WHO WORKS HERE
People Staff Interview
Test Build Engineer
After working for a software development company, joined Polyphony Digital in 2008. Responsible for the course maker algorithm in "Gran Turismo 5", and the file system in "Gran Turismo 6".
From the very start, I wanted a PC, not a game console
When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I asked my Dad for a MSX PC. I had heard from a friend that "you can do a lot more than just games on a PC", and so I wanted a PC, not a game console.
I started by entering codes published in magazines, but it was interesting that the display would change with subtle changes in the code, or that it wouldn't run at all if it was wrong in any way. From there I studied on my own, and discovered 3DCG with the NEC PC-8801 in Jr. high. Back then it took 3 days just to render a sphere, so I played around trying to shorten that to 1 day, etc.
When I entered high school, I worked part time to save for a X68000, and made my own flight simulator. The "Oh!X" magazine I was reading then had articles written by Mr. Tan and Mr. Yokouchi, and I guess that was my first meeting with Polyphony and "Gran Turismo".
First Job was in Fukuoka, where I grew up
I want to a college that had nothing to do with programming, but there was an older student I knew who was doing Aeronautical Engineering, and he was doing CFD analysis using computers. He just wanted analysis results, but I wanted to do the development of the CFD itself, and started to help him out often
The 1st floor of the apartment I lived in during college was an Arcade, and when I was bored with programming, I would spend my time there. This was back during "Space Harrier" and "Out Run". I spent a lot of time there. I think I liked that stimulation it gave all your senses, something you couldn’t get from a home game system.
My first job was in Fukuoka where I am from, in a company that developed networks and systems for electric companies, power stations and the Self Defense Force. From there, I changed jobs to a company that made systems installed on mobile phones.
Wanting to make "Gran Turismo"
After having changed jobs to a company that built back end mail servers for a major phone carrier, I started thinking every day, "isn't this different from what I wanted to do?" That feeling began to get stronger, and as I asked myself "What did I want to do? What did I like?", I remembered my days in that arcade, and I thought very strongly that I wanted to make games. And if it was to be games, I wanted to make "Gran Turismo".
For someone who liked Arcade games it might have been more natural to select a different company, but I had my memories of the "Oh!X" magazine, and I didn't think of anywhere else but Polyphony. When I finally met Mr. Yokouchi in the job interview, I remember him talking about "because there was a mistake in that article, all the X68000 users in Japan entered the same mistake in their code".
Experience in jobs where coming to a halt is unacceptable
When I joined, I was working the SPU related stuff, but it was my first time working with the PlayStation®3, and it was an SPU that was hard to understand, so it was a struggle. Later in "Gran Turismo 5" I would work with fundamental stuff like the algorithm for Course maker and the file system for "Gran Turismo 6", while also working to design and develop the build system for testing.
I had experience being responsible for development work where "coming to a halt is unacceptable"; public works, infrastructure, the self-defense force, large scale mail servers, etc., so I think I truly understand the importance of testing. I was used to working environments where 60% of the development process would be in testing.
Character of Polyphony Digital
The full flex working hours in the work environment was not a surprise for me, as I had worked in a job with a similar setup before. I was more surprised by the "bottom-up" culture of this company. From the outside, it probably looks as though Mr. Yamauchi decides everything, but in actuality a major portion of what is going on, is where the engineers and artists bring together proposals like "we tried making this" or "let's do it this way", and that is assembled to become "Gran Turismo".
I have a feeling that there are very few companies out there that has achieved an environment like this. And I think it's incredible that things that would be on the top of the list for cost cutting are continued, such as having the staff attend the 24 hours of Nürburgring.
Regarding the hiring of a test build engineer
Right now there is no dedicated test build engineer, and myself and a few others divide the role amongst ourselves. We are looking for someone that can be mainly responsible for this, but we aren't looking for an engineer that will just maintenance the test environment, we are thinking of a much more wider role.
Currently the QA department tests the program under development and raises bug reports, but depending on the content it can be an engineer issue, or an artist issue, or a legal issue, or a combination of those. The person also needs to see that and direct the issue to appropriate staff in the company. So we need someone who can be the bridge between the QA and engineers.
Some people may turn away from this type of work thinking that "it's not creative", but if we gain a test build engineer team that handles this area, I am positive that they will be a group that will be respected and thanked by others in the company. It's a job that one can be proud of.