'We want to do our bit for the young bloods from university. People who are really eager and haven’t got a position in the industry'

Playtonic on the hunt for new talent

[This article was written before the launch of the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter, which has so far raised more than £1.6m in funding.]

Earlier this year, a group of six former Rare developers banded together to create a new studio called Playtonic.

When the team’s existence was revealed to the world, it was also announced that it was working on a game currently known as Project Ukelele – later revealed to be 3D platformer Yooka-Laylee – a ‘spiritual successor’ to classic platformer Banjo-Kazooie.

And this move from a triple-A studio to an indie has been something of a change of pace for the team.

“The biggest challenges are on the non-game development side of things,” studio head Gavin Price tells Develop. “We’re trying to stay on top of all the other things. Triple-A devs have so many people to look after that stuff, but here we have to do our own business management and upkeep as well and work on the game. Development-wise, it’s very similar to how it used to be at Rare during the N64 era. It’s just like the
old days.”

After their fans welcomed the announcement of Project Ukelele with open arms, and many saying they would fund the game, Playtonic’s plans have escalated, and are now bigger in scope.

“After our Kickstarter is finished in June time, we’ll be looking to hire more people in art and programming, and possibly design as well,” Price says.

“We’re still going to be a small team, but we want to grow to around 12. Potentially we’ll be using people on contract as well for more specific tasks. In the long-term, once the first game is done, we want to start a second team, so we can have a nice stream of releases. One game can be announced, the other can be developed in secret, and so on.”

And while it’s common for start-up studios to hire more experienced staff early to speed up the growth process, Playtonic is setting its sights on younger developers.

“We want to do our bit for the young bloods from university. People who are really eager and haven’t got a position in the industry,” Price says.

“We’re looking for individuals who very much have the same creative approach as us. We want to get them early before they end up in the hands of some triple-A developer. When you get your first job in the industry it sets you on a path. We want to get people started on a similar route to us. But we’re not going to be turning away experienced people – it’s going to be the right person for the right job.”

That’s not the only way in which Playtonic’s hiring process differs from other studios.

Price explains: “When hiring, our approach is pretty much the opposite of a large company; they hire to fill specialised roles, whereas we’re on the lookout for the type of dev that wants to be responsible for multiple areas of a game and focus on making game content within a team with a varied work list.”

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