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Crystal Dynamics expand, open up new Seattle studio (also hire Lead Systems Designer of God of War)

Oct 26, 2017
4,224
#1
Today at Crystal Dynamics, we're proud to announce our expansion with key new hires at our Redwood Shores headquarters and the creation of a new Bellevue, Washington satellite studio: Crystal Northwest™.

“We’re aggressively scaling up our teams and adding a new studio with spectacular talent to deliver the ultimate gaming experiences for our players,” said Scot Amos, Co-Head of Studio at Crystal Dynamics. “We have assembled a team of industry veterans and leaders in order to create gaming experiences that surpass the expectations of our passionate community.”

Our new studio in the Seattle area is officially up and running as of today, and is a full-fledged extension of Crystal Dynamics. Dedicated initially to technology development, it delivers even more expertise to the highly-anticipated Avengers Project. Led by 20-year industry veterans Chad Queen and James Loe, the new studio bolsters the development of future games, tools, and technology.

In addition to the new studio, Crystal Dynamics has added best-in-class development talent to our Redwood Shores, CA headquarters.

Among the dozens of new hires are world-class developers like Vincent Napoli, the new Lead Combat Designer at Crystal Dynamics who was most recently on the latest God of War, plus Ben Wanat, an 18-year industry veteran and an original co-founder of the Dead Space franchise, who led the development of Dead Space 3 as Creative Director. Joining them is David Fifield, who sports 20 years of experience as Executive Producer and Design Director at 343 Industries on Halo, as well as Game Director at Raven Software on numerous Call of Duty titles. We continue to attract the best and the brightest talent across all disciplines, many recently hailing from the likes of Naughty Dog, Pixar, EA, and many more.

“Our new studio in Bellevue, and the new hires in Redwood Shores, represent our continued commitment to the most ambitious project we’ve ever created,” said Ron Rosenberg, Co-Head of Studio at Crystal Dynamics. “We’ll keep building on the exciting growth Crystal Dynamics has experienced over the last several years, and are eager to deliver a world-class Avengers experience for fans around the world.”

https://crystald.com/news/new-studio-expansion
 
Oct 27, 2017
843
#3
Vincent Napoli is a huge get, the lead combat designer of God of War couldn't get enough praise from me. And in January they also got Shawn Escayg, the creative director of Uncharted : The Lost Legacy. I don't know how this Avengers Project is going to turn out but Crystal has some serious attractive power going on.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,660
#4
Smart idea. Bellevue can be somewhat expensive, but still going to be way less expensive than the Bay Area, so they can actually afford to hire more staff internally instead of having to outsource lots of stuff to Eidos Montreal.

Cost of Living comparison of Bellevue and Redwood City from Best Places:

A salary of $100,000 in Redwood City, California could decrease to $65,243 in Bellevue, Washington

A salary of $100,000 in Bellevue, Washington should increase to $153,274 in Redwood City, California
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,038
Brazil
#10
Doubt that Marvel is paying for it. If anything it's SEE

Good for them, so one of these studios is doing the Avenger thing while the other continues with Tomb Raider presumably?
I would say that both are doing avengers with one being the lead and the other being a support. Tomb Raider at least for now is being made by Eidos Montreal
 
Oct 25, 2017
927
#13
Oct 26, 2017
2,010
#17
Vincent Napoli is a huge get, the lead combat designer of God of War couldn't get enough praise from me. And in January they also got Shawn Escayg, the creative director of Uncharted : The Lost Legacy. I don't know how this Avengers Project is going to turn out but Crystal has some serious attractive power going on.
Lead combat designer at Crystal Dynamics. He was the lead systems designer on God of War.

Anyway, good for them. Given how expensive the Bay area is, it makes a lot of sense to set up a satellite studio somewhere else, though I thought that's why they worked with Eidos Montreal so much. I wonder if they'll also be less reliant on Eidos Montreal from now on or if they'll continue with three studios working on their games.
 
Oct 29, 2017
280
#23
Why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios? Are they contractors or something?
There is always a shift around in talent at the end of a project, either because they are seeking new creative challenges or better pay/perks. SSM developers will definitely be in demand after GOW 2018's acclaim.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,372
#24
Why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios? Are they contractors or something?
>The Initiative and CD hire people that worked in SSM projects.

>Resetera: “why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios?”

lol. isn’t this the norm in game development? once a massive product ships out, talent tends to find other studios/projects to work on

I’m sure the big dogs at SSM aren’t leaving
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,660
#25
Why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios? Are they contractors or something?
>The Initiative and CD hire people that worked in SSM projects.

>Resetera: “why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios?”

lol. isn’t this the norm in game development? once a massive product ships out, talent tends to find other studios/projects to work on

I’m sure the big dogs at SSM aren’t leaving
Sony Santa Monica has actually have an unusually high departure rate for senior staff members over the years, mostly because they work some of the harshest crunch in the industry.

I’m sure the big dogs at SSM aren’t leaving
This person was actually pretty big on the game: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vince-napoli-a9a5375/

Vince Napoli

Lead Systems Designer for God of War

- Main Hero Designer / Kratos gameplay Design & Implementation
- Axe, Chain Blade, and Shield/Bare Hand-mode combat gameplay design, implementation & ownership.
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of all Axe/Chain Blade Runic Attacks, Axe Throw/Recall, Recall Attacks, etc.
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of Kratos Skill Tree/Upgrade/Progression
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of Core Attributes, stats/combat formulas/power level scaling, etc.
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of Armor, Talismans/Trinkets, and 100+ unique perks/enchantments as well as random enchantment system
 
Jul 13, 2018
322
#27
Sony Santa Monica has actually have an unusually high departure rate for senior staff members over the years, mostly because they work some of the harshest crunch in the industry.


This person was actually pretty big on the game: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vince-napoli-a9a5375/

Vince Napoli

Lead Systems Designer for God of War

- Main Hero Designer / Kratos gameplay Design & Implementation
- Axe, Chain Blade, and Shield/Bare Hand-mode combat gameplay design, implementation & ownership.
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of all Axe/Chain Blade Runic Attacks, Axe Throw/Recall, Recall Attacks, etc.
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of Kratos Skill Tree/Upgrade/Progression
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of Core Attributes, stats/combat formulas/power level scaling, etc.
- Design/Implementation/Ownership of Armor, Talismans/Trinkets, and 100+ unique perks/enchantments as well as random enchantment system
Not to discredit Crystal Dynamics, but I'm sure they already have a team of combat designers (all levels) working on the Avengers Project. The game will have been in development for 3 years come this Fall, so I'd imagine that the main gameplay mechanics have already been implemented to some extent. Don't get me wrong, I loved God of War's combat and Vince Napoli is definitely a huge asset to the team, but this game is nowhere near early stages of development.

Given that this game is around 1+ year off, how likely is the combat system to get revamped/overhauled (refinements are expected of course)? From what I've seen, studios tend to hire devs (seniors/leads as well) at all stages of development, ranging from pre-production all the way to 6-9 months before launch.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
3,705
#29
Thats some AAA poaching




Honestly this is a huge get for the team, its going to be spectacular purely based on GoW Lead combat designer.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,697
#31
>The Initiative and CD hire people that worked in SSM projects.

>Resetera: “why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios?”

lol. isn’t this the norm in game development? once a massive product ships out, talent tends to find other studios/projects to work on

I’m sure the big dogs at SSM aren’t leaving
One person asked a question... stop being so sensitive.

If three or four important developers left the Zelda / Mario or Halo / Gears teams there would be people frothing at the mouth.

On topic, great hires. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Avengers project at next years E3.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,372
#34
One person asked a question... stop being so sensitive.

If three or four important developers left the Zelda / Mario or Halo / Gears teams there would be people frothing at the mouth.

On topic, great hires. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Avengers project at next years E3.
"if if xyz left abc there would be people" shut up and take that persecution complex somewhere else. you sound ridiculous and paranoid.

something that happens regularly after major games release has happened, and they phrased their question in a hysteric manner. i merely conveyed that to them.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,697
#35
"if if xyz left abc there would be people" shut up and take that persecution complex somewhere else. you sound ridiculous and paranoid.

something that happens regularly after major games release has happened, and they phrased their question in a hysteric manner. i merely conveyed that to them.
Don’t tell me to shut up. Grow up and stop acting like a child.
 
Oct 30, 2017
3,334
California
#36
Lead Combat Designer of God of War (2018)?!?!

Thor, Captain America, Ghost Rider, and Hawkeye gameplay is about to be God tier (pun intended)

They're calling in the big guns from all over the industry for this Marvel project. To be honest, Marvel really needs a top notch Avengers game under their belt. Spider-Man is going to do well, but a multi-plat Avengers title with this level of talent behind it...whew...

If this Avengers Project actually amounts to something, it's going to blow minds.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,100
#40
Why is everyone from SSM leaving for other studios? Are they contractors or something?
People change studios all the time, especially at the end of massive projects. Just people are paying more attention to Santa Monica now after the massive success of God of War. Same thing happened with ND after TLOU, with every new hire/departure being analysed by people outside.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,774
#41
People change studios all the time, especially at the end of massive projects. Just people are paying more attention to Santa Monica now after the massive success of God of War. Same thing happened with ND after TLOU, with every new hire/departure being analysed by people outside.
If anything this should be seen as a positive for both SSM and CD.