A former Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire designer has founded an indie developer and set out to make an iOS adventure game inspired by 2D animated Disney films.
Simon Iwaniszak started his career at Rockstar Leeds, where he was a senior designer on Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, before heading to the US to work on Red Dead Redemption at Rockstar San Diego. He came back to Rockstar Leeds to work on Team Bondi game LA Noire.
After a brief stint at Middlesborough studio Double Eleven (LittleBigPlanet Vita), Iwaniszak founded Leeds-based indie Red Kite Games. Now, four months later, his team of six are hard at work building an as yet untitled adventure for iPhone and iPad set for launch in the winter.
Although the game is in early production, Iwaniszak sent over two pieces of character art and one piece of environment art designed to showcase the game's lush art style. "Red Kite is very much inspired by traditional 2D animation and the early eighties, nineties lush art style, the slightly earlier Disney films," he said. "We've taken a lot of inspiration from Watership Down. We're pushing a nice charming narrative."
Iwaniszak, who is after a programmer to help work on the project, said the game features addictive, score driven gameplay with some adventure game elements. He's keeping his cards close to his chest, but game modes are designed to cater for hardcore and casual players, he said.
But the main draw is the art style, the narrative and the focus on characterisation. Red Kite hopes to use the experience it has making games for blockbuster publishers such as Rockstar to make an iOS game that will stand out from the App Store crowd.
"Everybody at Red Kite Games is massively experienced," he said. "We feel if we bring the production values to it we've learnt from working for the likes of Rockstar and back that up with the gameplay and visual style, we'll be bringing something to any handheld device people will hopefully want to consume.
"Narrative and characters can sometimes be overlooked on iOS and mobile devices. They come second to gameplay. You don't have to go crazy with it, but people just appreciate it."
In the long term, Iwaniszak hopes Red Kite will emulate the likes of thatgamecompany - a studio he draws inspiration from - and create visually stunning games that rekindle the magic of youth.
"Having grown up in the early eighties and nineties, the old films and cartoons inspired us," he said. "They don't make them like they used to - Dungeons & Dragons and Thundercats. Some of the games inspiring us at the moment are Journey, which was amazing. It was absolutely beautiful. The feel of that game was magical. Limbo and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, there is some really gorgeous stuff out there at the moment.
"That's the direction we want to go."