While the theme for this week's DICE Summit is "without borders," in a talk Ru Weerasuriya, CEO of The Order: 1886 studio Ready At Dawn, argued for the importance of boundaries -- and the importance of breaking them.
RAD got its start 11 years ago, and made a name for itself developing standout, technically-impressive games for the Sony PSP, such as Daxter and God of War: Chains of Olympus. RAD remains an independently-owned studio.
Limiting RAD to the PSP for years, and recognizing that self-imposed boundary, allowed the studio time to learn. The Order: 1886 for PS4 is the culmination of over a decade of learning, and saw RAD breaking boundaries.
For example, in the years that Weerasuriya has been growing the staff at RAD, he would have to go beyond U.S. boundaries and hire from other countries. This led him to think about why he couldn't find suitable recruits in the U.S.
"We kind of lost our way with game curriculum," Weerasuriya said, criticizing schools he said tend to put money before preparing students to enter the game industry. Weerasuriya has since helped learning institutions with their game curricula to try to help improve the situation.
"Ultimately what drives our industry are people," he said. "The more that we can better our education system, the better the chance the industry won't stagnate."
Weerasuriya noted other ways RAD has broken its own boundaries. For example, the company worked with acclaimed TV writer Kirk Ellis on the script for The Order:1886. Tech risks were also taken, such as development of a physics engine, for the sake of visual realism. "Reality is what people need in front of their eyes…The better [graphics] get, the more people are immersed in it," he said.
And while he's proud of the tech RAD has developed, he said he would welcome more standardization of dev tools. "The reality is if we're able to homogenize tech … we'll have an ecosystem where developers can make games instead of technology," he said.
Modern game development is a brave new world -- funding models are evolving, everyone has a voice, and everyone is a critic ("Sometimes the scrutiny can be destructive to development," he said). All kinds of borders are being broken.
But he said there is one boundary that is the most crucial to break through: the cultural barrier. For Weerasuriya, games absolutely are art.
"This discussion about games in culture is probably the biggest boundary we need to cross," Weerasuriya said.