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38 Studios: An Interview with Brett Close on the BigWorld License

Updated Wed, Feb 27, 2008 by Cody Bye

by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor

All over the world, gamers are anxiously awaiting any tidbit of news about an as-of-yet unannounced game being developed by the “super band” of development studios. 38 Studios has been deathly quiet about the intricate details of their game, and everyone on the company's staff has probably been hounded for information, yet they’ve revealed nothing.

With the recent announcement concerning 38 Studios’ licensing of BigWorld, the rabid masses can again latch on to the tidbit of information and examine what this might mean for the development of the super-secret MMOG project code-named Copernicus.  

BigWorld Technology Suite demo image

38 Studios will use the BigWorld Technology Suite as the foundation of their upcoming MMORPG.

For starters it’s important to know a bit about the background of the BigWorld technology. Not having to create or modify a graphics engine or other tools allows game developers to get into the meat of making a game world much faster. “[The BigWorld Suite] can virtually cut the development time in half,” said Gavin Longhurst. Director of Business Development for BigWorld in a past interview he did with Ten Ton Hammer. “Developers can jump in and start designing a game right away. They can concentrate on making the game instead of making the technology to make the game.”

While that may be the basic reason developers license BigWorld, there are many more, and Longhurst talks about them all in our past interview. Since Ten Ton Hammer published that past interview, however, BigWorld has increased the number of studios that are employing the technology to include Stargate Worlds, Kwari, and as-of-yet unannounced projects from Sierra Online, Slipgate Ironworks, and Interzone. To find out more about the reasons behind 38 Studios’ licensing of BigWorld, I caught up with Brett Close, President of 38 Studios, to get a few more details from him.

To start, I asked Close why 38 Studios chose BigWorld out of all the technologies currently available on the market. According to Close, BigWorld has exceptional server-side technology and great MMO-specific tools. "They’re highly licensed and have delivered products," he added. "When it comes down to the type of technology we need in terms of load balance and robust server-side capability for an MMO platform and backbone, BigWorld is peerless... and they're great guys.”

While that may have been Close’s first reason he talked about, he also wanted to include the sentiment that Longhurst expressed earlier in the article. For current game developers, it’s critical to get the game up and running as fast as possible, and BigWorld certainly helps the developers achieve that goals. “One of my biggest development philosophies – and I have a lot of them – is to get your game up and running as quickly as possible,” Close stated. “Let people get their hands on it so they can tell you if something is fun or not fun, and BigWorld will definitely aid in that aspect of our development.” It’s obvious that the 38 Studios team wants to be able to get their hands on the game and truly discover whether what they are doing is fun or not.

BigWorld Technology Suite demo image

BigWorld gives 38 Studios a plethora of options concerning the development of their MMOG.

For many gamers, it may seem strange to hear about a MMO company licensing out third-part software to help build their game. Many companies have been eager to try to produce their own tech, yet the licensing of technology suites like BigWorld seem to have become more common. When I asked Close about this choice for 38 Studios, his answer was fairly short and informative. “We’ve been very clear about that from the very beginning,” he said. “We’re not a tech studio. We have great engineers that will be able to utilize this technology, but we’re not going out to reinvent the wheel or solve problems that have already been solved. There’s still a lot of work involved in game development.”

Through the entirety of our conversation, Close wanted to end on this statement – one that showcases his trust and eagerness to work with the BigWorld technology. “BigWorld is the framework for our development,” Close said. “It is the backbone and foundation for our online platform. Our engineers exhaustively looked at every single piece of technology. It was a very in-depth and comprehensive search, but BigWorld really stood out because of its options and back-end, server-side capability.”

In the end, all the talk about technology really means nothing when the game is released. Gamers may gape and drool over pretty screenshots or epic poses, but it will truly be up to the 38 Studios team to make the game fun. Thankfully, the BigWorld engine can help produce a pretty product and help to insure a game meets the requirements of today’s audiences. The quicker a game can be played, the more time the studio has to insure that the game is a joy to play. The BigWorld technology can help 38 Studios achieve that goal.


Do you think licensing technology helps 38 Studios in the long run? Why or why not? Let us know on the forums!

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