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A Coalition Of Developers

March 17, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 6 Next

You were just talking about how you have some great technology solutions. Do you have a core tech group, and then ship the solutions out to the studios as you complete them?

JG: That's an important concept, and I think it's also something that was referenced in the talk earlier. From the beginning we talked about -- and I definitely talked about -- being demand-driven on technology. We all lived through the whole RenderWare experience. So being demand-driven, as opposed to supply-forced.

We knew, because we worked around everybody, that there's no forcing somebody to use something. The best thing you can do is get people meeting together and say, "Hey, here's some code. Want to take a look at it?"

If you say, "I'm making you take a look at it," then they might not take a look at it, but if you put something up on the server and say, "You think you might be interested in that?" then I guarantee you that people are going to look at it, and they start talking, and a little bit of sharing happens. We've had some success there. Some teams don't want to share with each other, because it's just not efficient for them, and we don't enforce that.

But as a business, we set financial goals and boundaries, and people like smart guys, and video game developers are basically really smart people, despite what people outside the industry might think. They respond to this sort of stuff.

If it's more efficient for them and they can make more money and their life is easier because they can adopt something, then they will. If it's harder but they just want to do it because that's how they want to do it, and it's going to make the product and get it done on time, that's fine too. We're not forcing people to do stuff.

It seems to me that in discussion with developers, there's sort of a fine line at which they're enthusiastic about the option to adopt technologies, but dislike being asked or told to adopt technologies.

JG: I think nobody... well, one way of perceiving that is stubbornness. Another way, if you've actually been through production, is to realize that you're under the gun all the time. You've got to figure out your core technology and develop a game all at the same time. In a lot of industries, they've got an R&D effort, and then they figure out their widget, and then they stamp out a bunch of those widgets.

We're always doing R&D and making the game at the same time, so there's a huge benefit and risk negation from using what's familiar. You know what's wrong with it, and you know what's good about it. That creates a big barrier for adopting something else.

At the end of the day, our goal is to get the right game done, and get it to the publisher. We don't want our publishers to be biting their fingernails and staying up at night. Sometimes, you go for what's sufficient and what's good, instead of what's optimal.

Yeah. It's interesting, too. Here's an example. I was talking to people from BioWare and Pandemic, and when they merged originally, pre-EA, they started looking at Mass Effect and some of the projects that were in development at that time, and realizing what they could share. That actually touched off inspiration creatively, too.

JG: I think if you set the right atmosphere, it makes it feel good and fun for it to happen. That's probably the way it is in a lot of creative pursuits. People need to feel like it's fun to collaborate, as opposed to, "This is part of somebody's corporate plan of how to wring every ounce of efficiency out of..." You know.

Well, games are so intensely collaborative -- indies aside -- it's absolutely essentially impossible to make something with even a few people, at this point. So people who work in games have to get in the spirit of that. It's kind of what Gore Verbinski was talking about in his keynote -- he has the freedom to pick and choose who he works with, because of his stature. But I've noticed people very much do gravitate together in this industry. They stick together when they can.

JG: I agree.

Is that how you find the studios you end up either acquiring or working with? Is it about the creative people, or is it about filling a niche in your business?

JG: I'm a biz guy. I don't make any bones about that. I look at the strategic stuff, but then after that, that's what gets you to talk to somebody and you get to know them, and you see if there's a fit. Almost everybody in one way or another fits in our company.

We've been doing it for a long time, so it's not like somebody who's woken up and decided they wanted to make video games. We've experienced the ups and downs together, so we've got a longer view of it. So personal fit is incredibly important.


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