Peeking Inside Insomniac: A Conversation With Ted Price
November 14, 2008 Page 6 of 6
Something that you did last generation, that I'm not aware whether you are in this generation, and you may or may not be talking about it, but you guys did tech sharing with Naughty Dog last time, right?
TP: Yeah, we definitely went back and forth with them on various aspects of engine technology, and some other technology.
Is that something that's not continuing? Is that just because you're working in different genres, or is that because, just, it naturally fell away?
TP: That's a good question. We have certainly compared notes with Naughty Dog; we just haven't been sharing any code. The engine we created for the PlayStation 3 is fully Insomniac's proprietary engine, and it was also on PlayStation 2.
Unfortunately, what's frustrating sometimes is, people still say, "Oh, isn't that using Naughty Dog's engine?" And the fact is, that wasn't the case on PlayStation 2, and it isn't the case now. But, our engineers do talk frequently, because we share similar challenges, and we can both learn a lot from each other.
And that's great, and that's what we like in this industry, is that people are open about what they're doing, and we all benefit when we share information. And that's, again, one of the reasons we started the Nocturnal Initiative: So we could put some of our code out there, have people check it out, make suggestions, make changes, and then we can reincorporate it -- and vice versa. Everybody wins when you share code.
I'm familiar with it in a very general way, and I've been to the site and poked around a little bit, but is that essentially an open source thing?
TP: Yeah. It's open-sourcing some of our tools; that's correct.
That's an interesting thing to see, especially on closed platforms.
TP: You know, we win too when there are better and better games on the PlayStation 3. I mean, because currently we are developing all of our current games on the PlayStation 3, we want that platform to succeed, so, hey, we're going to do what we can to help other developers too.
And I guess the final thing that I want to talk about before I let you go, because I know that you're a busy guy: I want to talk about Insomniac North Carolina. How long has that been established, now?
TP: Well, we announced it earlier this year -- probably five months ago? I think there are ten guys out there now. Chad Dezem is our studio director; Shaun McCabe is our production director; they have opened up the studio officially, and are moving into the offices, and getting everything ready to move into its first production cycle.
What attracted you, initially, to opening a studio in a remote location?
TP: I wouldn't call it remote.
Well, it's 3,000 miles away.
TP: Well, yeah, remote from us; it's a great place, though, to have a game company. I mean, the Raleigh-Durham area is filled with fantastic development companies, and it's a very friendly community, as we found when we announced that we were going in.
As soon as we announced it, we got calls from guys like Epic, and Red Storm, and lots of other studios just welcoming us and saying, "Hey! We're looking forward to having you be part of the community!" I talked to Mike Capps about it, and Cliff [Bleszinski], and we all know each other well, and it's really cool to know that we're neighbors with some of the best developers in the world, out there.
And what led you to choose that particular geographical location?
TP: Shaun and Chad had expressed an interest to move back east, but at the same time, they wanted to remain a part of Insomniac. And the reasons they wanted to move back were for family reasons, and I completely understand that. And there are other people here at Insomniac that have family back east, and would prefer to be on the east coast, so that was a slam dunk.
At the same time, here, as we continue to produce more and more games, the pressure to expand continues to increase -- but we don't want to have a monster company here in Burbank.
And so, being able to support a sister company, another branch in North Carolina, is a great way to expand Insomniac but keep that intimate feel that we've cultivated over the years.
So you think that it's going to retain the broad Insomniac culture, but maybe develop its own sort of culture at the same time?
TP: Sure. Yeah, sure. I mean, I think that both Chad and Shaun believe in the Insomniac philosophy that we have used to develop games over the years, and I'm looking forward to the North Carolina studio bringing new aspects to what we do here in Burbank.
So I think that'll be a great back-and-forth. And we're also going to be supporting the North Carolina studio with tools and technology that's built here in Burbank.
Right, of course.
TP: So, it'll be a very close relationship.
Do you have a core tech team? Or does the tech just grow out from the development of the games?
TP: We do have a core tech team; we have a core tech and tools team. So, we have a number of extremely talented engineers on both teams, who are both developing new tech for the PlayStation 3, and tools, proprietary tools, that we use to build our games.
Is the North Carolina group, are they just starting out? Are they in preproduction?
And they're going to be recruiting, and then move into production in a time frame that you're not, probably, going to talk about.
TP: That's right.
TP: But they are recruiting right now, so we are still looking for folks. But it's great; we've been adding a lot of folks. Which brings up another reason we started the studio: We know that there are a lot of very talented folks on the east coast who are looking to join, to get into the development field.
And when we talk to people on the east coast, they don't necessarily want to make the switch to the west coast, and so, this is an opportunity for them to join Insomniac.
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