A Peek Inside Ireland's Largest Games Developer, DIGIT Game Studios
|Richard Harris in Game Development Friday, September 30, 2016|
ADM: How many developers did you start with, and what is the driving decision for you to choose to grow now?Barnwell: We started the company with 4 founders and quickly grew to a team of 10 for the first year. We secured our Series A financing in 2013 and grew to 20 within the year. Then since 2015 we hired an additional 40. We are taking on the biggest players in the industry and the games are getting bigger and more complex, as such we needed more people. We've focused on trying to stay as small as possible and using technology and smart decisions to our advantage.
ADM: With such a large staff, how do you divide up responsibilities, and what is your take on agile methodology as it relates to mobile?Barnwell: We don't consider it to be a large staff number, our competitors (Machine Zone, Plarium, Elex, Kabam) are closer to 1000 people with teams 5x our company size working on competing games. However, our approach is to use multiple small teams within the studio. These small teams focus on a particular feature or area of the game and that ownership in making it the best it can be. As a company we've experimented with different ways of working and continue to evolve. However right now, this multiple small independent team approach is working well.
ADM: Can you tell us a little about your programming approach?Barnwell: Use the right technology for the job at hand, make it extensible and be prepared for the unknowns. We have managed to hire some very smart engineers who have worked on a very large number of games, however every game is different. What's most important is actually ensuring the engineering teams know what it is that the other teams want, they have to spend time with Game Design, Artists, Sound Engineers etc to ensure what is being built really does deliver. Of course, once the players get their hands on it, you realize all of your assumptions were wrong anyway.
ADM: What programming language do you use at DIGIT, and why?Barnwell: We use a large variety of programming languages (C#, Scala, Redis). However, one of the primary ones is Python, this is a very production scripting language.
ADM: How has Brexit effected game development for DIGIT?Barnwell: Currently, we've not seen too much impact apart from a few job applications from European passport holders in London feeling nervous. However, I believe no one is making a decision until we actually know the leave date and the VISA impacts. The sterling getting weaker against the Euro has of course had a positive impact on us, being based in Ireland, we are able to compete more aggressively with the UK based studios as the exchange rate gave us a pretty big swing in our favor.
I am a UK citizen, as are several of the DIGIT team. However, I decided to move my family to Dublin for the quality of life and way of living. I believe Brexit will encourage other people to look around at their options. Life is short, where you decide to live is important.
ADM: With VR coming on strong and clearing being huge this up-coming holiday season, what is your road map to VR?Barnwell: Right now, we don't have one. I believe there are still huge opportunities in mobile and browser gaming. There has been a flood of investment money into VR and AR very early on in the cycle, we are waiting to see the adoption rates and commercial realities. I don't believe we'll be jumping into the VR fight for a while, if at all.
Read more: https://www.digitgaming.com/
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