As part of an in-depth interview
with Gamasutra about the intriguing genesis of his firm's title Timeshift
, Saber's VP of production Andrey Iones has been discussing the Russian game development market, praising programming and art skills, but suggesting "you can't find people like designers and producers" for larger games in the still-growing market.
As part of the interview, when asked what Russian developers bring to the table, Iones, who works out of the U.S. office of Saber Interactive, but has the majority of his developers working in Saint Petersburg, comments:
"I believe Russia is great when it comes to finding top-notch developers in terms of programming skills and artistic skills. I believe it takes a lot to make a game produced and developed in Russia to comport to Western sensibilities, so it was really important that we had the U.S. designers and minds behind the game.
Matthew Karch, my partner, is the lead designer on the game, and the vision that he is bringing to the mix as well as the vibe they're getting from Vivendi was really instrumental in getting the game where it needed to be, in terms of look and feel and design, and just how the game plays.
What's challenging about developing the game in Russia is that you want to try all the small companies in Russia. We're trying to do something, but it's not really working out, at least not yet. Let's say that you have money and a great game idea in the U.S. All you have to do is just put out an ad and eventually people with experience will come to you.
Not in Russia. In Russia, you can't find people like designers and producers. They simply don't exist, because there are no triple-A titles coming out of Russia. It's simply a challenge. You have to bring these people in, and you have to train them so that they become triple-A developers. It's much more than programming, because you have to have people with production skills and with designer skills. It's really hard to come by those in Russia."
When asked if this is because the gaming culture in Russia is different, or whether it's something to do with how games are structurally constructed in the territory, which includes S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
creator GSC Game World among its few noted console development studios, Iones explained:
"There are a lot of people who love games in Russia. But there are not a lot of console games done in Russia, as well as there are no consoles which are sold in Russia. If you want to find people to develop a game for consoles, obviously you want to find people who understand consoles, at least from gameplay perspective, as users.
You simply can't find those, because you can't go out and buy a PlayStation 3. Well, that has changed as of about six months ago, but it's obviously nothing compared to what you can get in the U.S. It's really hard to find those people.
There's no established game industry, in the U.S. sense. In other words, there are some local publishers and some local developers, but they're working on really small PC titles, and it's PC-only development. It's basically teams of 10 to 20 people, which is nothing compared to what you need to have if you want to produce a triple-A game on three SKUs.
You need to have a team of at least 80 people, all of whom are experienced and have at least some titles under their belts. You simply can't form this team in Russia, unless you stay in business for a long time so that you can bring in people, train people within the team so that they grow mature and fill those leadership roles."
You can now read the full Gamasutra interview
on the Vivendi-published TimeShift, which has a fascinating path to market - two publishers, developed on two continents, and a year of re-development after the game's original completion in 2006.