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Game programmer

Details of standard

This standard has options. Display duties and KSBs for:

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the games and interactive entertainment industries where programmers create software designed for entertainment. This includes organisations which develop games for games consoles, desktop computers, mobile devices, websites and TVs. This is a core and options apprenticeship standard, which means that apprentices must complete the core, and one option out of Game software programmer or Game technology programmer. Companies which employ Game software programmers range from large, international studios employing hundreds of staff, to small indie studios made up of a few developers. Game technology programmers are often employed by hardware developers (e.g. console manufacturers), middleware providers (e.g. game engine developers) as well as large game studios, and would include specialists like server programmers in mobile game development companies.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to program reliable and efficient software within the  constraints of real-time graphical environments running on contemporary gaming platforms. Such programmers lead the development of technical systems which feed directly or indirectly into the player experience of a game. These technical systems could range from gameplay mechanics (e.g. programming a system of different attack moves and their effect on enemies) to asset pipelines (e.g. engineering tools which process geometry data in order to support a character customisation system) and custom technologies (e.g. a new graphics rendering system for displaying realistic-looking dragon scales). They collaboratively plan and coordinate the delivery of their work within a larger team and provide technical insight to a broad spectrum of creative disciplines. They create and maintain appropriate technical standards and stay informed of the latest technical requirements for gaming platforms, exploring new technologies and their potential application within the business. They diagnose and fix problems in complex systems that involve many interacting factors, initiating changes to software architectures to support an evolving design. Game software programmers work on a specific gaming title and their audience are the consumers of that product (gamers). Game programmers select and apply game engines and tools to realise a game design. They are responsible for the development of bespoke asset pipelines and work collaboratively with other developers to maximise the collaborative value of the team’s effort to the player experience. Game technology programmers work on the technologies that underpin videogames and their audience are other game developers. Game technology programmers design and create libraries, engines and tools which target specific hardware architectures or gaming platforms. They initiate and lead the development of standardised technologies and work collaboratively with a wide user-base to inform and improve their design and documentation.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a diverse creative community of developers, providing technical authority and insight to Game programmers, Designers, Producers, Artists, Animators, Audio engineers, Quality Assurance (QA) staff and Project managers. They may also interact with external stakeholders, such as publishers, platform holders and external QA. They work independently and collaboratively as required, reporting to Development directors, Technical directors, Producers, and senior staff. This applies to both options.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for leading the design and development of bespoke technical systems which affect the allocation of significant project resources. They are responsible for planning and coordinating the delivery of work for themselves and junior programmers and provide technical insight and leadership to a range of creative disciplines within a larger team. They create and maintain technical standards across the organisation and its clients. This includes technical requirements needed to submit titles to console platforms. They lead research into new technologies, identifying potential opportunities for their application. They work under limited direct supervision, responsible for the quality and accuracy of their own work and sometimes the work of others. They ensure work is completed within agreed timescales and within budgets. As their work includes communicating with external stakeholders, they must present a professional image of their employer and themselves. This applies to both options.

Typical job titles include:

Developer relations engineer Game programmer Game server programmer Gameplay engineer Gameplay programmer Mobile game developer Rendering / graphics engineer Software development engineer

Core occupation duties

Duty

KSBs

Duty 1 Lead the development of technical systems governed by the principles and constraints of real-time graphical environments for contemporary gaming platforms (e.g. games consoles, desktop computers, tablets and phones).

K1 K3 K4 K5 K9

S1 S2 S5

B1 B2 B7

Duty 2 Engineer robust, performance-driven software using programming languages, game engines and frameworks appropriate to the requirements of the projects being developed (for example C++, C#). Conceptualise and address performance bottlenecks and optimize complex software systems and resource pipelines.

K1 K2 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9

S1 S3 S4 S5 S6 S8 S20

B7

Duty 3 Diagnose and fix errors in complex technical systems that involve many interacting factors, making use of automated testing systems to optimise workflows.

K2 K5 K6 K7 K8

S2 S3 S6 S8 S11 S17

B7

Duty 4 Lead the development of technical systems which feed directly or indirectly into the player experience, working iteratively to continuously adjust and refine their work. Initiate and implement modifications to software architectures to support future changes in design.

K1 K5 K8 K12

S5 S11 S20

B1 B2 B7

Duty 5 Plan and co-ordinate the delivery of work for themselves and junior programmers within a larger team, using appropriate version control and project management tools to manage software changes and track progress within the context of a wider development methodology.

K7 K8 K11 K12 K17 K18

S9 S10 S11 S12 S14

B1 B7

Duty 6 Provide technical insight to a broad spectrum of creative disciplines from Game Programmers, Designers, Producers, Artists, Animators, Audio Engineers, QA staff, Project Managers, Analysts, Community Managers and Marketing to communicate technical constraints and opportunities.

K4 K5 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K13 K14 K17 K18 K19 K20

S3 S7 S9 S11 S12 S13 S14

B1 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 7 Create and maintain technical standards across the project, organisation and its clients and stay informed of the latest technical requirements for gaming platforms. Undertake reviews of code, documentation, testing processes and methodologies to maintain good technical practice across the business.

K7 K8 K14 K16 K17 K19 K20

S6 S13 S17

B1 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 8 Lead research into new technologies and identify opportunities for their potential application within the business.

K15

S15 S16

B1 B2 B4 B5 B7

Duty 9 Practice continuous self-learning to keep up to date with latest industry developments, and support their effective communication within the organisation.

K14 K15

S16 S17

B5 B6 B7

Option duties


Game software programmer duties

Duty

KSBs

Duty 10 Select and apply industry-standard game engines and tools to realise game design, employing industry-standard tools to accelerate the development process and avoid unnecessary replication of effort and resources.

K1 K3 K4 K5 K6 K21

S5 S18 S20 S22

B7

Duty 11 Initiate and lead the development of bespoke asset pipelines, which affect the allocation of significant project resources, beyond the extent of their own tasks.

K4 K5 K9 K10 K12 K13 K22

S4 S11 S14 S19 S20

B1 B2 B7

Duty 12 Work collaboratively with other developers to maximise the combined value of the team’s effort to the player experience.

K5 K13 K18 K23

S7 S13 S14 S18 S19 S20 S21

B1 B3 B7


Game technology programmer duties

Duty

KSBs

Duty 13 Design and create libraries, engines and tools which target specific hardware architectures or gaming platforms, applying both high and low-level approaches to their development and optimisation.

K1 K3 K4 K5 K6 K24

S5 S23

B7

Duty 14 Initiate and lead the development of standardised core technologies, software systems and workflows which affect the allocation of significant resources for the users of those technologies.

K4 K5 K9 K12 K13 K25

S4 S14 S24

B1 B2 B7

Duty 15 Work collaboratively with a wide user-base to support their use of technologies and inform and improve their design and documentation.

K5 K10 K13 K18 K26

S7 S11 S13 S14 S24 S25 S26 S27

B1 B3 B7


KSBs

Knowledge

K1: How to approach the development of interactive, real-time applications for gaming platforms, including an awareness of industry-standard programming languages, application programming interfaces (APIs), tools, engines and frameworks. Back to Duty

K2: The syntax and structure of an industry-standard programming language (above and beyond visual programming languages) used for the development of games (for example C++, C#). Back to Duty

K3: The fundamental graphical and mathematical principles that underpin the operation of real-time graphics in two and three-dimensions. Back to Duty

K4: The characteristics of modern hardware platforms and how they support the efficient function of interactive, real-time graphical applications. Back to Duty

K5: Approaches to balancing quality and performance requirements to achieve, monitor and maintain acceptable frame rates and memory footprints for a real-time interactive application. Back to Duty

K6: How to use tools to identify and optimise performance bottlenecks in real-time applications. Back to Duty

K7: The role of debugging tools, crash reports, automated testing and continuous integration workflows in creating robust software. Back to Duty

K8: The role of staged deployment, monitoring and analytics in releasing, tracking and refining games. Back to Duty

K9: Common principles of good software design applied in the games industry including contrasting approaches and priorities (e.g. object-oriented vs. data-oriented) Back to Duty

K10: How a complete asset pipeline for a game operates, including the technical requirements, processing stages and tools involved in bringing assets into the game. Back to Duty

K11: How to use version control and project management tools to plan and coordinate the delivery of development tasks. Back to Duty

K12: Common development methodologies and how they are applied in game development. Back to Duty

K13: The broad range of roles involved in the game development process, and the different strengths and perspectives that multi-disciplinary teams bring to the creative process. Back to Duty

K14: Where to find information on the latest technological innovations for the games industry. Back to Duty

K15: The role of rapid prototyping and agile approaches in innovation. Back to Duty

K16: The organisation’s standards with respect to coding, documentation and issue tracking, and how they relate to wider practice in the software industries. Back to Duty

K17: Publisher’s technical requirements for target platforms, where to obtain them and the tools and systems available to support developers to meet those requirements. Back to Duty

K18: The business stakeholders in a project and how multi-disciplinary development teams can generate value within the context of different business models. Back to Duty

K19: Relevant data protection laws including GDPR. Back to Duty

K20: Security approaches to prevent products being compromised, and everyday good practice in security including password policies, phishing and use of VPNs. Back to Duty

K21: The relative merits of different game engines, third-party frameworks and tools, and when to use them to speed up the development process. Back to Duty

K22: How to balance the requirements and availability of team resources (for example staff time, software licencing) with respect to the engineering and maintenance of a game’s asset pipeline. Back to Duty

K23: The range of different disciplines involved in the development process and their typical skillsets and expectations in terms of technologies, tools and asset formats. Back to Duty

K24: The specialist operation of a specific hardware architecture or gaming platform and how to engineer efficient solutions which target its specific capabilities. Back to Duty

K25: How to balance the requirements and availability of team resources (staff time, software licencing) with respect to providing the maximum benefit to their users. Back to Duty

K26: How to use externally facing support portals and project tracking tools in order to effectively track and document technologies for sharing with a wide user-base. Back to Duty

Skills

S1: Program interactive, real-time applications for gaming platforms using an industry-standard programming language, incorporating APIs, tools, engines or frameworks appropriate to employer requirements. Back to Duty

S2: Implement and adapt contemporary real-time algorithms in two and three-dimensional games. Back to Duty

S3: Use profiling tools and techniques to achieve, monitor and maintain an acceptable real-time framerate for an interactive game. Back to Duty

S4: Track memory usage and identify opportunities for reducing requirements. Back to Duty

S5: Write code informed by the characteristics of modern hardware platforms (e.g. shader programming, multi-threading). Back to Duty

S6: Use debugging tools and automated testing systems to develop robust code bases. Back to Duty

S7: Use continuous integration workflow within the deployment lifecycle as part of a multi-disciplinary software team. Back to Duty

S8: Write robust, well-tested, maintainable code which is easy to adapt to changing requirements. Back to Duty

S9: Use an industry-standard version control system. Back to Duty

S10: Use an industry-standard project management system from the perspective of a developer. Back to Duty

S11: Adapt or extend existing tool chains to support new features and/or optimise workflows. Back to Duty

S12: Apply industry-standard development methodologies within day-to-day working practice. Back to Duty

S13: Manage complex relationships with diverse stakeholders and communicate information effectively to different audiences. Back to Duty

S14: Provide technical leadership and direction with respect to the workflow of other team members. Back to Duty

S15: Research, document and articulate the opportunities and threats presented by new industry technologies. Back to Duty

S16: Follow studio coding best-practices and participate in keeping them relevant and up to date. Back to Duty

S17: Give and receive feedback in code reviews in an objective and professional manner. Back to Duty

S18: Develop games and/or prototypes using an industry-standard or in-house game engine. Back to Duty

S19: Make justified choices about the implementation of different features and tools and their effect on the overall workload of the team. Back to Duty

S20: Write software which contributes to the player experience while balancing the extensibility and performance requirements for an evolving game design. Back to Duty

S21: Work as part of interdisciplinary teams, collaborating closely with disciplines outside programming, for example artists, game designers and audio engineers. Back to Duty

S22: Create innovative game mechanics for which solutions are unknown. Back to Duty

S23: Develop reusable technologies targeting specific hardware architectures or gaming platforms. Back to Duty

S24: Make justified decisions about the implementation of different features and their effect on quality and workload for their technology’s user base. Back to Duty

S25: Work as part of a user-focused product team, incorporating multi-disciplinary input from outside of the team, for example from game software programmers, artists, game designers and audio engineers. Back to Duty

S26: Communicate and evangelise technology solutions to promote engagement and uptake among the user-base. Back to Duty

S27: Profile and optimise code created by their technology users. Back to Duty

Behaviours

B1: Reliable, objective and capable of independent working. Back to Duty

B2: Initiative and personal responsibility to overcome challenges and take ownership for project solutions. Back to Duty

B3: Respect for other disciplines and an understanding of the role of diverse experiences and backgrounds in a successful creative process. Back to Duty

B4: Commitment to continuous professional development; maintaining their knowledge and skills in relation to technology developments, and sharing best practice in their organisation around all aspects of game development. Back to Duty

B5: Maintains awareness of trends and innovations in the subject area, utilizing a range of academic literature, online sources, community interaction and conference attendance. Back to Duty

B6: Acts with integrity with respect to ethical, legal and regulatory ensuring the protection of personal data, safety and security. Back to Duty

B7: A strong work ethic and commitment in order to meet the standards required. Back to Duty


Qualifications

English & Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.


Additional details

Occupational Level:

7

Duration (months):

24

Review

Status: In development
Proposal approved Standard approved Assessment plan approved
Level: 7
Degree: non-degree qualification
Reference: ST0953
Route: Digital
Typical duration to gateway: 24 months
Typical EPA period: 6 months
Options: Game software programmer, Game technology programmer
Trailblazer contact (for apprenticeship standard content and trailblazer membership queries only): JHabgood@sumo-digital.com
Employers involved in creating the standard: Sumo Digital Group PLC, Rare (Microsoft), PlayStation London Studio (Sony), Red Kite Games, Co-operative Innovations, The Chinese Room, Hutch Games, nDreams, Aardvark Swift

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