Welcome to Meet the Makers, a regular series where we'll be introducing you to the passionate artists, designers, engineers, and developers at Amazon Game Studios. This week, we're excited to introduce you to Kelley Hecker, a Game Development Engineer at AGS, Orange County.
What do you do at AGS?
I do user interface and game systems programming for Breakaway.
What’s the best part about making games?
I like creating something that people are excited to experience. Having a fan community that’s so passionate about what you’re making isn’t something you usually get with traditional software development.
Working on games is also a creative process, even if you’re in a technical discipline. Everyone on the team plays our game, and we all give feedback on it. Even though I’m a programmer, I like being involved with things like design and art, and I get a chance to do that on my team.
What’s the most challenging part about making games?
Since everyone on the team is so passionate about games, we want to create the best experience possible. But with schedules and deadlines it’s not always possible to implement every feature or go back and fix everything we want to. It’s a balance between what we’d like to do in an ideal world and what we can reasonable do in the time given.
How did you get into the industry? When did you start?
I’ve wanted to be a game programmer since I was in elementary school. In 6th grade I got Learn to Program: BASIC, an educational game created by Interplay that was meant to be an introduction to game programming. I don’t know if it helped me learn to program, but there’s a pretty amazing/awful YouTube video of the game if you want to check it out.
I studied computer science in high school and college. My first job after college, and my first job in the industry, was at a startup doing augmented reality mobile games and research and development for toy companies.
What makes Amazon Games a unique place to work?
Amazon provides the benefits of working at a large company while still feeling like a mid-sized studio. My team is small enough that I feel like my voice is heard, and I know what everyone else on the team is working on. In that sense it feels like I work for a much smaller company, but we have the resources and stability that come from a large company like Amazon.
What’s the first game you ever played?
I think it was Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion. I wish I had a cooler answer to this question.
What are you playing right now?
Fire Emblem Heroes.
What’s your favorite game of all time?
It’s a three-way tie between Spyro 2, Final Fantasy IX and Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
What are you passionate about outside of gaming?
I like baking, and bake something to bring into the office every Monday. I also do cosplay, and have a cat named Mitzi.
What’s the last thing you bought on Amazon?
Want to work with the passionate team at Amazon Game Studios? We’re hiring! Check out our latest job postings here.