As a self-described shy kid, a young Billy Bramer probably never would have guessed that he’d be holding a supervisory position at Epic Games years later. Or singing in front of hundreds of people.
A graduate of FIEA’s fourth class, Billy now serves as lead gameplay programmer on “Fortnite,” Epic’s upcoming fortress-building/defense MMO. While this is primarily an engineering role that sees him implementing and maintaining gameplay features, Billy spends part of his time managing sub-teams and his direct reports to ensure things run smoothly.
Developing the cross-disciplinary communication skills that he uses in his position is a feat Billy largely credits to FIEA, UCF’s graduate game design program. “FIEA was actually amazing in regards to picking up cross-disciplinary communication skills,” Billy explains. “First, I was able to attend some of the art, design and production classes in addition to my required engineering courses. Second, FIEA’s professors and syllabi did a great job of blending the disciplines together through quick prototypes and improv lessons.” When he’s not working on games, Billy moonlights as a member of the Concert Singers of Cary [North Carolina], and performs several times a year as part of the group’s symphonic choir. “I found out I’m a bass singer, so I really enjoy all the super low parts,” says Billy, who realized his love of singing from playing “Rock Band.”
“FIEA was actually amazing in regards to picking up cross-disciplinary communication skills”
Billy Bramer, Epic Games
Billy has worked for both large and small developers, first landing an internship gig with Midway in Chicago. Financial troubles at the company led to layoffs, but Billy was able to use his contacts from Midway to land a job at a smaller Chicago studio, Phosphor.
He stayed there for over two years before a desire to work on gameplay systems and for less punishing winters led him to Epic. He had previously done contract work for the developer on “Gears of War 3.” He advanced quickly and soon found himself working with a team of engineers on the DLC expansion, “Raam’s Shadow.”
Whether solving a complicated programming issue or singing the right note, Billy thinks it’s all about problem solving. “Something a professor in undergrad told me that has always stuck with me was that more than anything, a computer science degree proves you’re a problem solver,” says Billy. “You probably can’t always know everything about the latest and greatest that there is to know, but with a solid foundation, you can solve your way through things when you need to.”