#IrishGameDev Timeline

Timeline of Irish Game Development

We have just created a new section on gamedevelopers.ie to provide a home for an alpha timeline of the Irish Games Industry. Find out when Atari was in Ireland, or Sony launched its GAA game. Watch videos, check dates.

This was originally compiled by Jamie McCormick to show visitors that Ireland has a relatively long history in various aspects of the games industry and culture. The timeline breaks out events in the history of the Irish games industry into industry events/policy decisions and company/team formation split into Game & App development, Games technology/middleware, industry services, publishing and retail/consumer services.

The timeline uses information released in Jamie’s Games Industry in Ireland 2012 report, plus associated lists in our forums, combined with company formation dates from CRO or Companies House, or if unavailable, the date a website was registered. ~70% of entries were formally registered as companies in some shape or form.

To date the project has had valued input from across the Irish game development community, Games Fleadh, State of Play, Dr. Aphra Kerr, Mr Phil Bourke, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland. The project stalled in May 2014 when Scraggly Dog Games and GetIrishGames closed down. Now we have resurrected it and we want you to get involved.

We would like you to help improve it?

You can use the contact form here on gd.ie to send us information. Just put [timeline project] in the message header. We’re also interested in videos, photographs, screen shots related to each company and team. Happy to correct things too.

Volunteer with Gamedevelopers.ie

 Update August 12th, 2015

Thanks to everyone who has volunteered to date.

We have been a bit slow on organising volunteers what with holidays etc. but we are gearing up now.

We have sufficient technical and web skills now in our team. But we are always looking for more folks to write. Feel free to drop us a line.

Volunteer with gd.ie 

GameDevelopers.ie is a non-profit, volunteer run site that has been supporting the Irish games scene for thirteen years now.

We aim to provide an openly accessibly source of information on what is happening in the local game scene, amateur and professional, and an archive of what has happened. A few people have put in a lot of work into having a platform that provides the local community, students, hobbyists and industry, with coverage of games and play related news, a free place to advertise jobs and Irish made games, and feature articles for more in-depth stories.

Need for Volunteers

 

Overtime volunteers have moved on, emigrated, or got very busy in work, and the number of people actively running the website has dwindled. We usually have to renew things every couple of years. This is where you come in.

Firstly, there are still bugs with the new wordpress site and we need to fix the site to work on mobile devices. So we need some more technical volunteers who can help with that.

Second, we have a massive archive of material from our thirteen year archive we need to have properly categorised. We have to compare and contrast current content with the old site, so we can make sure that all the features and articles are back online again, in a fully searchable format. (This could be interesting for someone looking to explore the scene over the past decade in more detail).

So, we need self-starting volunteers with the following skills or interests.

– 1. Web developers, preferably with experience with WordPress (CSS/HTML/PHP)
– 2. Graphic designers for article images/social media – intermittant
– 3. Security specialist, who can do a full security audit of GD.ie systems, so we can make sure a hack doesn’t happen again.
– 4. Content curators who can go through our content, removing duplicates, and doing some minor editing, tagging, categorisation, descriptions, and work through bringing our archive back online
– 5. News writers, who can write short reports on local events around #IrishGameDev and write short news pieces on breaking Irish games news – this could also be short video pieces.
– 6. Feature writers, who can write in-depth pieces and interviews with people in the local industry.
– 7. Co-ordinator, who can help project manage the above people

 

This is not a lifetime commitment – if you can only do stuff for a couple of months or less that is okay.

So if you can help, we want to hear from you! Please get in touch with aphra [at] gamedevelopers [dot] ie with the subject “GameDevelopers.ie Volunteer – AREA”

Sponsorship Opportunities

A benefit of the new site is that we have better statistics and a more secure structure.

So in addition to the above we are currently starting to look for sponsorship from companies in #IrishGameDev.

There are two types of sponsorship we’re considering. We have space for one primary sponsor on the homepage, and three secondary sponsors, which will be prominently featured across the site.

You can promote a company/product/event, or if you are releasing a game, you can have a game logo to drive traffic to the game page.

If you would like more information, please get in touch with aphra [at] gamedevelopers [dot] ie with the subject “GameDevelopers.ie Sponsorship”.

State of Play 2015 review

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DIT, Aungier Street, played host to the annual indie games festival, State of Play 2015 on Wednesday 20th May. (Watch back at www.twitch.tv).

During the afternoon students and indies demoed their projects and for the first time there was an academic session for showing research. However we the authors, were really only at the evening talks so we will have to get feedback from others on the afternoon sessions. The images from Bryan Duggan of DIT show a good crowd though.

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When we arrived at 6pm the room at the top of Aungier Street was almost full with at least one hundred people. A mix of students, lecturers and industry representatives from the cream of #IrishGameDev were in attendance. bitSmith, Simteractive, SixMinute, Fungus games, and a number of other indie games developers joined an enthusiastic crowd. Seats were at a premium as latecomers streamed in filling up the space, helping give a great atmosphere before the talks even began.

Hugh McAtamney, Head of School of Media in DIT introducing the event, the fifth state of play. He thanked everyone who participated in the games demos earlier in the day. After a brief talk about some of the mechanics of games, in the context of his own children, Elaine Reynolds of Simteractive took to the stage.


 

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Elaine’s talk looked at the day to day aspects of running a games company, looking at everything from running a games company, to the basic office management stuff such as ordering bin tags. As a person running a company, she talk about the importance of prioritising tasks, while also juggling all the day to day components of running a live team. She spoke about tensions that can cause problems in a game, such as the balance between improving a game versus shipping a game, or quality versus quantity, or learning to say no. She mentioned the opportunity cost of doing everything, time effort and money.

The decisions theme continued, looking at all of the different decisions needed in game design; in her case making a game where you run a holiday resort. Elaine then showed off some screenshots of her new game, and asked the crowd for playtesters, who can sign up at simteractive.com


 

Next up was Colm Larkin of Gambrinous, who are making the game Guild of Dungeoneering. He said that he had announced his game “embarassingly early”, but then went on to talk about the positive side effects, such as getting feedback early from critics, players, peers. He mentioned sharing early also helped build a portfolio, take on board feedback, and make deep changes to the game. It allows you to rapidly prototype lots of concepts before trying to focus on a guild of dungeoneeringbigger project.  He then went onto places you can talk online, starting with a blog on Tumblr and posting articles on Gamasutra.

He also mentioned sharing in person, standing there, watching people play the game, take feedback and make a better game because of it. He highlighted events like State of Play and gamejams. At gamejams he noted the shared deadline was a great way to force you to deliver and share your work. He wrapped up “saying create, but also share.” (Editor: of course it has been a great year for Guild of Dungeoneering given that it was nominated for Casual Connect Indie this year in Amsterdam and won most promising game in development. See also recent article in Irish Times).


Rapidly following him was Chris Gregan of Fungus Games. Having previously worked at Playfirst and Instinct Technology, he talked about putting in lots of unpaid time into IP that the company owns, and the day you leave them company (even if you are a founder), you lose all the access to it. “After twelve years of sweat, I had zero access to the hundreds of thousands of lines of code I wrote”. He mentioned two proprietary game engines he worked on, which have gone obsolete and disappeared. Based on this, he has moved towards open source. Fungus, is an open source engine for making story driven games.

Fungus took inspiration from twine and redpipe, and the communities around them. Fungus hopes to attract lots of users, remain open soufungus headerrce and sell training programs. An open source business model is not easy, or a path to riches, but a way for a developer to eliminate barriers to adoption. You don’t need to open source everything, maybe certain scripts and other parts of the game, while keeping the rest proprietary.

When it came to education, he advised attendees to keep things open source, using something like github.  This is especially important with group projects which means future employers can see how a team works together and who has committed code. He also mentioned that a license, such as the Creative Commons, should be added. If it’s not there, others can’t use it as you have the copyright. He mentioned the overwhelming support he’s received from the local Irish industry including help with code, workshops, documentation, promotion, and advice. (Editor: See recent article on Fungus in the Irish Times)

 

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Next up was Andrew Deegan of Sugra Games. Andrew has seven years of experience, across a range of projects in toys, games, free to play, starting up two companies, raising €350,000 in funding and winning several awards. He noted that there are only about 200 paid development roles in Ireland, with many companies not making much money, and many in it for the passion. When he is hiring he is more interested in specialists, rather than generalists. For him a key question people should ask themselves is do I want to be an entrepreneur or an employee? He has worked in four games companies, two as an employee and two as an entrepreneur. Having been both, what has he learned?

When you work for yourself, you have a huge amount of responsibility and multiple roles. When you are an employee you have a specific role.  When it comes to work hours, people do lots of hours in all companies, but more so in your own companies. In terms of acclaim and critical reception?. In Breakout, he got lots of critical acclaim, working with lots of companies such as Acclaim and Hasbro. In Jolt, there wasn’t much acclaim, the market didn’t like the game, the media didn’t like it. In Megazebra, they had over 8 million people play the game, with continued demand with people looking for new content. With Sugra, he said that they haven’t made a hit (yet!), making two versions of one game, and then publishing games from Japan, but not having hit critical acclaim.ArticleImage_01_1280x720

He then looked at his income. In his first job despite getting support from DIT, patents and Enterprise Ireland, he made little to no money. Then he talked about working for another company, having low responsibility, but making more money. When it came to his second company, as an entrepreneur, he had to give himself a paycut to keep things going. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared to earn nothing.

Finally he talked about stress. There was more stress as an entrepreneur, having to build the product, attend events and get on with things. Working for people, there was less stress with more money. Back into stress as an entrepreneur, which shoots up when you get investment, take on a team, and run the company, or chase sales. He then talked about love for the project, with the first year being fun and new, and over time, interest was lost in both types of companies. So overall things were happier working for a company, with less stress, more money and more fun. However in both types of companies the fun tapers off.


 

Next up was Louise McKeown who spoke about the potential of Radical Heterogenous Game Spaces. For her there were a lack of characters in her gaming history that she could identify with. She tried to look back at times in her teens when she played a game, and connected to a strong female character, but couldn’t find one. While she enjoyed characters in games such as Final Fantasy 7, she couldn’t relate to them, she would never be like them, or look like them, or be the protagonist in the game.

A recurring theme was that stories very rarely go outside of the heteronormative masculine norm. She talked about Super Metroid, and her experience playing the game, knowing she was female, and how that helped her feel empowered. She spoke about Gone Home by Fullbright company, as a space where female characters felt comfortable, even though in that game it portrays a world where women love and respect each other, all within the house and no external masculine influence to make the environment hostile.


 

 bitSmith Games’s Owen Harris, a veteran of state of play and lecturer on the BA in Game Design in DIT then took the stage. His talk was about the journey of finding his voice as a game designer. He talked about messing with game engines and technologies for a decade, and that four years ago he dedicated himself to being a game designer, which he thought were all mysterious wizards with archaic knowledge, formulas and information. He found it very intimidating, looking at how different games were there, and tried to emulate it himself. He tried to think, speak and make games the way he thought others did, from a disciplined, analytic space. He wasn’t happy, ending up lost, unhappy and thinking it would never happen.

Then he went to a fantasy writing convention and listened to a Neil Gaimen talk. Neil spoke about his early career as a writer, balancing the tension between what you want to do, and what you need to do to get by, and the importance of finding your own voice.Deep

Owen found this inspirational and this informed an experience he is designing called Deep, which is a project controlled by breathing. The project is very difficult, needing a VR headset which isn’t out, and a controller he’s only made one of, which can only be played at events.

Despite this, it’s gotten a lot of positive critical reception, including lots of emails from people asking him for emotional help.

If you feel scared and intimidated by the towering titans of game design masters, perhaps all you need to is step out of their shadows. You don’t need to be a mighty wizard, instead looking at the fool for inspiration. Drop the desire to be smart and successful, and instead approach game design in a way that’s fun, silly and weird.


 

After an interval, Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris took the stage, an independent game developer (at the one woman The Tiniest Shark) and videogames PhD researcher (at University of Portsmouth, UK). mituHer talk focused on play, caring about people, and the player.

She recounted how she had loved games since the commodore 64 and the Amstrad PCW. She discovered a game called Jinxter, a British text based adventure game. It taught her about comedy in games. Other influences were more from TV and film.  

When she was 13/14, she saw an X Files episode about a  super intelligent virus let loose on the internet. A key figure in the episode was Invisigoth, a female hacker, and entertainment software developer. This was the first time she realised that you could work at making games. That was the moment that set her on the path of game developement as a career option.

She also had an interest in space, having been brought to a planetarium in London, and realised the scale of the universe, and how tiny earth was. This affected her thinking when it came to making video games, being tiny but connected to other things. Her game design has reflected this, looking at how things are connected, and how people interact, or self reflect.  Games can be represented in many ways, from abstract to comedic.

She looked at games from the context of art through play. Play puts us at odds with ourself, at least interesting play does. As we play, we confront different realities, which is similar to plays, painting and other types of media. Games or other artfowms are a perfect vehicle for exploring the world around you.

Her talk then moved onto diversity, and how women are represented in games, and the vocabulary that has emerged. She discussed diversity, inherent (gender, race, sexuality etc) vs acquired (life experiences, habits that set you apart, communities you’ve engaged with, places you’ve been).  She discussed Miyomoto’s work, and how this has been about recapturing childhood experiences, and putting them into his game design. 


 

Next up was Zuraida Buter from the Netherlands, executive director of Global Game Jam (GJJ) and curator of numerous play festivals. With no laptop we were treated to audience participation. She had five wooden shoes, and brought several members of the crowd to the front to play Turtle Wushu. Last person standing wins (Vicky Lee did in the end). zuraida

After that, she began talking about GJJ. In 2009, there were 53 locations worldwide which ran gamejams, compared to today where Brazil has over 70 venues. This year, over 25,000 people across over 70 countries participated in game jams and collaborating and making new things in digital and board games. Year on year, numbers are increading, and used the example of Egypt where over 2,000 people are participating, in countries where they don’t have a legacy of making games, and even where there is conflict ongoing in the countries.

She then spoke about the Dutch Game Garden, a business centre/incubator in Utrecht for games. Starting with a team of three people, and supported by local government who saw some economic benefit and backed it. Six or seven companies started, and it began growing and growing. They started aiming to support students who wanted to set up a studio after graduation, but in 2010 they moved to a bigger building, with five floors with nearly fifty games companies, some established, others starting off from scratch.

People went to shows like GDC, Tokyo Game Show, and met each other and networked. It allowed people from the same country to meet, who hadn’t met in the Netherlands. They started to run different events to let people to network with other developers, and showcase their talent. On the back of this, they set up Indigo, which has 36 teams showcasing their games, letting students mix with professionals, and offering a gallery which is open to the public. Year on year, the numbers participating are rising, and year on year the quality is rising.

Calling herself a playful culture advisor, she talked about the interaction between participation, creativity, performance, encounters, curiosity and spectatorship. In this, she’s attended a lot of different festivals and groups, such as the Copenhagen Game Collective, Nordic Games Indie nights, and talked about play culture in the context of real-life events, getting people to interact and have fun together, reworking old classic games, or just making fun games up on the spot. She also mentioned Amaze in Berlin, Inis Spraoi in Ireland and the Playful Arts Festival. You can see more about these events at the Playful Culture tumblr.

 

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Next up was RICHARD LEMARCHMANDlecturer at the Interactive Media & Games Division of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, and former Lead and Co-Lead Game Designer of the award-winning Uncharted series for the Sony PlayStation 3 at Naughty Dog studio. Previous to that, he worked in Crystal Dynamix where he worked on Gex, Soul Reaver and Pandemonian.richard

His first start was MicroProse where he helped start up their console game division. He counts himself lucky for becoming a game designer, and got a lot of help from mentors along the way. He loves the thrill of making a game, and then seeing someone play it. Games have the potential to combine the best of culture, and are a meta art form as you can combine different types of artforms into once place. Games are also interactive systems, which can respond to players when they make inputs.

Overall his talk looked at Systems, Games and Balance.  Devising the systems of games is the main goal. We’re at the brink of a revolution of creativity and innovation, which comes to a head in games. Examples such as biometric inputs, new displays, robotics, small affordable CPU’s and touch screens will lead to new types of arts, such as mixed hybrid interactive performances. The tech is a candy shop of tools for scientists and artists. Although without ideas, all the tech counts for nothing, but right now there is a renaissance in game design, with lots of different types of games, from triple A to games like Monument Valley, and all the other indie games. These cater for all sorts of different styles and spaces. He also name checked a lot of new innovative Irish games, such as Guild of Dungeoneering, Curtain, Darkside Detective and Owen’s game, Deep.

For him games are an incredibly ancient form of human culture, possibly pre-dating language and writing. Referring to the work of games sociologist, Roger Caillois, he discussed Caillois’ categorisation of four primary types of games –  games of competition, games of  chance, games of make believe/ mimicry, and games of vertigo, which temporarily change your perception (roller coasters, spinning in a circle to get dizzy).

Soul Reaver was inspired by painters, books and German expressionist films. Uncharted, tried to referencuncharted3e different forms of culture, in an era of blockbuster type games like Indiana Jones, Die Hard, King Solomons mines etc., and now they are working on games that connect with different forms of culture.

On systems, he said they’re all around in the physical world. Made up of interconnected elements, that cause patterns to emerge. Humans often see beauty in the things made my processes (i.e. basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway, geometrics, or supernovas, snowflake crystals, or images showing fractal patterns in nature. ) Systemic structure are in nature, with fractals and symmetry in flowers, and weird beauty in complex structures like a termite mound, or structural beauty of objects humans build, such as engineering that makes new or old architecture.

With the advent of digital communities, this has changed, with mathemetical models which look like organic structures. Over the course of the 20th century, artists followed sets of rules, that allowed others to create different types of art, or systems of geometry, or 3D structures. By the middle of the 20th century, scholars founded a discipline of cybernetics, now known as systems dynamics. Systems are governed by feedback loops, such as stabilisiing feedback loops, like a thermostat, or a runaway loop, like compound interest. Emergence is where larger entities arise through the result of interactions among smaller or simpler entities, such as ants making a complex anthill.

He moved on to talking about games as systems. Of numbers, logic, relationships of space and time, interactions and vertigo, and feedback loops. Emergence in game design allow events, a holy grail in game design, and seen more in sandbox games, emerge. Games have elements of players, objectives, rules, procedures, resources, conflict, boundaries and outcome, and the interconnections between them. Talking about Last of Us, he talked about Control systems as important, helping bring the players close to their character. Game systems such as health, ammo, gameplay systems controlling NPC’s and enemies in the game. Multi pass rendering brings the environment to life, and light. TLOU_BAFTA_5

He talked about the nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor, which generates the interactions between different Orcs, and they change how they react to you. He then talked about Game Feel by Steve Swink, talking about how controls feel in racing games, or environmental games. He talks about the Game Feel, bringing together players, ideas, beliefs, generalisations, fantasies, memories, and the world around them. This has inputs, response, metaphors, context, polish and rules, which create feedback loop that affect interaction, sound. All give a perceptual field, taken from psychology.

He then talked about balance in games, and how feedback loops work in mechanics, code and the experience points system in games. The more you destroy, get experience, level up. A runaway feedback loop. As you get better,  opponents get more difficult, giving a balancing feedback loop.  He then showed the telemetrics system in Uncharted, which let them see difficulty spikes from play testers, or to confirm that the game was as challenging as they wanted it to be.

Crunch

 

In concluding Richard started to talk about work life balance for game developers. If you don’t get the right life balance, games can be very dangerous. Game development crunch is working from morning to night, week on week, with no respite, to finish some crucially important spike. Crunch can do damage to people’s lives, especially in triple A. In the indie community, while there aren’t some of these issues, there is a tendency to put crunch on a pedestal to stay up till dawn day after day. It’s a seductive thing, making you feel cool, creative and brave, or that crunch is okay if you’re doing it on a game you own, on your own term, as opposed to working for someone as an employee.

He said there were many artists living on the breadline,  struggling to pay rent and feed themselves. It may be romantic, but it’s a failure to recognise the seriousness of the situation Crunch can do physical harm by not getting enough exercise, eating right, getting a repetitive stress injury. It can do psychological harm, not keeping in touch with friends, not getting mental downtime. It becomes unsustainable to the point where you can’t do your job. When game devs leave the industry, they take all the hard won knowledge with them out of the industry and those left behind have to reinvent the wheel over and over. Crunch can be addictive, and it can be dangerous to let it become a habit.stateofplay gd

His message was that crunch is counter productive. Management studies show after 4-6 weeks of a 60/80 hour week, you’re less productive than someone working a 40 hours week. Looking at how to tackle the problem, you can look at how you make a game. “Making games is hard”. Game developement takes longer than you think, especially when you start. Something that has an hour allocated in the plan, takes a day. There’s lots of stuff that comes along that couldn’t be foreseen, and most of this work is never scheduled, making the project a lot bigger than it is. Projects are often not planned well, or at all, or there’s no overreaching arc, or wing it and hope for the best, but don’t plan for the worst. These can lead to crunch. There is a myth of infinite time, such as the first day of a project, which very quickly runs out. He referenced the Cerny model of game design, which has a set of best practices similar to AGILE, but specifically for games.

Studios like Naughty Dog or Insomniac use the method to have a proper pre-production phase and to explore game design, designing prototypes, and having a simple plan for a well scoped project. There needs to be space at the end to polish, find and fix bugs, and continue improving. You can avoid crunch by working less, but more productively.

He gave some tips. Plan work, stop working when you’re finished. Don’t keep working because you enjoy it, or because you are in the middle of a problem. Passion can cause a problem that leads to crunch, but go to sleep so you have something exciting to get back to, when you’re refreshed after a good night’s sleep. he also looked at your desk situation, making sure that your ergonomics of your workstation are correct for you. Studies show that sitting for a long time, your body and brain do things that are bad for you, so if you can stand up regularly, this can interrupt you so you can move and feel better. Try and control your sleep patterns, i.e. don’t drink caffeine after a certain times, or light emitting screens in the hour before you go to sleep. Try go to bed at the same fixed time. Make sure you’re eating fresh fruit and vegetables, and most important get face to face social time, and try and see them once or twice a week. Once you’re working passionately, you can get socially isolated, and getting real-life contact can help get emotional and mental benefits. Happy developers are as important as happy players. If you’re not happy in your work, it’ll show in your game.

Crunch can happen, but it’s about finding the balance. When you’re working extra hard, make sure it’s sustainable. balanced sustainable methods in business practices in games keep people around. If business cultures are welcoming, more diverse people will join, and this can only benefit the general development community. In other sectors such as writing, film, reading, people work till their 70’s. This doesn’t happen in games, but some day it will.

The evening wrapped up with Hugh thanking all the speakers, and a few words from DIT President Prof. Brian Norton. He was happy for DIT to host State of Play, an education in many ways for him and referred to the diversity and maturity of games. He talked about new DIT campus in development in Grangegorman in Dublin which would help bring games together with other artforms in new facilities, and thanked the crowd.

Afterwards people moved to 4 Dame Lane for some food, drink and tunes.

 


 

Notes written by Jamie McCormick. Edited by Aphra Kerr.
If you spot any errors or would like us to rephrase something just get in touch.

Share your pictures on our forums or @gamedev_ie

#IrishGameDev in the news – 18 Jan.

Following in the wake of two articles in the Examiner newspaper which we have linked to in our forums, Róisín Burke from The Sunday Business Post (SBP) wrote two articles in yesterday’s paper (18th of Jan. 2015) on the Irish games industry.

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One focused on asking what has happened since the government launched its Action plan for the Games Sector in Ireland in 2011 and set out a number of measures which it claimed could double the numbers employed in ‘core game activities’. On foot of this a cluster group was established to implement the plan. This group included industry, academic and other interested representatives.

Games Ireland was formally incorporated around this time, as an industry representative body for the games industry in Ireland and held a high profile event in the Shelbourne hotel attended by industry representatives from Europe. See images below of an Taoiseach End Kenny and David Sweeney, then chair of Games Ireland and in the second image Paschal Donoghue (TD) and Barry O’Neil (StoryToys) from this event. Paschal Donoghue (TD) was at that stage one of the most prominent political figures promoting the games industry. Games Ireland were also participants in the cluster.

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The Clustering Development Team has to date not published a report and there is no public records of their activities (do correct us if there are!). According to the SBP articles Games Ireland appears to be declining to agree to publication of a report without some key issues being included and the ‘team’ has been in hibernation now for almost a year.

Meanwhile David Sweeney stepped down as chair of Games Ireland towards the end of 2014 to concentrate on his European work. He has been replaced by Paul Breslin of Riot Games. Paschal Donoghue has moved to a new appointment as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

In the second article we see some discussion of the potential impact of a new tax credit system for game development introduced in the last year in the UK. Some Irish companies are considering establishing offices in Northern Ireland or in the UK to take advantage of both the tax credit and funding via cultural funding agencies.

So together with the articles in the Examiner, a rather somber picture is presented and the action plan is looking rather lifeless.

Notes:

Download the action plan – forfas20111010-Games_Sector_in_Ireland_2011

 

Rocket Rainbow & Team 17 release Hay Ewe on iOS

Another big day for #IrishGameDev, as ex-Popcap Rocket Rainbow Studios, based in Galway, have gotten their game, Hay Ewe, published via Team 17 indie publishing program (yes, those of Worms fame). You can pick up the game over at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hay-ewe/id895730729?ls=1&mt=8 and show your support for this great looking game.

Press release is below!

PRESS RELEASE
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Hay Ewe out now for iOS!

16th October 2014, UK – Independent publisher Team17 and indie dev Rocket Rainbow are excited to announce that Hay Ewe is now available to download for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch via the App Store.

Hay Ewe is a ewe-nique puzzle game developed by Rocket Rainbow, an independent games studio founded by experienced game developers who grew up in the mobile space. Rocket Rainbow staff include ex-PopCap Games team members, who have been credited with Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies and the 2012 BAFTA award winning Peggle, all games that defined smartphones as a gaming platform.

Centring on the adventures of Matilda the sheep, Hay Ewe is an endearing and unorthodox, fast-paced puzzle game set in a world full of characters and colour. Matilda is a natural born leader with the unfortunate task of rounding up the ever-mischievous lambs. Navigate challenging puzzles and avoid treacherous obstacles with your chain of lambs to deliver them to safety.

This amazing game features:

  • Conquer 60 fun puzzles across Adventure mode
  • Create your own levels and share them with friends
  • Challenge yourself through multiple mini-games
  • Collect unique items to help give you a boost on your journey
  • Explore an enchanting world full of characters and colour
  • Compete with friends on the leaderboards and beat their own puzzles!

Hay Ewe is now available to download for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch via the App Store for just £2.99, $4.99/4,49 €.

Review codes are available upon request.

Assets are available to download from:http://download.team17.com/public/HayEwe_PressPack.zip

To keep up to date with all the information on Hay Ewe please like us on Facebookand follow us on Twitter.

For more information, please contact
Bethany Aston at Team17
Email: bethany.aston@team17.com

About Hay Ewe
Hay Ewe. Developed by Rocket Rainbow Studios. © 2014. Published by Team17. Team17 are trademarks or registered trademarks of Team17 Digital Limited. All other trademarks, copyrights and logos are property of their respective owners.

About Team17 Digital Ltd
Founded in 1990, Team17 Digital Limited is a leading independent developer and digital publisher headquartered in West Yorkshire (UK). Team17 publishes games for PC, console, mobile and handheld devices and other digital platforms. Visit www.team17.com for more info.

About Rocket Rainbow Studios
Founded in 2012 Rocket Rainbow is an indie developer based in Galway. Rocket Rainbow develops games for mobiles. Visit http://www.rocketrainbow.net for more info.

An Post Game Icons Stamp set

An Post issues video game icons stamp set

An Post announced the release of a brand new stamp set on the 16th of October, and Mario, Pac Man, Sonic and Space Invaders will be going around the world on snail mail letters.

You can buy the stamps (minimum purchase €5.00) at http://www.irishstamps.ie/shop/c-190-game-icons.aspx, from major post offices or if you’re around Dublin, the stamp shop from the GPO. and as they’re limited edition, use your opportunity to get them while they’re still around! Press release is below.

16/10/2014

Dublin 16/10/2014 Did you hear the one about the moustachioed superstar, the hedgehog, the yellow dot and the space invader? Well stand by, because this week An Post has issued a four-stamp set celebrating the great video game icons.

Nintendo’s Mario, SEGA’ s Sonic the Hedgehog, BANDAI NAMCO Games Inc’s PAC-MAN  and Taito Corp’s Space InvadersNintendo’s Mario, SEGA’ s Sonic the Hedgehog, BANDAI NAMCO Games Inc’s PAC-MAN  and Taito Corp’s Space Invaders will feature on the colourful four stamp set that looks likely to prove a huge hit with gamers of all ages. The set marks the iconic status of the games and the transition of gaming from novelty to global industry.

The stamps were designed by Zinc Design Consultants, the Dublin-based, award-winning graphic design studio. The stamps and a beautiful first day cover (FDC) are available from main post offices, at the stamp shop in Dublin’s GPO or online at www.irishstamps.ie.

The four constitute probably the most iconic images of popular culture since the 1970s and lie at the heart of a multibillion dollar global industry. Mario was created by Nintendo in 1981 and wears his distinctive red cap and blue overalls, beginning one of the biggest video game franchises of all time with Mario appearing in more than 100 video games to date with more than 307 million units sold worldwide. The distinctive blue Sonic the Hedgehog first appeared in 1991 and has been blazing a trail for SEGA ever since. Sonic lies at the heart of some 70 games and has grossed over €5 billion in sales. PAC-MAN first appeared in 1980 and saw players steering a yellow dot around levels of maze, eating Pac-Dots and fruit, and avoiding ghosts . Two years earlier in 1978 Space Invaders was born, originally manufactured and sold by Taito of Japan and one of the forerunners of modern video gaming.

In the early years, games were mostly aimed at children but very quickly became the stuff of everyday life for people of all ages and all walks of life. An Post’s new stamps will be eagerly sought by gamers past and present and by anyone with an interest in popular culture.

 

 

Highline Games – Unity Game Developer – iOS/Android (Remote Contract) [Filled]

Unity Game Developer – iOS/Android [Filled}
Type: Remote Contract Job
Highline Games – New York

Highline Games are a New York based mobile game developer best known for their hit iPad game W.E.L.D.E.R. Founded by two veterans of Rockstar New York who have worked on the Grand Theft Auto and Midnight Club series, among others, they are seeking to recruit a talented Unity Game Developer from #IrishGameDev to work on an upcoming project due to commence in November.

This is a great opportunity for the right candidate to work on a commercial game, and level up their skills. We are looking for a self-starter and a problem solver who can manage their own workflow, be punctual for online meetings and calls, comfortable working remotely, quickly able to integrate with the existing team and co-ordinator (in New York) and delivering assigned tasks to defined schedules and deadlines.

They must also be able to document their code, and troubleshoot and be able to act on their feet to deal with issues that arise during development.

Job outline

We are seeking a Unity Game Developer who is a coder first and foremost. We prefer to work with people who love to code more than anything else. You will be working with an experienced developer who will work with you to architect the project, periodically review your code and provide guidance where necessary, but you will be responsible for building a solid working game.

Job responsibilities

  • Implement game functionality as per design document and specification
  • Give regular feedback to project lead as to implementation issues and possible improvements to game design
  • Create tools for level design and tweaking of mechanics
  • Provide good estimates about how long a given task will take and stick to them
  • Check code into GitHub daily for review
  • Communicate with other team members to establish pipeline and integrate media assets
  • Produce technical documentation
  • Address bugs and other technical issues identified for subsequent release
  • Be available to work directly with the New York (GMT -5 hours) team for at least 2 hours a day

Minimum Requirements:

  • Excellent knowledge of Unity C# and OOP
  • Experience with iOS and Android platforms, including IAP and Gamecenter implementation
  • Experience using the 2D features of Unity
  • At least 1 complete game built with Unity
  • At least 3 years games programming experience
  • A passion for games, particularly of the puzzle genre
  • Enthusiasm, professionalism, a high standard of work and ability to multitask
  • Ability to communicate with a remotely distributed team
  • Ability to deliver required tasks on time and not miss deadlines

Reporting: You will report to our lead developer in New York

Hours of work: This role is a full time (40 hours a week) remote job. The expected duration of the contract is between 3 and 5 months.

Renumeration: Based on experience, and negotiable with the successful candidate

How to apply: This position is now filled, and no further applications are being taken.

Interview process: Shortlisted candidates who are called to interview will need to be available for a Skype interview, and the successful candidate needs to available to start in the first or second week of November through to approximately February.

Please note: Direct applicants only. We do not accept applications referred by recruitment agencies for this role.

124 minutes of State of Play Goodness (DIT)

Hugh, Bryan and Brian from DIT have been rendering the video from the State of Play 2014 September Special that happened last month. They have kindly provided it now at this link, or you can enjoy it right here on gamedevelopers.ie tv :)

The talks were to a packed house, and Owen Harris from bitSmith Games was MC for the night. Chanel Summers started the evening with a fascinating talk about her experiences in audio across many areas of the media industry, and how it’s important to be involved from the outset of a games development project. This was followed by a talk by Brenda Romero, who discussed a wide range of areas from the world of video game developments, and her experience with making her board game Train. After the talks, a Q&A chaired by Owen between members of the audience went on and the speakers were joined by Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake legend John Romero.

Twitter has plenty of photos of the evening after, and it was a great, informative evening and well done to DIT School of Media for running it. We all look forward to State of Play 2014 in November! If you’ve comments from the night, remember to pop by the relaunched forums. Follow the organisers @seriousgamesirl, and we hope that John and Brenda have had a fantastic time touring Ireland, and see the best that #IrishGameDev has to offer :)

 

[18/10/14] 3D Animation Masterclass with Kyle Balda in association with the Dublin Animation Festival

We received an update about a 3D animation masterclass with Kyle Balda that’s happening in October. Details below!

In association with the 2014 Dublin Animation Festival, Animation Skillnet have organised a one day 3D Animation Master Class with renowned Animation Director Kyle Balda.
Kyle Balda has been working in feature character animation for over 20 year, most notably with Pixar Animation Studios and Illumination Entertainment.
His credits include: The Mask (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Jumanji (1995), The Frightners and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013). At Pixar he animated on A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and worked as directing animator on Toy Story 2 (1999). At Illumination Entertainment he was head of layout for Despicable Me (2010), he co-directed The Lorax (2012) and he is currently co-directing Minions (2015). Kyle is also well known for his 3D animation masterclasses at renowned European and Asian film schools including Gobelins and the Animation Workshop.
For more information on the master class see: http://animationskillnet.ie/?p=537
Full details:
18.10.14 | 3D Animation Masterclass with Kyle Balda (1 Saturday) in association with the Dublin Animation FestivalThis Course Will Cover:

FOUNDATIONS
Fundamental concepts in Animation and the animator’s role in the storytelling process.
A new look at the Classic Principles: the question of how computer animation has altered the way we think about the classical principles while discussing some new ones that have been discovered over the years.
The Graph Editor: From Circular Movement and arcs to overlapping action, the graph editor is the best existing tool to master your animation.

PHYSICALITY
Kinesiology and Character Set-up: this module takes a non-technical approach to character set-up and how animators should handle the controls of the model.
Physically Based Animation: Animating from the Inside Out: How to deal with weight and action based animation?
Walk Cycles: Here we take a step-by-step look at the walk cycle and begin to understand how the body moves in space.

ACTING
Thinking and Feeling: Through the examination of various clips, a deep exploration of story beats will take place to clearly communicate what characters are thinking and feeling. We will discuss the positive and negative reversals characters go through in the story telling process and how animators can show these changes to progress the story. As well, we discuss what it means for the audience to effectively be ahead or behind the story.
Subtext: The most elusive principle in acting. How does the animator elevate their performances from simply being clear to the lofty heights of entertainment?
Animating the Eyes: The eyes are the window to the soul of the character. Here we take a very detailed look at the subtle mastery of eye animation as this is where the audience is looking and connecting to our characters.
Staging: The single most vast principle of animation, in fact staging is an art form all to itself. In this module we will discuss how to lead the audience’s eye on screen and dealing with multiple characters within a shot. As well we will explore some basic cinematography that animators should know in order to maintain good character staging and silhouette.

Participant Profile:

Participants should be currently working as animators in the sector and have a good understanding of animation generally.

Tutor Info:

Kyle Balda has been working in feature character animation for over 20 year, most notably with Pixar Animation Studios and Illumination Entertainment. He began his career in the early 90’s as a student at Calarts and soon after joined the crew of Industrial Light and Magic where he animated on such films as The Mask (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996) and as supervising animator on Jumanji (1995). After animating the Grim Reaper for Peter Jackson’s The Frightners (1996) at Weta Digital in New Zealand, Kyle returned to California to work at Pixar on A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and as directing animator of Toy Story 2 (1999). Following a number of years conducting 3D animation masterclasses at renowned European and Asian film schools and directing short form animation projects, Balda returned to feature production in Paris as the head of layout for Illumination’s Despicable Me (2010) followed by co-directing The Lorax (2012). Balda has since directed a number of short films for Illumination and is presently directing Minions along side Pierre Coffin which is due for release in 2015.

Date & Times:

Saturday 18th October for 6 hours: 9am-12pm (with a lunch break from 12-2pm) and 2pm-5pm.

Venue:

The Kingstown 1 Suite, Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin (Map and Directions:http://www.royalmarine.ie/en/hotel-location/maps/).

Cost:

Waged: 75 Euro.

Unwaged: 50 Euro.

Application Procedure:

Those interested in the Master Class can register and pay here: http://animationskillnet.ie/event-registration/?ee=39

Please notes that there are only 25 places available on this Master Class!

Organised in association with the Dublin Animation Festival.

DAFF-Logo

IT Carlow celebrates 10 years in #irishgamedev with Brenda & John Romero

As most of you know at this stage renowned game designer Brenda Romero is currently visiting many of the colleges in Ireland that have games related degrees. The visit was proposed by Bob Jackson, a lecturer at the Institute of Technology, Tralee and is funded under the Fulbright programme.

As part of Brenda Romero’s tour of Ireland’s academic institutions, she and husband John Romero spent a couple of days on the Institute of Technology Carlow campus. This conveniently coincided with their tenth anniversary of running game development courses. Well done to all involved, and here’s to another ten years!

The press release is below.

carlow-logo

IT Carlow Welcomes Game Industry Legends John and Brenda Romero. September 2014:

Game industry legends John and Brenda Romero were in Ireland recently to meet with game industry developers, educators, and students. The Romeros visited the Institute of Technology Carlow and spoke to students who form the tenth intake for the computer games development degree class, which was the first of its kind in Ireland when launched at IT Carlow in 2004.

Games that Mr. Romero designed and programmed such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D are credited with defining the biggest-selling game genre, generating billions of dollars in sales each year. Since the early nineties First Person Shooters have been referred to as ‘Doom clones’ such is the influence the title and its creators had on gamers worldwide.

IT Carlow visit by John & Brenda RomeroPicture  Credit Brian Gavin Press 22

 

Course Director (centre) Ross Palmer with Game Industry Legends John and Brenda Romero, celebrating 10 years of Computer Games Development at the Institute.

During his commencement address to students of games development at Institute of Technology Carlow, Course Director Ross Palmer said “you’re the future of this industry. Our alumni have worked on multi-million dollar titles that have been played by millions of gamers. This is the influence of games as a medium”. Mr. Palmer went on to say “IT Carlow was the first third level Institute in Ireland to offer Honours Degrees in Games Development and Software Engineering and since we first began accepting students a decade ago, we have continued to evolve and develop Ireland’s flagship games development course. Our graduates not only work in industry but also within IT Carlow’s GameCORE Research Centre. In 2004 the Irish games industry employed just over a 100 people and is now expected to employ in excess of 5,000 by the end of this year.”

Mr Nigel White, Head of Department of Computing at Institute of Technology Carlow welcomed Brenda Romero, game designer and author of the book ‘Breaking into the Game Industry: Advice for a Successful Career from Those Who Have Done It’. Brenda was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work with the Irish Games Industry. Introducing Brenda Romero to address students, Nigel White said “this is an important opportunity for the games industry in Ireland as we review where we’ve come from and plan towards our future.

Institute of Technology Carlow expect to be the first institution in Ireland to offer the opportunity for game developers and digital game artists to study and work side by side. We’re delighted that Brenda and John Romero could join us to celebrate this important milestone as Institute of Technology Carlow celebrates a decade of educating game developers and appreciate their guidance as we continue to develop and evolve courses to serve specialist industries such as digital games. We very much look forward to potentially welcoming digital game artists to IT Carlow in 2015”.

IT Carlow visit by John & Brenda RomeroPicture  Credit Brian Gavin Press 22

Games Industry Legends John and Brenda Romero celebrating 10 years of Computer Games Development at Institute of Technology Carlow this week

During her public lecture, game industry veteran and Program Director of the Master’s Program in Games & Playable Media at the University of California Santa Cruz, Brenda Romero enlightened attendees on what it takes to be successful within the game industry. She went on to detail the elements of a great portfolio, how to make contacts, and how to succeed during a job interview. Institute of Technology Carlow students gave Brenda Romero a standing ovation as they embarked on their journey to become the developers who define the next decade of video games.

ENDS: 

The Institute of Technology Carlow offers Computer Games Development and Software Development courses. The degree course in games development has been available at IT Carlow since 2004 and the degree in software engineering has been available for even longer.

GameCORE is IT Carlow’s Centre for Research and Enterprise in Interactive Applications Software and Networks

Key research themes/interests:

  • Networks
  • Games Engines
  • Serious Games for Strategy, Sports and Health

More at: http://www.itcarlow.ie/research/research-centres/game-core.htm

Fulbright TechImpact Awards – Applications Now Open: Deadline 12 November 2014

For people who would like to put in an application for the Fulbright TechImpact Awards, you’ve about six weeks to get your submission in. Full details below.

What Are They?

The Fulbright TechImpact Awards are designed to respond to the potential and pace of ICT. The Fulbright Commission is interested in supporting candidates across all disciplines who are exploring how technology contributes to a larger social value. Preference will be given to candidates who have received their PhD since 2010 and candidates in the areas of education, mobile technology and digital arts, humanities, and culture.

The Fulbright Commission is partnering with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Languages & Cultures (CSLC) to co-fund 2 Fulbright – University of Notre Dame TechImpact Scholar Awards. One Fulbright – University of Notre Dame TechImpact Scholar per semester will be resident in the CSLC to create beneficial synergies and potential collaborations with Notre Dame foreign language faculty in the use of technology for second language acquisition, technology enabled language applications and testing, and the development of other relevant research and programs being undertaken in the CSLC.

Fulbright TechImpact Awards are for

  • periods of two weeks to three months between July 2015 – August 2016. The possibility of repeat visits that do not aggregate to more than three months may be considered provided there is a robust justification and program of work for return visits.   N.B.  The Fulbright – University of Notre Dame Awards are for 3 months during the September to December 2015 or January to May 2016 periods
  • conducting non-commercial based research on the impact and application of ICT

Eligibility

  • An Irish Citizen or an E.U. citizen who has lived in the Republic of Ireland for three or more years
  • Preference will be for early career researchers with PhD conferred since 2010 or a professional with three to five years’ experience in relevant fields
  • A clear research proposal that demonstrates the pivotal importance of a Fulbright TechImpact Award at this career stage, expected outcomes / impact and an affiliation with a recognized educational institution, research institute, cultural organization, or other approved non-academic institutions
  • Leadership qualities and potential
  • A clear understanding of what it means to be a Fulbrighter
  • Are not a dual U.S.-Irish citizen, green card holder, or currently living in the U.S. and do not already have extensive experience of studying or living in the U.S.

How To Apply

If you meet the above criteria, please email awards@fulbright.ie stating:

  • Your full name
  • Area of study or research
  • Where you intend to research or study

We will then issue you the link to the online application system (known as Embark) and the guidelines:

All applications are due by November 12th, 2014

Funding Details

  • Monetary grant, plus accident and emergency insurance, cultural and professional programming, and J-1 visa administration.

Anything Else You Should Know?

All successful applicants must comply with two-year home rule, which means that awardees will not be eligible for U.S. residency or a visa until the two-year home rule is completed

For more information visit:
www.fulbright.ie

Atari And Ireland

The Irish computer and video games industry has always been an interesting one as anyone trying to make a career in it will be able to tell you. With very little content produced on our shores, it has not stopped the country making an impact in a broad range of other areas. While the obvious successes of Havok and Demonware in the middleware space highlight Irish entrepreneurial spirit and talents, we’ve also had a brief stint as a Playstation content producer with Norwegian company Funcom developing Speed Freaks during their time in Dublin’s Sandyford Industrial Estate during the 1990’s. We also have our fair share of quality assurance with a number of companies doing games localisation for the European market and many Xbox 360 disks “Made in Ireland”. More recently, customer support for online games like World of Warcraft have located in Ireland.

The country has a longer history in the video games industry than most believe, and this feature highlights one of the country’s biggest success stories. It does not take place in Dublin, but in 1970’s rural Tipperary. The company? Atari. Why were they there? To manufacture tens of thousands of Atari arcade machines for export to the European market and beyond.

This story has only come about thanks to a number of interviews with Kevin Hayes, former Managing Director of Atari Ireland from 1979 to 1984, a period called by some, the Golden Age of Video Games. His invaluable interviews allow the story of why Tipperary was chosen as a manufacturing base for one of the oldest and most recognisable brands in the industry to be told and highlight Ireland’s long-established presence in the global games industry.

Atari’s early days
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney incorporated Atari Inc. in California with $250 on June 27th 1972. Within a decade, the company would go on to become the fastest growing company in US history (at the time) with revenues of up to $2 billion a year.

It all began with Pong, a tennis-for-two game that was prototyped in Andy Capp’s Tavern close to Atari’s building in September 1972. Within a fortnight, a service call on the broken machine found that the fault boiled down to one thing: it was jammed with coins. The company knew it was on to something and ultimately decided against licensing the game for manufacture by established players in the entertainment industry. They decided to go it alone and in 1973 the company established its international division to sell Atari products outside of the United States.

Magnavox, creators of the first home games console, the Odyssey, brought Atari to court over a number of patent infringements including playing games on a television set, as well as an electronic ping-pong game. This was eventually settled out of court in June 1976 with very favourable terms for Atari.

For a once-off licensing fee of $700,000 and rights to any game the company produced for the next 365 days, Magnavox essentially gave Atari a distinct competitive advantage: every other manufacturer would have to pay Magnavox royalties for their patents while Atari did not. Atari also sat on their new games for the next year to keep them from reverting to Magnavox under the terms of the agreement.

The same year, Warner Communications (now Time Warner) was looking to expand its reach into areas outside its traditional entertainment remit. After four months of negotiations they purchased Atari outright for $28 million and over the next number of years would plough around $100 million into the company to allow it to grow into a $2 billion a year entertainment giant it would become. A huge part of this growth occurred because it had the finances to grow outside its main market in the United States.

The Irish connection
Around this time the company began looking at a number of locations in Europe where they could locate a manufacturing base to help with speed-to-market issues. A number of locations around Ireland were considered. Ireland, before the Celtic Tiger, had a few things going for it . Ireland was a member of the EEC (now EU) and that allowed for easy export within the European Community. The tax regime was advantageous, especially for manufacturing companies and the IDA were marketing Ireland well. While a number of locations were considered, the IDA had an advance factory ready in Tipperary town that was close to one of the main Atari subcontractors based in Ardfinnan, 30km to the southeast.

As Atari was in a hurry to get set up, it took less than a year for Ireland to be chosen, the factory fitted out and the first Atari arcade cabinets to roll off the assembly line. Cabinets were manufactured in Youghal, Co. Cork by Murray Kitchens in Ardfinnan, which Atari would later purchase outright. Wiring and components were supplied by Waterford based Kromberg & Schubert as well as other suppliers. The final product was assembled in the Tipperary town factory and shipped for export via Bell in Waterford in 40-foot containers.

Once up and running, Gil Williams, a Welsh-American mechanical engineer who had been with Atari since the early days, as well as Tommy Martinez and Phillip Stewart, both American employees of Atari, managed the company. The rest of the staff were all locals, and after the purchase of the Ardfinnan plant from Murray Kitchens, Atari Ireland employed just over 200 people.

The company’s third Irish employee was a Donegal man called Kevin Hayes. A graduate of Commerce in UCC, he joined the company as financial controller in August 1978 after an interview over pints in the Royal Hotel Tipperary. Previously he had worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Dublin and Kildare based Leaf bubblegum manufacturers. Kevin reported to Gil whose last official Atari role after the takeover by Warner was to establish Atari’s coin-op manufacturing plant in Ireland. He remained until September 1979 before returning to California and Kevin took over as Managing Director.

His memories of his time in Tipp in the late 1970’s paint a picture of rural Ireland. The company joined the other main manufacturers in the town, Tampax, The Creamery and Kiely’s bottling plant. Knockagow and Kiely’s on Main Street were the local Atari pubs, while the Aherlow House Hotel and Glen Hotels provided the main facilities for travelling Atari employees.

The not-so-laid back Californian attitude fitted in perfectly in the town, where they were casual decades before it was fashionable across other areas of industry. The Californians loved the late Irish sunsets, and the Irish employees loved going to California, and over the time the factory operated it was regarded as a great success by both Atari and Warner Communications generating very good profits for the company.

While there was obviously plenty of banter occurring at the same time, one of the few stories Kevin divulged involved a goat. One of the American employees had a particular issue with a traveller’s goat that frequently would come into the complex. He took it upon himself to sort out the problem and Kevin had to negotiate a price for the dead goat. Once this had been settled, the staff enjoyed goat burgers for the next few weeks.

Aside from this minor issue, Atari also introduced one of the first fax machines into the country, at a time when Tipperary town did not have international direct dialling. This quickly improved. While these and other issues were there, the company worked through them. Exporting from Waterford had few problems, and Kevin has pointed out that while there was bureaucracy, the Irish powers that be were flexible to deal with.

The IDA provided Atari with the building in the town, which the company eventually purchased off them, as well as providing training grants to train their employees. Kevin also credits them as being very helpful in allowing the company to set up and begin manufacturing quickly.

Once the assembly line began rolling, the company was producing up to 2,000 cabinets a month. Tens of thousands of Atari hits including Centipede, Missile Command and Asteroids passed through the town for lucrative markets abroad. This continued unabated until the market slowed globally, but would pick up again in the mid 1980’s when games such as Marble Madness, Gauntlet and Temple of Doom were released.

After being established by Atari/Warner Communications from 1978 – 1984, the Tipperary factory was run as a joint venture between Namco and Warner from 1985 – 1990. Ownership reverted back to Warner from 1990 – 1995 until Chicago based Midway Games purchased the plant in 1995. The plant was purchased the following year by Namco Europe and would close after 20 years in 1998.

Following Kevin’s departure in 1984, Mike Nevin, a native of Mitchelstown, Co. Cork ran operations from 1984 – 1994. Mike Nevin is now MD of Namco Operations Europe in London. After Mike, Tipperary town local Pat Pickham ran the plant from 1994 until it closed in 1998.

Advice for Irish developers
Kevin has some words of advice for Irish people looking at working in the arcade or coin-op sector of the games industry. The business is not about marketing: games either make money or not, you know by the cashbox. The golden rule of coin-op is that the game is “easy to learn, hard to master”. A me-too game won’t cut it, and a there isn’t a business proposition unless the game has an innovation leap. Games also need to differentiate themselves from the in-home experience. If you can’t achieve this, there is no point in attempting to create games for this sector.

While tens of thousands of arcade games were sold during the golden era, now a manufacturing run numbers around 2,000 to 5,000 cabinets as the business has shifted from arcade games to prize-mechanical games.

So is it worth developing for this space? Not really unless you’ve got something that checks all the boxes, and you have a well thought out game that needs to be more than a concept. He also says that Namco are always interested in working with independent studios on coin-op projects at the blueprint stage, but that as players vote with their wallets it’s a tough sector to be in.

Those who want to persevere should contact the business development people at coin-op manufacturers in the UK, and those that want to grow quickly should hook up with a partner with a worldwide presence, although slower growth is sometimes better.

About this article
Key sources for this article were the Irish Company Registration Office and Steven L. Kent’s book “The Ultimate History of Video Games”, where I found a single note about Atari’s presence in Ireland which led me to research this story. I would also like to thank Kevin Hayes for his time.

Kevin Hayes Bio
Kevin Hayes joined Atari in August 1978 in the role of Financial Controller, and would go on to become Managing Director of Atari Ireland from September 1979 until June 1984. A Donegal man (born in Derry, lived in Donegal, Clare, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Limerick) who graduated from Commerce in UCC, he qualified as a chartered accountant while working in Dublin with PriceWaterhouseCoopers for 3 ½ years. He is currently President/CEO of Namco Cybertainment, the largest operator of diversified coin-operated amusement games in the United States and Caribbean.

Author Bio
Jamie McCormick graduated from Management & Marketing in DIT. Formerly editor of IrishPlayer.com, he has also worked with Gamesworld (now GameStop), Demonware and most recently as Operations Manager of the Xbox Live Gaming Centre in Dublin. He is currently Marketing Director with private advertising company transAD. PM him on the gd.ie boards at ‘jamiemc’.

Related links
Dail debate on closure – http://www.irlgov.ie/debates-99/25may99/sect8.htm
Replay Magazine feature and interview – http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/06/column_replay_atari_talks_gaun.php
Marble Madness site – http://arcade.svatopluk.com/atari/marble_madness/
Gauntlet – http://www.2atoms.com/game/arcade/arcade10.htm
And for an emulator – http://www.neillcorlett.com/mge/
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=indiana-jones-and-the-temple-of-doom&page=detail&id=1185