There are few people who are as much of a beacon of light as our favorite frontman, Justin Ng. He is literally everywhere in the office at any given time and is just an incredible person to work with! This week we chop it up with our Engineering Manager and the veritable face of Storm8, as he pontificates on making great games, pocket-worth mobile devices, and the joy of noodles, broth, and an egg.
Tell us about what you do here at Storm8.
I manage a team of 35 engineers in charge of the making the most fun games in the world. That involves all of the code that goes into our iOS, Android and Kindle Fire games on both the client and the server.
When I first started started about 3 years ago, a couple of us (along with the founders) were basically learning the iPhone SDK the hard way - by reading the documentation. No tutorials, no books, no Youtube videos, no libraries other people wrote. We wrote test programs, ran debuggers, and after making mistake after mistake, we learned what the best practices were for making awesome mobile games. Fast forward to today: I’m pretty confident that Storm8 is one of the best places in the world to learn the best practices of mobile technology. Everyday, I mentor my world-class team to make sure we always keep our technological and knowledge lead in the mobile industry.
You’re never in one spot in the office for long, are you?
Running the team and dodging Paul and his Nerf gun pretty much entail a full time job. It’s a bit like a StarCraft match in that you need to multitask and make swift decisions in order to win. Every single week we ship new games or updates to existing games at the highest quality possible, and I visit each and every one of my leads daily to provide product feedback and advice. Also, Paul has a nose like a hound and will snipe you if you stay still for too long.
Figures you’d make a StarCraft metaphor. We understand you’re a big fan.
Some of the most fun I ever had was going to IPL4 in Las Vegas with Storm8 and feeling the ground shaking as the crowd cheered for their heroes playing StarCraft 2. Also, I figured that if Storm8 has a softball team, shouldn’t we (being a video game company) also have a video game team? Having said this, I started the Awesome Starleague, an in-house StarCraft tournament with a huge trophy. I’m also going to enter our team in the After Hours Gaming League so we can face off with other tech companies and have some competitive fun with StarCraft 2.
So is StarCraft 2 your favorite game ever? Or if not, what is?
Hardest question, ever! StarCraft 2 is my current obsession. The original Half Life was one of the best video game experiences I’ve ever had. Super Metroid is the closest I’ve ever seen to a perfect game.
But my favorite game would have to be Final Fantasy IV. I was just a kid when I played it, and it was the first time the characters and storylines drew me into the game so deeply. I’ve played through that game so many times, and it gets better every time I play it.
What’s the best thing about working at Storm8?
I love working with people that really genuinely care about making great games. Managers in most companies have to motivate people to work harder and make a bigger contribution. My job is the opposite - my team members care so much about the quality of the game that I often have to beg my team to go home early and not burn themselves out!
What did you do before this?
I interned at Google during their IPO (no, they didn’t give me any stock, grr) and then wrote a lot of code at Microsoft on both Zune and Xbox Live. Before that, I played a LOT of video games. I have fond memories of running a Quakeworld Team Fortress clan while I was in high school.
You obviously love video games. How else do you unwind away from the office?
My wife and I love to travel and eat, and do so whenever we have a free moment. Last Christmas we tried to hit as many Michelin Star restaurants in Napa as possible. Earlier this year we enjoyed copious Pina Coladas by the ocean in Los Cabos. I’m not sure where we’re going next year, but I’m thinking steak frites in Paris…
Justin’s mobile devices, past and present
You live a rough life! We have it on good authority that you have an unhealthy obsession with mobile devices. Please share your plight.
My name is Justin and I am a mobile device addict (*sob*).
It started in high school when I saved for weeks to get a Palm Pilot 1000. Since then I’ve liquified my bank account to get the latest and greatest. A few of the many devices I’ve owned: Palm V, Sony Clie, Blackberry Quark, Motorola Razr, Motorola Pebl (my absolute favorite phone design ever), Compaq iPaq, every iPhone…
I currently keep both a Samsung Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5 at all times…but I’m excitedly watching for the latest rumors on an upcoming Google Nexus phone by LG.
Very fancy. The ultimate final question: what’s the best ramen you’ve ever had?
Third place goes to Orenchi in Santa Clara (an office favorite). Second place goes to Daikokuya in Los Angeles, which may be the best ramen shop in America.
But my favorite ramen comes from making it myself. It takes a lifetime to perfect a recipe, and I’ve been evolving mine since college. I won’t reveal my secret recipe, but I will say that it involves Shin ramen and some key custom ingredients. If you want to evolve your own recipe, watch this video (http://youtu.be/3omn6MoIjms) of K-pop star Jiyeon who provides a good starting point with spring onions and an egg.
Justin Ng: engineering mentor, ramen connoisseur. You’re a good man.
Do you love games? Are you in the Grandmaster League and never need additional Pylons? Do you know the difference between ramen and AMAZING ramen? If so, we should totally do lunch. Also, you should apply here for a career at an awesome company. We’re hiring for pretty much everything at the moment, but we’re specifically highlighting UI Engineer, Software Engineer, Technical Recruiter, Outsourcing Producer, and Head of Business Development. See more details after the jump!
- A passionate UI Engineer with a unique blend of technical and a designer eye.
- Experience with Objective-c, Java, and xCode a huge plus.
- Photoshop skills are a plus.
- Experience with Mobile/Social gaming.
- A good knowledge of game usability and design.
- An undergraduate degree, preferably in Computer Science or Digital Media/Art.
- Ability to multi-task & juggle multiple projects.
- Effectively manage a project from concept to completion in a timely manner.
- A strong communicator and team-player who collaborates and helps others.
- Passionate about front-end development and design.
- Design and implement scalable, reliable, and maintainable technologies for our gaming platforms.
- Code and develop features such as in-app purchase and animations.
- Promote code maintainability, extensibility, and reusability.
- Enforce code quality through code reviews and unit tests.
- Aggressively collect, analyze, and respond to data related to product performance.
- Collaborate closely with engineering, product, graphics, and game design teams to define our next generation games.
- Ability to solve complex problems with simple and optimal solutions.
- Jedi coding abilities; writing clean, maintainable, bug-free code.
- Ability to learn different technologies and programming languages quickly.
- Strong empathy for users.
- Game development experience is a plus.
- B.S. Computer Science or equivalent quantitative field preferred.
- Manage full cycle recruiting process for Engineering and Technical roles ensuring a smooth and positive candidate experience.
- Work with recruiting and HR team to develop, implement and execute hiring strategy.
- Collaborate with internal clients to understand their hiring needs and goals.
- Screen resumes and interview qualified candidates ensuring a smooth process through offer and candidate close.
- Facilitate interview and hiring discussions with interviewers and hiring managers.
- Drive offer process - including extending offers, closing candidates, and generating offer letters.
- Work with Human Resources team to on-board new hires.
- Act as an internally and externally-facing representative of Storm8.
- Passionate about gaming and able to speak to Storm8 technology/industry.
- 2-3 years technical recruiting or sourcing experience for a search firm or in-house recruiting team.
- Patient, communicative team player that is detail oriented and has outstanding interpersonal skills.
- Experience partnering with managers, interviewers, and team members throughout the hiring process.
- Willingness to work flexible hours as needed.
- Broad knowledge of programming languages, web technologies, software development process and emerging technologies.
- Experience sourcing SW Engineering, Operations and IT Engineers.
- Partner closely with Art Director, Lead Artists and Production team to help define, build and maintain a strong outsourcing pipeline.
- Help create tools and workflows to aid in outsourcing process.
- Partner with multiple outsourcing clients to ensure healthy pipeline and strong relationships.
- Review and organize all outsourced art assets.
- Provide feedback to outsourcing teams.
- Maintain quality and standards of all art assets submitted by outsourcing teams.
- BS degree is strongly preferred.
- Ability to thrive in a start-up environment.
- Ability to hit deadlines and work under pressure.
- Excellent written and verbal skills.
- Self motivated and work independently as well as in a team environment.
- Strong understanding of 2D art and Animation.
- Experince with Flash, Photoshop and Illustrator.
- Quick sketching and concept experience.
- Knowledge of design skills, including the effective use of color, form, lighting and composition.
Head of Business Development
- Build and maintain a deep network of contacts in all major mobile gaming markets at a wide variety of companies.
- Nurture and grow relationships with companies to understand their strategic direction to evaluate how they align with Storm8 goals.
- Apply insights and emerging mobile business trends to build the business case for potential deals and partnerships.
- Identify business opportunities through a deep understanding of the mobile gaming industry worldwide.
- Identify opportunities, lead the evaluation process by gathering and presenting relevant data to Executive team to build and support the business case.
- Negotiate the business terms, including revenue sharing, promotional support, development costs for porting, and ongoing product updates.
- Work with legal to prepare contracts that comply with company policies and protect Storm8 IP.
- Track and communicate progress on deal closure and performance after execution.
- Demonstrated and current understanding of the mobile gaming industry worldwide. Prior experience working in a high-growth, gaming companies a plus.
- 2+ years of experience in the mobile gaming industry.
- Extensive knowledge of legal contracts and negotiating techniques.
- Successful track record of building profitable business relationships.
- Ability to promote Storm8 effectively to industry leaders and potential partners worldwide.
- Exceptional interpersonal skills and ability to develop strong working relationships internally and externally
- Excellent communicator, both verbal and written.
- Experience pitching and presenting.
- Ability to work closely with product development teams.