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Interview: What Vigil's core team is up to at its new Crytek home
Interview: What Vigil's core team is up to at its new Crytek home Exclusive
January 28, 2013 | By Kris Graft

Crysis developer Crytek has long had plans to open a U.S. branch, but the opportunity to do that never really presented itself in an appealing way. That is, until Vigil Games' talent was up for grabs in Austin.

Vigil Games was one THQ studio that was up for auction following the publisher's collapse, but despite building a fanbase with the Darksiders franchise, no one tried to buy the Austin studio.

So along came Frankfurt, Germany-based Crytek, which just so happened to be looking to get its foot in the door in the U.S. market. Crytek saw an opening, and expanded its footprint using Vigil's core talent as a foundation.

"Crytek U.S. was always the plan for us," Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli told us in a phone interview. "It's a very significant expansion of our development culture and a big step for our CryEngine business."

Crytek USA is made up of 35 game developers -- some from Vigil's core team (but not the whole studio) and a number of Austin-based developers who were looking for new jobs.

Leading Crytek USA is David Adams, former general manager and co-owner of Vigil, a studio whose fate will ultimately be decided during THQ's upcoming bankruptcy case.

Crytek became a significant player in the aftermath of THQ's bankruptcy and asset sell-off. The studio bought the Homefront first-person shooter property (Crytek's Nottingham, UK studio has 140 developers who had been working on Homefront 2 for THQ) for $500,000 in order to ensure work on the game would continue.

The founding of Crytek in Austin will mean more game and CryEngine development in the U.S., and access to more development talent.

"We weren't just looking at Vigil's team [for recruitment], but the whole Austin development community," said Yerli. "Austin is a very small, connected community of game developers."

With the expansion into the U.S. still fresh, Yerli could only talk broadly about near- and long-term goals for Crytek USA. But it sounds like the new branch will play a significant role in the company's future.

"It would be pretty much safe to say that this team will be working on online games," he said, adding that the new team at Crytek USA will focus on "online games and kick-ass triple-A productions. It is going to be quite a significant investment for Crytek over the next five years."

Yerli also made clear that Crytek was not intending to purchase THQ's Darksiders IP.

For Crytek, the Austin game development community and the 35 game developers with jobs, things seemed to work out okay, despite the manic nature of the branch's founding.

"Austin was high on the list. It was pretty much highest on the list," said Yerli. "... We saw this as an opportunity. These guys are jobless, we can save their jobs at the same time, we can move Crytek forward in the U.S., and make steps that are in line with our strategies."

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Paolo Adriano
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Vigil without Darksiders? Aww man.

R. Hunter Gough
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they could just make a new IP and call it Farsiders.

An epic video game experience from the mind of Gary Larson! :)

William Smith
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Cool! Crytek in the USA.

Axel Cholewa
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Yeay, more FPS!

Seriously, as a Darskiders fan, this is one of the worst things I could have thought of (although, of course, I'm happy that at least some people of Vigil don't lose their jobs).

Darksiders: all about diversive 3rd person gameplay, comic style graphics
Crysis: all about graphics power & photorealism, 1st person shooting

I can't see how these two companies match.

But again I have to say that I'm happy that such a talented team finds a new home. That's acutally way more important than me not liking FPS :)

David Navarro
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I imagine it's likely that the former Vigil employees hired by the new Crytek studio have been interviewed and their portfolios have been reviewed to ensure they can produce work that fits the style and goals of the new studio. It's not a studio purchase, much less a merger; it's just a new studio hiring some people.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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Usually FP Engines have some TP options. I was able to create a very nice sky camera view in UT2003/4 and perhaps the most advanced third person camera system in Half-Life / 2. If a newbie coder / Config.cfg modder can easily do that, a pro could have something within a day/month.

Axel Cholewa
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@both: true, but looking at Crytek's games I hardly expect nothing less than a new FPS IP (which, of course, could be interesting) or at least some other FPS from Crytek US.

But maybe, hopefully the new studio will have more creative freedom than I expect from Crytek.

Evan Bell
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They failed to mention the real benefit of being able to go to the Alamo Drafthouse when they fly to Austin on business.

Alan Rimkeit
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Hell yeah. I LOVE that place. Ni little kids with beer and movies. FTW.

Ken Nakai
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I'm glad some of them got jobs and love that Crytek, though it obviously benefits the company, set them up. Always good to hear good news come out of the bad news that is THQ.

Glenn Currie
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"kick-ass triple-A productions" Argh...same terminology perhaps that Michael Bay uses to describe his "works". Still I'm glad that some of the Vigil team were rescued.

Paul Ginger
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As an Austin Dev and and drinking buddy to some vigil folk, I can't stress enough how much of a relief this is. First BioWare Austin then Vigil, things have been kinda bleak around these parts. It really is too bad about Darksiders but at least a lot of really talented developers get to stay close to their families and friends. Last Beer Night was a lot of morose talk about northern California. Not that there is anything wrong with NorCal, but we like it here and now there's hope of staying. Kudos to Crytec for being bold and decisive, they won't regret it.

Alan Rimkeit
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There are lots of things wrong with NorCal, such as cost of living. Stay in Austin if you can. NorCal is all messed up really bad.

Evan Bell
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Bioware Austin is hiring again:

7 positions with 2 in art. Not enough to offset Junction Point and what I assume are some developers not asked to join Crytek USA.

Paul Ginger
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@ Alan: Yea, my sister is in San Francisco, on a whole she loves the people and city but it sounds like either a financial or logistical nightmare depending on where you live and work. @ @ Evan: Glad Bioware is hiring up a bit. I'll definitely spread the word though, it's gonna be hard to offset the 60 or so folks that fell out of Vigil and didn't land on the ground floor at Crytek USA. I hear it will be something like a year before Crytek USA is ready to really staff up and start making.