Final Boss: Warp Digital’s Richie Turner – “Working on other people’s titles is immensely rewarding, but I think it’s about time we did something of our own!”

Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight. This month, we talk to Richie Turner, managing director of Warp Digital Entertainment. 

Take us through your 32 years in gaming!

I started my career at small Sheffield developers working on Atari ST and Amiga titles, then moved to London to work at Domark and at Virgin Interactive Entertainment as a Mega Drive and SNES engineer. I spent about nine years at VIE, working on various titles before heading up Falcone: into The Maelstrom (which was unfortunately canned as VIE went kaput).  After VIE, I spent a few years as a senior engineer at Blue52 and a year at EA working on the Harry Potter franchise before co-founding Curve Studios with Jason Perkins, whom I met at Blue52.

At Curve, we designed and developed the PSP versions of the Buzz! Quiz franchise before working on our own IP, Hydroventure (Fluidity in the US) with Nintendo.

After the success of the Stealth Inc. (née Bastard) franchise, we transitioned into publishing to help our indie chums get onto consoles. We sold the publishing company in 2016, after which I exited the business to set up Warp Digital with the engineering staff from Curve to remain close to our development roots.

What has been a memorable highlight of your career?

Working with Nintendo on our Hydroventure games was a fantastic experience. Working closely with their design and production team taught us so much about design and technology and putting the fun first! It was an immensely proud moment watching the late-great Satoru Iwata play our game!

What would you say is your greatest achievement?

Going independent again with Warp, especially after leaving a company we grew together. I am incredibly proud of how the Warp team has managed to transition through many disciplines from developing original titles, porting other people’s games, and now AAA co-development and are still together and enjoying new challenges.

I’m still amazed at the level of expertise in the company, exemplified recently by one of our co-dev teams passing console certification first time on all platforms!

What ambitions do you have for the future?

I’ve done the full spectrum of development from original IPs through WFH and porting, and I would like to take Warp back to the beginning and get our teeth stuck into some ideas of our own! There is a massive appetite for games at Warp; we all play together in our spare time and have a passion for creating something new. Don’t get me wrong, working on other people’s titles is immensely rewarding, but I think it’s about time we did something of our own!

What do you see as the gaming industry’s biggest challenges in the years ahead?

The fallout from the pandemic has forever affected the working environment. I think we all agree that remote working, on the whole, is a positive, but it has also thrown some massive curveballs our way. Transitioning to a remote studio and still maintaining company culture is a whole new challenge that we didn’t see coming. I think we’ve done a fairly good job at Warp with frequent social events, regular company-wide meetings and game sessions, so we’re confident the industry will adapt going forwards.  

Do you think the industry is in a good place?

I think it is in a great place! The negatives of the pandemic also have some vast positives! We can now hire from a global pool of talent, and the barrier for entry has been lowered for those folk previously looking at a costly relocation. At Warp, we have been fortunate to hire extraordinary talent as far afield as Finland and Canada! That makes the industry and the world a closer, more intimate place, which is one thing we can all appreciate right now.

About Richie Shoemaker

Prior to taking the editorial helm of MCV/DEVELOP Richie spent 20 years shovelling word-coal into the engines of numerous gaming magazines and websites, many of which are now lost beneath the churning waves of progress. If not already obvious, he is partial to the odd nautical metaphor.

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