[NEW] Lumberyard Dev Diary - Customers Determines Our Yellow Brick Road

Hello Lumbernauts!

Many of you have been asking about Lumberyard development over the years, wondering what the sausage making process is like. After some discussions on how best to do this, we’ve decided to launch a new initiative called Dev Diaries to give our community members a peek behind the curtains and a chance to talk directly with some of our developers.

For the very first post in this series, I would like to introduce Danielle, our Software Developer Manager for the PhysX team! See below for her Dev Diary.

Hi, readers!

My name is Danielle Cheah, and I am a Software Development Manager at Amazon. I work on Amazon Lumberyard in the London (UK) offices, where my team develops physics, White Box Tool, and networking features as well as test automation and “engineering excellence” principles (such as effective internal processes and developer best practices). I’m really proud to be the inaugural writer for this Amazon Lumberyard Dev Diary series.

I’ve been with Amazon Lumberyard for over 3 years and watched it develop into its own unique, flexible tool set for large multimedia and games projects. The Lumberyard London team was formed in 2017 and has grown in scope so significantly since then! (If you’re curious about what we’ve recently worked on, check out our blog post from a month or so back.) Right now, we’re knee-deep in a few new and very exciting unannounced projects, as well as several long term investments such as to improve our ability to perform well and deliver results.

But what I really want to talk to you today is about the Amazon Leadership Principle that is dearest to our hearts: Customer Obsession . Yes, we are obsessed with you: the multimedia, game, or simulation developer — indie, corporate, or somewhere in-between!

Why is that? Well, beyond the corporate leadership angle.

First, it’s because my team and I are very passionate about multimedia and simulations, and especially games. My team’s engineers and project managers share games industry experience, and many, like you, are avid gamers. I myself have worked on a number of games, including Need For Speed: Shift, Just Cause 3, and Life is Strange. (Perhaps you’ve played them?) My team is staffed with folks who’ve worked on games from across the industry, including games from well-known studios like Criterion (Electronic Arts), Free Radical, and Kuju. We also have team members with PhD degrees in graphics and visualization. We’re well equipped for game engine physics and tools development, and we all love this industry!

Secondly, we build tools for humans – customers who love games, visuals, simulations, and all of the other amazing experiences that fall under the banner of “multimedia” products. We love devs. We love artists. We love producers, and testers, and anyone who has ever once thought, “how can I make a game?” (Did I mention that we love the industry?) We get so much excitement from seeing the amazing games that our customers build, and we selfishly love seeing our little stamp on their works of imagination. We hope to be an enabler for greater things to be accomplished and be a part of that, even if it’s just a tiny fraction of the greater vision. And it’s not just games: our potential customers span many different industries, from civic planning and visualization, to IoT controls, to robotics simulation and many more. All of these complex problem spaces just sparks our passion to do more, to contribute more, to be a helpful and enabling product for the creation of digital worlds and experiences.

Lastly, we’re obsessed with you because this digital world is a shared one, and we can’t make the best product without understanding your voice. We’re all participants in the digital age, and we each contain an interesting perspective, insight, or idea that we want to capture by working with you, and folding it into Lumberyard. That doesn’t mean we’re focus group obsessed; rather, it means we really do listen when you hop on our communities to tell us about your installation problems, or your scripting challenges, or the tools and formats you work with.

Despite our experience and knowledge, the greater digital multimedia industry is vast, and we aren’t so arrogant to think we can contain all of that wisdom ourselves. And so we listen to you , so we can learn, understand, and grow Lumberyard into something that works for not just the AAA games studio, but indie developers, simulation engineers, visualization teams, and other companies looking to build experiences and business with modern 3D multimedia.

But how does all of this really apply to the way we operate?

Well, we work backwards from our customers. We have honest conversations about what the customer wants, what we have or don’t have to achieve their aspirations, and we sit down to figure out the solutions. Most importantly: we read what you write in our communities and surveys, and we talk to you. We use your feedback to determine feature priorities to sort our feature ranking. Within each feature, we dive deep into what are the minimum viable elements required, and we agree with the customer upon what the deliverables should look like. The whole process is very Agile, centered on communication, collaboration, and negotiation.

We look at this as a partnership with the aim to solve your problems at an evolving scale. To this end, I’m proud to kick off our Dev Diaries effort to open up another venue for conversation with you. Let’s chat!

So, long story short: we are always listening to our customers, and more importantly, we are using your insights and scenarios to drive positive improvements to Lumberyard. It’s just part of who we are as Amazonians, as industry veterans, and as fans of games and simulations.

The team has made tremendous strides in 2020. I am really keen on working with all our existing and potential customers in 2021, and if you have any subjects you’d like me to cover, or you have a question that could make for an interesting topic, please drop a comment below!

Have a great new year!

Signing off, Danielle


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