Interview: Night & Day's Sr Programmer Justin Hawkwood

Interview with Justin Hawkwood, our Senior Programmer.

You’re Night & Day’s Senior Programmer. How do you think of programming: as a creative endeavor, a technical exercise, a puzzle, or is it some entirely different way of thinking?

With some projects, I'm building functionality that I've done before or something quite similar and the process is very much a technical exercise.  In projects where I’m doing something more unique, I see it as a puzzle to solve: I know where to start and what I need as the completed functionality, but the path in between is not always clear. Occasionally in this situation, the solution is so obscured that I need to spend some time trying out far-fetched options to see if anything sticks, thus guiding me to a functional solution. 

Do you have a favorite app that you've worked on, either because you like the final product or because the work was particularly fun?

For both reasons, my current favorite Night & Day Studios app is "Yummiloo Rainbow Power". The team at Yummico were a treat to work with, and the characters they created in the Yum Yums are so cute and fun. Additionally, implementing the game play and interactivity was an interesting challenge that allowed me to learn and use technologies that I was less familiar with.


What are your duties at Night & Day Studios?

During the conception phase of a project, my primary role is to say what ideas are possible and/or feasible given the constraints of time and technology, along with how best to implement those ideas, or how to alter them to fit the constraints. During the asset generation phase, I serve more as an advisor, consulting on how assets should be provided, and occasionally generating apps to test a feature or functionality concept. In the programming phase, I take assets and game-play concepts and put them together into a functional app. Through the lifespan of the development of an app, these phases often overlap or are revisited, as ideas are tested and revised.

So you have a hand in every aspect of the production process from concept to completion. Can you give an example of a time when the dream or idea for an app was simply not plausible?

Early on in a project we throw out crazy interaction ideas that either roll into something feasible or  get discarded. Also, we've used different cross-platform tools to build some of our apps, and sometimes a desired functionality is limited by that tool, even if it’s something we could accomplish by developing natively on each platform. An example of the latter is audio listening/recording. The cross-platform tool we currently use does not have a recording feature, so while I’ve added recording to iOS versions of some apps (e.g. Peekaboo Barn's record-your-own-voice feature), we had hesitated to include it on apps developed cross-platform because we prefer our apps to have the same features for both iOS and Android.  With the help of the programming community, I now also have a working solution for Android, so we can include recording more frequently.

What do you like about working at Night & Day Studios?

There is a laid-back attitude that’s ingrained in the company culture. There can be stressful times throughout any project, but generally it's a friendly and relaxing environment.

Is it too early to share any details of your plan for world domination?

One word: Scandinavia. Oh, on a company level? Make apps that are fun to play, even if you aren't a kid.