Ville Helin wrote his first lines of code back in the 1980s

Nora Nirhamo | 2023/05/22

Get to know our multitalented developer Ville, what kinds of projects he has worked on in his career, as well as what kinds of technologies and programming languages he works with.

Senior Software Developer Ville Helin is a veteran software industry professional. Ville has decades of coding experience, if you include the code he enthusiastically writes in his free time.

Software finally changed from a hobby to a full-time job for Ville in 1998, when he got his first job in the industry.

What has kept Ville motivated for all these years?

“Getting to write software that people use and find useful.”

Learning languages from hobbies and work

Ville wrote his first lines of code on a Commodore 64. Back then, coding was just a casual hobby, which produced text-based adventures that he and his friends enjoyed.

But this had already sparked Ville’s interest in coding games, and in 1992 his interest only began to grow further. Ville started to code his first project on an Amiga MC68000 assembler.

He has gained plenty of programming language skills over the years. Nowadays, Ville primarily uses Unity and the C# programming languages in his work. Over the years, he has also gained experience in other technologies and programming languages: he is an expert in MC68000 assembler, C, C#, Unity, and J2ME (Java Mobile Edition). In addition, his leisure activities also expand his skills.

“For fun I use ActionScript3/Flash to update old flash games, and an ANSI C89/90 macro assembler for hobby projects. Of course, I also use the Unity and C# languages when I code in my free time.

A wide range of work experience in the video game industry

Ville’s interest in games can be seen in his work experience especially. He has also worked in the shipbuilding industry, the IT industry, and in research.

Ville is also heavily invested in hobby projects. His longest-running project is the WLA DX project, which he began in 1998. It is a multi-platform cross-assembler package that converts machine code into binaries that are processor-readable. Ville worked alone on the project for years, but since moving it to GitHub, he has received help from others.

Another of his most significant hobby projects is Wzonka-Lad, a Nintendo Game Boy emulator he coded from 1996–1999 and which is open-source to this day.

“In both projects I was responsible for basically everything, from software design to development, and the function of the user interface.

In addition to Wzonka-Lad, another of my free-time gaming projects is the Perfect Balance Collection game.” The game took a few months of work and is designed for iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, and macOS. The project was short, because only the code was new.

“I used Unity and C# to recode Perfect Balance Collection, which I previously coded in C/C++ for iOS years before. I coded and designed the collection’s games myself. The collection includes five Perfect Balance games from my old games company ttursas Oy. Almost everything to do with the project was my responsibility. I had help from friends with the audio, field design, and graphics.

Ville’s handiwork can also be seen in the following games: War Diary: Burma, Need for Speed: Carbon 2D and Candles of the Dead.

War Diary: Burma is a mobile game developed for Rovio Mobile, and Ville was responsible for coding, including AI and a trigger system. The project lasted around six months and Ville worked alongside an assistant coder, a graphic designer, and a game designer.

“At the same time, I developed a reusable code that could be used in other games, such as a fast-scrolling backbuffer, A*, AI and trigger system.”

Ville also working on coding the Need for Speed: Carbon 2D mobile game for Rovio Mobile as a subcontract for EA. The J2ME game project lasted six months in total. Ville, who was responsible for coding key parts of the game, was also responsible for the company’s first 2D driving game and the game engine.

“They were used later in other corresponding games. I was the lead programmer for the project, and I was also partly responsible for porting to other devices.”

Candles of the Dead, which was coded in C# and Unity, was coded entirely by Ville.

“I also largely designed the game myself and was responsible for everything except audio production.”

Ville has also gained work experience outside of the game industry. He was also involved in making 3D maps in two Helsinki University of Technology projects.

“They were EU-funded projects, and I was responsible for everything related to the software, including at the client end and server end. In the later, larger project, we also had a graphic designer and an assistant programmer, who ported the client to Symbian, and a project manager.

At Softability, Ville has been involved in, among other things, a year-long project that made an interactive 3D product presentation for The Baker Company Inc. The project team comprises Ville, a designers, a 3D graphic designer, and another coder who worked on the project’s early phases.

“After the beginning, I wrote all of the code required for the project. I was also responsible for things like calculating lighting in the 3D scene.

A quick learner wants to make useful code

Long-term coding experience is visible.

“When I do familiar things, I can usually put code together quickly. I’m also a quick learner.

For Ville, one important motivating factor is that over the years, he has been able to work on software that people find useful.

“Useless work doesn’t motivate me. It’s no fun to spend a year or two coding software, such as a game, that no one will ultimately use.”

In Ville’s case, it’s easy to see how his interest the software industry that was first sparked over forty years ago still burns bright today.

Do you want a meaningful career as a software developer? Take a look at our job vacancies and your future colleagues.


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