Meet Stan Gebala, Associate Tech Director for Cookie Jam Blast. In our latest Employee Spotlight, Stan reveals the unique road that led him to Jam City and what he and his team are doing to consistently improve the player experience in Cookie Jam Blast.
What drew you to Jam City?
I was part of the original team that helped build Cookie Jam. At the time, I was living in Poland and working remotely for a company called Mob Science which Jam City later acquired. The team was impressed with my work and as a result, was offered a visa and the chance to relocate to San Diego and help build Cookie Jam Blast.
Describe your role on the team.
I’m the Associate Tech Director for Cookie Jam Blast. My average day starts with a Scrum meeting where we share and discuss current goals and challenges for the San Diego studio. Afterward, my time is shared between coding, current problems analysis, delegating tasks and helping the team fulfill various needs.
What advice can you give young students who are interested in working in gaming and tech?
It really helps when you are passionate about what you do. A career in software engineering requires constant self-learning because technology evolves all the time. It’s important to have strong foundations (education + work experience) so you can build your expertise on top of that.
I recommend that young students participate in extracurricular projects. It is a great way of gaining experience and it’s valuable for your CV.
Another piece of advice I suggest is to prepare how you discuss your engineering practices for interviews. During your first interview, you’ll need to answer basic engineering questions. You’ll likely be asked to show your project with source code samples. Make sure you feel comfortable talking about your project in detail and defending the choices you made.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
I love reading the positive reviews from our players, and thanks to my experience with game development, I can make architectural decisions that allow the game to be modified a lot easier without a lot of refactoring, making the ability to add new features to the game a lot of fun.
What do you think makes Jam City stand out as a trailblazer in the gaming industry?
Jam City games have beautiful art, great design, solid engineering and a unique approach to experimentation with features and analytics that help measure what features our users love the most. Jam City is also not afraid to take risks and learn from them. There are times when a change in the process is required even if it seems difficult. Thanks to this approach, we are working in a more efficient development environment.
Cookie Jam Blast has been downloaded over 100 million times. What about the game keeps players returning?
Every play session in both Cookie Jam and Cookie Jam Blast are a lot of fun. It’s not only about solving match-3 puzzles, it’s also about participating in 24/7 events and competing against other players for awesome rewards.
There’s also great game mechanics added in that are designed to help players succeed—like the Airship Powers in Cookie Jam Blast! Each new airship you unlock can help you beat even the hardest levels.
From a tech standpoint, what are you and your team doing to consistently improve the player experience?
Every time we add new features into the game we have to be mindful of its impact on app size and have to watch the overall game performance (e.g. loading times and FPS). We also put a lot of effort into keeping the game stable by fixing bugs and adding more automated tests that can detect problems before the game goes live.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working at Jam City?
Teamwork is absolutely essential for being successful as a studio. It seems trivial, but sharing knowledge across the company saves a lot of time and money. There’s also a need to constantly improve the development processes, so we can centralize the core tech and frameworks that we use.
What advice would you give other employees about how to succeed in their role?
Everyone’s work is important. There could not be a great game without awesome art, design, programming, QA, analytics, marketing, and production—everything has to work smoothly!
It’s also very important to keep yourself highly motivated and happy doing your job. If you’re not, then it’s up to you to figure out why that is. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not scheduling meetings back to back or slightly changing the process pipeline and tools that you use. Remember, nothing is set in stone and even small cumulative improvements can greatly affect your working environment and overall efficiency.