MD Simon Iwaniszak explains how developing Call of Duty and Pitfall for mobile has prepared the start-up for its original purpose
Set up by former Rockstar designer Simon Iwaniszak, Red Kite Games has spent the first two years of its life focused on making high-end mobile games for some very high-profile partners. But that wasn't the plan.
Originally, the studio was set up around the premise of work-for-hire but two major projects from Activision distracted the team – one of our Develop 100 European Start-ups – from this goal.
Most notably, Red Kite helped put together Call of Duty: Strike Team, the portable blockbuster shooter from The Blast Furnace, but with this out of the way, the Huddersfield studio can concentrate on what it was initially founded for.
MD Iwaniszak is now reaching out to all developers and publishers to offer Red Kites services for larger projects. We caught up with him to find out exactly what he's looking for.
Why is Red Kite looking for more work-for-hire work?
To be honest we never meant to stop.
From the beginning it was always Red Kite's intention to reach out to the key platform holders, best developers and major publishers that we respect within the industry. It just never panned out that way as our first piece of contract work snowballed almost instantly.
We started doing a little piece of contract work for Activision and The Blast Furnace on Call of Duty and from there our connection grew incredibly quickly. That small amount of work turned into the whole of the first mission, including the in-game tutorials. We were surprised and pleased that Activision allowed us to develop this major part of such a big IP but I feel it worked out well for all involved.
Once this work was completed, we nearly started reaching out again but we were then offered a second project from Activision. It was another great opportunity so we locked down and concentrated on knocking the project out of the park. With a short timeline, the project flew by without a hitch and here we are today, finally at the place where we thought we’d be a year ago.
We loved working with Activision and The Blast Furnace and Red Kite has made great friends there, but now with a solid team and a bag full of excitement we’re looking to head back out into the big wide world once again.
What sort of projects would you like to work on?
We are not naïve enough to think that Red Kite can be picky about the work that we would like to take on, but there are some really interesting things happening around the major platform holders.
The team really like what Sony is doing at the moment and Red Kite would love to work with them on some of their IPs. They make cool static tech with good market penetration which is key in today's climate. We’re also loving their relaxed approach to platform agnostic development and looking to support Unity creates a huge amount of possibility.
We were surprised and pleased that Activision allowed us to develop this major part of such a big IP but I feel it worked out well for all involved.
Simon Iwaniszak, Red Kite Games
Why should studios partner with Red Kite?
When it comes to work for hire, platform holders, developers and publishers are looking for teams that they can trust to get the job done and Red Kite does exactly that.
I get slightly embarrassed when answering questions like this as it results in blowing one’s own trumpet, but I hope that people find us to be friendly, understanding, talented and very driven. As a team we feel that we understand all levels of the games business, everything from what makes a great game to the needs of developers, publishers and of course the games player themselves. We will help out wherever we are needed and are ready to spin on a dime as and when scenarios develop. Most importantly, we focus on quality of delivery whilst growing the friendships that come from partnering with other companies.
In the end though, we have been given some glowing recommendations from the key people at Activision and The Blast Furnace and we are very thankful that they seem to be blowing the trumpet for us. Or maybe I should say flying the (red) kite for us!
What work have you done before and how does this showcase your abilities?
Personally I learnt my trade at Rockstar, which is an amazing company to work for when you are hungry to learn and eager to make great games. Working on huge IPs such as Grand Theft Auto on a multitude of platforms and spending time out in the US working on Red Dead Redemption provided me with the knowledge that I needed for running my own studio.
The Red Kite team is highly talented and we are extremely proud of what we have managed to achieve so far. A dogma that we adopted from day one was to combine experienced developers with emerging talent and this has worked out great for the company.
Bringing the question squarely back to Red Kite, the last two projects that we completed for Activision showcase the team’s abilities perfectly.
Call of Duty is one of the biggest IP's on the planet and the game was hugely ambitious from the outset. Red Kite Games was brought in to provide development support on the title and we successfully impacted on all areas of development. The Blast Furnace immediately recognised this, which allowed them to confidently delegate key areas of development amongst the Red Kite team.
The second title Pitfall! Krave was very different in comparison to Call of Duty but just as useful in terms of Red Kite testing its steel. Tasked with leading the development of the title, Red Kite had to shoulder a greater responsibility with the overall production of the game. Also, working closely with Kellogg's was a great experience. Striking a balance between staying loyal to the Kellogg’s brand whilst creating a solid game was essential and everyone involved in the creation of the game helped to make this happen.
Since our inception the studio has grown in every capacity and as a team we are confident that Red Kite Games can provide high quality development support on any project and for any company. Building good partnerships is what Red Kite is looking for, as really, games projects come and go, whereas friendship is forever.