Hidden Variable Studios Builds Creative Games Using Joyent Cloud

May 23, 2013 - by Hannah Simon

Hidden Variable Studios, an incredibly creative gaming company based out of Glendale, CA, has a mission: they want to make games that everyone can play. Comprised of gaming industry veterans who have worked at the likes of Electronic Arts, THQ, Disney, and Riot Games. Hidden Variable prides itself on building out every nook and cranny of the games they produce, leaving no stone unturned.

Hidden Variable is currently a one-game studio (although they have two new games in development), having released the very successful “Bag It!,” which hit #1 in the iTunes App Store in 2012. They wanted to add new features like push notifications and in-player app purchasing, which made game development more complicated. Facing the technical challenges of creating a backend, they chose Joyent.

“We knew we were in need of a [cloud provider] switch, and we wanted to find a service that we didn’t have to spend a lot of time managing and dealing with,” said Rob Kohout, Technical Director at Hidden Variable. “We like Joyent because it’s a powerful infrastructure as well as a service provider, and maintaining it is very, very easy.”

Hidden Variable is a small company with only a handful of employees, and doesn’t have the time or resources to devote to setting up and maintaining servers. “I worked at previous company where there were entire teams of people dedicated to keeping a set of boxes running around the clock. With such a small team at Hidden Variable, it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to focus on hardware -- purchasing it and having a live operations team to service it is just too expensive,” said Rob. “Joyent does all the hard work for us, and in doing so, allows us to get back to the work we want to focus on: building awesome games.”

“We needed a cloud provider we could trust to run in the background, so we could focus on game development,” Nick Ahrens, Creative Producer, added. “If we’re not devoting time to building games, we’re not making progress as a company. With a partner like Joyent, we have the peace of mind that we can do our work without worrying.”

The difference between other cloud providers and Joyent is their attention to detail and stellar customer service. - Nick Ahrens, Creative Producer

After switching to Joyent, Hidden Variable has not experienced any issues as far as response time goes; the team is also using New Relic to provide monitoring and diagnostics. “Since using New Relic, we’ve had consistently optimal response times, and zero downtime,” explained Rob.

You can tell by the polished quality of their games that Hidden Variable is all about focusing on the small stuff that makes a big difference in the end. And for them, it was important to pick a cloud provider that they trusted that was just as detail-oriented.

“The difference between other cloud providers and Joyent is their attention to detail and stellar customer service,” said Nick. “There are a lot of companies and solutions out there that are large and monolithic. But with Joyent, we get real people that are willing to answer each and every question we have, give us advice when we were tackling something new, and spend time guiding us through the entire process. When it comes down to it, Joyent is invaluable.

When asked what advice he’d give to other game developers, Rob said, “For other indie gaming companies out there looking for cloud providers, here’s my advice: do the research and find services, like Joyent, that are battle tested.”

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