Build engineer

Also known as: Build and release engineer, DevOps engineer, Build programmer

Build engineer

What does a build engineer do?

Games need to be continually updated, improved and kept free from errors. A build engineer's primary role is to make sure an up-to-date build of the game can be created when needed as quickly as possible.

This involves automating and optimising processes, maintaining software and hardware systems, creating tests and helpful tools, and communicating with every member of the game team.

The improvements go through various stages. This is known as the release schedule. Build engineers solve technical problems that might interfere with a release, so it goes smoothly for programmers and players alike.

The scope of the roles depends on the size of the games studio. In smaller studios, build engineers write the code themselves. In larger ones, they pass on the tasks to other programmers. They also look at how the build could be easier. They see if there are elements in the build and release that could be automated freeing up the programmers for other jobs.

What is a build engineer good at?

  • Organisation: plan the release, manage the making of the new build while maintaining the old one
  • Programming: develop code to improve the build
  • Innovation: spot problems with the code and be able to find solutions
  • Communication: be able to share thinking with designers, programmers, project managers and QA technicians - it’s important everyone agrees the build engineers’ plans
  • Attention to detail: spot imperfections in code, write detailed documents about each release

Who does a build engineer work with?

Build engineers will work with the programmers, QA technicians, and games producers.

How do you become a build engineer?

Build engineers usually have several years’ experience in software development. This is not an entry level role.

At school or college:
If you want to go straight to university:
Take A-levels or Highers in maths or computer science or the BTEC Level 3 Diploma/Extended Diploma in Computing. If you enjoy art and design or graphic design take those too. They are very much relevant to the games industry.

If you want to straight into a job or apprenticeship:
One of these Level 3 vocational qualifications will be relevant.

  • BTEC Diploma in Computing for Creative Industries
  • AQA Technical Level IT: Programming
  • AQA Technical Level IT: Networking
  • OCR Technical Diploma in IT (Digital Software Practitioner)

Work on your own projects: 
Make contributions to Open Source development. Solve some problems. Build some tools. It will be useful to show these to potential employers as well as your professional and academic experience.

Get an apprenticeship:
You might find one as a Level 4 Software Developer. Even if it isn’t in games, being a software developer in any industry will be put you in a strong position to get a similar role with a games company. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.

Take a degree:
Most people in the games industry have degrees. A degree in computer science is the most relevant to this role.

Get to know games companies:
Use the UK Games Map to find games companies near you, then go to their websites directly. Check out what they do and think about how you might be useful to them.

You might also be interested in...

Being a tool programmer, a role which also involves making software for other people.

Further resources