It feels as though there has been a recent increase in new studios being formed in the UK. One recent new addition is Interior Night, set up by ex-Quantic Dream lead designer Caroline Marchal. Since the company was founded in late 2017, it has already seen an influx of new senior hires and announced a publishing partnership with Sega. Nothing about Interior Night’s first game has been revealed, other than the fact it’s a “brand new, narrative-driven IP.” With its strong staff of veteran developers and a publishing deal under its belt, it’s an encouraging start.
“If you had told me two years ago that I would be starting a game studio, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Interior Night’s founder Caroline Marchal says. “It comes down to turning 40 and knowing that this is the right time to take the risk and make something on my own. It’s that kind of ‘now or never’ feeling. With a game concept we thought promising, I decided to take the leap. Fortunately, it’s paying off. I feel extremely lucky to have gone this far already.”
By surrounding herself with experienced developers with whom she’s worked over the years, Marchal has been able to put together a trusted team focused on pushing forward narrative in games. “I have worked over the years with talented people who were excited by what we were trying to achieve and accepted to join us, mainly Sony and Quantic Dream veterans,” she says. “Interior Night’s core team is thus formed of experienced people who know each other and have worked together before to some degree, which is a massive asset when starting from scratch.
“The UK scene is a very welcoming community, bustling with events. Initiative and novelty are truly valued. Since we officially announced the studio’s creation, plenty of industry members have reached out to offer help or simply connect, which is very nice.”
The studio is staffing up and has seen some tremendous applicants, pointing to a very healthy UK skills market. Marchal is especially keen on the level of diversity, though it could be yet improved.
“The UK market is full of talented people in every field,” she explains. “It’s very competitive – so much so that’s it’s a bit tricky to hire and retain talent. It’s also truly international, which is a very good thing, as diversity enriches a game.
“One of the difficulties though is to find women – programmers and designers especially. I’m proud we have some very talented women at Interior Night and we’d love to hire more! Ladies, if you’re reading this, please apply.
“We are looking for programmers at the moment (Unity programmer and pipeline engineer) and we’ll be ramping up our art team very soon with character artists and animators. Check out our website for regular updates.”
Interior Night’s clear focus on crafting narrative game experiences helps bring the right people into the studio, and a “culture of trust” is what Marchal and her team plan to use to keep them there. Happy developers make better games.
“It’s true that culture is very organic and doesn’t exist without the people,” Marchal says. “That’s why we’ve put a lot of care in finding the right people for the core team, experienced and driven individuals, with a deep love and understanding of the narrative genre. We want to keep the studio lean so that the initial culture doesn’t dilute over time.”
She continues: “We want to nurture a culture of trust, respect and passion. We think that work life balance is essential to create great games. Most of the team members have families (including myself) and we want to respect that as we think people give their best when they are happy. It’s something we’ve made clear from the beginning and that we’re applying on a daily basis. For example, we’re starting to put in place working from home a day a week.”
A lean studio full of talented, experienced developers with a proven track record of working well together in the past is a recipe for success, which will come in handy for a team that is looking to forge new paths in the narrative games genre. Interior Night has big plans.
“As a narrative game studio, we’re hoping to innovate in the genre by bringing more people to play games and share stories,” Marchal explains.
“Interactive narrative is blossoming. In the next five to ten years we think a whole new medium will emerge from the convergence of TV and games. And let’s not even mention what could happen with VR, AR or Alexa. It’s an exciting time for interactive storytellers and we want to be part of it.”