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Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Hi, Just discovered this thread and will go back and read through it. Iíve been in the industry for 18 years now, worked for pretty much every major publisher except Ubisoft (EA, WB, Sony, Activision) in many types of games, (Shooters, MMOs, RPGs, Mobiles)

My biggest comment that Iíd make from where Iíve read through so far is that for some places crunch is so engrained that itís not even considered crunch. I was talking to some of the Shadow of Mordor people a few years back, (Right after the first game shipped.) and they said things were going great and they werenít even crunching for the new title yet, just 60 hour weeks...

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Hughlander
May 11, 2005



ShadowHawk posted:

I didn't play much skyrim but they've definitely done the same line in multiple voices for the Fallout games as well.

It strikes me as very odd that recording voice actors would be cheaper than writing/translating a few more lines of generic dialog.

Basically what was said above.

You get sheet A of ďGeneric responsesĒ and you have the person read through them in about 10 minutes. Then sheet B of ďUnique dialogĒ that they read through in another 10 minutes. Then you send them on their way. Theyíre an industry minimum for their time and is done usually months before the game ships so hope sheet B didnít have too much plot info that is going to be changed / fine tuned in post. (See also their union striking against video game publishers for the past year.)

I remember the worse for this was a project with Laurence Fishburne where like 90% of the dialog recorded was invalidated with the first DLC after weíd brought him in 2-3 times during production.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



shame on an IGA posted:

How many different stock foley sound libraries are out there? I still hear sfx from Goldeneye 64 popping up in movies and tv at least once a week.

Donít ever YouTube a Wilhelm Screen Compilation...

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



KRILLIN IN THE NAME posted:

Hello gamedev goons - I'm an indie solo gamedev with one commercial title under my belt (if you've played it, apologies in advance) and have been doing gamejam stuff mostly over the last few years. I've never worked in the game industry for a AAA/AA/III company or anything like that so I have a question for those who do.

What's a designer's day to day like? I get the prototyping/hashing out different concepts and mechanics bit in the pre-production stages, but during production what role does a designer fill? Do most designers tend to do additional stuff when there's less gameplay-specific design work to do on a title (e.g. filling in for level design).

Same thing for sound (assuming you're a studio with a sound person, rather than a contractor) - are you continually tweaking stuff, or is it a "once it's done you do other things" type scenario. I imagine it's going to be vastly different from studio to studio but I'm interested in your day to day, in case I ever get sick of making dumb jam games from home in my underwear

A lot of it depends on the size of the team. My current team is a large mobile game and has 3 designers. At that point all of them are what in AAA would be a level designer and a systems designer. So creating levels, balancing difficulty of content, iterating on tens of thousands of pieces of data, ensuring the scale of the game feels right. Plus as engineering works on their task, design will be iterating with them on it finding the fun. Once the engineering task is done then design will be integrating it into the rest of the game. IE imagine a FPS game and in month 4 engineering finish a table flip mechanic. Any level done up to that point has reserved spaces for tables to be flipped but now they need to be hooked up play tested, move a bit, maybe make the table bigger, maybe smaller until the combat loop feels tight. Doing a retrofit like this could be an entire small strike team of level design, world art, combat designer, gameplay engineer in a huge AAA game, or ďA DesignerĒ in a small team.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Tricky Ed posted:

Also sometimes it's just because handling the interaction between an application and the OS is kind of tricky, and if you don't set up your game correctly from the beginning it's nigh impossible to add later. In the old days you'd lose some ungodly amount of 3D performance in Windows if you didn't lock your application to fullscreen, but that's not a problem with more recent DirectX releases.

Releasing / reaquiring Graphical contexts used to have a poo poo ton of edge cases. Like a lot of engines wouldn't keep track of what was sent to the GPU already and you may need to stream things in from disk. I've been in the mobile world for too long to know if that's still true.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



shame on an IGA posted:

I think the tipping point for that was around 2001-2002 when RPGs outgrew a single CD with heavy compression and DVD-ROM hadn't penetrated the market yet.

E: either UT2004 or o.g. WoW are the first titles I remember seeing with a boxed DVD option

Baldurs gate was 4 cds in 1998...

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Office is downtown and Iím in new construction at the edge of suburbs. So 40 mins in morning and 25 at night.

Lunch is something from the kitchen between meetings then fitness center for an hour.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Canine Blues Arooo posted:

The problem is that all that testing compromises the game in ways that are really subtle. If you are making a game that's supposed to be a good game, then Discovery is what will carry your audience for years. Discovery can happen within the Systems, often expressed as 'depth'. Magic the Gathering and Path of Exile are masters of producing relatively little content and hooking their audience forever because there is always something new to Discover in the game systems. The other venue of Discovery is content - The traditional MMO way of doing things: Add more stuff.

Here, the problem is that your Market Research / User Experience / Focus Testing groups are awful at measuring either one of these things. Systems are something you don't really start engaging with meaningfully until you are several hours into the game, but can carry a game for literally thousands of hours if they are strong enough. The amount of content in a game is hard to determine by some person playing the game for between 30 and 120 minutes. So instead, these things measure First Impressions, and that's it. If the game direction is weak, they'll put all the eggs in that basket and focus hard on First Impressions Market Research and if you do this enough, you end up with Destiny 2: A game with less depth then the kiddie pool and not enough content to make up for it.

My problem with that is that I'm in mobile games. There's pretty much zero chance of someone getting to 120 minutes unless they're fully hooked by a tightly crafted new player experience. You can complain about the metrics but I know the percent of app launches that never get past the first user input. I know the session length of that first session and the retention to the second. The kind of games I'm talking about don't have several hours to start engaging meaningfully because you'll have finished your poop and deleted the app well before then if you're not already invested.

I can launch a dozen split-tests while the game is in test market to know which one raised the 10 day retention by 3% and compete directly the monetary value that will have when the game goes world-wide. You drat well believe that I'm going to spend that time to do so, I'd be a fool otherwise.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Cocoa Crispies posted:

We're talking about games, not portable dopamine stimulators.

What exactly do you think playing the latest god of war does to you at a chemical level?

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



CommieGIR posted:

I'm curious about what sort of software development strategies do game devs use? Agile, Scrum, Waterfall?

Do you guys do test driven development? What about code reviews?

As with most places it varies. Agile or Agilefall as above is most common. Some where it's a 1 week 'sprint' with you and your lead saying here's whats next. (Not even Kanban just this is your focus this week.)

TDD is very rare but tests are more common. If it's a mobile game or MMO tests are more common both because of the increased complexity, the clear delineation of concerns, and the type of engineer that is hired for a backend is the type that tend to write tests. However I also was chatting with a friend recently who has been in the industry for the past 18 years and he mentioned that he's never been at a place that wrote tests including his own start-ups so YMMV.

Code-Reviews are almost universal but almost all are just rubber ducking. My current place does automated tooling of which I have mixed feelings.

My biggest annoyance is that DI on the client isn't really a thing still in most places leading to those drat god classes. Backend wise it's far more normal though.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Buckwheat Sings posted:

Anyone work at Riot?

What's with all their recent negative glassdoor reviews? Are they trolls or is the studio having issues?

Is that kind of thing normal?

Iíve never seen trolls on Glassdoor but itís not that simple. Thereís two part of the reviews. The facts and the feelings. The feelings are always correct itís what the reviewer feels after all. Ie: the company is going down hill. People are depressed/ scared etc... then thereís the facts which oddly is usually where things are wrong. Ie: They promote from nepotism, thereís no long term plans etc... usually the people giving the reviews are QA or something and arenít privy to the things theyíre bitching about.

Which is another thing. Look to the reviews written by full time employees. Preferably engineers and producers as they tend to know whatís going on.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



EAB posted:

I wanted to use UE4 to make a multiplayer fps game [based on an old quake mod, probably like 12-16 player matches at most]

But, it feels like every single UE4 game I play just has framerate issues, stutters, instability, and just never feel good to play. And then I wonder, is it these developers, or is there something inherently wrong with the engine?

You mean like Fortnite and PUBG?

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



ETPC posted:

ok stupid question but here goes:

why did server browsers die i miss them

bring them back

Privacy
TCRs
Walled Gardens

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



SilentW posted:

Of these, the only plausible one for me is the third.
Browsers don't violate privacy regulations, and fefinitely don't violate TRC/TCR, but they DO give users a lot of control over their own game experience, which, if you're a publisher that wants to make money off of DLC and microtransactions, is a very bad thing. You want to control the amount of future fun players can have as closely as possible, and you want to make sure they can't have fun without buying more content.

I was phone posting before bed and didn't check the thread again.

Browers don't what you browse to would.

Now most of my TCR knowledge is 360/PS3 days and may be out of date now, but at the time TCR12 for the 360 prevented you from having any kind of server browser. (Games must use only approved XDK title library functions to access console hardware components. Games must not use undocumented CPU or GPU registers or undocumented microcode instructions. The XDK library insulates game developers from minor hardware changes over the life of the console. Games must not directly access the Ethernet controller, system ROM, USB controllers, video camera, video encoder, storage, network, or other console hardware.)

Heck at the time I worked on shooters we didn't even want you to know if you were the host for fear you'd introduce latency to pwn everyone else. And forget about a ranked title allowing anything like that.

Sony was a lot more open and you could do things like play on GameSpy but at that point it wasn't worth a bunch of extra code/UI work for just one platform, and the minor of the two at the time.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



I work for an International game company and have had people from Europe come to the states for 6-18 months as well as full relocation permanently. As well as US employees going to Europe for 6 months to forever. The difficulty is all were internal moves. That said they have a contracting firm that acts as your coordinator. Sub contract out to lawyers to get the Visa. If temp housing is fully provided and furnished. If full time subcontract to international real estate specialists. And I think 4 months housing till that happens. Full time moves had a half shipping container to fill (I think. ThAt sounds big but I know one person seriously considered bringing a car in addition to a family of 4 worth of goods). Part time they handle all taxes as itís under the home company. Full time they give you a year time of an accountant. The larger locations also have expat functions and paid time to go to school to learn the local language.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



leper khan posted:

Yes, because market size is still the same as the NES days. There are forces that work in the other direction, too.

Last I checked, the big publishers arenít hurting for profitability. In 2010, ATVI was trading at $10/share, now itís sitting around $70. EA was around $15 and now over $100.

The large players can clearly play in the current market. I doubt any massive upward change in revenue would help the non-executive staff at any reasonably sized org.

Howís your movie ticket now vs NES era? Howís your paperback book price now vs era? And keep looking at ERTS that 100 price is just about what it was in 2000 when I was there.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



GC_ChrisReeves posted:

Yeah, I wish it was just kids but I'm getting increasingly more convinced the issue of game dev working conditions is one of those subjects right now that attract the attention of the far right, gaters, russian sockpuppets, bots, trumpsters etc etc. Just another angle to sow division.

Which is a shame, there need to be real discussions about our working conditions, what studios do it well and those who don't and it can't happen as effectively online when a sizeable part of social media is contrarian on purpose.

Other than the idiots who are buried "TellTale should do it for the fans!" Where is the sizeable part? Maybe I'm too echo-chambering but I haven't seen that side at all.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



School of How posted:

I've been a professional software developer since 2011. My technologies have been Python and web protocols, as well as some cryptocurrency experience. I want my next job to be at a game company, developing video games, especially VR games. What can I do to make this happen? Do I need to make . my own indie game to prove my abilities, or will I be able to get a job without that? I do have a github account with about 60 open source personal projects, will that help me?

Iíd head to the game job megathread instead.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



floofyscorp posted:

'We don't need a producer! Everyone on the the team is their own producer!'

We donít need a Producer because then Iíd have to share the authority!

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Interesting an article from some coworkers on things you don't hear much about http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/333792/Breaking_down_the_metagame_design_in_a_mobile_RPG.php

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Revitalized posted:

Is a producer not kind of a project manager?

What is the difference between the two in the game industry? (Producer vs Project Manager)

Every Studio/Org is different. EA for instance has Producers, Executive Producers, Project Managers, and Product Owners (Which is not the Product Owner in the term of an Agile/Scrum system.) as roles. If there's a specific place you're thinking of someone could better answer.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Stick100 posted:

Wow, that's brutal. Looking at Programmer jobs (North America) it appears to pay about 40%-60% of the industry norms. Guess I'll stick to working on boring software for financial companies.

Sample size of 6 in the US and none of them at a major tech hub isn't going to give you a good sense of what's out there. Also that was just listed as gross and not TCP. That said in my experience it's about the same salary as a non-tech focused company. Could you do better in fintech or at a FAANG? Yes, but that's the same answer for any job that's not FinTech or FAANG imo.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



MithrilRoshi posted:

As a game dev myself I know this has happened to me but I was wondering if its common. Have you ever been working on a game and a design choice comes up by the rest of the team that makes you go 'what why? No thats horrible' but its implemented anyway then they are SHOCKED to see no one likes it?

I mean like bare bones bad, not subjective way. Like "Lets make the player stand in front of every door for five seconds while it opens SUPER SLOWLY"

Yes but that happens in every industry, it's not games specific. Best you can do is keep track of game mechanics you love/hate and if someone comes up with an idea like that be prepared to show them where it was done in the past and people hated it. Youtube clips of it from LPs, reddit posts disparaging it etc...

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I find myself in the opposite situation more often, I think; oftentimes we're faced with some problem that needs to be solved that other games have solved before. My instinct is usually to just do what everyone else is already doing, because I tend to think they're doing it for a reason. Granted, that's not always the case. But there seems to be an instinct among creative people (and I've been guilty of this myself) to want to do something new and untested and unexplored way more often than we should because the standard solution seems, I don't know, boring I guess.

But the problem with new and untested solutions is that some number of times out of ten they turn out to not work very well... and when you've tried a couple things and end up doing the standard solution in the end anyway, I sometimes feel like we wasted a lot of time. Yes, you do need to push boundaries now and then because that's how you move forward, but I think you should be judicious about what you experiment with so that the potential payoff is big enough in the event that you do come up with something that's new and crazy and really good. Reserve it for the core experience, not for all the little functional supporting elements that make the core work.

Because if you don't, you'll spend a lot of your time designing doors that people have to stand in front of for five seconds because the standard way where doors just open was too boring and you wanted a more cinematic experience.

I remember calling that out at some places saying, "We just need an A-Frame where the elevator doors open to saying "This quarter all design decisions will be copied from..." and then a spot for a box where we can put CoD/Halo/Battlefield. It'll save a lot of time in meetings."

But more seriously the most important thing is to ensure that design and engineering are playing the same games, and have a common language.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Mooey Cow posted:

No sane human being would design a collision system like this, btw, with 50 different "hitboxes" for every wall for different player states.

Have you seen how ships in Star Citizen work?

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



MJBuddy posted:

It seems in hindsight that their desire to use frostbite over their entire AAA lineup has been really rough on their development cycles, but literally every major publisher tries to do something similar to a smaller scale.

Companies are always going through cycles of outsource everything vs centralize everything. Frostbite is just part of a centralize everything initiative.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Just going to leave this here... https://kotaku.com/the-state-of-california-is-investigating-riot-games-for-1835463823

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Stick100 posted:

FYI you can get Senior devs in most non-San Fran/Seatle/New York US markets for ~$60/hour most mids are happy with $40/hour.

Good thing blizzard is in a non San Fran Seattle New York market so they could do that! Oh wait...

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



limaCAT posted:

Excluding Unreal and Unity titles, which fit this paradigm already, how many of your game/in house game engines have some degree of a scripting engine and a virtual machine?

I havenít worked on one that hasnít since 2000.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



mutata posted:

I've always signed an employment contract, they just have always had the at-will garbage denoted in them (along with all other info like salary and benefits and such). I've definitely signed an agreement every time though.

Same. 2 startups 6 publishers always something signed. One startup was a pain in not understanding why I wanted it signed before I gave notice but thatís about it.

This story is incredibly unheard of as written. It can happen an independent studio asks people to work while they seek funding, but Iíve never heard of hiring a team and never making a single payroll. Normally Iíd say go to the labor board for wage theft but if itís not even a company Iím not sure you can.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Piekuuns posted:

Guilty as charged. I would do it even more often if Slack didn't have stupid rectangle dimensions requirements for emojis.

I had a macro for hipchat that would run it through an image converter and upload it automagically.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Kanine posted:

i wonder if there's any less inclination for studios to do physical art books for games since concept/3d art from games is easier to find online now?

Last two games shipped we had one of the Indipress printed books made for the game team. Print on demand rules for that.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



TooMuchAbstraction posted:

Don't AAA devs also buy assets to use in their games? I mean, with any asset you're going to have to spend some effort on adapting it so it doesn't look out of place with the rest of your stuff, but if making a purchased asset look coherent is less effort than making a new asset from scratch, then why wouldn't you? Especially since AAA games are already hugely expensive, it seems like dropping a few thousand dollars on saving your artists a few days' worth of work would probably be worth it.

Other than for prototyping purposes I've never been at a AAA studio that brought pre-canned assets. We'll engage in outsourcing studios to build custom outsets to our concept art, but that's not really what's under discussion here.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



ChocNitty posted:

I donít know how many people share my opinion, but I think the writing in 99% of games are trash. Even most games that people say has really good writing like Halo, I could have disabled the dialogue and enjoyed the game no less. The writing is almost always cliche, and bland, instead of being inspired and thought provoking.

But thats okay with me for most genres of games, because I enjoy them to be immersed in the games world, and to be engaged by the gameplay, being challenged by puzzles, and hooked in with item collecting, and to enjoy other things like the score, and visual style, etc.

Wouldnít it be a good idea of game producers and publishers contracted acclaimed authors from outside the gaming industry to write some of these games? Or do this more often? The reason Witcher 3 has an outstanding story and writing is because it came directly from an excellent novel.

Or is it just a matter of cost? They donít have the budget to hire Steven King to write the next Telltale game.

Mostly the reason comes down to game production. 3 maybe 4 years depending on the game you write the story and story bible. The story is broken down into environments and levels. Then production starts.

"Hey, um so for level 6 it turns out we're having problems with the occlusion and the number of enemies we want to make that indoors." "But we already recorded all the dialog talking about the forest!" "Ok well we'll have to cut that." "Hey we need an E3 demo so the time we were going to spend doing level 12 is being reallocated, so we're cutting level 12." "But that's where story beat Z happens!" "Make it work."

etc... I worked on a shooter about 10-15 years back that lost 3 of it's levels and a full environment during production. All of it after the story was written and the dialog was recorded. We had to piece together a story after the fact some of it just being choppy voice over at the start of a level load.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Big K of Justice posted:

I'll say this COVID rendered a bunch of old practices kinda moot. I'm looking forward to WFH forever at this point, I'll just have to make sure I have a dedicated room and sufficient internet.

Yep, one of my guys was like, "BTW: I'll be WFH 3000 miles in November." and my only reply was, "Ok. In theory we're back in the office then but ok."

RazzleDazzleHour posted:

What is hiring looking like right now? I just graduated and normally I would have felt pretty good about my odds of getting a job but in the year of our lord 2020 I have no clue

Hiring like mad, but mid/sr/principal/lead only atm I'm afraid.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Studio posted:

Yup! It'll vary within companies, and I've seen it vary within teams. I've seen Producer range from Product Manager to Project Manager, to Nothing Manager, JIRA Janitor, to IT Ticket Support Submitter, to Live Ops Salesperson. It's very silly

Top of my head:
EA Producers are Product Managers
Zenimax are mostly Project, but sometimes kind of Product
Riot has like a fork in the road where they split between Product and Project?

Just The Silliest.

Unless EA has changed a lot that's definitely a fork as well. Larger teams would have an EP and one maybe two Product Manager Producers (Usually over design) and then a few other producers/associate producers wrangling schedules. Of course the tech side would also have Project Managers. which wasn't confusing at all.

WBIE were technically Project but you could do whatever the gently caress you want and I know at least one QA => AP => Producer => Design Director over a 9 year period.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



KajiTheMelonMan posted:

Most of the people in this thread seem to be higher up in the tree - programming, management, etc.

How do you guys feel about the lower level teams - customer facing support, play testers, fault submitters, etc. Are they the poor guys who have to deal with the sucky parts, or are they the grunts who deserve this and gotta start somewhere?

I've recently got made redundant from a network support role in a Big 4 ISP role (VoIP T2 support - not customer facing, but still not allowed to play with the Big Boy toys) - just want to compare.

How's the relationships between the finders and fixers? Some of our higher ups were absolute cunts, not even accepting 100% proof that there's a problem in their work and thinking that if you're not T3, you're an idiot especially since you can't do their job anyway. Some of them, however, were cool guys and are happy to learn and teach.

(Sorry if this is a bit generic, since I'm sure it happens at all business - just wanted to see if its any different in gaming)

Sorry to hear about your 'redundancy' God I hate that word.

It's going to be different everywhere you go. Some of the worse things I've heard about are publisher QA folks where there's a really large firewall between you and the developers and unless you're a QA Lead or Publishing Producer you'll have no access to them. You probably won't even be entering bugs into the same database that the dev team uses.

If you're with a Studio though some of that can depend on if you're contract or full time. For instance where I am now we QA is about 15-20% full time, 30-35% contract, 50% 'off-site' contract. I'm very high up in the org and never spoken to an external QA person. They're referred to by the collective noun of the city they're based out of. And if there's a question about a bug someone in the on-site pool will repro it and talk to you. That said there's not a huge stratified difference between the full-time and contract on-site folks. We've converted multiples from one to the other, and also had people swap between different contracting firms to keep them after their contract ended. I don't think anyone on my teams would look down at QA, but I've definitely seen places where they would. But that was much earlier in my career and I'd stomp the poo poo out of that if I saw it now.

Customer Support is totally different though. In over a year I've only ever interacted with the CS Manager, and one of my teams directly provides the CS Tools. I have no idea what the ratio are of in-house vs external CS reps are, it's a complete black box. I work with the manager on requirements, and hear from him on bugs in the tools.

This is just one example of course, previous orgs were different.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



ninjewtsu posted:

Do you guys ever watch twitch streamers or let's plays of the games you make?

There's a row of TVs at the office (Oh hey remember those?) that are set to twitch channels of people streaming the game.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



ninjewtsu posted:

Do people sit down and watch them at the office? Does what you see on those streams ever inform your work?

I'd definitely watch sometimes for 2-3 minutes if it was something I hadn't seen before. And it was near couches where people would sit and play anyway. But mostly it's for morale. Reinforcing, "What you are doing isn't in a vacuum people play it every day and have fun, don't let reddit get you down."

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Hughlander
May 11, 2005



Gromit posted:

Is game testing something you can get into as a remote working job? Australia doesn't have a lot of game companies, and it seems like something that would go well with remote working, especially given recent conditions around the world.

I'm an old fart thinking about work I could do as a wind-down towards retirement, so money or long-term career isn't the driving force. Game testing seems like it would scratch my investigative and detail-oriented itches. I've got a degree and a ton of managerial/IT technical experience but I'm not a coder or artist.

I've never seen (individual) remote QA. Some of it is probably contractually impossible. I don't think Microsoft wants X-Box Series X test-kits being mailed internationally for example. When working with pre-release hardware some places had to have really heavy security written into the contract with the first party. I remember working on some stuff where we couldn't even acknowledge the hardware to other people on the dev team and it had to be locked 24/7 with only people specifically NDAed allowed in the area.

Now some small time Steam game? Maybe? Epic Game store actually makes that one really easy. But then you'd need to find the overlap of a studio or publisher large enough to have HR and recruiting around remote (And deal with the international tax code headaches of remote to Australia) but small enough that just shoving 100 people on a too small floor doesn't make business sense for them.

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