Interview with Francesco Sapio author of Getting Started with Unity 5.x 2D Game Development

Hello everyone! Welcome again to Best Programming Book! We are dedicated to giving you the best programming books every day, and to be able to help our geek readers in a way is a happiness to us. Having interviews from great programming book authors is a very high honor given to us by the authors we have interviewed, and sharing it with you is what makes us happier.

And because today is our interview day, we would like to introduce Francesco Sapio, author of Getting started with Unity 2D Game Development. Francesco went to Sapienza University of Rome, Italy where he acquired his computer science and controls engineering degree. Francesco is a Software Engineer, a Unity 3D and Unreal expert, experienced user of major graphics programs and a skilled game designer. He developed an educational game called Game@School for high school and cross platform games for kids. He has lots of work, from working as a consultant, a writer/author.

Francesco wrote our featured book, Getting Started with Unity 5.x 2D Game Development, one of the bestselling books in C# and Game Programming category. He also wrote Unity UI Cookbook and coauthored Unity 5.x 2D Game Development Blueprints with Abdelrahman Saher. Getting Started with Unity 5.x 2D Game Development is a programming/game development help book. It is very easy to understand and very newbie friendly book.

We won’t be making this long, enjoy reading and don’t forget to share this with your friends!

                                                                       Get to know the Author

Name: Francesco Sapio

Background: Software Engineer specialized in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics 

Favorite gadget: Oculus Rift CV1

Hobbies: Too many, but my favorite one is spending time with the people I love. Other than that, I like to create and develop video games, I enjoy playing them with friends, composing music, performing magic tricks, and watching movies.

Interview

What does your typical workday look like?

Well, the first step is that I make real (Italian) coffee, and drink it. Then, I go to the University if I need to, otherwise, I set up my desk to work from home. The first thing I do is reply to emails and check updates in the video game industry, so that I am always up to date. After this, the most important part of my day comes: organising the day in detail. I revise the different things to do, and divide them in tasks to complete within the day. Often this step involves other people, with whom I need to schedule meetings and cooperate for bigger tasks. At the end of the working day, I assess the results, carry the uncompleted tasks to the next day and then enjoy some free time.

How do you like your job?

I love developing video games, because I can create an experience for other people, and share emotions, thoughts, and feelings with players. This involves shaping worlds that otherwise wouldn’t exist, establishing their rules, how they look like and who lives in them. Players can take part in this creative act by exploring and interacting in these worlds.

There is also another important reason why I love creating video games – the challenge. It is a very exciting field that involves many different disciplines, from the most artistic to the most technical, and when they all come together, they deliver a unique and magical experience. As a result, I get to know many talented people, each one of them pushing beyond their limits every day towards a common goal. One of my specific challenges is making Artificial Intelligence algorithms, which need to run literally in a fraction of a second.

Also, when I don’t work on video games, but solely on Artificial Intelligence, I believe that creating an entity able to act as a human (therefore intelligent) is the greatest challenge for mankind so far. So, why do I like my job? Because everybody, me included, gets to use the full power of their minds to solve the countless puzzles and challenges that life proposes to us every day.

What, in your opinion, is the current most exciting technological advancement and why?

Here “exciting” plays an important role, because I must confess that Virtual Reality excites me a lot. Although it’s just the dawn of this technology, and often exclusive because of the price of a high-end headset (such as an Oculus Rift or a HTC Vive), Virtual Reality, along with Augmented Reality, has a lot of potentials. I was lucky enough to see many research projects that used VR to enhance human life, and not only for entertainment, especially in medicine and education.

The experiences that VR can afford are incredible, from kids learning how a volcano works by bringing them inside it, where they can touch and experience the environment, but with the comfort and safety of a classroom; to a person in rehabilitation, stimulating a climb or a walk to the top of Mount Everest, rather than being in a hospital room.

Lastly, there is the ability for VR to train doctors, firemen or policemen to promptly react to dangerous and perilous situations and save human lives in a disaster. Finally, if you have never had a chance to play a good game in VR, well, you should because it’s so damn cool and exciting.

What inspired you to write your book/s?

Since I was a child, I always wanted to write books. When for the first time in school I learnt how to write, I realized “I can write down a thought, and share it with my dad when he comes back home from work”. This has been the key, and the purpose of writing since its invention: sharing ideas and knowledge with others. I just want to see my readers creating amazing video games, and writing a book is my way to share my experience with them. I feel a connection with my readers when I write, and what kept me inspired throughout the whole process of my last book was strengthening that connection by wondering what they would like to learn. So, in a few words, what inspired me was the possibility to share my experience with my readers and for them to gain something from it.

If there’s one chapter in your book people should have read, which one should it be, and why?

I would suggest reading the last chapter of “Getting Started with Unity 5.x Game Development”, which is titled “Going beyond the Cake”. Here, besides giving different suggestions about how the readers could improve the game developed in the other chapters, I give a general overview of what making a video game might involve, besides creating it. In fact, the topics of the chapter range from copyright to game protection, from teamwork to playtesting, from marketing to localization. Although the aim of the chapter is not to teach in details those things, it helps to have a general understanding. I wrote it with particular passion and interest, also because this kind of information is often omitted in common game development books. If you decide to read that chapter, I hope you find it interesting, and don’t forget to let me know your thoughts about it.

As an author, which book made the most impact on you?

The book that made the greatest impact on me is Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. It completely changed my life and the way I see, perceive and feel the world. This reflects in every action I do, including how I write my books, my sense of humor in them and how I express my thoughts with words. Thus, even in just a manual about game developing, I’m sharing a bit of my personality, which has been greatly influenced by that book.

If there’s one subject you’d like to see a book about, what would it be?

Well, we are 7 billion people on this Earth, and there is already a book for any possible topic I could imagine. However, it would be awesome to see a biographical book of me written by an AI.

What would you like to ask the next author being interviewed?

(With a playful smile) How do you feel being interviewed after Francesco Sapio, the most amazing and brilliant person and writer who ever walked this Earth? 😉

If you could ask your favorite author any question, what would you ask and why?

To Douglas Hofstadter “When would you like to meet for a cup of tea, to celebrate my unbirthday?

Of course, the why goes without saying.

Postscript

Francesco was actually sick when we sent him our interview questionnaire, but despite being just feeling well, we were entertained nicely by him. Thank you very much, Francesco. We appreciate the time you have given us.

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