When you talk to some developers, they don't quite have the lavish resources that a first-party game has thrown at it. You have room to be ambitious with it, but at the same time, I think there are obviously things to learn from that experience that can filter down in a different way on other titles.
CB: Yeah. I think there's resources and there's resources, right? We're always big believers in investing early in technology in such a way so that it can make us more efficient, so we can do more with the people that we have. We really don't want to grow to a team of 200 people, for example. We're pretty sure that our processes would not scale to that level. So we like to invest early in technology to avoid that early on, to try and avoid that.
Really, these investments of technology can be very cheap, when you look at dollar value cost. The total investment, in terms of man hours, and taking our light mapper and making it not just run on one artist's machine, but then run on a back-end server farm... it's actually probably equivalent to just hiring maybe one or two artists extra. But instead, it was able to take all of our artists and multiply their power some fraction, which helps them to be more efficient, and ultimately helps us make a better game.
That's what it comes down to for us. Efficiency doesn't necessarily mean, "Well, now we get to make more content!" What it means is that now we'll be able to go through more iteration and polish passes on every iteration that we want to do. I would say instead that this investment in technology and in process is ultimately a cost-saver for us.
You were primarily focused on network, and other engineers oversaw other aspects of the game. Do you feel that it's necessary to have people stick to what they know? Is it good to have people who are really dialed-in to one aspect of the game, from an engineering perspective, and then to follow that through?
CB: It's certainly true. You need experts. A lot of what is done on games these days is very technically demanding and requires a lot on one particular sub-aspect of engineering. But on the whole, what we strive for is to have people who can be a little more globally focused.
Those people who understand not just, "I'm going to write this great shader system," but also, "This is the role that it plays in the entire creation of the game. Here's how it interacts with the artists. Here's what my shader system has to know about audio, so the right sounds can happen when objects hit this particular type of shader."
There are all these global kinds of dependencies, and the more that we can train and find people that have that kind of global awareness, the better the game is as a whole, because that way, you can have these cross-disciplinary interactions that just arise naturally for people doing their jobs.