Why open an office in Stockholm rather than go join the team in Copenhagen? Is it a strategic thing, or just because it's where you are?
RZ: There are different reasons for that. If you look at Unity, that's how it happens. We have quite a lot of offices around the place. Opening just our office is a bit of a headache for our financial guy, but it's kind of natural for us.
RZ: There's [also] a strategic reason for that. [laughs]
EK: There are many successful studios here, naturally, so it's a good surrounding to be in, I think. There's a lot of things happening here.
RZ: It helps to get focus, as well. If everyone sits in one place, I think you can get... Because one office is working on mobile, and the headquarters is more core, and here we can concentrate on certain things as well. Maybe sometimes it's even easier to concentrate on certain things when you have are smaller group while being in the same company, but you have this advantage of being a small group. And traveling, it's like a one hour flight.
EK: I think having these separate offices -- I found it a bit different when I began working here, but it's actually beneficial in many, many ways. I think once you reach the other studios, you're much more respectful with other people's time than patting people on the back. You set up your communication, and you prepare it a bit more than you would do naturally. I think it's, in some ways, much more effective to have this spread out among the studios.
RZ: In certain cases, it can be more helpful to structure your time. Of course, one big thing is it's easier to hire people this way because -- it's a bit probably different in Europe than in the States, probably, that people actually don't want to travel.
They don't want to move.
RZ: Yeah, because they have family here, they have a different language here, and it's a bit of problem to move to Denmark maybe, just because there's a different language, for instance. People do understand each other, but...
But we have people from Germany, from Holland, and many places, so we don't really want to move them all the time, if we can keep them where they mostly have family, and are enjoying, because they're being more productive as well, instead of shuffling people from one place to another place.
And it helps to be able to build better ties with the local game development community. Another day you visited Might & Delight, and some small companies here in Stockholm using Unity. So we can go and talk to them and sometimes even help them even.
EK: Schools, it's the same thing. Game development universities in this area are growing. There's a lot of respectable game developers in the Stockholm area, and from that, it's become a very likely career choice for people in the Stockholm region, and a lot of talent is growing here.
Personally, I think it's a surprising amount of developers comparing with other Scandinavian countries, just in Stockholm. It's sort of a hub that has been created here, for game development in this region. Not only finding talent for Unity, it's perfect being around here.
Massive Black's Mothhead
Unity is doing something that I don't think many companies are doing: building an engine that's like this, and building an engine this way, both. Neither one of these is really being attempted, I don't think.
EK: There's many core differences in Unity, I think, from the culture of the company to the actual talent that's working there, that just differs from any other company that I've been working at, at least. I think that philosophy that Unity has is something you can actually feel.
The Unity philosophy is the democratization of game development. That's the succinct way of putting it, right?
EK: It's very exciting being part of it, I must say -- how Unity is progressing the mantra of democratizing of game development. I think not only can we provide good tools for developers, but I feel that I can be part of evolving game design, which has almost staggered the last couple of years. You can almost see it on the console market, these repetitive games sort of that are being developed in genres. I think looking at the games that has been done using Unity, it sort of differs. It's fresh. It's more playful.
You see all these people getting their hands dirty and you see all the weird shit they're doing, and you realize there's more out there than the tunnel vision you might have, if you're in a major publisher or a major studio and you're just trying to ship.
RZ: There's much more tunneling in the bigger industry, especially from a technical point of view. For three years, you know the direction of that tunnel and you dig in it for three years, maybe turning a little along the way. You get feedback once in three or five years, so that changes quite a lot of the process. Much less playfulness when you are digging that tunnel for three years, or five years. You can't really step aside. You can't really experiment that much. There's always a very important feature.
EK: The goals are very clear from start, when you're working on those bigger projects. With us, I think even for these bigger developers, Unity has played some part there. Some of them, I heard, are using Unity as a prototyping tool for working with the games.
RZ: That is something we hear as well, that even though the studios aren't using Unity for the main production, because they have their own tools already and they're invested in that. They grab Unity just for prototyping. [laughs]
EK: I think that's very flattering.
I guess you guys are hoping at some point they'll stop just prototyping in Unity, and move into production in Unity.
RZ: To achieve that? Yes. That's why we want to have this "triple-A" whatever -- I call it "internal" focus. So we can actually find out, if people prototype, the reason why they would not continue working. And either implement the missing features they need, or fix whatever is broken.
But we don't really want to do just that. We want to be more creative on the way. Not only just taking an EA triple-A studio team and working for them -- no. We want something a bit more different. Taking varied input and putting that into the initiative.
EK: I think it's fantastic also to see these teams, how they've exploited the tools to such a degree that it surprises us, almost, the way that they're using Unity. You'll see when you visit Might & Delight as well, the way they're constructing the game [Pid] and how they're using Unity to do it.
This is exactly how I see that people are using Unity. It's so flexible, and they've taken quite a leap to use Unity in a different way, to make their game come true. But it also shows how flexible it is, and how you, if you really tame it, you can use it any way you like it. There's no real root or any specific flow that you need to use in Unity. You can pick your own path.