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Why Wushu? New UK developer talks setting up in Liverpool with a team of industry vets

Earlier this year a new UK developer revealed itself. Wushu Studios announced its existence after a few months of gestation in a studio space on the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool. While it’s way too early to be discussing its project, a game that’s still very much in the early stages of development, we already know it is “absolutely not a racing game.” Considering the initial team consists of ex-Evolution Studios staff, known for the DriveClub and MotorStorm franchises, the company is already subverting expectations.

“We started Wushu with the goal of ensuring the experience we have of triple-A development isn’t abandoned or forgotten; rather that it fuels our passion to create new and interesting experiences for gamers,” says studio head Alan McDermott.

“The founding members and myself have known each other for almost two decades. We’ve worked together in the past on projects like WRC, the MotorStorm franchise and Driveclub in the past. When we came together again in August 2017, it was refreshing how quickly we fell into a groove with concept development and prototyping.”

Being an industry veteran, hardened and calloused from the world of triple-A, isn’t a requirement for the studio’s members, however.

“We started talking to a few more familiar faces,” says McDermott. “Including Alex Figini who was working at BioWare as a senior concept artist on Anthem and previously Mass Effect 3, and was eager to work with the crew once again. We were also keen to ensure we had a healthy dose of fresh thinking in the mix, so we turned to some of the UK’s universities in search of emerging talent to keep us honest and on our toes.”

Thankfully, the UK is a great place to draw from when it comes to new and emerging talent, as McDermott explains: “The UK skills market is nothing short of astounding. Not only are we rich in established and experienced talent across all skill disciplines here on home soil, but our universities are producing some of the most creatively talented individuals I’ve encountered throughout my career. I’m frequently floored by the level of innovative thinking we see from emerging talent in the UK and it’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of working with those individuals someday.”

Perhaps more difficult than finding talent is finding the right name. So why Wushu?

“Not an easy question to answer! We wanted a name that was going to stick in people’s minds and eventually become a household name,” says McDermott. “We also wanted a name that could make for a visually striking logo too. A part of competitive Wushu Kung Fu is about performance art which is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. I guess there are some parallels with how video games marry art and interactivity to create beautiful and mesmerizing things. All that aside, naming stuff is super difficult, and Wushu sounds pretty cool!”

Now that the initial team is in place and the studio has officially announced itself, it can begin the process of nurturing the sort of corporate culture it’s looking for. Something that represents every member of the company.

“I think fostering a positive studio culture takes full-time effort, but it’s not a tangible thing,” McDermott says. “You can’t just decide ‘hey, we’re gonna be super-fun and friendly and creative and awesome’ – it’s great to want those things but to make them a reality is difficult. Ultimately, your studio culture is created by the people that work together. Here at Wushu, we believe that great ideas can come from anywhere, so we do our best to promote the notion that everyone has a voice and will be heard regardless of your level of experience. This encourages more creative collaboration throughout the team.

“We also think that to make great games, it helps if you play great games, so to work here you have to be into something. It doesn’t have to be video games either. Board games, D&D, tabletop – whatever your jam is – but to craft ‘fun’ you need to have a perspective on what is fun. The desire for diversity in what we bring to the table as gamers extends to who we have at the table too. Female gamers make up 48% of the global gaming market now, but that statistic is not reflected in development and it should be. As we expand our team and grow our studio, we see women playing a fundamental part in that process.

“We’ve ended up with a really exciting project that’s absolutely not what you’d expect from us given the team’s heritage and we can’t wait to talk more about it!”

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