WHO WORKS HERE
People Staff Interview
Pipeline Tool Development Engineer
After being with multiple game development companies, joined Polyphony Digital in 2009. After being responsible for the "Course Maker" in "Gran Turismo 5", worked as the pipeline development engineer for "Gran Turismo 6".
I was always making games.
On my 8th birthday my father bought me a SORD(Later Toshiba PC) M5 PC. It was a keyboard integrated type PC that you would connect to a TV, with BASIC cassettes. Later on, the Nintendo Famicon and NEC's PC Engine came out and my friends would play with console games, but I was always making video games.
My Father also bought the NEC PC-6001 and the PC-8801, but he seemed satisfied just setting them up, and I was the one always using them. I would analyze the programs I wrote, seeing how slow they ran, and looked into using machine language to make them faster-that sort of thing. To make a character to appear in a game, I needed a drawing software, so I started making it - and that was so interesting that I just started making nothing but tools.
Wanting to become a "CG Artist"
For a time I didn't use PC's for a while, when I joined the Tennis Club in High school. Around then I saw a special program on NHK's educational TV, about computer graphics (CG), and I heard the phrase "CG Artist" for the first time. I wanted to be one, but I couldn't figure out what school I could go for that, and I thought if I attended a college where I could study industrial design, I would be able to learn CAD and would be close to what I wanted to do.
But what I actually ended up doing in college involved making drawings with a drafter, and had almost no connection to CG, but I think studying the fundamentals of product design and how to design logically, was very good for someone like me who had never studied art before, and I think the knowledge is still serving me well today.
Effects artist, technical artist, programmer
At the end of my 3rd year in college, I saw that a game development company was looking for part time CG Artists, and I applied. When I went, there were a few levels of testing and it seemed like there was a lot of competition for the position, but I was lucky enough to make it through, and I was able to work with the Alias PowerAnimator on a Silicon Graphics O2 graphics workstation. I worked there part time for about a year, and around the time I needed to start looking for jobs before graduation, I was lucky that they asked me if I would join them full time, so upon graduation I joined the company and was assigned to their development studio located in Hawaii.
As an effects artist on the job, I would make storyboards, decide on the camera cuts, choreograph the effects, and have programmers apply movement. I was able to produce Ideas, and the environment was fantastic being Hawaii, but when the game development department was going back to Japan, I returned as well.
While I was struggling with the environment back in Japan, my boss from Hawaii recruited me and I joined an overseas game development company. That team was small, so I would not only make effect graphics but also make my own tools, and my title became a "Technical Artist", which was a job that was not very common in Japan at the time. But that department was dissolved and I was moved to a different company, and there I started doing it all, including the effects engine, drawing, and tools. From here, they would refer to me as a "Programmer" in the company.
It was challenging work and interesting, but as a business it was struggling, and when I considered changing jobs, Polyphony was on my mind. I knew the name as the development company of "Gran Turismo", but what kind of company it is was a mystery and I was curious. So I applied, and was accepted.
Development of conversion tools for making game data on Maya
I joined in the midst of the "Gran Turismo 5" development, and together with a colleague of mine who joined Polyphony around the same time became responsible for making the course maker. From "Gran Turismo 6", I've been focusing on the conversion tool for making game data on Maya.
The content of the job was similar to what I was doing before, so that itself went smoothly, but more than any other workplace I've experienced before, they had a development style where they would stretch the schedule as long as they could to make the game as good as it can be, and that style was refreshing.
Character of Polyphony Digital
I remember speaking with Mr. Yamauchi at the job interview. I had experienced a few different game development companies already, and in every one of them the big decisions were made by the top execs beyond my reach, and the staff on sight would be sent scrambling by those decisions, and I imagined that Polyphony would be the same.
However, Mr. Yamauchi spoke to me on a very personal level, and I was shocked, that there would be a company where the distance to the top exec would be so close.
And in 2010, when I attended the Nürburgring 24 Hour race, not only was I able to watch the race] up close, I was able to go into the garage and paddocks, and walk around the track before the race; I was able to experience something that would never have been possible normally, and I will never forget it. I felt glad that I joined the company from the bottom of my heart.
Regarding the recruiting for a pipeline tool development engineer
Tools have value only when people use it. It's important to have a desire to want to accommodate people, to gain satisfaction from just hearing from artists that your tools made their jobs easier.
Development experience in 3D tools is also required. Tools have a certain degree of grammar to how they are written, and if they are made without following those rules, even if it is superior in function they turn out to be hard to use. And there are also tools specialized for developing 3D models of cars for "Gran Turismo", so if you have an interest in car structures and mechanics, it might be easier to work with.