This story was written by our interviewer, Sister C. We hope you enjoy
Winter is over, and everything is new. It is always easy to think of good friends and old times in this beautiful season. The subject of today’s article is a game development engineer who is an old friend of Cocos, using our products for over nine years. Yanli Huang is the leader of our demo team, building demos and source code of many popular games on the Cocos store such as “Ghost Archer,” “Run, Little Fairy,” and “GangWar.” But having said that, for nine years, Yanli continues to brighten the office with her enthusiasm for Cocos and her commitment to excellent game development. Sister C, our resident interviewer, sits down and talks with her about her journey to Cocos.
Since the fourth grade, I have loved programming
Some might say it’s quite early for Yanli to enter game programming. She says her love of programming probably dates back to her fourth grade of elementary school. Computers were still a novelty at that time, and schools responded to the call of adding technology to classrooms by offering computer classes for lower-grade students. In Yanli’s computer class, teachers would usually teach children to click the mouse and do other tasks, as most would hide their work for a free chance to play Solitaire. Unlike other classmates who were immersed in fun, Yanli studied computers very seriously and soon won an award in the computer competition held by the school and emerged as a prominent figure.
Move the clock a little faster, and thanks to the support of her family and the magazine “Computer News,” she kept fighting bugs and upgrading her knowledge of programming. She has participated in various types of programming competitions. While winning awards, her ability and vision were also constantly improving, and more importantly, she met many like-minded people. The many doors of programming were opening up for her, which also made her firm on the path of what she wanted to take in the future: “The programming thing is quite promising when you like it.”
Yanli applied for university entrance and, of course, chose to major in computer science without hesitation. After four years of professional study and her first job after graduation, she devoted herself to the game development she liked and joined NetDragon Fuzhou, which opened up her starry sea of game development!
I want to do something meaningful
After working for NetDragon Fuzhou for a year, Yanli returned to Xiamen. On the one hand, she hopes to spend more time with her family. On the other hand, the appearance of Cocos has also given her a new direction for her efforts.
In 2013, Yanli joined Cocos and worked on the “Fishing Master” project team. In the same year, Cocos set up a new project team to make convenient and safe channel access tools for small and medium developers. Yanli has solid programming skills and meticulous care, so she was transferred to this new project team and worked with the team, starting from scratch.
After the launch of AnySDK, it has won the favor of many developers. In 2015 alone, the in-game purchases of the general version of AnySDK reached 800 million yuan (~127 million USD), providing access to more than 150 channels. There are many top Chinese game development companies in the list of companies that AnySDK has served.
“We made AnySDK because there was a lack of easy-to-use channel access tools on the market at that time,” Yanli said. “We hope to help more small and medium-sized developers to connect their games to more platforms more quickly and safely and improve the game success rate and income. Today, this market is relatively mature. So I think I must do something else for everyone.”
“Doing something meaningful” is one of the indispensable motivators in her career trajectory.
After leaving the AnySDK project, Yanli joined the Demo Team of the Cocos engine and was responsible for providing the engine with suggestions for improving workflow and optimization directions through actual R&D work. Her team has produced many high-quality game demos.
In 2019, WeChat released mini-games for the first time. Among the first batch of 6 games, 4 were developed based on the Cocos engine. “Five Battle Sons” was produced by Yanli’s Demo Team. “Since we want to give suggestions to the engine, we really make our own games, so that we can better know what game developers need.”
In the following three years, the Yanli team has successively launched various games with different styles and different ways of playing. The popular two-player game “Don’t Touch My Gold Coins,” the 3D game “Gold Coins Push Push Push,” the rogue-like “Ghost Shooter,” the io-like gameplay game “Run, Little Fairy,” and so on. More importantly, they have made the source code of these game projects public on the Cocos Store, providing developers with many ideas, skilled coding, and resources.
After having a wealth of experience of “being online with first-line users for a long time,” Yanli seems to understand the importance of “suitability” better.
“Let’s talk about games. When faced with user needs, you can’t judge very subjectively. As long as you pile up gameplay, pile up pictures, pile up art, and pile up effects, users will definitely pay. Different people have different needs. Use yourself as an ordinary user, and experience and feel the game like it’s the first time playing. Just like when looking for bugs, the first step is always to reproduce the user’s usage scenario.”
Accelerated growth, Work-Family Multithreading
In the last nine years she has worked at Cocos, Yanli has successively completed significant life events such as marriage and childbirth. She has added a lovely little life to her life, entered a new milestone, and added many new topics to talk about in the office.
Juggling work and family needs means investing a lot of time to operate, and “compressing sleep time” has become her only option. “When I get home from work, I take my baby and do housework. The busy rhythm that I can’t even look at my phone usually lasts until eleven or twelve. After the child goes to bed, I have to deal with work matters: the team members encountering a new bug, How to arrange the progress of the work for tomorrow, how to go in the next direction… After all these things are dealt with, the hour hand usually points to one o’clock in the morning. I still can’t sleep.” Even with this schedule, Yanli always finds time to exercise every week. When not exercising, she also takes time to read. Yanli said that she was currently reading the full English version of “Real-time Rendering” with a dictionary in her hand. “The Chinese version is delayed, and there is no way to wait for things like technology.”
New technologies are changing with each passing day, and Cocos Creator is making significant efforts in the 3D field. In the field of 3D games lives many mid-core to hardcore games. The team still has many difficulties and challenges to overcome. Yanli does not dare to relax. She always needs to be the first to learn new technologies and lead everyone to break through the technical barriers one by one.
In 2022, the Yanli team will bring more game projects, including casual and mid-core games. Currently, the team is brainstorming plans. Like all developers, we are full of expectations!
Life and work issues are sometimes not going in the same direction but can be multi-threaded, which is also very good for Yanli. “Everyone’s energy is limited, but they spend their limited time doing things they like and meaningful. Even if they feel tired occasionally, it’s not “hard work” when there is a small sense of achievement in your heart.”
Thank you, Yanli, for accepting the interview with Sister C! Sitting in the corner of the interview room, listening to Yan Li tell these stories, Sister C was inexplicably moved. Tired but not overwhelmed, perhaps it is the most appropriate footnote to her ideal life.
On such a pleasant spring day, Yanli is on the road with her next Demo, and Cocos is also getting ready to promote it like her many other amazing projects.