Who do you nominate for “Developer on focus”?

Yura Grishko – Team leader of game development in Anakatech – Bulgaria

What is the reason behind your nomination?

Yura deserves to be a Developer on Focus because of his unique and successful career path that brought him to relocate from Israel to Bulgaria and establish a new game development department.

His interest in game development started at age of 14, when he started producing small Flash games just for fun. Even though Yura spent his academic years studying Biotechnology, he placed his passion into the subject and wrote complex life simulator programs. At age of 23 he started his IT career as Web developer and shortly promoted to Full Stack Developer. At 25 he followed his passion and landed a position of Game Developer.
Through the years, Yura developed numerous game engines, templates, pipelines, documentation and etc. that eventually led to his initiative to relocate to Bulgaria and establish a new game dev team in Anakatech.

Relocation wasn’t easy for him at first; alone, new country, new language, new culture both ethnically and professionally, unexpected lockdown. But despite the challenges, the plan was a success and a newly formed team through the year showed great performances and produced more than a dozen new original games.

Describe his professional qualities.

His professional qualities can be divided into two – as a developer and as a team lead.

As a developer, Yura is very experienced and shows a very solution-oriented approach to any situation he faces. It means that after identifying the problem, comes the stage of planning the best solution that will work the best for the current situation – if the solution should work for the long term, the resolution will be very methodological with a planning ahead. In other cases – thinking outside a box and workarounds – works the best for one time solutions if they serve the purpose.

As a fresh team lead, Yura still gains his experience by learning from every conflict resolution he faces and by learning from the exceptional staff surrounding him in the company.

Yura is aware of his weaker sides and he is willing to self-improve, so he compensates his lack of experience by collaboration with others, responsible decision making and delivering forward the resolutions with high integrity and with his kind and warm personal approach.

Tell us some more about him as a person.

Besides being highly professional, Yura is a warm positive person, always having time to give his attention to others and help. He is highly motivated and tries to motivate others by self-example, moreover Yura doesn’t like the terminology of being a team “manager” and prefers the terminology of team “leader” because it implies leading the team by showing best practices by self-example.

Can you describe how his typical day goes?

Waking up at 7:05 or 8:00 – depending on if a short workout is planned for the morning.

9:00 – Is a good time to finish breakfast and start reading the mailbox (& reply if needed) and get familiar with the upcoming day.

10:45 – daily morning standup meeting

11:00 – after the standup starting with the most urgent tasks – typically they are investigating and fixing newfound bugs and releasing hotfixes if needed.

12:00 – lunch break – but may shift considerably

13:00 to 16:00 – most of the meetings happen here – they are mostly one of the following:

  • Game Kick-Offs before QA or Development and other game specific meeting
  • Reviewing with each team member the progress and plan ahead
  • 1 on 1 with a team member to assist and resolve any challenges
  • Team meetings
  • Collaboration meetings to share common practices to improve the development pipeline between the different departments
  • Roadmap planning
  • And more…

16:00 – working on the rest of tasks and common development time

19:00 – typical end of the day, even though sometimes more work is done before sleep between 22:00 and 24:00

What challenges does he face? What kind of projects is he working on?

His main challenge is the relocation to Bulgaria and establishing a new game development team. Relocation is not an easy task, first you have to leave everything behind: family, friends, apartment, most of your possessions, and then after the relocation you acquire everything anew, face the unforgiving Bulgarian bureaucracy, learn a new language and try to find a place for yourself. Meanwhile Yura also has to form a new game development department, find and interview new people, board them into the company, teach them how to produce games, listen for their needs and provide his support.

Does it happen sometimes that he helps his colleagues in the execution of their Tasks?

It happens all the time. Yura basically relocated to Bulgaria to establish a new game development team to share his experience, knowledge and best practices. By doing so Yura established himself as the main target for anyone to ask for help and advice, not only for his direct teammates, but also for colleagues from other departments, from Art, Product, QA up to NOC and CRM.

If you had to describe him with 3 words only, what would they be?

  1. Ambitious
  2. Smart
  3. Friendly

Does he take part in the initiatives of the company? What kind of initiatives? Has he launched his own initiatives?

Yes, lots of them.

After finishing establishing a new game development department in Bulgaria, he pushes forward his other initiatives. Like initiative to replace parts of manual QA for games by advanced Automation tools. More production pipeline optimizations.
Additionally Yura launched his own Game Jam so the developers could have an opportunity to improve their skills and have fun.

What are his hobbies?

He is a very creative person, besides doing games he also likes to craft some small projects, by hand or by using his 3D printer and integrating Arduino into them. Also his creativity expressed by passion for drawing, semi-professional photography and videography.
Another passion of his is biology and nature, besides regular nature traveling, Yura volunteered for two years in a Hospital for Wild Animals, during this activity he helped hundreds of animals to recover and return to the wild.

What kind of music does he listen to? How does he like to have fun?

Yura likes to listen to music a lot, especially when he does something, and the kind of music very depends on the activity he does. For coding and work the best are soundtracks from games, they are designed to be background music and give a feeling that you are progressing well while not containing any lyrics that might mess with your head while coding.
For workout and sport activities better to listen to more modern music and higher bitrate remixes that pump up the motivation.
And last, just to enjoy the music, you can find music from all over the 70s, 80s, 90s and more…

Does he like gaming?

As a game developer, you have to be passionate about games! Yura is not an exception, he likes not only to play games, but also to try to figure out how some games are made, watch game design content channels, try to develop his own small games, and recently Yura launched his own Game Jam within his colleagues both in Israel and Bulgaria.

Few of his suggestions for games: Faster Than Light (2012), Papers Please (2013), Spelunky 1/2 (2008/2020), The Witcher 3 (2015)

Which does he prefer – Android or iOS and why?

As an end user, both platforms are totally fine in terms of their user experience. As a developer small personal preference to use Android in terms of how easy it is to plug and debug.

What are the programming languages he uses? Which are the ones he prefers?

Yura‘s coding “Mothers tongue” is “C#”, but in the last few years as more front-end oriented development he switched to JavaScript and recently to TypeScript as a combined power of JavaScript and OOP. But the coding language is not as important as the inner logic, architecture and the end result.

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