At Die Gute Fabrik we're eager to support emerging talent as well as collaborating with existing talent, and so too are we invested in supporting the local emerging game dev community. Which in part is thriving because we're lucky enough to have one of the foremost game design masters degrees in the business right on our doorstep: ITU. We support the course as an advisor, mentor many of its graduates, and count its graduates amongst our team!
That's also why we were delighted to find ourselves this year in the very rare circumstance of being in a position to offer a company collaboration - something which is only a good fit every 5 years or so. And so welcomed Daria Radu and Alexandra Labusová on board to work on a well-supported and mentored self-contained part of our unannounced project. It will be a long time before we can talk with specificity about the excellent work they have done, so in the meantime, we wanted to provide room for each of them to introduce themselves, and strongly recommend both of them as excellent for any future collaborators.
Who are you and what is your background?
Hello, I am Daria and I am a web and game developer! I moved to Denmark from Romania (almost) 6 years ago looking for a degree that would suit both my overflowing creativity and my (then underdeveloped) talent in programming. My dream at the beginning was to become a video editor - so I chose to study an AP Degree in Multimedia Design and Communication at Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA). However, somehow my path always ends up with me programming something - so I extended my degree into a BA in Web Development, which led to me working in Web Dev for a couple of years. And then I went on a journey of trying to have a taste of everything - frontend development, backend development, devops, freelancing, even being a teacher assistant.
I really love programming, and I always try to take on new challenges, so I decided to switch my field a little - and dove into a MSc in Games (Technology) at ITU, which I am now very close to finishing! I had done a little bit of game programming in my Bachelor’s as well, and I have had so much fun developing my skills at ITU - it offers much more room for my own creativity, so I wanted to keep exploring the medium. Therefore, the past two years have been full of projects, group work and the collaborative business of making games, and I was eager see what it’s like to do this on a professional level as well. This brings us to the present, where I am currently part of a super cool placement project at Die Gute Fabrik in order to do my thesis together with Alexandra, my fellow game designer.
What are your primary interests/skills?
Many - I actually switch up my interests quite often, since I love trying out new things and learning along the way. But I love developing software. Games, websites, services, you name it. It’s always a new challenge - especially with games. The architecture is always different and it’s always fun to play around with so many new technologies, I think this interest in architecture is why I usually tend to go towards a more backend role. Currently, I am diving into AI and Machine Learning in games, which I have also been able to use as part of my placement at Die Gute Fabrik (super excited for everyone to see the results when we can talk about it!). It’s definitely the area that attracts me the most right now, and I would love to take on more projects and expand my skills.
When I am not developing software, I love expressing myself through dance - and that is the one skill I have constantly developed in my life. And it keeps both my mind and my body active and creative.
What have you learned about yourself and your practice in your company collaboration?
I have learned plenty, but most importantly: how to create and plan technical architecture. Because our part of the project could be so self-contained, I was given the responsibility for making the big decisions regarding tech in our placement project. This meant constantly updating my knowledge with what are the current best practices. It also meant paying attention to resource management and how to maintain code quality. I have learned so much, and am excited to continue to develop my knowledge and instincts here.
In addition, being on a time-limited project, there was a lot of time management and planning involved. Together with Alexandra (and also with the help of our lovely colleagues at Die Gute Fabrik), we managed a pretty clean and organised production process. Which is awesome.
However, my favourite thing that I have learned during my work with Die Gute Fabrik is that it’s okay to start not really know what you are doing. Especially early in your career, it can be daunting to take on a task that you have no idea how to complete yet. But those are probably the best kinds of task - they force you to dive into unknown territory and learn. Plus, you are never alone - ask around! “Steal” knowledge from people. Take your time. It’s so satisfying when you do actually find the solution to that one “scary” task.
Where would you like to be in 3-5 year’s time?
I am at a point in my life where my goals are very rapidly changing. And that is okay - life is so full of opportunities, why stick to only one road? Nevertheless, my answer right now would be: hopefully in a place where I am confident enough to lead a team of developers. I think that is such an interesting challenge, and it would also allow me to take more responsibility with my work. This new goal of mine is actually a personal discovery that I made at Die Gute Fabrik (extra kudos to Hannah and Katrin for spending so much of their time sharing their knowledge and experiences with me!).
And also - hopefully travelling lots. I love travelling.
Can you tell us something fun/surprising about yourself/your work with DGF?
I love pink and cute things! Is it important? No, not really. But it actually tells so much about me. It actually took me years to admit I like pink, due to how society tends to add stereotypes/associations to this colour - and I never wanted to fit into a stereotype. Also, how could people take me seriously as a programmer?
Until one day, I said it out loud. I love pink! And got myself pink clothes and a big Jigglypuff plushie. And it was so relieving.
But the main point of this story is: I am currently learning to unapologetically be myself. And this reflects so much in the work that I do - I love developing casual, cosy games (see the hundreds of hours I spent in Animal Crossing) that are really colourful and bring a sense of calm and “hygge”, and the story-driven games that Die Gute Fabrik do are right up my alley. And I hope I get to do more of these in the future.
Editor's note - check out the curatorial work of Rachel Simone Weil for a video game history preservation approach to foregrounding how pink and femme-coded aesthetics have always been a part of games! The online collection can be found at Femicom.org. Games are pink!