Lead Graphics Engineer

Matt McCloskey

One of my favorite things about working at ZOS is the people that I work with.

More so than any other studio I’ve been at before, there’s a real sense of a team environment here. It’s not about trying to outdo the other person, it’s about achieving a common goal.

What do you do at ZOS?

I am the Lead Graphics Engineer at ZOS. It’s a fairly wide ranging field, but the short answer would be that I am responsible for the tech that draws the game to the screen. While our Art team is responsible for creating the game assets and the world in which they exist, my job involves taking those assets, determining which parts of the world are to be drawn, and then rendering them through a complex hardware layer to be presented on-screen.

This part involves writing a system of shaders that can evaluate material properties on objects and then accurately determine how lights in the world interact with those materials. There are also many other facets to this, including shadow generation, particle FX, and special effects like water and fog. I also handle the finishing touches to the frame, with things like color correction and post process effects like depth-of-field and blooming.

How did you come to work for ZOS?

I had been working as a game developer for many years before I came to ZOS. Ever since I was a kid, I was always fascinated with the technology that drives video games, and it was a natural progression for me to move into that field. Coming to ZOS was perfect for me because it allowed me the freedom to research and develop entirely new graphics technologies while also applying them to games that I love.

What does an average day look like for you?

That’s one of the things that I like most about working here – no two days are ever really the same. My day always starts with a short team meeting, where we keep each other up to date with what we are currently working on, and then it’s off to the races. Some days can be spent tracking down and fixing bugs, some are working with other teams for feature development, and some days are spent writing cool new graphics tech for the game. Every day is different, and that’s what keeps it interesting.

What is working at ZOS like?

I always say that one of my favorite things about working here is the people that I work with. More than any other studio I’ve been at before, there’s a real sense of a team environment here. It’s not about trying to outdo the other person, it’s about achieving a common goal. We not only work well together, we help each other. We’re all working towards the same thing – to create the best games possible.

What do you find challenging about your current role?

It seems like there’s always a new challenge, and that’s what makes the job so great. Game development is unique in the engineering world in that you do not only have to solve a particular problem, but there’s the added difficulty of finding a way to solve that problem with a number of constraints – like limited memory usage or reduced CPU cycle count.

In game development, there’s never a standard way of solving any particular issue, so it always requires being inventive and developing an entirely new technique. It’s a challenge, but the challenge is what makes it fun.

How have you moved around within the studio during your time here?

When I first started at ZOS, I was a Senior Graphics Engineer. Since that time, I have moved up to the Lead Graphics Engineer role. We have had many people move around to different positions, or take on different disciplines, but rendering technology is what I enjoy the most, so I’ve always stayed in this role.

What is your proudest achievement while working for ZOS?

Seeing The Elder Scrolls Online on store shelves for the first time. Shortly after the release of ESO, a few of the people here put together a montage video that documented the progression of ESO from the very first development demo to the version that released. Seeing all the work that had been done over the years of development into a game that I was extremely proud of was a very special highlight for me.

What games do you most enjoy / are currently playing? What about hobbies?

I really love the Dark Souls games. There’s just something about those games that appeal to me. The difficulty can be rough, but they’re really fun. However, being the graphics oriented person that I am, I spend a lot of time in graphically intensive games squinting at the screen and trying to figure out how they pulled off certain rendering techniques. Far Cry 5, God of War, and anything in the Frostbite engine immediately comes to mind.

Weather permitting, I really enjoy taking my motorcycle out for a ride. If it’s been a particularly stressful day, getting out on the road always clears my mind.

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