Meet Stephan (Kraekke) - Arkheim's Game Developer

Ever wondered how a game like Arkheim - Realms at War is made? What is the journey of an idea before it makes it to the game? How are bugs being fixed? Who creates the beautiful images? How do we keep players entertained? And - who are the human beings behind this project? The Arkheim - Realms at War Team invites you to take a peek behind the scenes. Today we want you to meet Game Developer Stephan!

Discord name: Kraekke

Hi Stephan. First of all, tell us something about yourself. What is your background and how did you end up in the Arkheim Team?
I have been passionate about games as long as I can remember. After graduating from school I went directly to study informatics for games engineering in Munich. After graduating in 2017 I was really eager to start working on a game. I was fortunate enough to be employed by Travian Games early 2018 and joined the Arkheim team as my first entry into the industry.

How would you describe your role in the Arkheim Team?
As one of the developers, I am responsible for implementing all the features designed by our game designer, UX and Artists. In close collaboration with the rest of the team we have to manage to iterate on multiple features at a time and ensure they are eventually implemented in the game with good quality.
With the code that comes with new features - a substantial part of my job is to maintain the codebase in a way that the future me has no problems changing or extending it as well as to watch out for critical constraints like performance in front and backend. When things break, most of the time there is a reason for it and together with our QA I try to find the things that go wrong and fix them (Add bugs, find bugs, fix bugs, rinse repeat ;)).

Once Game Design comes up with a new feature, which steps are taken to implement it in the game and how are you involved?

After the first design is finished, most of the time our UX and UI designers develop a general layout for the feature. Once we are happy with the first draft, we developers start implementing the feature and work together with the other guys within the engine to iterate on the feature and bring it into the game. After we are done with the first prototypes, we either reevaluate the idea of the feature or continue working it out and start testing it with our QA. For the whole process fast iterations are key, as some features have to be explored first before you can make a definite statement about them. Therefore, a lot of a features journey to live deployment depends on its scope and circumstances and development times range from ten minutes on a Friday to two months iteration including the whole team.

What is more challenging in your opinion: Coding new features or finding and implementing the fixes for unexpected bugs?
I would say they both have their challenges and both can be incredibly fun in their own way. A new feature requires you to understand the problem you are facing and not only lay out an approach to solve this problem, but also watch out to interact with all the other subsystems in a way that doesn’t harm you in the future. Of course seeing all the new things coming together is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job. Bugs however can range from 'change one character to solve' to 'spend three days searching and cry yourself to sleep' and require quite some debugging skills as well as an understanding of the underlying system as you have to judge where a particular error might originate from - and how other systems might be affected as well. But it is particularly rewarding when the light bulb finally appears above your head.

Apart from Arkheim - Realms at War, is there any other thing you use your programming skills for?
The experience of working with a commercialized game engine like Unity is great, as it allows me to be more familiar with my environment when working on private game projects in my spare time. I also like to tinker around with ideas, problems or algorithms I find interesting, so it helps a lot there as well.

And lastly, do you have a message for our readers out there?
Please continue giving us feedback! For me personally it's amazing to see how the changes I implement into the game resonates with all of you players and as a passionate gamer myself I strive to make the game the best and most enjoyable experience.

Do you have any more question for Stephan? Let us know in the comments below!