People of Kuato: Game coding expertise with Yasantha

Yasantha is the Lead Developer at Kuato Studios. He oversees the technical aspect of all of our games and leads the game development team. He’s a coding-whiz, an able project manager, and has been involved in every single game to have been developed at Kuato.

What do you do at Kuato Studios?

At the very beginning of each game, our team comes up with a user experience flow (mapping the game onto a chart – how a player will interact with the game at every click/tap) and sends it to me. I develop the overall project architecture based on this.

When building a house, it is important to first create a blueprint in order to determine the structure, shape, and size, and the amount of materials needed. It’s the same with a game – we need to determine where each component of the game will sit, how they will talk to each other, which devices they will work on, and to make it technically feasible.

The game is then broken down into workable sections, and our talented team of developers each develop their own section. I break down each of these sections into small technical tasks which are allocated to the team. I make sure multiple projects are being developed in parallel with each other, speak to each other correctly, and are technically aligned to the company standards.

I create in-house tools and plugins to make the day-to-day work easy for our team. I am also responsible for the maintenance of our servers to make sure everything is working in good health.

Apart from that, I code different sections for each project such as gameplay development, and user interfaces such as menus and buttons.

How did you get into coding?

Growing up in Sri Lanka in the ’90s, no-one had heard of coding games for a living. There was no gaming industry in Sri Lanka at the time. Even more, computers were very rare to find and considered a luxury item. When I was about 12 years old, I saw the classic Prince of Persia game at a school exhibition. A friend of mine, who was lucky enough to have a computer, had played the game, and told me about the storyline and the gameplay. I was fascinated – amazed by the idea of being able to change stories and having the ability to play as multiple characters within a single game.

After high school, I went to the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology to study Software Engineering. In my second year, I transferred to the Sheffield Hallam University, and completed my Bachelor’s Degree, and then did a Masters in Games Software Development at the same university. The first-ever game I made professionally was a small prototype game about fire safety for the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

What have been your career highlights before Kuato?

After finishing University, I joined a small start-up company in Manchester, where I made several mobile side scroller games for the very early iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. After two years, I moved to London and joined Kuato as a contracted Games Developer. Then I became a permanent Game Developer, and was later promoted to Senior Developer. Now I am the Lead Developer at Kuato having completed my 8th year in July 2020.

Which video games inspire you?

The first game I ever made as a coder was a replica of Space Invaders. When I was studying Game Development, I tried to recreate as many classic games as I could. I coded my own versions of Ping Pong, Pac-Man, Street Fighter, etc. The first mobile game I developed was inspired by Street Fighter and Scott Pilgrim vs The World. As a player, I used to play Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Batman, Rayman, Witcher, etc. In my spare time, I like to play League of Legends and I’m also a huge Pokemon Go! fan.

What’s your proudest achievement to date?

Purely from the development side, I’d say my proudest achievement is the Wellbeings: Wellness for Kids mental health activity app Kuato created for the young children during the lockdown period back in May. We created the entire app start to finish within a fortnight. I’m also very proud of our Dino Tales Junior game, mainly because my 3-year-old daughter loves it and she can’t believe her daddy made it.

What advice would you give somebody starting their career in your field?
I’d say, if you are interested in a career in coding, learn to read and understand code written by other people as well as writing your own code. When you work in a game development team, you’ll need to work with different coders with different coding styles. Being exposed to various coding styles will help you to be a part of a team and contribute more.

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