FEB / 24 / 2021

Our developer profile series continues today as we highlight Jorge Jimenez, Director of Creative Engineering and General Manager of our studio located in Zaragoza, Spain.

Jorge has spent his career pushing the capabilities of what graphics engines are capable of, all in order to create hyper-realistic visuals. Read on to find out more about Jorge, his hopes in delighting gamers with never-seen-before photorealistic visuals, and what it’s like building a new development team in Spain.

What’s it like for you personally to be leading this studio?

When I was a kid, I always wanted to work at a game company. When I achieved that, I started thinking, “Okay, what's next?” The answer was I really wanted to open a studio here in Zaragoza, Spain. So on a personal level, I have been working at this for the last decade.

I think of myself as a climber. I always like to reach the top of the peak and as soon as I get there I want to see what the next mountain I can climb is. So I realized that if I wanted to have a bigger impact, I needed to build a team with amazing people that I could lead directly.

I'm also a very social person. I really like to discuss and brainstorm with others in real-time. So that was something that really was pushing me to build a physical office here. Even while we're all working remotely, I really wanted to have this environment where I can work and grow together with other people.

What do you hope to achieve with your team in Spain?

Technically, our ultimate goal is to blend reality with video games and surprise gamers with never-seen-before photorealistic visuals that fully immerse them in the experience. I think the combination of film-level storytelling with film-quality visuals has the potential of bringing gaming to new heights and new audiences.

I also saw this as that chance to actually feel like I'm working on a game that I’m very highly contributing to in a way that I could not do before. That was very important for me, to feel like an author for the game in some ways.

That's a feeling I want to impart to my team too. To build a highly collaborative environment that will help our team to develop their careers, and give support to achieve very ambitious goals together.

Zaragoza is home to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, one of the 12 treasures of Spain
Our ultimate goal is to blend reality with video games and surprise gamers with never-seen-before photorealistic visuals.

What is it that you love about Zaragoza? What makes it the perfect place to open a development studio?

It is difficult to have an objective opinion about something you are deeply in love with. But I’m fond of my homeland, and really proud of where I live. They call us maños in other regions of Spain, and we are known for how stubborn we are, in addition to having an interesting accent.

I’ve traveled around the world for the last decade and it is still my favorite place. It is intimate, warm, and welcoming. Yet it's big enough to be filled with life, both during the day and during the night. To put it in context, it is close to San Francisco in its number of inhabitants, which is also one of my other favorite cities ever.

One of the key values of Striking Distance is “People First”. Due to the current pandemic, we are all currently working remotely. While that hasn’t prevented us from being united as a strong team, we are looking forward to getting together in person again. We believe that the best results are obtained from a united team, and having a great quality of life surrounding our studio will allow for stronger connections inside the team. Think of a coffee, having lunch together in the extensive restaurant offering, or taking a beer to disconnect after work. Zaragoza is an amazing place for all of this to happen.

But in short: the food, the beautiful terraces, the weather, the friendliness, the quality of life, the nature around it -- I feel lucky.

How have you been managing working from home? Any tips you'd like to share that have helped you work better?

Before joining Striking Distance Studios I'd been working remotely for almost a decade, so it wasn’t a difficult transition.

But I expected a challenge in building a team working from home, which was not the case. From day one, we have built a friendly environment here in SDS Spain through constant and effective communication. I feel like we have already created strong personal connections, helping to foster a culture of positivity, respect, passion, and support.

Nighttime view from the ruins of Belchite
I think the combination of film-level storytelling with film-quality visuals has the potential of bringing gaming to new heights and new audiences.

What excites you most about next-gen hardware?

Well, since I want to avoid picking a favorite, I’ll just say that next-gen hardware offers new tools with a lot of potential that -- combined creatively -- will be crucial to blur the line between games, films, and reality. I look forward to people seeing how we are leveraging these tools for The Callisto Protocol.

Now that we can talk a little more freely about the game, how does your vision for rendering impact the horror design? How important is it when it comes to nailing the tone and feelings we want to leave people with?

Our rendering foundation builds from lighting accuracy and consistency, the attention to detail, and supporting artists with workflows to create photoreal materials. This brings the visuals closer to our present reality, helping to make our futuristic horror even more believable. Unnatural horror in naturalistic environments has the strongest psychological effect. This has been the basis for some of the best horror movies.

We know it’s early, but what’s next for SDS Spain?

Right now we’re still a small, focused team, but we're going to see where things take us from there. Of course, we’re looking for people from all over Europe to join us here. Just because we’re in Spain doesn’t mean we want to limit our options.

I really feel it is important to have cultural diversity. So I think having people from different places, that's pretty important. I think it's pretty good to have this mixture because you can learn more when you are not constrained to a specific culture or mindset. That I think opens your mind a lot.

Big thanks to Jorge for taking the time to speak with us today! Interested in joining the team? Then check out our career page to see our current openings.