Who's this Klanger? An interview with Alexander Matsko, Backend Engineer
May 15, 2020
Alexander started his career as an independent developer back in his student days, releasing several Flash and mobile games. After that, he spent his efforts on such titles as Warface (Crytek), Game of Thrones (Bigpoint), Dreadnought and The Cycle (YAGER) as UI and Backend programmer, before finally landing as a backend engineer for SEED. Not someone to mince his words, his prowess at programming is matched by his humorous, no nonsense style.
Sasha, has your interest in coding and programming always been related to games? What made you start a career in the gaming industry?
Yes! I have started to learn programming just to make video games. My friend and I were discussing a game we would like to make back when I was 12-13 years old, about kicking teachers in school, and agreed that one of us will do the programming, and the other will do the art. I’ve started to receive good grades in math and to learn Pascal and Delphi, and I haven’t heard about my friend for almost 20 years already. Needless to say, we’ve never started on that game.
How did you find out about Klang and SEED?
I was approached by a Klang recruiter and he introduced me to the project. I think it was around a year before the backend position opened.
What do you find most captivating about the project in regard to your professional ambitions?
It’s scale. A simulation of a future of humanity would require a tremendous amount of computational power, stability, scalability, maintainability, which will allow me to grow professionally and improve my skills to levels never seen before in all of the gaming industry.
Can you introduce your role at Klang a bit? What are your responsibilities?
I am a backend engineer. I work on the part of the game that receives, processes, stores and retrieves persistent data, such as player accounts, settlement notifications, friends lists etc. With the support of my colleagues, I also manage and monitor our infrastructure. If I do my work well, you shall think that you don’t need me (because I’m invisible).
How is your team structured, who are you collaborating with on a daily basis?
Currently, I am a part of the DevX (developers experience) team and we work together on a wide range of features, ranging from automation infrastructure to actual game features, like player notifications and authentication. There are currently four people in the team. In the future, there will be a dedicated back end department.
What technologies do you use primarily?
Docker, Kubernetes, Terraform, Helm, dotnet core, and everything that goes with microservices (Elasticsearch, fluent-bit, Kibana, Prometheus, Grafana, NATS, etc.). I also use PostreSQL and we deploy to Google Cloud.
Are there any specific challenges at the moment?
Of course, as there always are. We need to make our services resilient and scalable, enable servers to safely shutdown with a remote command, implement global load balancer and authentication per environment.
How have you been gaining your knowledge and skills in your professional field?
Mostly reading, and most of the time it's blog posts and announcements. I also read a lot of documentation. A LOT. Also, I like to go to conferences, as a speaker as well. Gaining knowledge is not my strongest trait at the moment, because I am focused on getting things done.
You did a good amount of independent work starting back in your student days already, have you been working on an idea recently that you wish to realize?
Yes, but it is not strictly game related. I would like to create a service for hikers, mountaineers and explorers that will enable them to efficiently manage their equipment, trips and groups. You could think of it as Blablacar for hikers with the focus on equipment and groups. But I still would like to implement an interface in a 'gamified' way, so that it looks like an inventory from a modern RPG, like Fallout or Dragon Age. And also other 'gamification' features, such as 'quest log' with small interactive tasks or mini games during a trip.
What do games mean to you outside working or office hours? What games do you enjoy these days?
They are my drugs. I play video games and board games, I think of game ideas and how I can apply games to other fields. I think of VR, how it can erase borders between the virtual and the real and what potential it has in solving real world problems using experience gained from creating and playing video games. If only I had more time... My wife and I currently play No Man's Sky, and we enjoy exploring an uncharted universe together.
Do you remember a first impression you had of SEED?
It felt like an unfinished early game, but which also had a great potential.
What gameplay factors do you find most intriguing about exploring planet Avesta with the Seedlings?
I think that the most intriguing part of the game would be social gameplay, the one that allows players to build relationships and social hierarchies. We are all used to being superheroes in video games, and following someone else's politics and cooperation would require submission. But this would be an interesting social experiment, the results of which can change the vision for the game.
What do you think can or should be learned from the current situation the world is in?
Well, simply put, we should learn how to use medical facial masks and improve hygiene. Hopefully some scientific breakthroughs in the medical field will come up. I like how at least in Germany people were supportive for each other, helping neighbors by buying groceries for them so that they can avoid unnecessary exposure. This conscientiousness, however, was not the case for some other, less wealthy countries (if wealth is even a determining factor here). I would love to see people become more attentive, respectful and kind to each other.
We hope you are all staying safe and healthy from where you read this. And of course, if you are intrigued by what you just learned and interested in joining the team, please check out the variety of open positions on our careers page. Thank you for coming by!