“There’s a lot more opportunity for smaller independent studios to make their mark and be a sustainable business.” – Darren Yeomans, Atomhawk Design

Atomhawk produces a huge range of visuals for the industry, tell us about your recent work?

That’s true, we work with a wide range of studios which gives us the opportunity to work on a wide range of styles. Due to the COVID situation one of the things I really miss about the office is hearing everyone chatting and laughing over some wild character or scene that someone has created for one of the many titles we’re working on. We recently worked on some exploratory character designs for a title that gave the team the opportunity to mix a lot of animal attributes in a cartoon style, the results of which always had us all laughing during our weekly studio meetings.

You worked on Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament (therefore you are a god in our eyes) what was it like?

They were great days! It was the time when people were moving from creating a game in their bedroom to setting up a legitimate studio and starting the British computer game industry.

Micro Machines 2 is still one of the most fun titles I have worked on. I was working for Dizzy Enterprises and we shared a small office above a shoe shop in Leamington Spa with Supersonic Software who needed our help in producing artwork for the game. The rivalry we had during our lunch time testing of a new track was epic, it was more like messing about with your mates than a job. That enjoyment and rivalry ultimately pushed us to create the great title it ended up being.

Working on that title also started me on my love for VW’s, I spent time researching and creating assets for Beetles and ended up buying a convertible shortly afterwards.

Can the games industry possibly change as much over the next few years as it has over the last few?

COVID has shown us that working from home is now a viable option for many studios. This will ease recruitment to a point but the flip side of that is there is a risk of losing the in-house identity of the studio. Collaboration is key to any project and many problems have been discussed and solved during a coffee break. The next couple of years is going to be a very challenging and equally exciting time for the games industry.

Do you feel the games industry is headed in the right direction? 

Generally, I think the industry is moving in the right direction. There’s a lot more opportunity for smaller independent studios to make their mark and be a sustainable business. This will push creativity in a direction that the larger studios and publishers wouldn’t generally move towards, where existing formulas and genres are generally a safer option for them.

It reminds me of the early days back in the 90’s where a couple of people could create a game in their bedroom, and it go on to be a hit.

You were part of the recent PoC in Play #BHMGames100. Do you think the industry is getting more diverse and able to tell diverse stories?

We are slowly getting more diverse and adding more variety to the mix can only be a good thing. I’ve been in the industry since 1992 and it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve noticed more people from the BAME community in the studios I’ve worked in or visited.

We need to get back in the community and educate students and tutors alike that there is a viable long-term career in games. It’s not going to happen overnight but thankfully there’s a few groups like POC In Play who are campaigning and doing great, important work to put this right.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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