Facepunch Studios is an independent game developer based in Birmingham, UK. It initially rose to fame with the release of Garry’s Mod in 2006, followed by the Rust and Chippy games, all of which regularly feature in the top 10 most popular Steam games, and are amongst the best-selling Steam games of all time. To date, the studio has sold 38.6 million games and currently employs 50 people worldwide.
In 2022, Facepunch moved its offices to new premises in Birmingham’s prestigious Colmore Row area. The company wanted to be able to facilitate BYOD conferencing collaboration, with easy and reliable wireless presentation capabilities, across all office spaces.
While facilitating game development was key, as a company known for its strong visuals, Facepunch wanted its new offices to deliver a real “wow” effect. To this end, it wanted to have huge media walls in the reception area showing larger-than-life game footage, plus a large interactive screen enabling dynamic product advertisements.
The company had a clear vision for the AV equipment and capabilities it wanted throughout the new offices, specifying a fully automated boardroom with wireless presentation and multi-platform VC (Video Conferencing), interactive displays, zoned audio, and high-end executive offices with BYOD conferencing capabilities. A key target was to minimize hardwiring, so an IP-based solution was preferred.
Kramer AV equipment was chosen by Vision On AV Systems, the project’s system integrator, for its flexibility, reliability, and excellent product support available from Kramer’s local UK team.
The IP-based solution required a new, segregated, and highly stable AV network to provide solid wireless access from all over the office. Ubiquiti Enterprise Layer 3 switches were used, and the AV network was carefully planned to ensure minimum disruption to service and expedient commissioning.
For control purposes, the AV system was split into four spaces: Media Wall No.1, Media Wall No.2, Boardroom, Office Audio and Remote Control Stations. The central communications room serves as the hub of the AV solution. It comprises the KC-BRAINware-5 for overall control, encoders, audio-video sources, and multi-zone audio amplifiers/mixers, with all devices connected via Ubiquiti Enterprise network switches with fiber links.
Individual rooms have VIA wireless collaboration and conferencing platforms, interfaces, decoders, and local amplifiers. BYOD video conferencing was implemented in most rooms using the VIA Connect2 collaboration platform and VIA Versa virtual camera drivers, while the fully-automated boardroom uses VIA Campus2, and a camera-speaker bar. Additional decoders were added to meeting rooms, the boardroom, game development area, bar, and interactive spaces.
To create the “wow” factor for the 3X3 video walls in the reception area, an encoder/decoder solution was chosen for its great flexibility and because it allowed setup, easy source and audio changes, and remote device control using RS-232.
One of the main challenges was readying the system for testing before the main network was fully operational. Using a simple router and a single SL-240C, Vision On AV Systems was able to commission the floor space-by-space, before moving over to KC−BRAINware once the network was fully commissioned, with external access to the Kramer servers.
The new Kramer-based AV solution has been instrumental in improving collaboration across Facepunch Studios, facilitating the simple and seamless video conferencing that is essential for the success of an international team.
“It’s very easy to set up a room for a BYOD meeting, and easy to set up a fully hosted meeting in the boardroom,” says Leigh Holmes, Operations Manager at Facepunch Studios. And similarly, wireless presentations are simple and productive.
This allows for the level of communication required for working on some of the most cutting-edge gaming technology around – enabling creative juices to flow, while enhancing meaningful interactions that foster productivity. With full BYOD compatibility and excellent AV quality, conferencing is quicker, easier, and more fluid, helping employees engage, even with colleagues overseas. The intuitive interface and automated start-up, resets, and shutdowns of the AV system in each room make using the AV system simple and assured.
Stills from Facepunch games are used as the backgrounds on the user interfaces in every space and room, creating a high-impact branded experience.
“The two media walls in the reception area really do have the wow factor we were after,” says Leigh. “They’re very simple to operate and give visitors plenty to talk about.”
The feedback from everyone involved in the AV project has been exceptional – from Facepunch Studios management and employees alike, as well as other companies involved in the build.
As Alex Bird, Business Development Manager, at Vision On AV Systems concludes: “Facepunch is delighted with the end result and benefits from seamless wireless presentation, flexible conferencing, and a reception area with a real wow factor.”
Now all that’s left to do is watch how this whole new level of interactive collaboration plays out as its fans around the world eagerly await the next Facepunch game.
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John Hollan, Blue Valley Baptist Church
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