As you may know, the game development industry continues to be a field that requires constant innovation and creativity with the rapid advancement of technology. As such, it has become a serious necessity for content and technology to work harmoniously.
In this interview, we spoke to Marios Michaelides, Engineering Business Unit Director at Virtuos . Marios Michaelides shared with us Virtuos’ competitive advantage in game development, its vision, and future plans in advanced engineering and technical expertise.
- How did you end up overseeing the Virtuos Labs network, and what were the biggest challenges that awaited you in this role? How did you overcome them?
I joined Black Shamrock – a Virtuos Studio in Dublin, as part of Virtuos’ Management Trainee program after getting my MBA from HEC Paris. I started in production working on Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which gave me a lot of insight into the engineering work required to ship a game. Following that, I became more involved with the engineering department at Black Shamrock and started to secure pure engineering projects for the team. As we grew the engineering team, I also worked more closely with Virtuos Labs in Lyon and Montpellier, eventually taking on my current role. In summary, I work to enable all our talented engineers to do what they love and develop technology that supports the making of incredible AAA video games.
A typical challenge that game development studios face is providing clients with accurate work estimates, and our technical teams have been amazing at analyzing complex technical requirements and giving sensible estimates to our clients.
- What is the purpose of Virtuos Labs, and why is graphics rendering and optimization technology so important in video game production today?
Virtuos Labs supports our partners with engineering services in commercial and proprietary engines, primarily focused on five key areas: engine enhancement, tools development, rendering upgrades, performance optimization, and feature development. We provide support by researching and implementing cutting-edge technologies or directly work with our partners through lists of tasks in their backlog.
As demand for visual realism and immersion continues to grow, the research and development of graphics rendering technology enables the creation of convincing life-like characters and animation. Graphics optimization, on the other hand, plays a key role in balancing visual fidelity and performance so games run smoothly and efficiently – the growth of its technology ensures we stay ahead of hardware developments and next-gen devices and what could be achieved with them.
- What is the motivation behind setting up Virtuos Labs in Warsaw, and how is this third studio different from the first two?
Poland is one of the world’s largest exporters of games, and our expansion into Warsaw enables us to meet the increasing demand for engineering solutions. Virtuos Labs’ unique set-up empowers experts like Peter Sikachev, who’s helming our lab in Warsaw, to grow their dream teams and work on advanced solutions. At the same time, our teams provide clients with a cost-effective alternative to maintaining a large, fixed team so they can better adapt to ever-evolving market conditions.
The primary focus of Virtuos Labs – Montpellier is the research and development of technology and tools for proprietary and commercial engines. Virtuos Labs – Lyon focuses on creating advanced graphics, implementing cutting-edge features, and optimizing performance for AAA video games in proprietary engines, while Virtuos Labs – Warsaw specializes in the development of graphics rendering features, complementing the skillsets of Virtuos Labs – Montpellier and Virtuos Labs – Lyon.
- What kind of projects does Virtuos Labs Warsaw and the Virtuos Labs network have in its pipeline in the mid-term and near future?
Virtuos Labs currently has a wide number of ongoing projects, such as the development of a performance tracking and automated testing platform, a bespoke procedural cinematics tool, and the implementation of a UI and player customization feature. Specifically in Virtuos Labs – Warsaw, our team is working on developing cutting-edge rendering features.
- In an environment where game development is evolving with rapidly changing consumer demands, can you explain why technical and advanced engineering skills are becoming increasingly important in a developer’s toolbox?
To give an example, working with a proprietary game engine has a lot of benefits and challenges. There is a constant need to keep an engine relevant with the latest technology and console features and ensure that developer tools are up to date and offer a great user experience. Furthermore, developing in a proprietary engine requires optimizing its performance and efficiency. Technical skills enable developers to create new features for these engines, modernize the engine’s code and tools, and optimize performance, effectively making it easier for developers to use the engine and create unforgettable experiences for players.
- As one of the few co-dev companies actively pushing the envelope today, what attributes set Virtuos apart from its competitors?
We remain differentiated as one of the biggest independent game developers in the world, with over 3,700 employees across 21 offices worldwide, all of which interoperate to provide round-the-clock support at scale for our valued client partners. Our partners are amongst the top gaming companies globally, and we are privileged to have delivered content for over 1,500 PC, console, and mobile games over the years. That means we have worked on and delivered solutions at the highest possible quality for almost all platforms, game genres, industry, and proprietary engines.
- How do you keep up with the latest trends and developments in the video games industry, and what excites or inspires you the most?
I’m constantly reading up on the latest game releases and developments in the space. What excites me most about the games industry is that it is the amalgamation of art and technology, which leads to a unique kind of creativity. Pushing the boundaries of technology to create new experiences is what I love most about this industry and my role.