Game Developer Spotlight: Paul Ambrosiussen

Sometimes we look so much on the outside of the gaming industry that we never get to realize that there are real people working hard on the inside.

While at Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March, I met a wonderful person in Paul Ambrosiussen. His job…is not exactly what you would call famous, but his work influences many video games we play today. He is a tools programmer at SideFX, a company that specializes in a program called Houdini, a 3D application animation software with emphasis on procedural generation. He works as part of the game development team.

Sitting down with him gave me the opportunity to get to know him, his company, and what he does. Like all of us here on the site, he proudly displays his nerd flag, but is very down to earth. Born in Vienna, Austria, Paul spent most of his time in Europe. Moving to the Netherlands when he was 4, he started his love for games and making them. After graduating with a bachelors of Computer Science from The International Game Architecture and Design @ NHTV University of Applies Sciences (say that 5 times fast, lol), he decided to make his place known in the world by working on Steam games. His first published game with a team is called Einar, a game based in Norse mythology that’s seen over 350,000 users. He followed that up with The Automatician, puzzle game based in a Victorian mansion which was just released last year.

But his journeys wouldn’t end there. When he moved here, he joined the team of Luiz Kruel and Mike Lyndon to expand the Houdini games tools program, which was originally started by Stephen Burrichter. He’s been living here in Santa Monica for the last year and a half and now he’s at GDC giving tutorial classes to industry movers.

While many may not be familiar with Houdini, the program has been used in more productions than we think. It is featured in games like Call of Duty WWII and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. It has also been used in feature films Frozen, Rio, and Zootopia and has won 2 Oscars. Houdini game tools takes large amounts of simulation data such as fluid simulation, explosions, and shatter effects, and streamlines them, making work that would otherwise take hundreds of man-hours and render time into quick, efficient time frames for games.

Paul does have advice for aspiring artists and developers. He mentions that you can’t be afraid to talk to people and get out. Show off your work to the right people and ask for feedback. Consistency is the key. You’re never too late to learn the right programs and eventually, people will start to recognize you for your work.

Thanks Paul, while many don’t know you, we all appreciate your work and effort.