~ 5 Minutes

Employee Spotlight: Justin Riccardo

 

Welcome to MobilityWare’s Employee Spotlight, where we sit down with our talented team members to find out what it takes to create some of mobile gaming’s most popular and enduring titles. Recently we sat down with Software Engineer II Justin Riccardo to ask him about the innovative work he’s doing to help keep our competitive card games fresh for dedicated fans.

 

1) What motivated you to pursue a career in gaming? How did you begin working in the industry?

When I was in high school, I started to learn about programming and discovered it was something I really enjoyed doing. After I graduated from high school, I attended DigiPen Institute of Technology where I learned the ins and outs of game development. Out of all of the assignments I had at DigiPen, my favorite was always our student game projects. While working on my first mobile game senior year, I discovered that mobile gaming was something I was passionate about. From those experiences, I knew game development was something I wanted to pursue. After graduating from college, I was working on casino slot games where I learned how to develop a game in a professional environment with a more experienced and robust team of gaming professionals.

 

2) What is your job at MobilityWare? How would you describe your role?

My role is client-side engineering for our competitive card titles. Some of my day-to-day responsibilities include helping brainstorm new feature ideas, planning the software architecture for features we are assigned, and working with the team to ensure we meet project deadlines. We get to work on multiple titles in our competitive cards suite which helps keep our work fresh and engaging. In this role, we are able to work with our design team to help plan new and existing features while also finding innovative ways to implement them. Every 2 weeks, we have a sprint review where we talk about how the sprint went overall and give kudos to teammates who really excelled. One of my favorite aspects of working at Mobilityware is the team-building activities. Sometimes we will play Jackbox together as a team or participate in a virtual escape room. We have a fantastic team that is a joy to work with.

 

3) What game titles have you worked on at MobilityWare?

I have worked on both the mobile and Apple Arcade versions of Gin Rummy, Hearts, and Spades along with Spiderette, which is only available on mobile.

 

4) In speaking with Sr. Technical Director Greg McBride, we were told that you took the initiative to do some really innovative work on some of our card suite titles. Could you tell us about that? What motivated you to take on this task?

Absolutely! Earlier this year I was tasked with a new feature idea we were interested in implementing. We explored different types of emoji art styles and discovered this clay style of avatars we wanted to use. We wanted to implement a new system that could swap out assets in-game at runtime to change the look of the game for our players. These assets included offline avatars, emotes, and multiplayer avatars. The team was looking to see if we could also reduce the app size. I started looking at different components of the Unity engine and discovered AssetBundles were the perfect solution to this. This was my first time working with AssetBundles and it was fun being able to use them in this feature. We were able to use them to move our avatar and emote assets into bundles and reduce our overall app size.

This task was pretty challenging because it had to work with the existing assets while also ensuring it would be compatible with other card titles. It also needed to work with our league’s system and associated popups. We developed a method where it would swap asset styles with just the click of a button in the settings menu. AssetBundles provide a really easy way to swap out art styles. Behind the scenes, it’s loading and unloading different bundle types during a swap. It was really exciting to see the assets change in real time!

I was inspired to take on this new task by two of our core values: stay hungry and take ownership. I was eager to learn how AssetBundles worked and wanted to be the one to guide this exploration. After working with AssetBundles, I now understand how they help reduce memory usage while providing the flexibility to do cool things like swapping out textures dynamically. It’s really satisfying knowing players can now choose if they want to use the classic or modern style assets to customize their experience.

 

5) What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy playing golf, hiking, and building Legos. I also enjoy taking road trips to the coast and running on the beach with my corgis.

 

[AssetBundles in action]

 

 

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