ITception: IT department in IT industry?

Grzegorz Królikowski and Robert Matusiak at work

Many people consider development studios to be part of the IT industry. Well, people who know our job a little more, consider creating games to be closer to the entertainment market rather than the classic IT branch. But of course as most companies nowadays, CD Projekt RED has it’s own IT department. These are the guys, who work backstage and who we know we couldn’t manage without. They are the underground stream that flows through the company and springs up to help us develop our games.

Today we have a small interview with Grzesiek Królikowski, Maciek Makowski and Robert Matusiak – the IT crowd.

What does the IT department do in a game-dev company?
Our work is similar to the work of IT departments in other firms. That means it involves overseeing the company’s network and computer infrastructure. Our main duties consist of managing that hardware and maintaining it. We’re the backstage hands who simply allow the company to work effectively. We have to keep an eye on the latest trends in the industry and stay in touch with the hardware and software companies themselves –  assuring our studio has the most advanced and powerful gaming equipment.

So what’s different in working in the IT department at CD Projekt RED, when compared to the same job in, let’s say, accounting?
First of all, game development consists of a vast variety of specializations. We’ve got programmers, film makers, animators, graphic designers, motion capture guys, marketing. Every section requires different equipment and a game studio is the place where all disciplines come together. It’s not a narrow field like accounting. We have contact with creative people of different sorts – producing graphics requires a different workstation from story writing, and things fluctuate all the time. This is a highly dynamic environment and we have to adapt really quickly.

Does it make it easier or harder for IT to work in a game dev studio? I mean, do people help you or are they rather ‘wise guys’?
Most of the people here are really tech aware – and this is a really good thing. They don’t call us when they can’t plug in a mouse for instance. Stupid questions and requests are a rarity. People are able to handle basic stuff by themselves.

Speaking of stupid questions… What was the most bizarre request you guys got?
[immediately] A broken water boiler.

Well some people assume that IT handles everything connected with machinery and equipment. The boiler was leaking and we were called in. This is quite cool – people don’t know what to do and they come to us. The boiler didn’t exactly explode, but this just shows how fast things change around us and you can expect everything.

Talking about change, how often do you need to change the hardware in the studio?
This differs for each department. Developers have to change their rigs every 3 years, but for example we upgrade their graphic cards more often.

And which department gives you the most trouble?
Quality Assurance. Not because they damage the equipment, but they have the most strange needs – like installing a Chinese or Russian version of Windows, or changing the settings to test a particular feature.

A piece of advice for our readers. How to buy the best gaming PC?
First of all: do it yourself. Preset rigs are overpriced and you can get better hardware cheaper when you collect your elements on your own. This is can be quite exciting. If you are a little into that sort of thing, you will both save good money and get a great machine.
And if you are not too much into hardware, your best bet would be a console – either an Xbox 360 or a PS3. This is the easiest way to play what you want.

Without giving the specs. Which department has the most powerful computer in CD Projekt RED?

It’s a movie editing rig and requires a lot of power to compute all the movies. In fact there was a funny story with the graphics card for this PC. It was sent to us by nVidia in a wooden box, with a crowbar attached. We had a phone call from the customs office who wanted us to clarify what that was all about.

  • Mariusmssj

    Thank you guys for your brilliant work :)

  • Aditya Iyer

    wow wooden box with crowbar that is something :P

  • Stas Simovski

    LOL. Nvidia humour is the finest. These blogs amazing! They really help me, as someone who is planning to be working in the industry, to get acquainted with what it really means to work at a game studio.