About Lost Boys Interactive
Lost Boys Interactive was founded in 2017 by gaming industry veterans Shaun Nivens, Mark Stefanowicz and Rod Runnheim, and in 2020, expanded the executive team with the addition of industry stalwarts Chase Jones and Timothy Gerritsen. With this combination of expertise and talent, the team at Lost Boys has decades of industry experience, having worked on blockbuster games ranging across the sports, adventure, RPG, shooter, sandbox and card game genres.
As a video game development studio working with co-development partners on top-tier games, Lost Boys is also making a name for themselves for crafting their own game titles for the PC and console markets. From humble beginnings, Lost Boys has grown to over 300 people working on several projects across a variety of platforms. And interestingly, they are a remote-first studio, which ensures that its team can stay where they live while working virtually in a fast-paced environment.
We spoke with Tim Gerritsen, chief operations officer and Erik Powell, associate IT director for Lost Boys. They talked with us about some of the unique challenges of – not only keeping your edge as a leading game development company – but also empowering a remote, networked team of advanced game developers who require the absolute latest, greatest and highest performing systems possible.
Erik Powell has been with the company for two years. With 20 years of IT experience, Erik brings valuable perspectives to the table, having managed IT requirements for large corporate enterprises. While well suited for the challenges at Lost Boys, he certainly found some of them interesting and unique.
“When I joined Lost Boys two years ago, we had less than 100 employees. Looking ahead to the end of 2023, we’re projecting to grow to more than 500 – that’s significant growth,” said Erik Powell. “Add to that, we are also a remote-first organization, which means I have teams of advanced game developers working remotely from all over the country and Canada. That introduces some challenges!”
The Need for Reliability
The Lost Boys team of highly-experienced designers, artists and software engineers continuously refresh their skill sets to remain up to date with the latest development technology and tools. As a team, they are committed to this practice so they can confidently handle various genre, size and art style for any given project. To do so, they have developed a proven ability to rapidly scale to a client’s specific timeline, scope and budget. However, this also means that they require a workstation provider who exceeds even their own stringent requirements and standards. It’s an innovative and progressive business model that doesn’t come without its challenges; and that’s where Puget Systems came in.
Erik continued, “Our remote team of artists and game developers have very high expectations and demands of their workstations; they’re not the kind of people you can just buy an off-the-shelf system. They need the highest-end, highest-performance gaming workstations possible – they require it for their workflows. And because the teams are remote, our ability to interact with them to hone their system requirements – and troubleshoot their needs – is limited.”
While Lost Boys has a facility in Wisconsin, they ship workstations all over the United States and to Canada, and they need to support them. When you’re dealing with that many systems, in that many locations, you need a systems manufacturer that’s proficient in working under these conditions.
“I’m fairly new to the gaming industry,” Erik added. “But like in other industries, you want your PCs and workstations to meet a certain set of requirements and standards. You need to be able to support them yourselves, you want a good warranty program, you want the manufacturers to be well vetted and you need them to be stable! So you can understand why some companies might think they need to lean toward a name they recognize, like Dell, HP or Lenovo. But, when you combine this demand for extremely high-end workstations, specialized for gaming development, and with the added need for remote support, that’s where Puget Systems comes through in the clutch!”
Our remote team of artists and game developers have very high expectations and demands of their workstation… And because the teams are remote, our ability to interact with them to hone their system requirements – and troubleshoot their needs – is limited.
“Puget Systems has been a huge win for us. Before working with Puget, we were using a custom systems builder, but we were having so many problems with them. We discovered that, to save money, they were cutting corners, adding flimsy power supplies, or cheap generic RAM. But Puget Systems pays attention to every little detail, with great care! For example, they use acrylic brackets to support the GPU cards so they don’t get damaged in shipping. And Puget takes the extra step of hot-gluing the brackets, as well as the heatsinks so they don’t fall off – because they know we do air-cooling and that’s the most reliable way. It’s the attention to detail!”
“We also know that things can go wrong, it happens. But what matters is not that things happen, it’s how you handle the situation when they do. We had a problem with some NVMe drives so we reported the issue to the team at Puget Systems. No finger-pointing, they just came back immediately with a solution. Since they are constantly testing in their labs, they knew immediately what to do and replaced the drives – they came through!”
Tim Gerritson is the chief operations officer for Lost Boys, and is well-known for his significant contributions to the gaming industry as a producer and developer himself. Tim also understands the value of having a partner you can depend on when the stakes are high and you’re on the verge of releasing your next big title.
Tim joined us in our conversation, “We’ve built our reputation on our ability to scale quickly and with the highest quality talent. We’ve also developed a worldwide trusted partner network of like-minded studios and individual contract developers, so we can get teams up and running quickly. And as Erik pointed out so well, we’re doing all of this remotely. So the ability to provision and set up our systems remotely is paramount. And Puget Systems does all of this for us without a hiccup.”
“Puget Systems set up a remote configuration bench where they build, test, and image all of our machines. They set up a KVM so we can remote in, four systems at a time, and completely provision them with all of our software and game development tools. Then Puget just drop-ships them directly to our developers wherever they may be. It’s incredibly efficient!”
“We understand that systems are prone to failure. If you can’t trust your hardware, it makes it impossible to develop your games. But the QA that Puget Systems goes through is second to none, they test the hell out of these systems – they even send us thermal pictures in testing. We have so few problems though. But with an operation as large and disparate as ours, support and operational costs are usually the biggest concern. The stakes are high, and so are the concerns, but with eight projects currently in development, and one major title shipping next month, Puget Systems has alleviated all of our worries! And that’s invaluable.”
We understand that systems are prone to failure. If you can’t trust your hardware, it makes it impossible to develop your games. But the QA that Puget Systems goes through is second to none, they test the hell out of these systems…
If you would like to inquire about having your company profiled, please reach out to [email protected]
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