Quantic Dream Case Study
With our offices temporarily shut and many of our team lacking the necessary equipment to work from home, the switch to cloud workstations provided a way for us all to work and collaborate remotely. The result was much better than anyone anticipated.”
CTO, Quantic Dream
Quantic Dream Takes Control of Remote Working Using AWS
Quantic Dream is an award-winning game development, publishing, and motion capture studio, established in Paris in 1997. Founded to create AAA games with a focus on interactive storytelling, Quantic Dream is known for creating choice-dependent narrative games including Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human.
Quantic Dream had already considered a move to cloud workstations to broaden recruitment opportunities and work with talent from around the world when the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to temporarily close its Paris headquarters. Suddenly, it was the studio’s own team of developers, artists, animators, and sound engineers that needed to be able to work and collaborate remotely.
To do that, Quantic Dream had to overcome some major obstacles. It wasn’t feasible to redistribute hardware amongst dozens of individual employees’ homes and having everyone access the studio’s internal infrastructure remotely couldcreate network bottlenecks and risk overwhelming their systems.
Many employees, including the studio’s team of artists, simply couldn’t work. “Our artists need access to professional grade hardware and they were completely unable to work at that point, which was obviously a huge problem,” says Quantic Dream CTO Jean-Charles Perrier.
This meant Quantic Dream had to come up with a solution quickly. By combining Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) G4dn instances, NICE DCV, and a custom-built serverless backend using AWS Lambda, Quantic Dream deployed remote workstations andenabled its team to continue developing great player experiences – while also broadening opportunities for longer-term recruitment and growth – in just 2 weeks.
Re-think Leads to a Reboot
In 2019, Quantic Dream partnered with Chinese game publisher NetEase. The Nasdaq-listed company took a minority stake in the studio and, provided new investment to enable co-founders David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière to develop and expand the company. And then to continue with its commitment to deliver high quality, innovative gameplay, Quantic Dream launched a major recruitment drive. It was this desire to widen its talent pool that led the team to first consult AWS about cloud-based workstations for remote workers.
“We’d been thinking about a cloud solution for a long time because we’re keen to attract talent from other countries to broaden our global appeal, rather than to be limited to those within physical reach of our Paris studio,” says Perrier. “But we also have to consider how to protect our intellectual property and how to effectively and securely allow access to studio-based workstations.”
The possibility of transferring part of its on-site infrastructure to the cloud was still at an early stage when Europe was hit by the coronavirus. With the French government about to implement lockdown measures, Quantic Dream closed its Paris offices almost overnight.
Streaming a Solution
As remote working became the number one priority, Perrierand the IT team raced to find technical solutions that would enable the entire team to work from home.
The Quantic Dream team quickly realised that providing access to its in-studio workstations using a network configuration was not enough because it would overload the limited bandwidth on the company’s network connection. “There isn't the capacity for everyone to be streaming in full 60 FPS 4K from the Quantic office,” Perrier explains.
One of the Quantic Dream team’s strengths is its talent for building its own proprietary engines and technologies. Working with AWS enabled Perrier and his team to build their own client and serverless backend using Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda, which facilitates connections to the workstations running on Amazon EC2 G4dn Instances.
When the client connects to the backend, a Lambda function finds the right workstation for the user, starts it if it has been stopped, queries its IP address, and automatically connects the user to the workstation using NICE DCV streaming, a remote display protocol that offers a secure way to deliver remote desktops and application streaming from any cloud or datacenter to any device.
The team tested a number of streaming protocols including RDP, Parsec, and Teradici, before opting for NICE DCV. Perrier explains, “We chose NICE DCV software for the high resolution and fast, low-latency streaming that we need to test a game and provide good feedback to the artists working with 3D asset creation software.” He adds, “We need good quality both in terms of the graphics power and the streamed image. We don’t want lag every time we move something on the screen.”
For Quantic Dream, NICE DCV also provides an added bonus, as Perrier explains. “NICE DCV supports dual-screen work, which is essential for any game development studio. It also allows access to USB devices, which was a key point for us. Our artists work on graphics tablets like the Wacom and very specific hardware.”
Securing a Way to Work Remotely
The switch to cloud workstations provided a quick way for Quantic Dream’s artists to continue working, something they were unable to do immediately after the lockdown.
“It’s very flexible—the main advantage of AWS is we didn’t have to synchronize three different providers to do it,” Perrier continues. “We were able to implement the solution quickly and it’s working really well.”
With so many employees and collaborators working remotely on different computers and home networks, securing project assets and intellectual property was a crucial consideration. “When there are multiple people working from home, we have no control over how secure their home machines are,” Perrier explains. “For example, there might not be a robust enough anti-virus software installed, like there is at our headquarters.”
Cloud workstations proved to be the ideal solution to grant access to resources and code securely. Artists, designers, and animators only have access to the stream, meaning they cannot download assets or share them. Perrier explains, “The end user only has access to the image or video being streamed to their local workstation and not the actual asset, which is a great security feature.”
“AWS brought along another great benefit, which is security,” continues Jean-Charles. “Using NICE DCV, contractors and third parties only worked on cloud-based virtual desktops with tightly controlled access to assets, so there were no data leaks.”
The remote working solution will also be useful in the future when Quantic Dream has more complex workloads, such as during the final phase of a game’s development. During this time, team members often find themselves needing to access and download huge, high-quality production assets from studio repositories to their own computer, which can result in downloading as much as two terabytes of data at a time. With its new solution, Quantic Dream can move the repository to the cloud and take advantage of AWS’s high bandwidth networking and global infrastructure to speed up the transfer of these large amounts of data.
Remote workstations on AWS have opened numerous possibilities for Quantic Dream. Perrier says, “Things have worked out far better than we’d hoped. Our plan is to eventually move everyone to the cloud and there is no technical limitation to prevent us from doing so. Our teams were pleasantly surprised by the result. Many of our employees and collaborators say it’s almost as though they’re working at the Quantic studio, which is great to hear.”
About Quantic Dream
Quantic Dream is a French studio, known for its award-winning AAA interactive storytelling games. Its most recent, and commercially successful, title is Detroit: Become Human. In 2019, Chinese game publisher NetEase acquired a minority stake in the company.
Benefits of AWS
- Enabled the Quantic Dream team to work remotely, while still collaborating closely
- Made it easier to recruit talent from outside the studio’s Paris headquarters
- Strong security aspect to protect assets and IP
AWS Services Used
Amazon EC2 G4 Instances
Amazon EC2 G4 instances deliver the industry’s most cost-effective and versatile GPU instance for deploying machine learning models in production and graphics-intensive applications.
NICE DCV is a high-performance remote display protocol that provides customers with a secure way to deliver remote desktops and application streaming from any cloud or data center to any device, over varying network conditions.
AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.
Amazon Web Services and NVIDIA deliver proven, high performance GPU-accelerated cloud infrastructure to provide every developer and data scientist with the most sophisticated compute resources available today.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
Amazon QuickSight is a fast, cloud-powered business intelligence service that makes it easy to deliver insights to everyone in your organization.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses every day using AWS. Learn more about AWS Game Tech and start your own AWS Cloud journey today.