - workflows, stability, certain new features, or replacements for current features. These are things that we work into our planning to find what is feasible and what fits our overall strategy and vision for the future. Generally, the best place to provide feedback is on our official channels - our Community Team does an awesome job collecting the feedback and presenting it to us. Several of our team members are also on Discord, which is a great way to give feedback direct to us.
You were a prominent member of the CRYENGINE community before joining Crytek. How has the journey from user to developer been, and what advice would you give other people interested in working in your field?
It has been a wildly exciting ride here at Crytek. I am super proud to be part of the team here! It may sound cliché, but passion and drive are among the most important aspects here. If you're passionate about what you do, you'll be recognized. My passion was born in the community and has only grown since. I am genuinely always thankful to be in such a flexible and fun workplace filled with so many talented and friendly people. But about the Product Owner role specifically, you need to be able to drive communication between different groups and steer product development from an overall perspective. Show your passion for improving the product, share your ideas, and bring groups together to push your goals closer to realization.
Maybe you'd like to follow in Jeremy's footsteps by moving from the community to joining our team? At Crytek, we value diversity. We actively encourage people from all backgrounds and experience levels to apply to our open positions, so join us over at LinkedIn and check out our careers page.
If you have questions or feedback about CRYENGINE, let us know in the comments, on the forum, or via Facebook and Twitter. You can pick up tips and tricks about our game development, ask questions, and more by joining our community and the CRYENGINE development team over on our official CRYENGINE Discord channel.
If you find a bug in the engine, please report it directly on GitHub, which helps us process the issue quickly and efficiently. You can find out how to submit feedback on GitHub, and access CRYENGINE source code, here. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we host a range of content, including tutorials covering all aspects of the engine and game design. Want to show your love for CRYENGINE? Pick up merch over on the official online Crytek Store.