Meet the PlayCanvas team: Vaios Kalpias-Illias

'I used to play basketball. Before all this I considered doing it for a living.'

‘I used to play basketball. Before all this I considered doing it for a living.’

Vaios comes from Athens, Greece (if his name wasn’t giving anything away) and he is a Senior Engineer here at PlayCanvas.

How did you get into the video games industry?

I wanted to get into the video games industry since I was a teenager. So I studied Computer Science at the University of Piraeus where I researched everything I could about graphics and game development and then I got an MSE in Computer Science from the University Of Pennsylvania. I was very fortunate to get a job as a Junior Programmer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, where I met Dave and Will and I’ve been working on games and game related tools ever since!

Can you briefly describe your role at PlayCanvas?

My work at PlayCanvas includes implementing and documenting new features for the Engine, the Designer and the backend, improving user workflows, fixing bugs and creating game demos whenever I can. We’re a small team so we all contribute our ideas of what we should be working on based on our experience working on other engines and games.

What is your favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

The fact that I can work on my game anywhere from any device. I’m not limited by the operating system and I don’t have to worry about source control or where to store all my assets. Everything is on the cloud and I can instantly share my work with others or invite them to my project to work with me, without going through the whole process of downloading and installing tools first.

Where do you see web based gaming in the future?

I think game development is moving towards people working together from all around the world. This used to be a big barrier before – for example, as a programmer with not a lot of artistic talent, I was limited to downloading free models and textures from the Internet. If I wanted to make something unique and pretty I had to find an artist. Then I would have to give that artist access to some repository and explain to them how the whole source control thing works. The artist would have to compile and run the game in their machine or I would have to be there physically to do it for them. You can see where this is going… With PlayCanvas you simply don’t think about that stuff anymore. PlayCanvas empowers people from all around the world to work with whomever they want, instantly.

How is PlayCanvas going to change the way people make games?

One of the main reasons why developers would want to develop games that work in the browser is the fact that their game would be more accessible by everybody. One of the reasons why people avoided making games for the Web was that they were limited to simplistic games that may not have appealed to their taste. I believe that WebGL and game-related web technologies in general have become more and more reliable in every device and as tools get better developers will be empowered to make any kind of game they want. I think that eventually most games will be playable in the browser so PlayCanvas is moving in the right direction.

Can you describe one interesting thing about yourself?

I used to play basketball during the period between elementary school and university and before all this I considered doing it for a living. I even played in the major leagues for a while! (well I sat on the bench that is…)

The Quick-fire round (this is where things get a little interesting)

Zelda or Final fantasy?

Unfortunately I haven’t played either of them!

COD or Battlefield?

Same as above! I’m not a big FPS guy.

Mario or Sonic?

Mario! It was one of the first games I played!

Favourite game of all time?

Grim Fandango! Viva la revolution!

Greatest Gaming Achievement?

Finishing Killzone 2 on a single Sunday while sitting on the floor in front of my sofa for the duration of the game.

Meet the PlayCanvas team: Will Eastcott

Our recent commitment to open sourcing is not the only thing we at PlayCanvas are open about. To help get in touch with our community, we are starting a series of posts about the people behind PlayCanvas. From the informative down to the outright silly, step deeper into our world.

'I wanted to work at Marvel Comics when I was 18, my coding skills won out which is probably for the best!'

‘I wanted to work at Marvel Comics when I was 18, my coding skills won out which is probably for the best!’

First up is Will, our CEO and co-founder, from everyone’s favourite sleepy little town Bedford, England!

 How did you get into the video games industry?

I never intended to get into making games. During my time at Imperial College in London where I studied Computing, I had to do a 6 month industrial placement. I joined a VR company that’s still around today in the form of Virtalis. But being the late 90s, the technology was underwhelming and I wanted to be back near to London, so I took an interview at Criterion Software where I started out as an engineer developing RenderWare. If you haven’t heard of RenderWare before, it powered hundreds of PS2 titles (including the GTA series). I think it’s fair to say, I learned a lot working with such awesome teams.

Can you briefly describe your role at PlayCanvas?

I’m CEO. I’m a technical guy, so although I don’t do much coding myself these days, I know enough to keep the coding team on their toes. I spend most of my time dealing with the mechanics of running the business and promoting what we’re doing out to the wider world. If I had to pick one thing I do and do best, it’s predicting where we need to be 5 years from now and figuring out how we get there. So far, so good!

What is your favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

Tough question, there’s a lot to choose from. For me, it’s the collaborative nature of the tools. It was the killer feature of Google Docs that completely blew me away. We’re doing the same thing for game developers. It really is a revelation once you’ve experienced it.

How is PlayCanvas changing the way people make games?

It’s becoming more transparent. If you choose to work in public, I can see your project at any time I want to. I can play your games any time, anywhere and on any device. We’re making the process more collaborative, with a multi-user editor where you can see the game come together live before your eyes. And we’re opening game development up to a far wider audience, by making the tools incredibly accessible. Did I mention we’re open source now?

Where do you see web based gaming in the future?

I see it becoming the pinnacle in convenience. Ultimate accessiblity. Completely cross-platform. And even more dynamic and open than it is today.

Can you describe one interesting thing about yourself?

I wanted to work at Marvel Comics when I was 18. I used to take my portfolio along to the London Comic Art Convention looking for a job. In the end, my coding skills won out which is probably for the best!

 

The Quick-fire Round (this is where things get a little interesting)

Zelda or Final fantasy?

Zelda

COD or Battlefield?

COD

Mario or Sonic?

Mario

Favourite game of all time?

No contest: Elite.

Greatest Gaming achievement?

Can losing be an achievement? I played the UK Nintendo Champion at Street Fighter 2 in 1993. I left his Dhalsim battered and bruised with a mere pixel of health remaining!