Lead Server Programmer

  • Lead Server Programmer

Online gaming is a hugely popular market within the larger game industry, and the survival of an MMO or online RPG depends on the stability and speed of server-based systems. Ensuring that players are able to access their guilds and go on quests for treasure and world domination through ancient lands, the lead server programmer is on the front lines of network preservation.


The exact responsibilities of the lead server programmer vary depending on the system in place, but will probably involve the design, implementation, and ongoing support of client/server applications. Supervising a larger staff of server programmers, the lead is charged with the implementation of networking systems and network-synchronized game code, which controls elements like enemy behavior and player interaction. The lead server programmer will also oversee the integration of distributed simulation systems and manage subsystems that include character control, artificial intelligence, and physics. In addition to putting in place and extending the foundational structure of the server-based gaming systems, the lead programmer also supervises the continuing maintenance of the server. This will include regular debugging of code, scripting of new code, and stability and usability updates. In sustaining an operational server construction, the lead will collaborate with engineers and quality assurance staff in all matters concerning the improvement and evolution of the server to provide satisfying gameplay and effective networking.

Skills & Education

A college degree in computer programming, game design, or a similar field is required. The lead server programmer must be proficient in scripting with C++ and possess expertise with multiple operating systems including Unix, Linux, Windows, and Mac. Knowledge of the numerous functions of distributed systems is required, as is experience in implementing network gameplay over TCP/IP or UDP protocols. As a manager, the lead programmer must be capable of establishing priority of tasks for the staff and monitoring workflow through the pipeline to ensure quality and efficient work. Courses in advanced mathematics are invaluable, and should be the core foundation of a server programmer’s formal education.

What to Expect

This is a senior-level position that may require several more years of experience to achieve than a lead position in game art or design. Expect to spend at least five years at the junior or midlevel before consideration for advancement. Naturally, prior employment as a server programmer for a game studio is the standard path toward this career, but similar experience in server programming and maintenance outside the game industry is applicable. A candidate will be expected to demonstrate relevant experience on at least one online gaming title.  


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