Do you have in-house music composition?
EV: We don't do any music composition
here. We outsource all of our music. I made a conscious decision, because
every company I've worked for that had in-house music talent always
said to do two things: "Make it techno," or "Make it
heavy metal." Nothing in between. Either the industry attracts
those types of musicians, or people just gravitate toward [those genres].
We have five audio designers, and two dedicated audio programmers. We place a lot of importance in audio in our games.
A lot of our level artists
are working in [close proximity.] We do a lot of cross-discipline seating
arrangements here, so we have level designers working closely with the
level artists. We also have the AI programmers working with the animation
staff, and the game designers working with mechanics. I think we've
done a great job of mixing it up and not being afraid to do it.
We have some talented people,
but they can go off and do their own thing and come back with something
totally different that may be wonderful, but it doesn't fit the game.
[Working together] is all part of game development.
We're starting to get a handle on how best to use Unreal 3, and some of the techniques of next-gen art creation. That was an interesting process, moving from PS2 and Xbox to 360 and PS3. There's a lot more available.
We're really excited about the advances in what we can do graphically, from a character development standpoint to advanced lighting and shadows. It's stuff that we always wished we had, and now that it's available to us, it's about how we use it and how we can make better-looking art.
It was a slow transition, but we're at the point now where we're not wrangling with the technical issues and just concentrating on using what we have now and enhancing it.
Are you finding it comparably
simple to work on the 360 and PS3 in terms of where you're putting all
your art assets? I've heard that some people are having a rough time.
EV: It was rough in the beginning, for the first year. There's so many ways of creating content now with different tools and techniques, and there wasn't one best solution. It really depended on the games, genres, and projects. Sometimes you have stricter budgets and limitations, so comparing MMORPGs to a puzzle game or a fighting game, you can allocate your resources tighter and you don't have as many restrictions. It's about knowing what you're trying to do, and trying to align your goals with the technology.
From our standpoint, it was a huge transition and a huge learning curve that we had to adjust to and get over. But you have to invest time in it and be patient, and make sure your vision stays intact. It helps when you have talented people who want that challenge. That's one thing we learned when game development companies started transitioning over to next-gen -- if you're not willing to overhaul your way of thinking, it's going to make it really hard to move forward.