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Present and Future of Game Studios - 80 Level Podcast

March 15, 2023 Kirill Tokarev / Vadim Kraevoy Season 3 Episode 4
Present and Future of Game Studios - 80 Level Podcast
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80 Level Podcast
Present and Future of Game Studios - 80 Level Podcast
Mar 15, 2023 Season 3 Episode 4
Kirill Tokarev / Vadim Kraevoy

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80LV talked with Vadim Kraevoy, Head of Room 8 Studio. Vadim discusses how the company adapted to the new post-pandemic work style and the importance of flexibility and organizational structure in a complex, changing environment. He also offers insights into the current state of the gaming industry and predicts trends that may shape its future, specifically the potential impact of AI.

Visit Room 8 Studio website: https://room8studio.com/ 

Check out the portfolio: https://room8studio.com/portfolio/ 

Follow 80 LEVEL on social media:

We are looking for more artists!
Join 80 LEVEL Talent for free: https://80lv.pro/join-80lvTalent
Get your work noticed by some of the biggest and best developers, publishers, and studios in video games today.

The Gaming Blender
Could you design a video game?

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

This video is sponsored by Xsolla, a global video game commerce company with a robust and powerful set of tools and services designed specifically for the video game industry: http://xsolla.pro/8023

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

80LV talked with Vadim Kraevoy, Head of Room 8 Studio. Vadim discusses how the company adapted to the new post-pandemic work style and the importance of flexibility and organizational structure in a complex, changing environment. He also offers insights into the current state of the gaming industry and predicts trends that may shape its future, specifically the potential impact of AI.

Visit Room 8 Studio website: https://room8studio.com/ 

Check out the portfolio: https://room8studio.com/portfolio/ 

Follow 80 LEVEL on social media:

We are looking for more artists!
Join 80 LEVEL Talent for free: https://80lv.pro/join-80lvTalent
Get your work noticed by some of the biggest and best developers, publishers, and studios in video games today.

The Gaming Blender
Could you design a video game?

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

This video is sponsored by Xsolla, a global video game commerce company with a robust and powerful set of tools and services designed specifically for the video game industry: http://xsolla.pro/8023

when when did this journey start with you in

in games and art production like how did you how did you end up in this career was

this like a conscious choice that you made or was it something that you were kind of like

um just happened you know sometimes they things just happen and you don't really plan for it yeah so it's

I think common story when your friends invited you to just try so my

um initial uh education is navigation so

I know how to uh how to operate in the cargo ships and

other ships like a huge one uh and then I had a big vacation period

with some stuff uh to do on the shore

during my vacation and it was extended for it almost two years it had some

another source of income and my friends just

suggested me to try what game name what Game Dev is and I said why not uh I just

came without any like expectations to earn money just to look what is it

and it was roommate starting from the beginning that was the prey Adventure

made switched from production company Mobile production

co-development company TV Outsourcing segment of business so I I just enter it

just in in the ads between these two areas I offer made so it was just an invitation from my my

friends so what about this you've been working

in roommate for for a while can you tell us a little bit about the company because it's like it's a more complex

entity it's not just like the art line there's like a lot of other elements involved tell me how it works

so um hermaid was established in 2011

um so it's already like 12 years almost um

and as I mentioned just before um in four years after

and several released mobile games uh Founders decided to switch the focus and

focus on the co-development stuff and art production

um and their the Outsourcing Journey began so I

joined in that period and currently roommate group roommate Studio

it's became as a part of vermit group and the roommate group is a bigger

entity so we have five service lines art as one of them as the bigger one

we also have PC console co-development line mobile development engineering and

QA and we is about to launch uh trailer

controllers it will be like a semi-independent line it's under art now

uh yeah so I I'm in charge of the art line so it's like a five lines and it's

supported on the group functions uh with the marketing legal ichar ID just to

make the and sales of course um so just to support all the lines with

the all needed functions and have them on the certain level of

quality for everyone and of course optimize some of the costs on top

that's how it looks like when you're so since we're talking about costs in

general and Outsourcing let's talk a little bit about this Market I'm gonna give you like a little

uh entering segue into this so I think Outsourcing in games especially

is it like a fascinating space there's like so much going on there there are so

many Trends there's like so much so much movement from like one category into another but it's

um I think in the most recent couple of years I think in the in at the end of

2022 and the beginning of uh this year um we started to ask ourselves a lot of

questions right because if you look at current big releases there's not one

game that's probably being developed without any Outsourcing it's

physically not possible to achieve this level of you know a visual Fidelity that

you need like you talked about Horizon right so Horizon is like thousands of people have been working on that game

it's more than film in many cases so what do you think is going to go from

here because this does not seem like um like a sustainable thing right

because still there's only so many people on earth who wants to do 3D and I

know that you full have been struggling with this or probably to understand like where to get new talent and this is

similar for any any company that's working in this space but also

how do you work around the new technology that's coming into the space and can work as a

substitute to Outsourcing can you provide kind of like an internal perspective how do you see the market

right now how do you look at Talent how do you look at technology how do you

look at all that maybe risks maybe some compliments that help you build your

company I know you're building you get in another company soon so it's like growing and growing and going how do you manage that in in this environment

yeah so actually we are living in pretty interesting time uh it's time after code

when all of this did you realize that it's possible to work from home right and some of the studios

revise their security measures I mean physical security

to some degree so it allowed to ourselves as well to look widering this

Market of talent and involve more and more people around the

world so this is fasting if we're talking about talents uh don't usually

we think about geography uh where we can find this people who wants to who want

to do games a better game about general in general about game industry yeah it's growing

and it's one of the fast growing Industries in the world so

um now last year showed us um not so a huge cruise as it was in

2020 but it's still like a pretty big and uh

forecasts uh pretty impressive for the next couple of years and this is first thing about the game

trance and game industry so and as you mentioned yeah so uh games getting more

bigger and bigger every year because of um Hardware technology is developing as

well so we can see a lot of games becoming like a

cross-platform so we have uh games with uh like a 2015 million plus budget for

mobile uh version uh so with it's another thing and all of

this require a lot of content and a lot of stuff not just related to art right so

yeah just because of people yeah one at the explore world and open world

with on their mobile phone even so it's

um it's growing and to stick to the Quality Bar that said oh

the like industrial leaders trade you need a very uh

Senior Team and what's also important is just to deliver

um this quality on scale it's another thing so

if we're talking about two Trends it's game industry and it's

growing if we're talking about games it's getting bigger and bigger if we are

talking about demand it's becoming more and more

um crowing uh even given this year Trend

yeah when we see a lot of companies trying to optimize the requests and

trying to be cautious of having next steps and building the bigger teams so

not wanna and not a lot of people wanted to risk and just having layoffs so if

they attracting more and more uh external development stuff

so this is just so you feel like um to kind of like understand like why do

people still rely on a lot on Outsourcing is this mostly cost benefit or is this

because of uh just time constraints or is it just because of like capacity in

general because let's look at companies like Sony Santa Monica it's a big studio right it is in Santa Monica and

California but it can only be you know so big it can't go like to

an extraordinary huge uh organization right because it's still um

that's still a creative thing it's building games it still requires you know a lot of

back and force iteration and I'm wondering in this context

how to do Outsourcing how does outsourcing help is it do you feel like

you are kind of part of this pipeline or are you part of this creative process it

kind of helps develop new ideas and kind of go from there yeah again

um it's a lot of multiple reasons there it's definitely makes and the every

um our partner our client uh looking for something different someone wanted to uh

uh involve Outsourcing for example we have massive black on board for each of

the guys do IP development stuff and some high-end concept development do

some artistic current event you even don't have any kind of um Arts team on board yet so you need

some touch of creative and these guys you can help you visualize your story so

this is first first thing uh the second thing

um if we are talking about why producers and Outsource manager so

use uh Outsourcing because I think it's kinda

um safety for you for your team to deliver a game

on time because currently I will say that a lot of stuff is going on here

with Community yeah so and you can't just postpone and postpone game some

company is do this but the reaction of the audience and

Community might be not so good so you just involve more people and uh winning

some extra time it could be another reason and as I

mentioned before it's uh scalability uh when you need this so if

we're talking about content a lot of like a basic systems could be developed and and somewhere in the middle you need

to do like a massive Ram pump of the art team right and for other teams so you

need just to squeeze as much capacity as possible and you can't hire like a 1000

artists tomorrow right so it takes time and you need to get them on Quarry and

with a consistent quality it will be wearable setup team uh with their own

processes and they should know each other because um it takes time to and work people in

the in the technology in the pipeline um so

um and of course it's like in the one of the risk mitigation tools as well for

people when they have someone on the like uh

backstage you can jump in into the middle of the project and help to figure

out what's going on and help them to deliver stuff yeah so I think this is

main main reasons of of why companies using Outsource

I believe we can find a lot of much more but I think that's another main

you mentioned like the the problem with scalability

no sorry I was on mute now now it's a real podcast now finally people understand

um you mentioned this issue of scalability

I think it's also this idea that people might not need

as many you know people on staff all the time

right so sometimes you don't really need artists you know for for the full two years to

produce content right you have them and that's when in some in some ways it's a more Humane

kind of approach better than I mean not better but

sometimes companies do like short-term contracts they do short-term contract and then they basically you're out of

job again so it's like with Outsourcing people work all the time they have new

projects all the time so it's easier for them to kind of have a little bit more stability

In This Very volatile Market um so Vadim I have a couple of questions

I guess about crisis management I would say that

so uh room 8 went through a lot of different challenges in

the last couple of years and it all started with basically covet pandemic then you have

war in Ukraine um now you have stuff like

AI check GDP and all the other Technologies and people are like oh no

everybody's going to be on a job um so can you tell us how do you navigate your company

and your people and there's like more than a thousand people working in in your companies that you oversee how did

you navigate them through this pandemic uh war and now

um kind of like this technological disruption um yeah so we have almost 1 100 people

um because we continue to involve more and more talents um yeah so uh last three years actually

showed us uh in the uh Real Deals to to

find the ways to escape from any kind of problem and solve this problem not just

Escape but the solve problems uh on in flight so

um I can just give you a few words about what we did during the pandemic for

example and actually it was almost um the same what we do all the time

so we just switched to remote more remote mode of operation just in it two

days I think and restore the production from home uh we're like

um we supported everything around 600 people and all of the equipment was

delivered uh all of the systems and security system was adjusted according

to the policies that we had so it was a enormous work that guys from

group functions did and all of the people

responsible for some sort of things internally so but when you need to

operate in a complex and dangerous or unexpected environment

you need to be creative right and have as much flexibility as possible yeah so

um I think flexibility is a key here organizational level as a whole is

another key and given that we are working in him pretty

fast changing rapidly changing environment all the time we receive new

projects every day and new tasks so in a different type of requests so your brain

slightly just to the all of the challenges you that you may face so I

think it's like a transformation of the management brain because you need to

make decision fast and you train um every day how to do this so and when

you very well trained Problem Solver so every new problem

become so you use these patterns in from your head and apply these patterns again

and again if you need to find out the way how to

increase the team like double the team because it's only one way how to deliver

the game and time um so for example if we're talking about covet we created like a emergency

department that was just a mix of people from different positions it wasn't just the

administrative Department who was in charge of everything right so we had a

lot of volunteers who helped the back equipment to deliver it to support all

this stuff uh and we learned a lot during this exercise so

mouth first thing is just to not to drop in consistent quality that we deliver

and not to break any kind of deadlines and our

promises to our clients so this is two things that kind of pillars that we

usually stick to and uh the word was something that

was of course unexpected right but a lot of people talked in news and

um we started develop and more um risk mitigation plan uh uh and

involve a lot of like a external uh support staff uh like Brands and places

where we can don't really get our people so just

pre-book it and everything that was a Creed before 24th

of February just was broken because people just was real just realized that

it wasn't joke it's just for real and uh we need we needed to do this

um almost from scratch so uh all of the people were shocked of course but

everybody just started to do some random stuff and just in a 24 hours we

organized the department and set the priorities uh split their responsibilities

and in it just in a three four days uh or even after first

first several days guys continue to to do art in our uh

Department who was where we had like a majority of people

from from Ukraine um it was

almost a year ago when we started this yeah emergency and after three years uh

three three months after we measured um customer satisfaction and um

tracked how many projects we delivered in time and I was very very surprised

that we delivered 99 of projects and only 90 percent and only 10 percent of

projects was within the line shift so more than 90 percent was delivered on

time and uh on with their good quality and so we

received a lot of support from our clients uh so thanks for them and we started a lot of different ways to

um grow the team uh overseas as well uh so now we have

less than 50 percent in Ukraine so we

have majority of people outside of Ukraine and we continue to crawl in odam

in Asia as well so currently we're playing how to do this and kovit showed

us that remote work is possible so War showed us that Global work is possible

and uh another level so it was another challenge that we cope and I think we

succeeded in this and it showed us another but possibility to expand business now yeah

and we support people in Ukraine we supported a lot of people who didn't

have a chance to work so company and they really appreciate

company support here so it was good stuff to support people and care about people

first about the projects and then continue

developing the business so thank you for for this answer and I

feel like this is uh almost like it it is like a true Act of heroism where

there's like buildings crumbling and in Kiev and I've been in your office

so I know that you have like a wonderful large uh space and when this whole thing

is going on it's I imagine it's super hard to kind of stay on point and continue to work and yet

your people continue to contribute and the customers were satisfied which is like super

important I feel like it's one of the things that help company be so successful and my question is like do

you feel like in this um is there something unique about your culture or your processes or the way you

engage with talent that helps you achieve this level of commitment and

kind of like company culture where everybody is sort of working together nobody's you know

nobody drops out of projects you know I'm out of here or something how do you keep them because it's like like you

mentioned like across different continents across different countries

very different cultures how do you keep the glue that kind of keeps everyone

together um I think

tossed it's uh I just we believe in our missions

that we can deliver a great content and do this together right and work with

industry leaders um to I think we have a great leadership team

that inspire people uh to accept challenges and

this is something that

um could be part of one of the ingredients of this like Secret Sauce

another so thing that we provide opportunity to be flexible and

or be focused so for example uh we might have like a team dedicated to weapons or

to chroming and if people like to do this they can

learn every day how to do this and it's pretty complicated to do in other

environments on the one game uh or several games

uh you can just touch several pipelines and people like this Dynamic environment

someone likes someone don't but we're trying to be flexible and hear people

hear clients ask them and of course

um our all of theirs should be supported by process oriented approach so the bigger

scale the big scale like modern so it's several different things to manage

Studio 60 people or manage Studio of 100 people or 500 and thousand it's like a

slightly different yeah so I've uh I joined at the GM when our team was

around seven people and now we have more than one thousand thread and it's very interesting thing

to uh understand that some of the solutions that you just developed last year

doesn't work this year so you need to work entire thing from scratch just to

support another structure uh so another process is uh and other people so and

still keep it simple because um a lot of people can invent something

complicated right but keep it simple and very clear for everybody how you can

grow in this environment what kind of projects you will do with us what team will be engaged with you in

this project uh what's your kind of responsibility and what your next steps and what your

next goals here so this is I think create in the environment

um sometimes challenging environment um see but it give a lot of

opportunities to grow if you want and deliver great

stuff if you if you can so first of all thank you for

for this answer and I think your career kind of shows the opportunities that the

company gives right because you've you've been doing it yeah I think personal example managing of our

directors and managers yeah the the this job yeah so the the question is

um that I also had when I when I talked about this a lot of those crisis that keep coming

is I want to talk a little bit about how do you navigate this idea of substitutes right so there

is something that there is something that's always coming and wants to disrupt your business right there are

companies that are like Ubisoft they're doing their own Outsourcing companies

they're doing like their own Outsourcing house since within their because they're just doing so much so many big games

or Rockstar they're just doing something similar when they're just buying a lot of studios in India and Pakistan

now we have this AI problem or or not a problem you tell me how do you like

there was like so much so much talk about mid-journey like a couple months ago now

and if you go in any public space where they publish stuff from me Journey it

does look impressive sometimes of course there's like a arm growing from a butt but uh

more or less those renders are are very interesting now there's a lot of like

copyright infringement and other stuff going on um now there's like uh chat GPT where

they say okay we're gonna write this in the areas for all the TV shows we're gonna write the new essays you pass it

in school and so on and um my question is like how do you make sure

that those things don't destroy your business that they um how do you

navigate them how do you what's your attitude towards them and

what do you feel helps your company kind of survive all of this and come up stronger on top of

this because you guys are keep growing like no matter what life throws at you so how do you gonna how are you gonna

work with this Ai and the technological disruptions

uh yeah it's I think one of the uh hottest topics in in art space I would

say um so first think uh about the business uh

it's about diversification of this business yeah so AI can deliver now some like a

um basic uh I not basic but some of the in

inspirational piece uh rather than like a concept art that you can use in the

game and the consistent query but some of the simple stuff totally can be

uh substituted uh if we are talking about some simple stylized props in 2D

that you can just throw into the into the game into the indie game so it will

be definitely impact but uh I would from I uh from our

discussions with the team uh we see that it's still not ready to substitute it so

we'll see how it how it will go and how it will develop but uh if we're thinking

about the concept or it's a you need to think how to do this and keep in mind a

lot of different stuff and still be creative with this So currently we consider AI uh

maybe as a tool uh for um that could be

um used in future by artists as well maybe technical artists maybe some

someone just to help to tell this story uh to the people who

um know uh how to do this so it's definitely one of the risks for

the business but if we're talking about from my group um it's like a multiple different uh

services that we provide yeah so inside of art we also have like different

stages of the production that we cover um inside of every single Studio we have

multiple teams who do this completely different stuff so if I will substitute

this part with the Creative Touch and um a lot of like a Content uh but the

whole world under the risky I just lose their business because some of the stuff

much more easier to do so it's very interesting time uh to see

uh what will happen in two years but currently we consider this as a tool for

us that optimize some work and push the limits for uh concept artist or

directors and push the creative limits as well because it's just generate you like thousands of image just for that

you can't find easily on Pinterest there here so I think it will be in the

direction uh in

uh with with the eye and I'm like that sir

so when we are almost over on time um I wanted to ask you like the last

question where do you think what are the biggest trends that you see

from your company perspective in both like art and all the other kind of lines

that you have what's going to happen like in the next um two five years let's say with this with

the thing that's going on like do you feel like they're still gonna be you know

PlayStation and you know computers or are we gonna consume games you know

through you know streaming because you mentioned uh Microsoft flight simulator in the beginning of our conversation it

is already used in streaming to kind of like Channel a lot of content because it's just impossible to put the whole

world you know on a on a Blu-ray how do you feel uh you know about like

the pipelines themselves do you feel like they're going to change much do you see a lot of disruption coming from

companies like Adobe or epic games do you do you see like proceduralism kind

of building up more and getting kind of like more math in the asset production

what do you feel are going to be like the most biggest Trends in the next uh three to five years

yeah I think one of the trends would be that

visual part and uh gameplay part will be

more and more complicated comparing to what we have now so if we can parallel games 10 years ago and what we see now

as like a completely completely different experience so it will be even more complicated like

if we compare just some images uh from web created by person and this AI style

highly digitalized and highly complex and how somehow visually very well organized but doesn't doesn't have any

sense in this so it will be like a general direction when uh

all of the games will be much more complicated with um much more

um different kind of mechanics and content um

I also given that a lot of I think Spirit and the market in um

film space I think it will be more like some kind of blend of entertainment with

a blend of franchises that we might see some different

interesting collaboration uh like a announced with Marvel already so it's

something something could be something what could push the limits of

Gaming and if we're talking about Technologies for sure

um it's it will create a possibility to

I think the extent capabilities of the teams and

if you still have some budgets and you have Technologies and you can deliver

over deliver related two times and impress your audience uh you definitely

will do it so you sure you won't stick to the one general direction that

that you used before so you will try to in involve One models and given all of

this procedural stuff uh AI staff

and all the Technologies like it like one of one of the not not ladies but uh

pretty impressive we can really find the announced several uh Technologies like

nanit for example so it gave you an opportunity to play more with different

areas of your game and push push the limits fast

so uh yeah

I think and another thing that I didn't mention so um

given that mobile devices becoming more and more

efficient let's say I believe that we will have more and more great franchises

launched on the mobile as well or some cross-platform direction where you when

when you can play from whatever you are so it also could be could be away so I I

don't have a crystal ball so I just tried to assemble something that I see

on what we are working on what is announced in industry and just

the general Trend and I think it could be like that I have a I have a couple of questions

for you but probably the first one is uh are you really into like

photography and stuff like uh or or do you have like cameras just for

for the sake of it for work uh so I'm not a photographer but

one of my hobbies is just work with visual stuff so we have mavic drone so I

play um play a lot of like a drone simulators and do some flights

unfortunately I didn't have a chance to focus on this drone uh stuff because I

think next step will be fpv staff for me so and Sony I just bought it because

um I

um my daughter just came to this life and I decided I decided to capture it in

a high resolution yeah yeah that was my reasoning for getting a camera myself

uh my reasoning was myself because this was like a I think it was it's pretty expensive and then you need to put all

the cash in and then I thought well at least I'm gonna take pictures of our baby and then and now we have like thousands

of like billions of pictures of my daughter on on Google Drive and my it shows on like the Google home

screen and my wife is like wow that's a nice picture where did you get it I'm

like well if for a change you should check out like we have we have like thousands of them over there

um I also wanted to mention that the for some reason for obvious reasons photography is and cameras is like super

popular I'm on like 3D crowd I'm like I think our current Uh current art

director who's doing a lot of visual stuff for NVIDIA

um he's like he's a super big in photography he does he has a Hasselblad

cameras he has Leica cameras he has film cameras like he does like coated

gold uh like real film and stuff and he's doing amazing pictures and a bunch

of guys are just doing that for photogrammetry like a lot of people

are just doing like they they have like their you know expensive dslrs and they go around with them they're like huge so

if you want to find like for our listeners if you want to find a common ground to talk to to any 3D artist you

can talk about uh camera gear and people will constantly relate I myself whenever

I'm walking with a with a Sony camera everybody's like oh I have like a I have an alpha in my

pocket in my backpack I'm like good so it's a it's a good starter

so now we talk about the gear um let's talk a little bit about games so what are what's like your favorite

game that you like a lot um I think my favorite is horizon

horizon zero down um Assassin's Creed series for sure

everything about busy cancel and I play a lot in Diablo uh Cyril like

several last months I say um and I think everything that the action

in action adventure genre um inspired to investigate the different

worlds yeah so I also do racing stuff

then then um any kind of simulators like flight

simulators but I think it's a great game Microsoft flight simulator oh yeah yeah

but it's it's not my thing um it's also very technically

um Advanced they have like a lot of solutions there that are almost like like the real next gen next gen right

when they have like big Maps inside and they have ai and they have those clouds

Cloud systems that are the same as the basically the weather there is the same

as the weather in the real world and it's all being tracked it's crazy and it looks amazing

all right well you might want to thank you for your time and uh for the award in this hour to us I really appreciate

it um uh we're gonna wrap this up we're gonna leave the links in the description to

the website so people can check it out check out all the studios and maybe apply if they if there are some job

openings available thank you thanks for enjoying another episode of the 80 level

Roundtable podcast check out upcoming episodes on the 80 level website at 80.

LV join our career site at 80. LV RFP

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(Cont.) Present and Future of Game Studios - 80 Level Podcast