We talked to the folks at Splash Damage, a gaming studio in the UK, and developers on games such as Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Brink, Dirty Bomb and the Gears of War franchise. From their humble roots, the studio has stuck to its guns when it comes to their values, ‘Always Learn, Always Improve’ being one.
From gamers to game developers
Co-Founder and CEO Richard Jolly will be the first to admit that the studio has grown up a lot over the years. The studio was born out of the gaming community: the founders met online playing games, none of them had any development experience, and they worked together remotely for a year before meeting in real life. Their big break came when their first game deal came along, which allowed them to move into an office and start working together, face-to-face.
The DNA of the studio is team-based multiplayer games – harking back to where they first started as a group of friends that met playing Quake online. Splash Damage wants to bring that experience into the games they’re building and create lifelong friendships that carry on beyond the game.
Starting off as a team that didn't really know how to make games, they worked their way through iteration and trial and error – today, Splash Damage boasts a team of close to 350 strong.
Development requires flexibility
“One of the advantages for us switching from a perpetual license to a subscription license was the ability to scale-up the team or scale-back the team in terms of the seats on-demand,” says Ben Hopkinson, Splash Damage’s VP of Information. Very often, game developers end up leaving it to the last minute and they might need an extra 10 or 15 people to come onto the team and give them that boost to get over the line to finish the game.
“In the past, that would've required a really large capital outlay, whereas now we can add these licenses short-term to the seat count, so we can pay just for what we need when we need it.”
Being an art-focused studio
“The pursuit of mastery is important for us,” says Richard Jolly. “I think that to be an art-focused studio, it's important that we're always honing our skills and not resting on our laurels. To not have software get in the way is really important for us.
How do you make things easier for everyone? The tools are at the heart of that. And the more efficient and the more effectively people can work, then the better it is for everyone.
Learning doesn't stop when you leave education. Things are changing on a month-by-month basis, to the point where you have to keep your skills honed.”
Empowering artists with a choice of tools
Lily Zhu, Lead Environment Artist, says that “Having the freedom to use whatever tool you need to use means, ‘Yeah, sure, I can do this.’ As long as I have the tool, I always can do this. There is never a discussion about, ‘Do we use 3ds Max, or do we use Maya?’ We're not talking about tools anymore. This liberates us to talk creativity, and to talk about the game only.
With the Media and Entertainment Collection, the benefit is that if we have some downtime, the artist can teach another artist how to use 3ds Max or how to use Maya, and they can further build on what they know already. This is what we do: Always Learn, Always Improve. “