This post draws on my personal experiences and challenges over the past term at school, which I entered with hardly any knowledge of DSA (data structures and algorithms) and problem-solving strategies. As a self-taught programmer, I was a lot more familiar and comfortable with general programming, such as object-oriented programming, than with the problem-solving skills required in DSA questions.
This post reflects my journey throughout the term and the resources I turned to in order to quickly improve for my coding interview.
Here're some common questions and answers What's the interview process like at a tech company?
Good question. It's actually pretty different from most other companies.
(What It's Like To Interview For A Coding Job
First time interviewing for a tech job? Not sure what to expect? This article is for you.
Here are the usual steps:
- First, you’ll do a non-technical phone screen.
- Then, you’ll do one or a few technical phone interviews.
- Finally, the last step is an onsite interview.
Some companies also throw in a take-home code test
—sometimes before the technical phone interviews, sometimes after.
Let’s walk through each of these steps.
The non-technical phone screen
This first step is a quick call with a recruiter—usually just 10–20 minutes. It's very casual.
Don’t expect technical questions. The recruiter probably won’t be a programmer.
The main goal is to gather info about your job search. Stuff like:
- Your timeline. Do you need to sign an offer in the next week? Or are you trying to start your new job in three months?
- What’s most important to you in your next job. Great team? Flexible hours? Interesting technical challenges? Room to grow into a more senior role?
- What stuff you’re most interested in working on. Front end? Back end? Machine learning?
Be honest about all this stuff—that’ll make it easier for the recruiter to get you what you want.
One exception to that rule: If the recruiter asks you about your salary expectations on this call, best not to answer.
Just say you’d rather talk about compensation after figuring out if you and the company are a good fit. This’ll put you in a better negotiating position later on.
The technical phone interview(s)
The next step is usually one or more hour-long technical phone interviews.
Your interviewer will call you on the phone or tell you to join them on Skype or Google Hangouts. Make sure you can take the interview in a quiet place with a great internet connection. Consider grabbing a set of headphones with a good microphone or a bluetooth earpiece.
Always test your hardware beforehand!
The interviewer will want to watch you code in real time. Usually that means using a web-based code editor like Coderpad
. Run some practice problems in these tools ahead of time, to get used to them. Some companies will just ask you to share your screen through Google Hangouts or Skype. Turn off notifications
on your computer before you get started—especially if you’re sharing your screen!
Technical phone interviews usually have three parts:
The beginning chitchat
- Beginning chitchat (5–10 minutes)
- Technical challenges (30–50 minutes)
- Your turn to ask questions (5–10 minutes)
is half just to help your relax, and half actually part of the interview. The interviewer might ask some open-ended questions like:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about something you’ve built that you’re particularly proud of.
- I see this project listed on your resume—tell me more about that.
You should be able to talk at length about the major projects listed on your resume. What went well? What didn’t? How would you do things differently now? Then come the technical challenges
—the real meet
of the interview. You’ll spend most
of the interview on this. You might get one long question, or several shorter ones.
What kind of questions can you expect? It depends.
Startups tend to ask questions aimed towards building or debugging code. (“Write a function that takes two rectangles and figures out if they overlap
.”). They’ll care more about progress than perfection.
Larger companies will want to test your general know-how of data structures and algorithms
(“Write a function that checks if a binary tree
is ‘balanced’ in O(n)O
) ↴ time.”). They’ll care more about how you solve and optimize a problem.
With these types of questions, the most important thing is to be communicating with your interviewer
throughout. You'll want to "think out loud" as you work through the problem. For more info, check out our more detailed step-by-step tips for coding interviews
If the role requires specific languages or frameworks, some companies will ask trivia-like questions (“In Python, what’s the ‘global interpreter lock’?”). After the technical questions, your interviewer will open the floor for you to ask them questions
. Take some time before the interview to comb through the company’s website. Think of a few specific questions about the company or the role. This can really make you stand out.
When you’re done, they should give you a timeframe on when you’ll hear about next steps. If all went well, you’ll either get asked to do another phone interview, or you’ll be invited to their offices for an onsite.
The onsite interview
An onsite interview happens in person, at the company’s office. If you’re not local, it’s common for companies to pay for a flight and hotel room for you.
The onsite usually consists of 2–6 individual, one-on-one technical interviews (usually in a small conference room). Each interview will be about an hour and have the same basic form as a phone screen—technical questions, bookended by some chitchat at the beginning and a chance for you to ask questions at the end.
The major difference between onsite technical interviews and phone interviews though: you’ll be coding on a whiteboard
This is awkward
at first. No autocomplete, no debugging tools, no delete button
…ugh. The good news is, after some practice you get used to it. Before your onsite, practice writing code on a whiteboard (in a pinch, a pencil and paper are fine). Some tips:
- Start in the top-most left corner of the whiteboard. This gives you the most room. You’ll need more space than you think.
- Leave a blank line between each line as you write your code. Makes it much easier to add things in later.
- Take an extra second to decide on your variable names. Don’t rush this part. It might seem like a waste of time, but using more descriptive variable names ultimately saves you time because it makes you less likely to get confused as you write the rest of your code.
If a technical phone interview is a sprint, an onsite is a marathon. The day can get really long. Best to keep it open—don’t make other plans for the afternoon or evening.
When things go well, you’ wrap-up by chatting with the CEO or some other director. This is half an interview, half the company trying to impress you. They may invite you to get drinks with the team after hours.
All told, a long day of onsite interviews could look something like this:
- 10am-12pm: two back-to-back technical interviews, each about an hour.
- 12pm-1pm: one or several engineers will take you to lunch, perhaps in the company’s fancy office cafeteria.
- 1pm-4pm: three back-to-back technical interviews, each about an hour.
- 4pm-5pm: interview with the CEO or some sort of director.
- 5pm-8pm: drinks and dinner with the company
If they let you go after just a couple interviews, it’s usually a sign that they’re going to pass on you. That’s okay—it happens!
There are are a lot of easy things you can do the day before and morning of your interview to put yourself in the best possible mindset. Check out our piece on what to do in the 24 hours before your onsite coding interview
The take-home code test
Code tests aren’t ubiquitous, but they seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re far more common at startups, or places where your ability to deliver right away is more important than your ability to grow.
You’ll receive a description of an app or service, a rough time constraint for writing your code, and a deadline for when to turn it in. The deadline is usually negotiable.
Here's an example problem: Write a basic “To-Do” app. Unit test the core functionality. As a bonus, add a “reminders” feature. Try to spend no more than 8 hours on it, and send in what you have by Friday with a small write-up.
Take a crack at the “bonus” features if they include any. At the very least, write up how you would implement it.
If they’re hiring for people with knowledge of a particular framework, they might tell you what tech to use. Otherwise, it’ll be up to you. Use what you’re most comfortable with. You want this code to show you at your best.
Some places will offer to pay you for your time. It's rare, but some places will even invite you to work with them in their office for a few days, as a "trial.") Do I need to know this "big O" stuff? Big O notation
is the language we use for talking about the efficiency of data structures and algorithms.
Will it come up in your interviews? Well, it depends. There are different types of interviews.
There’s the classic algorithmic coding interview, sometimes called the “Google-style whiteboard interview.” It’s focused on data structures and algorithms (queues
, binary search
That’s what our full course
prepares you for. It's how the big players interview. Google
For startups and smaller shops, it’s a mixed bag. Most will ask at least a few algorithmic questions. But they might also include some role-specific stuff, like Java questions
or SQL questions
for a backend web engineer. They’ll be especially interested in your ability to ship code without much direction. You might end up doing a code test or pair-programming exercise instead of a whiteboarding session.
To make sure you study for the right stuff, you should ask your recruiter what to expect. Send an email with a question like, “Is this interview going to cover data structures and algorithms? Or will it be more focused around coding in X language.” They’ll be happy to tell you.
If you've never learned about data structures and algorithms, or you're feeling a little rusty, check out our Intuitive Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms
. Which programming language should I use?
Companies usually let you choose, in which case you should use your most comfortable language. If you know a bunch of languages, prefer one that lets you express more with fewer characters and fewer lines of code, like Python or Ruby. It keeps your whiteboard cleaner.
Try to stick with the same language for the whole interview, but sometimes you might want to switch languages for a question. E.g., processing a file line by line will be far easier in Python than in C++.
Sometimes, though, your interviewer will do this thing where they have a pet question that’s, for example, C-specific. If you list C on your resume, they’ll ask it.
So keep that in mind! If you’re not confident with a language, make that clear on your resume. Put your less-strong languages under a header like ‘Working Knowledge.’ What should I wear?
A good rule of thumb is to dress a tiny step above what people normally wear to the office. For most west coast tech companies, the standard digs are just jeans and a t-shirt. Ask your recruiter what the office is like if you’re worried about being too casual. Should I send a thank-you note?
Thank-you notes are nice, but they aren’t really expected. Be casual if you send one. No need for a hand-calligraphed note on fancy stationery. Opt for a short email to your recruiter or the hiring manager. Thank them for helping you through the process, and ask them to relay your thanks to your interviewers. 1) Coding Interview Tips
How to get better at technical interviews without practicing Chitchat like a pro.
Before diving into code, most interviewers like to chitchat about your background. They're looking for:
- Metacognition about coding. Do you think about how to code well?
- Ownership/leadership. Do you see your work through to completion? Do you fix things that aren't quite right, even if you don't have to?
- Communication. Would chatting with you about a technical problem be useful or painful?
You should have at least one:
Nerd out about stuff
- example of an interesting technical problem you solved
- example of an interpersonal conflict you overcame
- example of leadership or ownership
- story about what you should have done differently in a past project
- piece of trivia about your favorite language, and something you do and don't like about said language
- question about the company's product/business
- question about the company's engineering strategy (testing, Scrum, etc)
. Show you're proud of what you've done, you're amped about what they're doing, and you have opinions about languages and workflows. Communicate.
Once you get into the coding questions, communication is key. A candidate who needed some help along the way but communicated clearly can be even better than a candidate who breezed through the question. Understand what kind of problem it is
. There are two types of problems:
- Coding. The interviewer wants to see you write clean, efficient code for a problem.
If you start writing code and the interviewer just wanted a quick chitchat answer before moving on to the "real" question, they'll get frustrated. Just ask, "Should we write code for this?" Make it feel like you're on a team
. The interviewer wants to know what it feels like to work through a problem with you, so make the interview feel collaborative. Use "we" instead of "I," as in, "If we did a breadth-first search we'd get an answer in O(n)O
) time." If you get to choose between coding on paper and coding on a whiteboard, always choose the whiteboard. That way you'll be situated next to the interviewer, facing the problem (rather than across from her at a table). Think out loud.
If you're touching on a fact
(e.g., language-specific trivia, a hairy bit of runtime analysis), don't try to appear to know something you don't. Instead, say "I'm not sure, but I'd guess $thing, because...
". The because
can involve ruling out other options by showing they have nonsensical implications, or pulling examples from other languages or other problems. Slow the eff down
. Don't confidently blurt out an answer right away. If it's right you'll still have to explain it, and if it's wrong you'll seem reckless. You don't win anything for speed and you're more likely to annoy your interviewer by cutting her off or appearing to jump to conclusions. Get unstuck.
Sometimes you'll get stuck. Relax. It doesn't mean you've failed. Keep in mind that the interviewer usually cares more about your ability to cleverly poke the problem from a few different angles than your ability to stumble into the correct answer. When hope seems lost, keep poking. Draw pictures.
Don't waste time trying to think in your head—think on the board. Draw a couple different test inputs. Draw how you would get the desired output by hand. Then think about translating your approach into code. Solve a simpler version of the problem.
Not sure how to find the 4th largest item in the set? Think about how to find the 1st largest item and see if you can adapt that approach. Write a naive, inefficient solution and optimize it later.
Use brute force. Do whatever it takes to get some kind
of answer. Think out loud more
. Say what you know. Say what you thought might work and why it won't work. You might realize it actually does work, or a modified version does. Or you might get a hint. Wait for a hint.
Don't stare at your interviewer expectantly, but do take a brief
second to "think"—your interviewer might have already decided to give you a hint and is just waiting to avoid interrupting. Think about the bounds on space and runtime.
If you're not sure if you can optimize your solution, think about it out loud. For example:
Get your thoughts down.
- "I have to at least look at all of the items, so I can't do better than O(n)O(n)."
- "The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is O(n^2)O(n2)."
- "The answer will contain n^2n2 items, so I must at least spend that amount of time."
It's easy to trip over yourself. Focus on getting your thoughts down first and worry about the details at the end. Call a helper function and keep moving.
If you can't immediately think of how to implement some part of your algorithm, big or small, just skip over it. Write a call to a reasonably-named helper function, say "this will do X" and keep going. If the helper function is trivial, you might even get away with never implementing it. Don't worry about syntax.
Just breeze through it. Revert to English if you have to. Just say you'll get back to it. Leave yourself plenty of room.
You may need to add code or notes in between lines later. Start at the top of the board and leave a blank line between each line. Save off-by-one checking for the end.
Don't worry about whether your for loop should have "<<" or "<=<=." Write a checkmark to remind yourself to check it at the end. Just get the general algorithm down. Use descriptive variable names.
This will take time, but it will prevent you from losing track of what your code is doing. Use names_to_phone_numbers instead of nums. Imply the type in the name. Functions returning booleans should start with "is_*". Vars that hold a list should end with "s." Choose standards that make sense to you and stick with them. Clean up when you're done. Walk through your solution by hand, out loud, with an example input.
Actually write down
what values the variables hold as the program is running—you don't win any brownie points for doing it in your head. This'll help you find bugs and clear up confusion your interviewer might have about what you're doing. Look for off-by-one errors.
Should your for loop use a "<=<=" instead of a "<<"? Test edge cases.
These might include empty sets, single-item sets, or negative numbers. Bonus: mention unit tests! Don't be boring.
Some interviewers won't care about these cleanup steps. If you're unsure, say something like, "Then I'd usually check the code against some edge cases—should we do that next?" Practice.
In the end, there's no substitute for running practice questions. Actually write code with pen and paper.
Be honest with yourself. It'll probably feel awkward at first. Good. You want to get over that awkwardness now so you're not fumbling when it's time for the real interview.
2) Tricks For Getting Unstuck During a Coding Interview
Getting stuck during a coding interview is rough.
If you weren’t in an interview, you might take a break or ask Google for help. But the clock is ticking, and you don’t have Google.
You just have an empty whiteboard, a smelly marker, and an interviewer who’s looking at you expectantly. And all you can think about is how stuck you are.
You need a lifeline for these moments—like a little box that says “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.” Inside
that glass box? A list of tricks for getting unstuck. Here’s that list of tricks. When you’re stuck on getting started 1) Write a sample input on the whiteboard and turn it into the correct output "by hand."
Notice the process
you use. Look for patterns, and think about how to implement your process in code.
Trying to reverse a string? Write “hello” on the board. Reverse it “by hand”—draw arrows from each character’s current position to its desired position.
Notice the pattern: it looks like we’re swapping
pairs of characters, starting from the outside and moving in. Now we’re halfway to an algorithm. 2) Solve a simpler version of the problem.
Remove or simplify one of the requirements of the problem. Once you have a solution, see if you can adapt that approach for the original question.
Trying to find the k-largest element in a set? Walk through finding the largest
element, then the second largest
, then the third largest
. Generalizing from there to find the k-largest isn’t so bad. 3) Start with an inefficient solution.
Even if it feels stupidly inefficient
, it’s often helpful to start with something
that’ll return the right answer. From there, you just have to optimize
your solution. Explain to your interviewer that this is only your first idea, and that you suspect there are faster solutions.
Suppose you were given two lists of sorted numbers and asked to find the median of both lists combined. It’s messy, but you could simply:
- Concatenate the arrays together into a new array.
- Sort the new array.
- Return the value at the middle index.
Notice that you could’ve also
arrived at this algorithm by using trick (2): Solve a simpler version of the problem. “How would I find the median of one
sorted list of numbers? Just grab the item at the middle index. Now, can I adapt that approach for getting the median of two
sorted lists?” When you’re stuck on finding optimizations 1) Look for repeat work.
If your current solution goes through the same data multiple times, you’re doing unnecessary repeat work. See if you can save time by looking through the data just once.
Say that inside one of your loops, there’s a brute-force operation to find an element in an array. You’re repeatedly looking through items that you don’t have to. Instead, you could convert the array to a lookup table
to dramatically improve your runtime. 2) Look for hints in the specifics of the problem.
Is the input array sorted? Is the binary tree
balanced? Details like this can carry huge hints about the solution. If it didn’t matter, your interviewer wouldn’t have brought it up. It’s a strong sign that the best solution to the problem exploits it.
Suppose you’re asked to find the first occurrence of a number in a sorted array. The fact that the array is sorted
is a strong hint—take advantage of that fact by using a binary search
Sometimes interviewers leave the question deliberately vague because they want you to ask questions
to unearth these important tidbits of context. So ask some questions at the beginning of the problem. 3) Throw some data structures at the problem.
Can you save time by using the fast lookups of a hash table
? Can you express the relationships between data points as a graph
? Look at the requirements of the problem and ask yourself if there’s a data structure that has those properties. 4) Establish bounds on space and runtime.
Think out loud
about the parameters of the problem. Try to get a sense for how fast your algorithm could possibly
When All Else Fails 1) Make it clear where you are.
- “I have to at least look at all the items, so I can’t do better than O(n)O(n) ↴ time”.
- “The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is O(n^2)O(n2) time. So the question is whether or not I can beat that time.”
- “The answer will contain n^2n2 items, so I must at least spend that amount of time.”
State what you know, what you’re trying to do, and highlight the gap between the two. The clearer you are in expressing exactly
where you’re stuck, the easier it is for your interviewer to help you. 2) Pay attention to your interviewer.
If she asks a question about something you just said, there’s probably a hint buried in there. Don’t worry about losing your train of thought—drop what you’re doing and dig into her question. Relax. You’re supposed to get stuck.
Interviewers choose hard problems on purpose. They want to see how you poke at a problem you don’t immediately know how to solve.
Seriously. If you don’t
get stuck and just breeze through the problem, your interviewer’s evaluation might just say “Didn’t get a good read on candidate’s problem-solving process—maybe she’d already seen this interview question before?”
On the other hand, if you do
get stuck, use one of these tricks to get unstuck, and communicate clearly with your interviewer throughout...that’s
how you get an evaluation like, “Great problem-solving skills. Hire.”
Fixing Impostor Syndrome in Coding Interviews “It's a fluke that I got this job interview...” “I studied for weeks, but I’m still not prepared...” “I’m not actually good at this. They’re going to see right through me...”
If any of these thoughts resonate with you, you're not alone. They are so common they have a name: impostor syndrome.
It’s that feeling like you’re on the verge of being exposed for what you really are—an impostor. A fraud. Impostor syndrome is like kryptonite to coding interviews.
It makes you give up and go silent.
You might stop asking clarifying questions because you’re afraid they’ll sound too basic. Or you might neglect to think out loud at the whiteboard, fearing you’ll say something wrong and sound incompetent.
You know you should speak up, but the fear of looking like an impostor makes that really, really
hard. Here’s the good news: you’re not an impostor.
You just feel
like an impostor because of some common cognitive biases about learning and knowledge.
Once you understand these cognitive biases—where they come from and how they work—you can slowly fix them. You can quiet your worries about being an impostor and keep those negative thoughts from affecting your interviews.
Everything you could know
Here’s how impostor syndrome works.
Software engineering is a massive field. There’s a huge universe of things you could
In comparison to the vast world of things you could
know, the stuff you actually
know is just a tiny sliver:
That’s the first problem. It feels like you don’t really know that much, because you only know a tiny sliver of all the stuff there is to know.
The expanding universe
It gets worse: counterintuitively, as you learn more, your sliver of knowledge feels like it's shrinking
That's because you brush up against more and more things you don’t know yet. Whole disciplines
like machine learning, theory of computation, and embedded systems. Things you can't just pick up in an afternoon. Heavy bodies of knowledge that take months
So the universe of things you could
know seems to keep expanding faster and faster—much faster than your tiny sliver of knowledge is growing. It feels like you'll never be able to keep up.
What everyone else knows
Here's another common cognitive bias: we assume that because something is easy for us, it must be easy for everyone else. So when we look at our own skills, we assume they're not unique. But when we look at other
people's skills, we notice the skills they have that we don't have.
The result? We think everyone’s knowledge is a superset of our own:
This makes us feel like everyone else is ahead of us. Like we're always a step behind.
But the truth
is more like this:
There's a whole area of stuff you know
that neither Aysha nor Bruno knows. An area you're probably blind to, because you're so focused on the stuff you don't know.
We’ve all had flashes of realizing this. For me, it was seeing the back end code wizard on my team—the one that always made me feel like an impostor—spend an hour trying to center an image on a webpage.
It's a problem of focus
Focusing on what you don't know causes you to underestimate what you do
know. And that's what causes impostor syndrome.
By looking at the vast (and expanding
) universe of things you could
know, you feel like you hardly know anything.
And by looking at what Aysha and Bruno know that you don't know, you feel like you're a step behind.
And interviews make you really
focus on what you don't know. You focus on what could go wrong. The knowledge gaps your interviewers might find. The questions you might not know how to answer.
Just because Aysha and Bruno know some things you don't know, doesn't mean you don't also know things Aysha and Bruno don't know.
And more importantly, everyone's
body of knowledge is just a teeny-tiny sliver of everything they could learn. We all
have gaps in our knowledge. We all
have interview questions we won't be able to answer.
You're not a step behind. You just have a lot of stuff you don't know yet. Just like everyone else.
The 24 Hours Before Your Interview
Feeling anxious? That’s normal. Your body is telling you you’re about to do something that matters. The twenty-four hours before your onsite are about finding ways to maximize your performance.
Ideally, you wanna be having one of those days
, where elegant code flows effortlessly from your fingertips, and bugs dare not speak your name for fear you'll squash them. You need to get your mind and body in The Zone™
before you interview, and we've got some simple suggestions to help. 5)
Why You're Hitting Dead Ends In Whiteboard Interviews
The coding interview is like a maze
Listening vs. holding your train of thought
Finally! After a while of shooting in the dark and frantically fiddling with sample inputs on the whiteboard, you've came up with an algorithm for solving the coding question your interviewer gave you.
Whew. Such a relief to have a clear path forward. To not be flailing anymore.
Now you're cruising, getting ready to code up your solution.
When suddenly, your interviewer throws you a curve ball.
"What if we thought of the problem this way?"
You feel a tension we've all felt during the coding interview: "Try to listen to what they're saying...but don't lose your train of thought...ugh, I can't do both!"
This is a make-or-break moment in the coding interview. And so many people get it wrong.
Most candidates end up only half understanding what their interviewer is saying. Because they're only half listening. Because they're desperately clinging to their train of thought.
And it's easy to see why. For many of us, completely losing track of what we're doing is one of our biggest
coding interview fears. So we devote half of our mental energy to clinging to our train of thought.
To understand why that's so wrong, we need to understand the difference between what we
see during the coding interview and what our interviewer
The programming interview maze
Working on a coding interview question is like walking through a giant maze.
You don't know anything about the shape of the maze until you start wandering around it. You might know vaguely where the solution is, but you don't know how to get there.
As you wander through the maze, you might find a promising path (an approach, a way to break down the problem). You might follow that path for a bit.
Suddenly, your interviewer suggests a different path:
But from what you can see so far of the maze, your approach has already gotten you halfway there! Losing your place on your current path would mean a huge step backwards. Or so it seems. That's
why people hold onto their train of thought instead of listening to their interviewer. Because from what they can see, it looks like they're getting somewhere!
But here's the thing: your interviewer knows the whole maze
. They've asked this question 100 times.
I'm not exaggerating: if you interview candidates for a year, you can easily end up asking the same question over 100 times.
So if your interviewer is suggesting a certain path, you can bet it leads to an answer.
And your seemingly great path? There's probably a dead end just ahead that you haven't seen yet:
Or it could just be a much longer route to a solution than you think it is. That actually happens pretty often—there's an answer there, but it's more complicated than you think.
Hitting a dead end is okay. Failing to listen is not.
Your interviewer probably won't fault
you for going down the wrong path at first. They've seen really smart engineers do the same thing. They understand it's because you only have a partial view of the maze.
They might have let you go down the wrong path for a bit to see if you could keep your thinking organized without help. But now they want to rush you through the part where you discover the dead end and double back. Not because they don't believe you can manage it yourself. But because they want to make sure you have enough time to finish the question.
But here's something they will
fault you for: failing to listen to them. Nobody wants to work with an engineer who doesn't listen.
So when you find yourself in that crucial coding interview moment, when you're torn between holding your train of thought and considering the idea your interviewer is suggesting...remember this: Listening to your interviewer is the most important thing.
Take what they're saying and run with it. Think of the next steps that follow from what they're saying.
Even if it means completely leaving behind the path you were on. Trust the route your interviewer is pointing you down.
Because they can see the whole maze. 6) How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coding Interview Practice Sessions
When you start practicing for coding interviews, there’s a lot to cover. You’ll naturally wanna brush up on technical questions. But how
you practice those questions will make a big difference in how well you’re prepared.
Here’re a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your practice sessions. Track your weak spots
One of the hardest parts of practicing is knowing what
to practice. Tracking what you struggle with helps answer that question.
So grab a fresh notebook. After each question, look back and ask yourself, “What did I get wrong about this problem at first?” Take the time to write down one or two things you got stuck on, and what helped you figure them out. Compare these notes to our tips for getting unstuck
After each full practice session, read through your entire
running list. Read it at the beginning of each practice session too. This’ll add a nice layer of rigor to your practice, so you’re really internalizing the lessons you’re learning. Use an actual whiteboard
Coding on a whiteboard is awkward at first. You have to write out every single character, and you can’t easily insert or delete blocks of code.
Use your practice sessions to iron out that awkwardness. Run a few problems on a piece of paper or, if you can, a real whiteboard. A few helpful tips for handwriting code:
Set a timer
- Start in the top-left corner. You want all the room you can get.
- Leave blank space between each line of code. This makes it much easier to add things later.
- Slow down. Take an extra second to think of descriptive variable names. You might be tempted to move faster by using short variable names, but that actually ends up costing more time. It’ll make your code harder to debug!
Get a feel for the time pressure of an actual interview. You should be able to finish a problem in 30–45 minutes, including debugging your code at the end.
If you’re just starting out and the timer adds too much stress, put this technique on the shelf. Add it in later as you start to get more comfortable with solving problems. Think out loud
Like writing code on a whiteboard, this is an acquired skill. It feels awkward at first. But your interviewer will expect you to think out loud during the interview, so you gotta power through that awkwardness.
A good trick to get used to talking out loud: Grab a buddy.
Another engineer would be great, but you can also do this with a non-technical friend.
Have your buddy sit in while you talk through a problem. Better yet—try loading up one of our questions on an iPad and giving that to your buddy to use as a script! Set aside a specific time of day to practice.
Give yourself an hour each day to practice. Commit to practicing around the same time, like after you eat dinner. This helps you form a stickier habit of practicing.
Prefer small, daily doses of practice to doing big cram sessions every once in a while. Distributing your practice sessions helps you learn more with less time and effort in the long run
part -2 will be upcoming in another post !
This is a summary in my own words, based on my own notes, taken whilst watching SCL. I'll mostly be paraphrasing here rather than directly quoting anyone, and occasionally I might add my own comments which are identifiable through the use of Italics within brackets. I've included links below for the YouTube and Twitch VODs respectively.
In this week's episode of SCL, "Simon Bursey and Zane Bien join us [...] to talk all things UI development including vehicle HUDs, kiosks, and more.
" For reference, Simon is the UI Director, and Zane is now the/a Principle UI Core Tech Developer. Total:
25 Questions. Q01) What can you tell us about plans to let users customise their various HUD elements? (e.g. prioritising features, re-sizing elements, changing the colour) [03:28] TL;DR Customisation can only be developed after they've got the default UI working in a way that's functional, and that they're happy with, otherwise it'd create a lot more work as they try to iterate on the UI's development to get it right. As such, they're more interested in why people want customisation, and whether there are other solutions to those problems. The difficulty in seeing some UIs in certain situations is addressed later.
First they'd ask: why do people want to customise things? Their first thought is that it's because the current UI isn't working for people, so then they'd need to know what people don't like. In relation to this, they're reworking the HUD, Multi-Function Displays, and the FPS visor. Jared posits that one of the reasons people want to be able to change the HUD colour is because it can be difficult to read at times, so being able to change the colour could help with that, but also sometimes people just like different colours, or it could even be related to colour blindness. He continues by saying that it's important to get the basic building blocks of UI done first, before they implement customisation. Zane talks about how they're moving away from having static UI building blocks, to much more flexible ones that should help in solving UI issues. Regarding changing colours to make things easier to read, Zane suggests that there might be a solution to that problem that goes beyond UI (this gets talked about later
). Jared reiterates that whilst they're still in development, they want to make the best default standard UI possible, which requires everyone to be using the same thing so that the feedback is unified rather than skewered, because otherwise the feedback would be in regards to specific customisations that would be hard to follow (because there'd be so many different setups). Simon specifies that they are interested in getting feedback about problems people are having with UI right now, and encourages people to share that feedback with them. Q02) Currently, UI elements like icons of station turrets or mission points can be very invasive, sometimes filling the screen. What can be done to make this more user-friendly/diegetic? [08:38]
It's something that they're interested in looking at, but they're not sure how soon they're going to get to it. What they want is some sort of intelligent system that works based on how far away things are, based on a priority that the designers have somehow set, which then works out which things to show and how many of them to show - i.e. choosing which options from a massive selection are the most important to show. This would be the starting point to addressing the issue. Q03) As the universe becomes more complex, more entities are vying for space on the HUD: notifications, Points-of-Interest, QT destinations, ships, mission markers, etc. What can be done to manage all of this information? [09:49] TL;DR They're moving towards a new UI tech system that will allow certain HUD elements to contextually minimise or disappear when they're not needed - a good example of this is the Target Box that often just sits there saying "No Target". On top of this, they want to avoid having information repeated (such as the same info being on the visor HUD as the ship HUD), as well as Players being able to choose what appears on their visor. Jared hints that they'll show off some UI WIPs in Q3 of ISC.
Zane says that when they have easily flexible layouts, they can start thinking more about how to make things smarter regarding when info is displayed. He brings up an example that CR has referred to previously this year: the "Target Box" which often just sits there saying "No Target", saying that if you don't have a target, why don't they just not have the box there at all. Typically that extends across all UIs too, such as the MFDs, where if you don't need to view something at that time, it can disappear out of view and reappear when they're needed, i.e. being more contextual. Simon adds that as they've been developing, they've been adding more and more things, so now they can take a step back and figure out what they want to show and how best to do that. They refer to the Chat box as an example of how it's almost constantly overlapping other UI elements when really it needs its own space on the screen, which Zane says is because the Chat box and the Ship UIs are on two different contexts, so they don't know about each other's sizes. He mentions how they're reworking the MFDs right now, creating a whole new system that's much more systemic, where it has a grid system "where everything kind of fits into each other and you can create different sizes of widgets", and suggests that that's probably how it'd be when they revamp the rest of the UI too. They want to be able to not have information repeated, such as being on the helmet visor as well as being on an MFD, as well as Players then being able to specify what information/HUD element they want on their visor. This requires building the foundation first into the overall design, which is something they're spending a lot of time working on right now as the tech is being developed in parallel. So they're building the tools to help them as developers to make really good UI, and then when that's done they can put the good UI into the game for everyone to see and use it, and hopefully to give feedback on it. Jared hints that the next quarter of ISC will show off some of this UI work that's in-progress. Q04) Is the messsage-spam that keeps popping up on the HUD a bug or a design feature? [14:39] TL;DR No; everything's competing for attention due to this problem only appearing after so many things were added into the game separately. Otherwise they need to investigate how to make the messaging system work, in relation to the visor HUD. They have a few ideas on how to do this, such as timers, limits to how many messages can appear, and more direct changes to how Players are notified about new messages.
Simon thinks that it's a legacy feature from having so many things added to the game; that they're all competing for attention. It's something they're planning on investigating - the visor display generally - which is: what do we do to this messaging system to make it work for people. For example, they could give messages priority, so that something really important could override other stuff. They could implement timers so that they stay on for a set time. They could restrict how many messages show within a certain amount of time. Zane adds that they need a smarter system that knows what messages should be displayed there, and suggests that maybe the missions could just be a pulsating icon with a number on it, so that Players can see how many unread new missions there are at a glance. Simon adds that they want to split the mission notifications so that messages are in one place, and that they have a mission objective area showing the current mission related stuff, and somewhere separate perhaps for keyboard shortcut hints that might pop up, essentially trying to avoid having them compete for the same space on the screen. Q05) What are we doing to support non-1080p resolutions? Many Citizens have 21:9 or wider monitor resolutions. [17:15]
Zane says that part of the issue is that the UI is currently very static. They're developing the ability to have flexible layouts, and those could potentially resize depending upon the aspect ratio of the Player's monitor, so that everything remains visible on the screen. The challenge though is that things are also in-world, such as the MobiGlas, which could be scaled, and also Field of View changes although FoV is something they're still looking into in terms of getting it all to work. Ultimately it comes down to prioritisation, and unfortunately making sure the UI works well with wider monitor resolutions isn't a priority right now. Q06) Are there any plans to add keyboard integration for navigating the various interfaces we encounter, so that it's not restricted to the mouse? (i.e. being able to use the arrow keys to scroll up and down on something like a kiosk screen [19:40]
They want to design their UI so that it's much more keyboard-friendly. Right now you can only use the mouse, which is rubbish, because using the keyboard can at times be faster. They add that making the UI more keyboard-friendly can simplify it, which is generally good because then it's more likely to work well across other input devices too, such as a gamepad. The MFDs should be the first bit of UI to feature the more uniform control method that caters for most people. Q07) In a previous show they mentioned that they were moving away from the Flash and Scaleform stuff for HUD UI, in favour of a homegrown solution. What progress have they made with this? [22:18]
(Scaleform is a game implementation of Flash - Chris talked about this earlier this year, which was my first summary. Go here: https://www.reddit.com/starcitizen/comments/b75cw3/a_summary_of_rtv_all_about_alpha_35/ then scroll down to [UI]
) TL;DR They still use Flash, but are working towards transitioning away from it, where instead they'll use their own code in a data-driven system. They still use Scaleform, but only for rendering, and that too will eventually be replaced with their own code. Moving away from Flash and Scaleform makes it quicker and easier for them to develop UIs, because Flash is outdated, time extensive, and it makes iterative development difficult due to not being able to see how something looks in-game as they're working on it.
They used Flash and are still using it now, but they're trying to transition away from it by baking their assets into a much more data-driven system. Previously in Flash, you set things up in a static way where you can't see how it looks in-game until you export it and reload the editor. With the data-driven system, the interface with the game code is much more simplified, and they have a standard API so that a task such as creating UI for an ammo counter is really simple and updates live. This means that they can be in-game and have an editor open and work on the UI at the same time, to see what it looks like as they work on it. It's still using Scaleform as a renderer, meaning that they've cut out the process of authoring the UI in Flash, but they're still using Scaleform to draw the vectors but only for that rendering task, and the rest of the work is done by their own code instead. At some point though, they'll build their own render to replace Scaleform. Jared jokingly asks Zane how long he's been waiting to kill Flash, who says he's been waiting since he started working at the company, 6+ years ago (for those who many not know, Zane was an early hire straight out of college and originally worked in the Austin office, which back then was just a house, and this was also during the days of Wingman's Hangar
). Simon adds to the discussion by explaining that Flash was originally designed as an animation system for web stuff, so it can be used for things like UI but it's hard to do iterative work with it where things change based upon feedback, which is because it's time extensive. Conversely, with the building blocks stuff it's quick and simple and they have a lot of control. Zane goes on to say that that's also true because it's a fully data-driven system, so the UI is programmatically drawn and driven from data so they don't worry about artists stepping on each others toes, because the changes the artists make can be merged together. Q08) Has there been any discussion about adding a compass ribbon, giving us cardinal directions on planets or moons? [27:24] TL;DR There's no outright yes-or-no answer. It's something they may consider, but it's also possible that there are other solutions to the problem, such as a personal radar on the visor HUD. They recognise though that having a compass would require being able to set magnetic poles on the planets, and for the compass to then be able to access that information and display it, which might not be so simple due to the procedural nature of the planets.
According to Simon, this is another situation where you need to understand the reason for wanting it, and that there may be other ways of solving the problem without creating a compass widget. He suggests that a personal radar or mini-map could show the Player their direction. However, he says that as they revise the visor HUD (which they're starting at the moment) if it seems that a compass is necessary then they'd consider and investigate it. Zane adds that it's not out of the question, but they would need a way to define what's North/East/South/West on these procedural planets, with Jared suggesting they'd have to be able to create and position magnetic poles. Simon suggests that some sort of Sat-Nav system may also solve the problem. Jared adds though that implementing a compass ribbon would be more than just UI work anyway, as it would need to involve system design.
(it seems odd to me that they don't seem to recognise the value of having a compass, particularly for FPS situations where it can be incredibly helpful to be able to say "contact at 220" and for other Players to be able to quickly identify the location of those hostile targets - of course, if it's just not possible then okay fine, but perhaps then there might be partial solutions instead, such as a compass that Players would have to manually adjust per Planet/location
) Q09) Is it possible to have a button to hide/toggle the HUD? (such as for taking screenshots) [30:05] TL;DR They imply that it's possible, and say that as they're going through the different UIs, they'll also end up improving the Director Cam system, and so they'll look into including a way to toggle on/off certain bits of the UI, if not all of it. They reiterate though that they really only want UI information that's relevant to the Player at that time to appear on the screen, with the rest minimising or disappearing until they're needed again.
They get a lot of Developers asking about how to do this. Zane says that as they overhaul their UI, they'll be improving the Director Cam system, so it's something they'll take into account at that time, especially since it'd also be helpful for the Devs. He suggests though that it could go further, such as being able to choose what you want to hide, like only the visor HUD, or maybe to hide all of the UI but not what's in the environment that brings it to life - like "background fluff screens". Simon adds that for the general UI, especially the visor HUD for FPS gameplay, they want to have a system which only shows you the UI that's relevant for you at the time, so if you put your weapon away you wouldn't need to see the weapon UI in the corner of your screen, or maybe you wouldn't show Health unless you get injured. This kind of work, which will result in only showing things when they're needed, should also help to de-clutter the screen. Q10) Are there any plans to allow a Chat UI to be viewed when not wearing a helmet? (such as through a contact lens or something) [32:13]
Yes. It's vital to always be able to see the Chat in a multiplayer game, and they do have plans for it to be visible almost all of the time, even potentially in third person, and they'd "like to have that in sometime soon". Q11) What progress have they made on the interio3D/mini-map? [32:59]
They have a developer version that's kinda halfway there at the moment, but fairly recently they made a decision to focus on getting the ship HUDs and the FPS HUDs sorted out first, because they're more integral to the overall gameplay and therefore they want to make sure they get them right and working well. After this, they'd then go back to the area map stuff, which will hopefully be "really soon". Simon clarifies that there'll be a full-screen version where you can look around the whole area, and a mini-map for the visor, which will be particularly useful when exploring interiors. Q12) Why does Quantum Calibration mode, Scanning mode, Mining mode, and any other sub-UI mode, take away or hide crucial flight information such as speed and altitude? [34:28] TL;DR Essentially they were developed separately, and it wasn't their intention for crucial flight information to be removed when using those modes. Whilst they don't say it specifically, the new UI tech will help them to make sure that that information the Players need will be there, due to it being data-driven rather than a static UI.
They were basically developed under the hood as "different contexts", and in their overhaul of the design they're factoring in all of the flight information so that it'll be available to Players regardless of what mode they're in, because it's still relevant when they're still flying, and therefore the information should be retained. In these modes referenced in the question, they're looking at potentially contextually changing out the "screens of cells" so that rather than the HUD changing for the different modes, they can shift elements around so that relevant information can still be displayed, rather than the new HUD for that mode just taking up the whole screen. Jared adds that it wasn't intentional to take away crucial information when using these modes, and that it's just something that's happened over the course of development that needs resolving. Simon adds that sometimes you don't realise it's going to cause issues until you try it, and this is one of those situations. Jared goes on to say that things can be developed in isolation, and then when they're integrated together into their game-dev branch, that's when they can see collisions and thus the creation of bugs. Q13) Are there any updates regarding their plans for the landing UI improvements which are needed for the implementation of Hover mode? [36:45] TL;DR The previous UI they had implemented, typically seen prior to 3.0, used a different renderer (3Di) and now they use Render-to-Texture. As a result, it's not long compatible. They need to recreate this landing UI, but they're busy focusing on the MFDs right now, and they recognise they'll probably need some other stuff, such as a guidance system and AR elements
A while back they changed the method that they used to render the UI, from what was called 3Di to Render-to-Texture, so now it's actually rendered as part of the screens and can be affected by post-effects. The original landing UI replaced the radar, which was built using 3Di and therefore wasn't compatible with Render-to-Texture, and that's why it was removed. They're now looking at bringing it back in some way, but maybe with a better design (this was a bit confusing, regarding whether Zane meant that the "original landing UI" or the "radar" was built using 3Di. I think all he's getting at is that the 3D representation we had pre-3.0 that was used for landing, was built using 3Di but wasn't compatible any more when they switched to RtT - this was addressed in Q03 of the previous episode of SCL. Here's my summary for that: https://www.reddit.com/starcitizen/comments/ca7xxy/a_summary_of_star_citizen_live_all_about/
). They're focusing on the structure and the layout of the MFDs right now, and also recognise potentially needing some sort of guidance system, as well as having some Augmented Reality elements that are displayed in conjunction with that. Q14) How do they intend to improve the legibility of UI elements that tend to sit over the environment, which can be very glaring, making the UI hard or even impossible to read? [38:15] TL;DR The solution they're aiming for involves keeping the UI in-world. They'll have the UI displayed on geometry, and then that geometry can be dynamically tinted depending on the environment. At the same time, the text/info can be dynamically brightened to make sure it's still readable. They may also be able to use some sort of effect to achieve the same kind of goal, such as a blurred frosted glass effect. They can consider a back-shadow or black highlight, but they're concerned that it will conflict too much with their aesthetic aims.
They're looking at a few in-world solutions. The obvious thing to do is to add a drop-shadow to the UI or just make it black, but that somewhat destroys the aesthetic of it. So what they're looking at, which they started looking at with the Gladius but isn't finished yet, is having a system where it's contextually and dynamically reading the brightness of the environment and adjusting the brightness of the UI in response to that. Additionally, to make sure the HUDs look like they exist in-world, they want them displayed on actual geometry to ground it, and they can leverage that to maybe dynamically tint the geometry that the UI is on, as well as then brightning the UI if needs be (depending on the environmental conditions). This solution is ideal because of being in-world (and thus not hindering immersion) but also because it leverages the in-game elements, making it more convincing. Jared asks for clarification, and Zane specifies that it'd involve tinting the physical glass pane but then also brighting the UI, like if you have your phone on automatic brightness and go outside into the sunlight, it'll auto-adjust to make it more readable (This is a thing?! My phone must be old
). He adds that it's also an issue with the eye adaptation feature (where the Player's "eyes" adjust depending on how bright it is), because the UI becomes dim when you're on a planet during the daytime, as compared to being lit by the sun in space. They could potentially also have some sort of effect in the UI rendering tech, such as a blurred frosted glass effect, that could help with readability (particularly for the visor HUD in your helmet), and the same is true for busy backgrounds and not just bright ones. Regarding a potential back-shadow, or a black highlight around the words and numbers on the UI (as often suggested by backers) it's definitely something they can consider but it'll depend on how subtle it can or can't be to work, because that might not fit with the aesthetic they're aiming for, which would therefore require them looking for a different solution. Simon adds that as with a lot of the UI, they'll concept different ideas to figure out which is the best way to solve the problem, before committing to implement something. Q15) Currently the MFDs on ships have a default configuration that must be changed each time the pilot enters the pilot seat. Are there intentions to add the ability to save MFD configuration presets of an individual Player's preferences? [43:24]
TL;DR Yes, and this is something that has to persist. The work they're doing on the MFDs will require them to load their state from something like an entity or the server. They're hoping that by the time they're done with the MFDs, that info will be available in those places (likely the server). They'll also be redesigned to have the most important information displayed by default, and hopefully it'll be possible to create and save presets for quick activation.
Yes, that's got to persist at some point, and the issue right now is just that it doesn't. In their new UI tech, the UI will be what they call "stateless", meaning it won't store any state about itself and instead takes everything from an entity or from what's on the server. As such, when they develop the MFD or implement the new design they're working on, they hope they'll be able to persist the current state of the MFDs as they were before the Player exited the seat/cockpit, even if the Player had changed tabs or moved things around. Simon adds that when they do this pass on the MFDs, they want to make sure that the most important information is shown by default, so hopefully there'll be less need to change things around. Zane adds that potentially they'll also be able to make it so that presets could be created, saved, and then activated quickly (he actually just said the "activated" part but that implies creating and saving presets
). Q16 ) Is there anything they can tell us about the ongoing process of refactoring the ship MFDs? [45:45] TL;DR They want to move to a system where, when you're looking forwards, the MFDs will display a minimal configuration of information that is readable and useful whilst you're flying, but then they can show more in-depth information if you specifically focus on the screens. Additionally, the new UI tech they're developing (as part of moving away from Flash and Scaleform) will allow them to have just one binary file that they need to make changes in, which makes it easier to maintain the UIs.
Right now the MFDs are small, scaled down, and not readable. Previously they used to have what they called "support screens" which were screens with minimal information on them, with a font size that made the information more legible. They're looking to have a system where by default, the MFDs will be in this minimised configuration where they only show the information that you really need to know, and they do so in a way that's readable without focusing on the display. However, when you then focus on the display, they want it to contextually change to something more in-depth, which can work because now the MFD has more screen-space to show readable information. Zane adds that the cool thing about the UI tech he's helping to develop, is that they're taking cues from web development (which is also his background so he knows a lot about it) where there's a thing called "responsive design". This is where you can have a rule set up so that, if there's a box in their UI that goes beyond a certain point, it then shrinks down, and you can have different styles applied to that, and conditionally so depending on the size of the box. As such they're leveraging that to help with the reformulation of the UI on screens, and it could also be helpful when they potentially implement customisation of HUDs/UIs as a tool to manage and maintain it. Right now in-game they have different sized screens, where each size has its own binary file, meaning that if they want to change one then they have to go into each binary file and make a change. But if they can maintain just one UI, which then has different style rules applied to it, then that makes it much easier to maintain. So changing one thing would then make that change for each different manufacturer, and every kind of configuration. Simon adds that regarding the actual process right now, they're looking through the designs that already exist in-game and working closely with the vehicles team to figure out what they want to show on the screens, to plan out what's going to be in all of the MFDs, so that they can then redesign each screen to achieve its maximum potential based upon what information needs to be shown. After that, the UI tech will eventually reach a point where the screen's are redesigned and the tech's ready to be put into the game. Q17) Currently Players have to go to a kiosk to view the cargo inventory for their ships. Are there any plans to implement some sort of on-ship cargo UI so that Players can view their cargo inventory without finding a kiosk to do that? [50:18]
It's something that they will look at; they know that it's needed. What they're unsure of is when they'll get around to doing it (again, it comes down to prioritising and there'll be higher priorities right now, such as the HUD reworks they've extensively talked about so far
). Q18) Are there any plans to allow Players to prioritise the use of missiles or torpedoes through the MFDs? [50:58]
This is another thing they're going to look at. They're under the impression that they had this functionality previously, but it later broke. Simon adds that the UI does currently support this functionality, but that there's some refactoring that needs doing to get the weapons to "match up". It's something they want to do, which will be possible in the future, and with a better design. Q19) Are there any plans to allow Players to see Points-of-Interest in other UI modes? Right now they're only view-able in the Quantum Drive mode. [51:41]
It's something that Simon's interested in doing, although he says it relates back to how they're going to manage what information is being shown, when it's being shown, and how. If they get to a point where the on-screen icons have been cut down to a sensible level, then they could consider whether it's worth having PoIs visible in other modes as well, and thus it'd be something that's worth having them look into. He says it's definitely the sort of thing you'd want to try out as you're developing it so that it can be iterated upon. Q20) Would it be possible to have an ETA marker to show when a ship in Quantum Travel will arrive at its destination, rather than just showing the remaining distance? [52:26]
They think that this is a good idea, and so they'll be looking into it. Zane adds that they have an ETA for when a Player's Oxygen runs out, so they should be able to have one for QT.
(side note: shouldn't Oxygen/O2 in-game be Air instead?
:thinking: ) Q21) How do they feel about the current implementation of the Inner Thought system, and are there any plans to continue iterating on it? [53:07] TL;DR There's an issue where the Inner Thought system displays text when it's not necessary to do so, such as you're using an airlock and the text that exists on the console then also appears in the form of Inner Thought - this is unnecessary and needs to be resolved, which it soon will be thanks to their new UI tech. They'll also eventually revisit the visuals of the system, to make it look as good as possible. They also hint again that there's some UI WIP that isn't ready to show yet, but might be shown in a Q3 ISC episode.
Zane says that there are situations where the Inner Thought text appears when it shouldn't, such as over screens. A good example of this is when a Player is in an airlock and goes to use the console, and the Inner Thought text then appears over the console despite that same information already existing on the console (it's the same thing as when the door panel reads "Open" but then when you go to use it, the Inner Thought text appears on top of that as well
). Their UI tech now allows for not having the IT text appear, which is particularly useful for things like elevators where the required information can be on or next to the buttons, without needing to use Inner Thought. They'll also be looking at the visuals of Inner Thought too, because although it looks okay now they feel it could be better. On a similar note, there's some other work they're doing at the moment on interactions that they're still figuring out, but it's something that's not quite ready to show just yet (Jared already said in the answer to Q03 of this episode that the Q3 ISC episodes will include some more looks at ongoing UI work, so it's possible that this will be shown as part of that
). Q22) A long time ago they talked about the potential of manufacturer-specific UIs. Is that still the plan? [54:39] TL;DR Yes it is, and their new UI tech makes it even more possible, because it'll mean they don't have to have a binary file per manufacturer, but just one binary file for everything. They then have a "style sheet system" which allows them to have a white box outline for UI, which can then have different designs applied to it, and is a lot more simple than what it would otherwise be if working with Flash. They also talk about investigating the possibility of creating 3D UIs, which will mostly be used for the more advanced ships, like those from Origin or MISC.
Yes, and it's much more possible now with the UI tech because they have a "style sheet system". Previously (or currently?
) this would require having a binary file for each manufacturer, which would be a pain to maintain, but the new UI tech (as mentioned previously) will allow for only one file so that only one change would need to be made to affect everything across the board. Zane explains further that the style sheet system is kind of like having a white box outline which can then have a visual description defined and applied to it, and changing between the different styles is simple because they can just use a drop-down menu to switch between manufacturers, and then see the visual description change between them. Simon adds that once the system is in place it gives them more opportunities to hand it over to the graphic designers who can create really nice designs which would then be a lot easier to just drop into the game, as opposed to being dependent on someone going into Flash and knowing how to code within Flash. Zane adds that with these style rules there are a lot of possibilities to differentiate between manufacturers, but also there are ways to do this through changing the layout, such as Origin and MISC having more holographic UIs. They're also investigating the initial engineering requirement to make it so that they can have 3D UIs as well, which would make holographic UIs look even more holographic. This would be particularly good for the more advanced ships, rather than the more retro ones. Zane comments about how right now every ship just has the retro UI, and that they want to significantly differentiate between the different tech levels of ships. Q23) The responsiveness of the MobiGlas can sometimes be a little slow. Is this an engineering problem? A UI problem? Something else? [58:18]
Zane reckons that the time it takes for the arm animation to play, as well as how long it takes for the MobiGlas to boot-up, could be reduced, but they're not focused on MobiGlas at the moment. He does reiterate though that they're looking to overhaul the whole UI (which would most likely include the MobiGlas). They've just got to set a target time for how long it should take between the Player pressing the button to open the MobiGlas, and the MobiGlas being open and ready to use. Simon adds that because the MobiGlas is supposed to be a holographic display, they could have that display start to show before the Player's arm has finished moving. Q24) Is there anything you can tell us about the future of MobiGlas? (despite it not being the focus right now) [59:36]
It's kinda similar to what they're doing with the ship MFDs. Once the ship and visor UIs are done, they'll probably look at the MobiGlas, and part of that will likely involve talking to the game designers to make sure that the MobiGlas works as is needed, and they can also incorporate the new tech at the same time. It's due an overhaul though, and Simon's looking forward to it. Zane adds that because the MobiGlas is 3D, it also depends on the UI tech being able to do 3D UIs as well, which will need to be sorted out before they can make the MobiGlas holographic UI 3D. Q25) Is the UI team hiring, and what skills are needed most? [01:00:57]
Yes. The job specs on the website are slightly out of date though and they'll update them soon. They're looking for at least a programmer. They're not currently looking for artists and graphic designers, but that could change in the future. For programmers, the essential things they're looking for are an ability to show experience, and having a knowledge of what makes good UI, such as why things work in other games. For artists they look at a lot of graphic design work because of how relevant that is to UI work, but they also look for an understanding of why a particular screen might be good on a particular app, or how it could be improved. Zane adds that it'd be helpful to have a tools programmer as well. He goes on to say that because the UI is becoming data-driven, that means they're actually dealing with a lot of raw data. As a result, they need to create a UI Editor that the designers and artists will interface with, which would need to be intuitive and easy to use, so a tools programmer that could help with that would be very handy.
Here's a link to CIG's Jobs page: https://cloudimperiumgames.com/join-us
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The End. This one's a little later than usual 'cause I've been busy and shit. I wasn't even sure I'd get it done for today so I'm glad it worked out.
As always, I hope you all like this summary. Remember to be kind to each other, and I'll see you with the next one.
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