Why Dlala Studios is no longer a garage band

The developer's Aj Grand-Scrutton discusses working on a new IP, expanding the team and why it plans to recruit staff with no prior experience in their desired role
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Once a small micro studio, Overruled developer Dlala has gone from its two founders Craig Thomas and Aj Grand-Scrutton working in their parents’ garage to owning their own office space housing ten staff.

By the end of next year however, they plan to expand to up to 17 staff. The studio has also picked up the rights to what it claims is a ‘well known’ and ‘popular’ IP, though it remains tightly lipped on the details.

To support development, it’s looking for a gameplay programmer, graphics programmer, illustrator, level designer and design assistant. And Grand-Scrutton says the latter role is completely unique.

“It’s a strange one because I’m not sure how much of a role like it exists currently,” he says. “We basically need someone to come in and read comics, watch cartoons and films, and start doing idea generation.”

Grand-Scrutton admits the idea of transforming from a garage band and its micro studio roots is a scary one, particularly when it brings the potential danger of negatively affecting studio culture. Even more so when it comes to some of its generous incentives.

“We have a very open culture, everyone knows everything that is going on,” he says. “Whilst we have ‘lead’ roles, everyone is equal on the food chain, as long as respect is there. 

“We also have a lot of perks that can be open to exploitation, such as unlimited holiday, that, if you get the wrong people in, can lead to trouble. However, we believe in hiring right and not hiring fast. If it takes us months to find the right people I’d rather do that then get potentially wrong people in quickly to tick a box.”

One of the most interesting aspects of Dlala’s hiring spree is how some of its vacancies state that work on previous titles is “definitely not a necessity”. Despite the pressure of handling a well-known IP, Grand-Scrutton says the studio is open to relatively inexperienced devs, as that’s how he started his own career; a studio taking a chance on him.

“Before I had my first job in the games industry, I had zero experience,” he says. “But luckily for me Jagex, in particular Henrique Olifiers, took a gamble on me.

“This then led to me joining Henrique at Bossa when he formed the studio. If you look at the six members of Dlala currently, none of us had done our jobs before. I’d never been a director, Craig Thomas never a lead designer, Ben Waring never led tech, Loudon St.Hill never a designer and Chris Rickett and Grant Allen both had never worked on a game before.

“It’s about talent and potential, CVs are great, as are degrees, but they don’t necessarily tell me anything.”

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