Comments : Comments Off on Monumental Get Another Grant
Categories : britsoft, business, funding, gov, middleware, mmos
Monumental Games recently moved offices in Nottingham, acquired half of Swordfish Manchester as it got into trouble, and now have another £140,000 grant. This time it’s from Northwest Vision and Media, and they were eligible for it thanks to taking on the extra office in a different region. That’s probably a happy but unintended outcome rather than a plan, as there are plenty of other reasons for Monumental to have acquired Swordfish Manchester and it’s not very long since they did.
It’s comparatively rare for games companies to take advantage of this kind of thing though, whereas it’s fairly common for film production all over the world. Good to see developers acting smartly even in the downturn, as we’ve previously heard a lot of cynicism from studios about readily available government support.
(CC image of coins by Warren H)
Comments : Comments Off on Happy New Year?
Categories : britsoft, business, gov, independent development
2008 closed with bad news for the East Midlands, with Free Radical Design going into administration (Edge Online gave some of the best coverage), though so far it seems not liquidation. The gamers I know are quite shell shocked that they failed to find a publisher for Timesplitters 4, because they and those they know regarded its predecessors so fondly.
It was thought some staff would be retained, as was announced over Christmas: 140 people have been made redundant, and 40 have stayed on, with the administrators dropping strong indications that publishers are interested in buying the studio.
Codemasters and Monumental games were on hand during the company meeting in December, and it seems David Doak and Steve Ellis have left to start a new studio. These are very troubling times, with games booming yet games businesses struggling and risk averse, but some firms are still growing and, so far, doing well.
FRD was a massive indie to lose, but others are being set up. As well as Pumpkin Beach, Simple Lifeforms recently started up too.
(CC image of a new year bonfire by tanakawho)
Comments : Comments Off on Split Streams
Categories : britsoft, business, culture, gov
The Guardian have a perky report about how well the games industry is doing in the UK, which has some good observations, such as the timing of this recession being as good as it could be, falling in the middle of a console cycle when sales and resource allocations are optimal. Another is that publishers are more likely to put money into established IP than risky new projects, something that’s already the case mid to late cycle, given that new IP is a lot easier to launch with a new console.
However, the Guardian piece is still only telling half the story. “Recession proof” is a term that has been thrown around a lot in relation to games recently, and given the massive spate of studio layoffs, sales and closures that has blighted the end of 2008, it’s just not true. Of course it affects games businesses, just like others.
NESTA have produced a new report on the state of the UK games industry, and despite an improvement in the dollar rate it’s really struggling against a few factors. While work for hire is getting easier and more common, the amount of IP UK developers can generate seems to be decreasing. Meanwhile, the vast revenues being generated by unprecedented retail sales only go a limited way towards developers, passing as they do through the filter of publishers.
Edit: Even today, bad publishing news.
(CC image by TCL 1961)
Comments : 2 Comments »
Categories : britsoft, interactive, media, tech
Midlands game company Blitz today announced new tech for making 3D games. That GI.biz piece links a few other announcements of games companies going into 3D tech. I wonder if it could actually catch on?
This kind of thing really excited me as a child, until I realised the only way to experience it at the time was in theme parks. Next to real roller coasters has to be the worst possible place to show off this kind of technology.
Lately my local multiplex has been offering some films in 3D for a few extra pounds on the price of a normal ticket. It had novelty value, but that seems to be it. Though people seem to have less of a problem wearing dorky NHS style glasses in the darkness of a cinema, after a screening of Beowulf in 3D I nonetheless heard them remarking quite caustically on how obviously things were made to stick out of the screen to emphasise the effect.
I have strong doubts about stereoscopic 3D on screens, but also suspect that interactivity could overcome all of them. For instance, Johnny Lee Chung’s head tracking 3D using slightly modified Wii hardware offers a much more striking effect than a traditional film, and people are developing technology to create 3D using standard TVs.
Would FPS playing be improved when playing with a true stereoscopic picture? I bet.
(CC image by barron)
Comments : Comments Off on Indie Arcade
Categories : britsoft, events, independent development
One of the events we ran in London last week was the Indie Games Arcade, which was a huge success. We showed a handful of interesting games, detailed at the linked page on our website.
The highlights were five or so developers from Beatnik Games coming down to continually run a Plain Sight LAN, and someone setting a staggering record of 1:40 and 1749 points on War Twat. All of our photos are on Flickr, and this page on our website has details of all the games along with links to them.
War Twat developer Robert Fearon and volunteer extraordinaire Andrew Armstrong have both written a bit about the expo and the indie arcade, here and here.