With the release of All Points Bulletin next month, video game developer, Realtime Worlds Ltd, selected a group of journalists to peek inside their well guarded doors to see just what they are up to. GamingUnion.net was lucky enough to take part in a guided tour of their facility in Dundee, Scotland.
Realtime Worlds is a software technology company whose offices are based in both Dundee, Scotland and Boulder, Colorado. The company was founded in 2002 by Dave Jones, who now acts as Creative Director, and he's well known for creating franchises such as "Lemmings" and "Grand Theft Auto". Realtime Worlds also worked on Xbox 360 exclusive title, Crackdown. Despite starting off quite small, the company has seen an explosion in its staff size in the last few years due to the enormous project that is, APB.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Realtime Worlds Social Media and Community Manager, Chris Collins, and Community Officer, Ben Bateman. Chris Collins started at Realtime Worlds as a Community Officer in October of 2008 and became the Social Media and Community Manager in February of 2010. Community Officer, Ben Bateman, started in Realtime Worlds as a QA tester in September of 2009 and since February 2010 has been the company's community officer. Mr. Bateman was our tour guide for the day.
Our group's first stop was the Quality Assurance room, QA room for short. This is where workers are required to play the game repeatedly and find any bugs that might disturb the gaming experience. This is so that when the game is actually released, gamers hopefully won't find themselves encountering bugs, like the game crashing when they try to jump. They run through dozens of gaming scenarios to see if the game will react negatively; this can include running other software gamers otherwise should not be using while playing the game. In this room there are huge projectors detailing the bugs that have been fixed and those that have not also their priority amongst the other issues. Ben discussed how he had started in a QA position before becoming a Community Officer. He insists it's a great start for anyone who wishes to pursue a career in video game development and it's much better to do QA for a developer than a publisher.
The next floors focused on the design team. Their walls were covered in reference pictures and in game screenshots. Since this game relies heavily on customization, there were screenshots of almost every design a player could choose from. Many of the rooms shared a common theme; one was dedicated to strictly cars while another focused on characters. The design room for the characters featured a poster of many different head customizations that could be used in the game and we were assured that all of the posters were from the actual game and not at all altered. The car design room had some posters with many different car types that are featured in the game. The designers also seemed to enjoy decorating their desk since many of them were covered in figurines from other games. Nerf guns were also a prime accessory to the design rooms; definitely vital to the creative process.
Proceeding to the next floor (yes it's a big building), we moved away from the creative side of the company, and more towards the business end. The production teams, marketing and key directorial roles were all present up here, along with server maintenance and the IT department. It's actually where Ben and Chris work. Following this magical adventure, we rounded out the tour with a trip to the common area, which has various consoles set-up, including a full Rock Band area.
Overall our adventure into Realtime Worlds' base was a great learning experience. It was very interesting to see first-hand what kind of work goes into making a game as advanced as All-Points Bulletin and then playing it afterwards.