Your work rig

After working with maya quite a bit on the challenge im starting to realise just how much power it takes to chug that program along, especially with aspects like rendering. Now at home if i want a new game or technology that requires me to up my hardware its a simple matter of getting the bits and peices myself, but what about you people who work for game a dev company. What kinda beasts do you have at work? does the company pay for the upgrades? do you need to complain a lot to get them? are you held responsible for your own rig? that sorta thing. So these questions are mostly directed at those of you employed in the industry but im just curious so im interested to hear everyones replies. :)

Daemin's picture

I'm not actually working in a games company (yet - Grrrr), although I've heard / I would imagine that they'd need some pretty powerful machines for the artists, however for programmers they wouldn't require the latest machines since if you're writing code for the PS2 or other consoles you just write on the PC, but you'd test on a dedicated console machine.

I would also imagine that the engine developers would have the beefiest hardware to develop on, especially if they were making an engine for the PC.

Red 5's picture

MoonUnit, you'd probably be supprised that many studios use quite modest systems, even for the artists. As you could imagine the cost in keeping up with the latest and greatest hardware isn't viable, in fact many artists I know have faster systems at home.

For instance you don't see a lot of dedicated workstation graphics cards being used since consumer level cards are almost as fast and cost a fraction of the price.

Shplorb's picture

This system is pretty average: Athlon 2500, 1GB dual-channel DDR400, 80GB HDD and 128MB Radeon 9600. It seems to be the standard config for all the new machines that have been rolled out this year. Compiles run fast on this (lots of RAM helps) so it's all good. I have the same setup at home, except that I have a bigger HDD. You don't really need a more powerful video card because the capabilities and power exceed those of the consoles for which you're developing for.

TyKeiL's picture

im way out of my depth commenting on a subject like this: the only link i see between faster hardware and making art is the time spent on clicking buttons, as far as i could tell it doesnt affect the overall quality of the art, just the time it takes to make it. so it would be a simple weighing of the costs of employment of a person for a particular amount of time and the cost of a new computer.

2c

Zaph's picture

quote:Originally posted by Daemin

I would imagine that they'd need some pretty powerful machines for the artists, however for programmers they wouldn't require the latest machines since if you're writing code for the PS2 or other consoles you just write on the PC, but you'd test on a dedicated console machine.

For PS2 development a grunty PC is still a good thing.
Transformers, for a full rebuild, took between 6 minutes and 20 minutes depending on hardware configuration. Thats a large amount of time to be waiting if you've got a slower machine. Even though you tend not to do full builds the time does add up - you can really see it when someone like me (a Producer) starts forcing the programmers to test their code changes in both Debug and Retail every time they check in - which causes some friction, as you can imagine :-) Those people with the slower machines can actually find themselves unable to be as productive as those with faster machines.

Artists need fast/fat machines when working on large worlds - it's pretty easy to build a 3d world that chugs your 3d package down below an workable speed.

quote: Red5 said:
For instance you don't see a lot of dedicated workstation graphics cards being used since consumer level cards are almost as fast and cost a fraction of the price.

Actually, that depends on the software being used. We use SoftImage XSI and we find that the consumer cards don't quite work properly - it's fine for some users of XSI but we often end up going with the much more expensive cards that are designed for that kind of app because they are invariably more stable (may just be drivers, but it still makes a difference)

and to answer Moonunits original questions:

quote:
What kinda beasts do you have at work?

Most of our developers currently range from Athlon 1800's up to Pentium 3Ghz machines - depends on where you are in the upgrade loop (it takes some time to update everyones machine and what your requirements are, and there are a lot of machines!)

quote:
does the company pay for the upgrades?

Yes, but the company owns the machine and you dont get to take it home!

quote:
do you need to complain a lot to get them? (the upgrades)

Yes :-) complaining is important.
We try hard to make sure everyone has what they need to do their job. Having more HD space for MP3's doesn't appear high on the priority list. Having a graphics card capable of showing Doom3 at its best is important if you are working on that kind of thing.

quote:
are you held responsible for your own rig?

Yep. sorta... it's your responsibility to let the right people know when there is a problem, but it's not *your* rig, it's the companies. We have an IT department who rush in to fix flaming power supplies, toasted network cards, etc - so you're not opening the box and fiddling around with it.

Oh, and for the record, my machine at home is better than my machine at work about half the time - the two seem to get upgraded in opposing cycles :-) right now the PC at work is winning the fight, so it must be time to upgrade the home PC!

Zaph

Red 5's picture

I see the importance of using high end gear (I'm a Softimage user myself), but I would say the majority of game dev studios, even those using xsi (providing they use NVidia and not ATI) have their artists work with consumer level cards.

I suppose you can rationalise, why not pay 1/4 of the price for something that works 80-90% as good as the dedicated workstation card.

Zaph's picture

quote:Originally posted by Red 5

I see the importance of using high end gear (I'm a Softimage user myself), but I would say the majority of game dev studios, even those using xsi (providing they use NVidia and not ATI) have their artists work with consumer level cards.

I suppose you can rationalise, why not pay 1/4 of the price for something that works 80-90% as good as the dedicated workstation card.

I couldn't agree more, except that in our experience the 10% difference shows itself in crashes... and that can completely halt any progress the artists make.
(and the price difference is actually closer to 1/5 these days - sob!)

MoonUnit's picture

thanks for all the replies guys :)