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When Technology Is The Best Solution For New-Product Roadblocks

When designer Ian Vogel of Amazon Game Studios kept running up against a glitch in creating a new game, he turned to the tech team.

When Technology Is The Best Solution For New-Product Roadblocks
[Photo: Flickr user Jordan Merrick]

Ian Vogel wanted to create a Game of Thrones-style mega battle for his next video game. Vogel, a designer at Amazon Game Studios, envisioned a mobile game where the player faces off against hordes of virtual enemies. “We had an idea for controlling a catapult that was really easy to use on a tablet or an iPhone,” Vogel said.

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Vogel, who has spent his career working on gaming classics such as the multi-award-winning System Shock 2 and cult hit Bioshock, has had a hand in bringing fantastical worlds to life since before the Xbox and recent technological advancements changed everything. In other words: A Kindle game should be no sweat for him.

But when Vogel and his team started putting together the game, they ran into technical difficulties. “Whenever we hit a dozen enemies, the game just crashed,” he said.

In scenarios like that, working at Amazon, which has teams working on various different projects and technologies, has its benefits, says Vogel. “Amazon offers so many unique things like the cloud structures, the devices they made, the services–it’s really alluring to creative minds,” he said in an interview with Polygon earlier this year.

Indeed, Vogel has discovered just how valuable working alongside different departments can be. After talking with various departments, he found a solution thanks to the people working on Amazon’s streaming protocol, AppStream. AppStream uses Amazon Web Service’s cloud computing powers to handle “vast computational and storage needs,” exactly what Vogel needed for his game.

“If you think of a game with thousands of enemies, each enemy has a certain memory for texture, bones, AI pathing, and how it picked to move through the world,” Vogel explained. “We threw that up into a server and brought it back to middle and reasonably low end Kindles and other tablets. It was magical,” he said. Without AWS’s cloud computing capabilities, the game would not have been possible. “That’s the kind of inspiration specifically at Amazon we have access to,” he added.

Amazon, in part, lured Vogel away from his job at Microsoft by promising access to Amazon Web Services and a role in shaping the cloud infrastructure. “The closer those teams are working together, the better it is for everybody,” VP of Amazon Games Mike Frazzini told Polygon[/url]. “The services are better, the games are better, the team morale is better.”

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About the author

Rebecca Greenfield is a former Fast Company staff writer. She was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic Wire, where she focused on technology news

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