30 Under 30
Wednesday, 11th February 2009 at 9:00 am
Everyone knows the well known faces in the industry, but what about the up-and-coming talent of tomorrow? Studios from all over the UK and Europe pitched their finest, but only 30 could make it through. We profile the rising stars…
Starting in the industry at the ridiculously young age of 19, Reddy joined Criterion and steered the development of several Burnout titles. According to her nominee, she was instrumental in making Criterion a success, and is currently hard at work doing exactly the same thing at pioneering Guildford studio Media Molecule.
Anybody who reads an interview with Reddy can instantly see the passion and enthusiasm she holds for her projects and the industry at large, but her hard-working and professional attitude is apparently not a barrier to her being “one of the coolest and most fun people” that our little mole knows. High praise indeed.
Despite being only 28, Cakebread is the fine fellow who created the Geometry Wars franchise. Coming up with the original concept single-handedly, he went on to create Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved – the most successful launch title on Xbox Live Arcade. Its sequel repeated this success, headlining Microsoft’s Summer of XBLA push last year. Both games have seen over one million players between them – a big achievement for a retro-styled shooter.
As well as having design/advisory roles on Geometry Wars Galaxies, GWRE PC, and the mobile phone versions of Geometry Wars, Stephen is responsible for several internal tools at Bizarre Creations.
Technical Account Manager
Bennett is the sole UK-based employee of EA Online, an internal umbrella within Electronic Arts that provides online services to game teams, such as login and matchmaking technology. He works in the production team within EAO, which oversees the development of this internal tech and works with internal and external studios to help them use it.
Originally from Essex, Bennett was based in the Redwood Shores studio until 2007 when he was tasked with being the European representative, which has seen him supporting some of EA's biggest franchises directly in this timezone including Battlefield, Burnout, Battleforge, Mirror's Edge and more.
As the managing director of Gusto Games, Phillips has seen the studio rise from a tiny startup to one of the UK’s more prominent independent studios, employing 80 people. Phillips established the studio at the tender age of 24, and under his stewardship the company has excelled within its sports game niche and expanded to capitalise on deals with non-traditional partners such as Scholastic in the US.
While one of Phillips’ best traits may be his fierce commitment to keeping the Britsoft spirit alive despite troubling times, we’re more impressed by the fact that his co-workers say he can often be found propping up the bar at industry events – and that, most importantly, will always buy the drinks.
One of the youngest games writers in the world, Tom has apparently been described by Rhianna Pratchett as one of the industry’s best up-and-coming scribes. He has been responsible for the overall plotting, character design, writing, implementation and voice direction on all three of Frictional’s Penumbra games, and is also currently working as a producer in the digital distribution space.
His character development and voice direction have been particularly praised, and he was the designer behind the unique and well-received interactive insanity mechanics in Black Plague. He was nominated for a Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award in 2008 for Penumbra: Black Plague.
Chris is described as the ‘heart and soul’ of indie darlings Introversion Software – he comes up with the game ideas before designing and developing them from scratch, all while maintaining ‘the highest levels of quality and creative integrity’. He started Introversion after leaving Frontier in 2001, disillusioned with the industry’s focus on ‘endless revisits of the same IP’, and has since proved intstrumental in its rise to one of the most high-profile indie developers in the world. The success of Introversion’s games comes from his steadfast determination to create games that are unique, push boundaries and that are different to anything else out there.
SCE Guerrilla Games
Still only 24 years old, Arjan Bak is almost an industry veteran, having worked for Valve Software and Ubisoft before joining Guerrilla Games as a senior artist in 2007. Following design and art roles on Day Of Defeat and Day Of Defeat Source, and Rainbow Six: Vegas, Arjan has played a pivotal role on the graphic realisation of the anticipated Killzone 2.
In the words of Guerrilla Games’ MD Hermen Hulst: “Arjan isn’t just a gifted artist – he’s also mature and experienced enough to lead a team. He is acutely aware of the commercial context of a game project, as well as all the idiosyncrasies of the main disciplines in game development. Quite rare for a 24 year old.”
Technical Lead of R&D
A graduate of Maths from Cambridge University, Halliwell worked at VIS Entertainment before joining Realtime Worlds in 2004. Quickly rising to become technical lead of the company’s R&D department – one of the key roles in RTW’s development headquarters in Dundee – he’s responsible for maintaining the long-term vision of the company’s tools and technology. That means guiding the tech work on Crackdown, and RTW’s upcoming online title APB, all the while developing future versions for projects beyond that. He is now an accomplished and regular public speaker, and has become known for his forthright views on all aspects of sensible development practice.
Portugese freelance composer Camacho is building quite a reputation within the game audio field, having already won an Independent Games Festival award for his work on Audiosurf’s title track. With an extensive background in music, including tuition under the wings of some of Portugal’s most renowned musicians and composers, Camacho has deftly scored titles such as Fury, A Vampyre Story and Sacred 2.
Camacho is the only freelancer to be nominated by a customer: Bill Tiller, CEO of Autumn Moon, used Camacho on A Vampyre Story and called his soundtrack “one of the highlights of the game”.
Nilsson is one of two directors at Swedish indie developer Frictional, and one half of the reason that such a small team has managed to produce three entries in its Penumbra horror series, as well as secure publishing funding to develop an entirely new and even more ambitious IP in 2009.
He is responsible for in-game sound, an area often singled out as an essential element in Penumbra's terrifying atmosphere. And with Penumbra: Black Plague listed by IGN as their fourth scariest game this generation, his work is going down well. He is also the team’s lead scripter and writes the company’s site and regular newsletter, making him quite the all-rounder.
EA Bright Light
Hammond is a rapidly up-and coming development manager within Electronic Arts, despite being at the enviably young age of 24. Although still relatively fresh to the business, he has been instrumental in the pre-production of Zubo and the successful delivery of Hasbro Family Game Night. Although young, his maturity makes him a strong leader of others as he runs the day to day project management of one of EA’s key Hasbro franchises.
And we’re told that despite always wearing shorts – regardless of the weather – he is a valuable member of the studio team, and was voted Brightest Light in the last EA Bright Light awards.
Motion Graphics Designer
SCE London Studio
Mike started work with the SingStar team in 2006 and has since become an integral part of the team, working on a wide range of projects including UI design and animation, music videos, logo stings, game intros and game presentations.
His most recent work was storyboarding and directing the intro movies for SingStar Volume 3 and Singstar ABBA, and is just finishing up work on the international TV and cinema commercials. Mike enjoys the creative freedom of his role and the opportunity to see his work in a best-selling game. He is widely known within London Studio for his artistic flair and creative vision, and we’re told to expect to see a lot more of his work in future.
3rd Dimension Creations
Graduating with a BSc in Computer Games Programming in 2004, Allanson spent a short time in software marketing while taking part as programming lead and support in a variety of community game modification projects. Dave also spent a period as part of a QA team testing the development of a new PlayStation 2 controller and its associated launch title.
Since then he has spent four years at the helm of 3rd Dimension Creations, working on mobile games, PS2 titles and in more recent years Xbox Live Arcade, PSN and Wii titles – the most recent of which is in collaboration with Blitz Games on the upcoming Codachain.
Arnout van Meer
At the young old age of 27 years old, van Meer has already managed to ship two triple-A games. He was mod-making at 13, leading the coding team for the popular Q3T mod at 17, worked on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory as lead programmer at 21, and shipped Enemy Territory: Quake Wars as technical director at around the age of 25.
Already well in to his third title, this time for multiple platforms, he now leads a team of more than a dozen programmers. He was employee number one at Splash Damage, has single-handedly guided its technology and programming team for seven years, and is now a listed company director.
SCEE Studio Liverpool
Liverpool born and bred, Sadler joined Sony Computer Entertainment just six weeks after leaving university armed with an honours BA in Multimedia Arts and an MA in Digital Games. After working as a concept artist for Formula 1 '04, he was promoted to junior artist on Formula 1 '05, for which he put his Masters thesis – a detailed study of lighting and palette – to use in the game’s environments.
In Formula 1: Championship Edition, he developed a technique for production of consistent-looking artwork for the driveable surface aspect of the game’s 18 tracks, which led to him being entrusted with the design and production of all track surfaces for WipEout HD.
Starting his games industry journey as a QA tester, then rising through the ranks all the way to producer, Bramhall apparently has a very no-nonsense attitude towards running teams that earns him a lot of respect.
Yet, critically, we’re told that he completely understands the nature of such a creative industry, and the importance of having a laugh with co-workers. “Throughout my time knowing him, he has not only been a great friend, but has also motivated me to climb the career ladder and has been an inspiration to me and pushed many people to explore their full potential,” says his nominee. And with a testimonial like that, what more can we say?
Junior Software Engineer
Nominated by the organisers of Dare to be Digital, Brown lead the BAFTA-winning Voodoo Boogy team, whose game Ragnarawk also won the Audience Award at the Dare ProtoPlay. He was immediately recruited by Realtime Worlds as one of their software engineers and worked on different projects, where he as gained invaluable programming experience. Not content with just coding, Brown is also a musician, jointly composing music for Ragnarawk and additional project Bear Go Olympics, an entry to the Olympics Fine Arts 2008 exhibition which won an excellence award. He continues to hold an interest in creating games and music.
Starting his games development career in 2003, Woodbridge joined the then-new Relentless as a junior designer on DJ: Decks and FX. He then shot his way to lead designer on Buzz! The Music Quiz, most recently working on the first PlayStation 3 installment Buzz!: Quiz TV. In pitching Paul as one of the 30 under 30, Relentless’ David Amor said: “It’s easy for a designer to go down well trodden paths, making games for gamers, but Paul understood how to make a game that would be easy for everyone to play and that was a major part of Buzz!’s success.” He’s now put Buzz! to one side and is working on the brand new, top secret Relentless project.
Jones originally joined Cambridge Studio to work on Ghosthunter on PS2. He was then seconded to Amsterdam in 2004 for several months to work with Guerrilla Studios on Killzone, earning valuable experience.
Tom returned to Cambridge to work on games such as 24: The Game, Medevil PSP, WipEout Pulse and Heavenly Sword. He also linked up with Guerrilla again, working as lead environment artist on Killzone 2 within the Cambridge studio.
Within SCEE, Tom is known as someone who thrives under pressure, with a reputation for never refusing a new challenge and, most importantly, having the ability and determination to see it through to the end.
An integral part of the Side team for over five years, 29 year old Prince was instrumental in Side achieving its most successful year in 2008 with work on titles such as Fable II, LittleBigPlanet and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Already making her mark on 2009, she has cast voice talent for games including Bioware’s Dragon Age, Konami’s upcoming Lords of Shadow and Guerilla Games’ Killzone 2.
Her various esteemed clients across the development sector are often impressed with her total commitment and professionalism – all the while crucially still maintaining that all-important sense of fun.
Lead Mission Designer
Thompson joined Midway’s Newcastle team in February 2004 and rose through the ranks of level designer, senior mission designer. He took the lead mission designer role in April 2008, charged with managing all of the mission content for The Wheelman.
According to studio manager Craig Duncan: “Some of the content he has produced himself and mentored his team to produce is breathtaking.
“To drive for perfection is one thing, but to commit yourself to do everything in your power and ability to make it happen, and iterate and innovate until the content blows everyone away takes Mark into being the best of the best at
what he does.”
After graduating in Computer Science from Sheffield University he joined Infogrames Sheffield as a tools programmer on its core technology team.
After Infogrames Sheffield closed in 2003, he joined Evolution Studios to begin work on World Rally Championship 4, and then World Rally Championship Evolved on PlayStation 2, followed by PS3 hits MotorStorm and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift.
While his involvement has been mainly in the area of rendering, he has also become highly proficient in other disciplines including network, UI, game logic, tools, technology, audio, production infrastructure, and production processes.
Despite being only 22, Willis’ 18 months at NiK NaK have seen him tackle a huge number of different programming sectors – including cross platform engine development, tools, plug-in development, low level platform and high level gameplay programming, profiling, debugging, rendering, audio, Lua scripting. And he has proved exceptionally capable and reliable in all of them, says lead programmer Robert Swan: “Even amongst the many good graduates Ricky stands out. His ability to turn his hand to everything is rare and with a couple of games coming out this year, he will stand out whatever future specialisation he chooses.”
Co-Founder and Director
Croft co-founded Mediatonic as one of two staff in 2005, and has since grown the online and social gaming firm to over 15 people with offices in London’s hip Covent Garden. Originally producing smaller games to order, the firm has worked for clients as prestigious as EA, Adult Swim and Sega, creating the whole original line-up of games for the latter’s PlaySega website.
A coder-turned-director, Croft is able to get right down to grass roots on any of the company’s projects while still managing to steer the firm towards its first self-published, original title – and he’s only 24. It’s enough to make you wonder what you’ve done with your life.
As an undergraduate, Dave studied computer and electronic systems at Strathclyde University before specialising in Computer Games Technology at Abertay. Dave was the recipient of the prestigious Graham Technology award at the Scottish University’s Young Software Engineer of the Year ceremony for his thesis on cloth dynamics.
After this, Dave joined Xen group in early 2005 as a gameplay programmer on Crackdown, the critically acclaimed game for the Xbox 360. In 2007, he accepted a permanent contract with Realtime Worlds to work on the upcoming MMO APB. In late 2008, Dave rejoined Xen group shortly before the company reformed as Ruffian Games.
Back in 2001 we ran a feature similar to this one, profiling the new talent for the 21st Century, and we threw the spotlight on an up-and-coming designer called Jez Harris. He confidently predicted then that “before long, we’ll all be celebrities.” While that might not be exactly the case right now, he is certainly carving a reputation for himself as lead designer at Relentless, having worked on Buzz! The Mega Quiz. He’s also responsible for The Hollywood Quiz, The Schools Quiz and ‘any good bits’ in The Pop Quiz. More recently he’s steered PSP game Buzz!: Master Quiz to number one in the budget PSP charts, and is now working on “some really good stuff that’s secret.”
Galvin studied 3D modelling and animation at Dublin University, before going on to work on localisation art for Vivendi Dublin. Confessing that he was ‘always a bit of a gamer’, he moved to the UK and worked as a general artist for Zoonami, staying there for several years and progressing to the role of lead artist.
Galvin enjoys the production element of art creation and was therefore attracted to Denki’s high-output model while still managing to keep its own style. He now works in Denki’s TinkTank department where he enjoys the freedom to visualise both his own ideas and the concepts of the rest of the team.
Coe graduated from the Cumbria Institute of the Arts in 2002 and joined BigBIG Studios the following year, right at the beginning of the studio’s life. He worked as an environment artist on the successful Pursuit Force and its sequel Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, and contributed to the very distinctive style of the games as a key member of the effort to facilitate landscape artwork and modelling. More recently, Piers has worked on concepting and new, unannounced titles.
In the words of BigBIG studio manager Jon Webb, Coe has “always applied himself in an extremely professional and dedicated manner. He’s a real star.”
Starting out by dabbling with Deluxe Paint like so many before him, and modding games like Jazz Jackrabbit, Moleman went on to study games animation at University of Teesside, where he graduated in 2005. For his final year thesis, where most others went the safe route, he went out on a limb and tried to come push what animation can and should mean for gameplay – a project which later became a Develop article. He joined Streamline Studios in Holland upon graduation and now works for Arkane Studios in Lyon. Meanwhile he has continued his animation training on his own accord, firmly committed to experimenting with animation as a means of expression.
Four Door Lemon
The managing and technical director of young developer Four Door Lemon, Barratt apparently taught himself elements of BASIC on the CPC6128 at the age of five, and has since self-trained as a programmer.
He joined the industry at 16 and formed Four Door Lemon in 2005. The irritatingly 26 year-old also happens to be a Pepsi addicted wannabe petrolhead with an unhealthy love for Hull
City, so there’s downsides to everything. In 2008 he produced and did programming on the multi-platform Puzzler Collection, Football Director DS, Clever Kids and other still-secret projects, as well as continued development of its in-house tools and middleware.
- Sean Crooks (3rd Dimension Creations)
- Bungie’s 50 employees under 30 (Bungie)
- Mohit Sureka (Spiel)
- Thomas Grip (Frictional)
- Adam Capone (Streamline)
- Chris Chatterton (Qurios)
- Andree Wallin (Realtime UK)
- ‘Deejay’ (Binary Tweed)
- Matt Rank (Audiomotion)
- Barry Cairns, David Hynd, Stuart Campbell and Paul A. Simms (Ruffian)
- Richard Carr, Stewart Hogarth, and Tom Kronberg (Denki)
- Joe Neate (Midway Newcastle)
- Jesse Roberts (Lo-Jen)
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