Chris Stamp on making VIDEO GAMES
You could say that video games are in my blood. I had my first game, Zorgon's Kingdom on Commodore VIC20, published at the age of fifteen, in 1983. It was a crazy time - an appearance on regional news, my face on the front page of local newspapers, an invite to appear on mainstream TV programme Blue Peter (turned down). Video games were a novelty in themselves in those days, let alone schoolboys being able to make money from it. I went on to make a few more games for VIC20 and Commodore 64 but it eventually palled and I went back to a normal life.
I came back to video games professionally in 1996, almost by accident. I'd worked for a few years at British Aerospace Military Aircraft Division at Brough on Humberside, on cockpit research. We developed dome-based flight simulators and virtual reality environments to test new kinds of cockpit display - mostly 3D ones. After four years of that, I worked at Marconi Simulation in Fife for a short time, making a training simulator for London Underground drivers. So some would say that I'd never left games. But I wasn't enjoying Marconi much and when one of my colleagues left to join a games company in Dundee, DMA Design, my interest was reawakened. I have to confess that I had a demo game to take to the interview - one I'd made in my spare time using expensive company Silicon Graphics machines, unknown to the management.
I worked at DMA Design for a few years and was in charge of a team that made a game that I was extremely proud of called Wild Metal Country for PC (Wild Metal on Dreamcast). It wasn't a commercial success, being somewhat offbeat and a challenge for marketing teams and coming due for publication at a time when the company was running into difficulty (as games development companies tend to) being bought by Take Two Interactive in between the PC and Dreamcast launches. The development team played the game in networked mode for months afterwards - I suspect that at the time we were guilty of selfishly making a game for ourselves rather than anyone else. One of the other games in development at the time, Grand Theft Auto, was a commercial success of course (too late to save the original company identity). I did do a little bug fixing on GTA, but have never had the nerve to add that to my CV - unlike some others I could mention who never even touched it as far as I could tell!
Eventually, under the new ownership, DMA fragmented, some people going to what is now Rockstar North in Edinburgh, continuing to work for Take Two, and a new studio emerging in Dundee under the guidance of DMA Design founder Dave Jones. This studio was named Rage Games Scotland, eventually to become Realtime Worlds.
I worked at Realtime Worlds for ten years - I started as an engineer, went on to manage a team creating technology used on Xbox 360 title Crackdown, and eventually became Executive Producer on a big budget MMOG called APB (see www.APB.com).
Next stop was a role as Director of Development for Acony Games in Villingen just outside the Black Forest in southern Germany, on a great free-to-play first person shooter called Bullet Run, published by Sony Online Entertainment, followed by a spell in Zurich Switzerland working for Ubisoft.
Right now I'm working in Dundee, for Kobojo, where we are making an RPG called Zodiac.
See my brief guide to Managing Game Projects.