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All The World's A Stage: Inside Silicon Knights
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All The World's A Stage: Inside Silicon Knights

November 19, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

All The World's A Stage

Silicon Knights is based across three floors (the second, fifth and eighth) in a non-descript tower block in downtown St. Catherines. Gamasutra wasn't granted access to the fifth floor, where "secret things are happening", but was granted full access to the second and eighth. Silicon Knights' main reception is found on the eighth floor, and is immediately striking, with the reception desk situated in front of a neon "waterfall" that static pictures can't do justice to. Dyack revealed that the reception had been carefully designed.

"We strongly believe that the media is about entertainment first, and so the front entrance is set up like a theater, with an exit stage left and an exit stage right. When you come in you should see it as a theater stage." To emphasise his point, he continued, "We strongly believe in entertaining people, and a lot of people mistake this industry as being technology-based. Technology is only an enabler. We're entertainment first and foremost and we want people to know that the minute they walk in the office."

Very striking on the tour were the ornate mounted swords outside of key offices, which are given to staff members who've worked at the company for ten years. Director of content Ken McCulloch told us a rumor that any staff member staying for 25 will receive a suit of armor.

McCulloch is one of the six directors -- not including Dyack -- on the Too Human project, and another, director of design Henry Sterchi explained how such a large contingent of directors manage to work together.

Sterchi commented: "We have a lot of process planning committees. For an example, people would lay out all of the intended cinematics and then we'd work out how they tie into the levels. It's important as instead of just 'bookend' cinematics we want to have scripted events during gameplay. We have to work together on that."

One of the many swords which line the walls of Silicon Knights.

The design director also feels that the number of directors on the project is a strength: "In each director we've got somebody, who, while they might love the whole of the game, their section is their baby and the one they're looking out for. If somebody from cinematics wants to take control away at a point I think is critical that the player have control, or if I want to take liberties that the art director isn't pleased with, it's great that we all get together and we meet and discuss it."

He also noted: "Everyone from each department has a full understanding of what's going on in the other departments. They're all in on the level flow, the game design, they have all the maps, knowledge of when the enemies attack, and they're all involved."

Technical art director Mike Seto agrees that the climate at Silicon Knights was especially collaborative: "We are a guild -- that's our philosophy. We make sure we're teaching each other and that everyone contributes to the game. I mean I can talk to anyone, a designer about a game mechanic that I don't feel is exactly right and he'll be more than happy to take a look at that. We make sure everyone feels free to comment on where things are going."

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