Our tour of London's developers stops off at Eiconic's remote studio
If you’re thinking ’I’m pretty sure I sure Eiconic in a different regional focus earlier this year’ then give yourself a pat on the back (and a slight chastisement for remembering such useless facts) – indeed, we’ve seen these guys already in 2009 as part of the Midlands focus.
If you’re wondering how a studio can be in two places at once, prepare to have your mind blown – Eiconic is in about five places at once, and simultaneously nowhere at all. No, it’s not the result of a mishap at the Large Hadron Collider, but rather one of the growing breed of ‘remote’ studios with no fixed abode.
Why? Well, for lots of reasons. “The most beneficial reason to be remote from a development point of view is the extra time it gives you,” explains managing director Graeme Monk.
“Prior to setting up Eiconic we all had commutes of around an hour each way, so instantly gaining an extra couple of hours a day means we can be extremely productive for a small team.”
Another great thing is that they can pick and choose staff and freelancers from anywhere across the UK – including London, of course – without having to make them relocate. “This has been extremely useful on our new title Polar Panic, and has allowed us to work with talented people we would not have been able to work with otherwise. Plus, from a financial point of view it’s also very useful not to have the overhead of an office.”
This year has been a busy one for the guys, releasing not only Squeeballs on the Wii but also prepping Polar Panic for a December release on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, with the PC version following next year.
“Polar Panic has been the highlight of the year for us. It’s really refreshing developing our own ideas, our way, into a finished product. It’s also been a learning experience as it’s our first title for electronic distribution.
Download sales figures are difficult to obtain, so it’s guesswork what our return might be. There’s a huge market out there, but it would be very helpful if download sales were as transparent as retail, especially as it seems to be hit and miss on what sells.”
Looking at the game, though, it definitely strikes as more of a hit than a miss.
“Our aim with Polar Panic was to develop a game in the tradition of classic arcade games, with the looks of a modern next-gen title and enough depth to keep the most hardened gamer hooked,” explains Monk. “The whole game is easy to pickup and fun to play, but in small enough chunks so you don’t have to spend hours to complete a level. We think it’s a good family game, and we’ve received our first batch of previews of Polar Panic, and it’s being received well both by the press and the public.”
Number of staff: Five, plus contractors as required
Location: Various, mainly South East
Previous projects: Polar Panic, Squeeballs
Currently working on: Squaddies (working title)