Happy St. Patrick's Day! I interviewed one of our visiting software engineers from Ireland, Damien Murtagh, to get his take on the holiday. Damien hails from Cavan (in the Irish midlands) and works on the PlayFirst iPhone team. He started off working on the "lite" iPhone games, where users can play a couple of levels and afterward, are given an option to purchase the full version. He then moved on to doing updates for the Diner Dash and Cooking Dash iPhone games , which involved adding new game modes, localization, Facebook integration, and more. He's been a busy, busy engineer.
What got you into iPhone development?
When I'd finished college, I didn't really know whether I wanted to stay in Ireland or move abroad. There were relatively few opportunities in the games industry in Ireland, so I decided to try my hand at some iPhone development. The cost of entry is very cheap ($100 for the developer license) and the platform was new and exciting. My plan was to either collaborate on a project or try to get a job as an iPhone engineer, which seemed to be a skill in growing demand.
Do you have any tips on getting into iPhone development?
Any aspiring iPhone developer should get themselves a developer kit (they cost $99), develop something, and publish it on the App Store. It could just be a simple game, but the fact that the aspiring developer has seen a product through to release will make their resume stick out a mile.
What iPhone games did you work on?
Do you have any gaming tips for Diner Dash or Cooking Dash?
I wouldn't like to give away my tactics.
What’s it like working with PlayFirst given the different timezones?
There is an 8 hour difference between San Francisco and Ireland, so we basically have a whole working day between us. We usually schedule any meetings to be early morning PST to get the best crossover. I'm a bit of a night owl anyway, so sometimes I'll work late into the evening.
Being Irish, can you drink and develop at the same time?
I think that some of the best ideas are conceived in the pub, and brainstorming is a key part of the development process. The fact that drink is involved just means that nobody's idea gets left unheard. I find drinking and coding is tough though, and the codebase should probably never be touched after more than a couple drinks.
So what’s your favorite drink?
I do love a pint of Guinness, though it's not as good in the U.S.
Have you ever found a 4-leaf clover?
I have yet to find a 4-leaf clover. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places???
What's your definition of St. Patrick’s Day?
I think St. Patrick was a symbol of unity and hope to the early people of Ireland. I guess this symbolism translates pretty well into the modern day where Irish people all over the world celebrate St. Patrick's day.
How do you celebrate in Ireland?
Where I come from is a pretty small village, so we have a small parade. It's a pretty family-oriented day out. I lived in Dublin for about 7 years though, and if I'm there, the partying usually goes on all night.
Last year, one of my friends organized a wheelbarrow parade for Paddy's day. The idea was that every float in the parade had to fit on a wheelbarrow. The event took place inside a pub and was used to raise money for charity. I play the accordion with a traditional Irish group and we provided the half-time entertainment.
Are there any superstitions you have about St. Patrick’s Day?
I think it's bad luck not to drink on St. Patrick's Day, though I've never actually put this to the test.
How are you going to celebrate it this year in the U.S.?
Well I've already been to the parade on Saturday and been on a pub crawl afterward with some Dublin friends that were over for GDC. I've heard there's a party at work on St. Patricks day proper so I'll probably just go with the flow there and party it up Playfirst-style.
Indeed. Thanks for sharing, Damien!
Do you have any questions for Damien? What are you doing for St. Patrick's Day? Write to us in the comments!