Some Hansonites say the best thing about being part of the Hanson team are the awesome colleagues we have. So we’ve been interviewing the gang in an attempt to get at what they’re really passionate about and how that drives the great work they do here. We’ve recently gotten to know more about Visual Designer Becca Maag, Front-End Developer Matt Painter, Account Executive Jordan Rees, and Senior Front-End Developer Mike Louviere. Today, we’re getting the conversation started with David Williams, Senior Software Engineer.
Sally: How long have you been at Hanson?
David: I joined the team in 2011, and became a Senior Software Engineer in early 2017.
Sally: So…software engineer. Describe your role for someone who doesn’t know what that really means..
David: I’ve been mostly focused on mobile development over the past couple years, so my main role is working closely with the project managers, the visual design team, and the iOS team to lead implementations of Android versions of our mobile and tablet applications. I’ll also occasionally work on the implementation of non-mobile projects from time-to-time.
Sally: What do you love most about your job?
David: Variety is a big draw. Even just in the mobile space, I’m working on both under-the-hood service logic and front-end animations, which is really appealing to me. Getting to implement the excellent work of our Visual Design team is great, too. We’re also often utilizing new technologies and trying new approaches, so it’s consistently educational.
Sally: Given how much variety is involved in your work, what’s the coolest project you’ve worked on at Hanson?
David: Despite all the mobile work I’ve been talking about, my favorite recent project has been Oneida Plate Envy. To bring this 3D product experience to life, we needed to be able to deliver high-quality renderings of dynamic scenes quickly, and it didn’t take us long to rule out traditional render farm solutions based on speed. We went with Unreal Engine to listen for, render, and serve place setting images that are configured through and driven by a gorgeous web front-end. Unreal also gave us a good workflow for organizing all of the assets we needed, setting up a background and lighting environment, and quickly prototyping all of the customization options we support. I also helped coordinate what we needed in terms of 3D model data, which was pretty challenging given all of the products we support and the need to keep things in-scale and visually consistent. It’s been a great project.
Sally: What are you passionate about—here and outside of work?
David: I’ve always been a huge video game nerd. While I play all kinds, I’ve always particularly liked old arcade games like Gradius and Space Harrier. The modern wave of PC VR headsets was super exciting and inspiring to me, so when I got my hands on early VR development kits around four years ago I decided to start developing an arcade-structured VR game of my own. The project got bigger than I expected! It’s been a long journey learning the ins and outs of Unreal Engine, sorting out VR best practices, getting a ton of practice in 3D modeling and shader design, and constantly learning more about game design in general. The game’s name is Horizon Vanguard, and the current plan is to release the full version early next year on as many platforms as I can. There’s an early demo from September 2017 out now on Steam, and while it plays best with VR you can also play it without a headset.
Sally: OK, so everyone is hearing it here first—watch for an awesome new game coming in 2019! That’s very cool.
Sally: So you know that our core values are: Be Yourself, Own the Adventure, Stay Curious, Get Emotional, and Embrace Family. Which one do you resonate most with and why?
David: I suppose that’d be “Be Yourself.” I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to bring in some of the skills and knowledge I’ve developed while working on my game over the years into exciting projects at Hanson utilizing things like Unreal, 3D visualization, and AR.
Sally: Describe Hanson in three words.
David: Fun, adaptable, and talented.