From the ashes of WipEout dev Studio Liverpool rises Firesprite

Made visuals for The PlayRoom - and it would love to make a new WipEout.

1

Firesprite created The PlayRoom's Asobi on the quiet.

Sadly there was no WipEout game at the launch of PlayStation 4 - but some of the spirit of the cult sci-fi racer made it in there.

Firesprite is a new studio made up of 20 ex-Sony Studio Liverpool staff - and it built the visuals for pre-loaded PS4 launch title The PlayRoom.

Managing director Graeme Ankers, previously the studio director of Sony Liverpool, told Eurogamer the deal to work on The PlayRoom alongside Sony Japan Studio came about because of the team's close ties with the company - and of course its previous work on PlayStation.

"We looked at all the things we'd done in the past," he said. "Some of the team have worked on games even going back before Studio Liverpool to Psygnosis: Shadow of the Beast, Lemmings and then into Rollcage, Colony Wars and all the games that represented the historic slice of the north-west development scene.

"When we looked back at all that we looked at all the platform launches we'd done - PSone, PS2, PSP, PS3 and Vita, it was in our DNA to come up with those kind of experiences and do stuff for platform launches.

"We had previous relationships with Sony, and when we set up we put a call out to people saying, 'we're here', Nicolas Doucet (director of The PlayRoom at Japan Studio) came over and saw what we'd done with our great-looking titles in the past.

"We used that as the basis to go forward. We kicked around some ideas on what we would do and the vision for it, and it just went from there. It was an organic process, but unique in terms of forming part of a wider team with Japan and working with them really closely through the development."

Firesprite developed the visual side of The PlayRoom, working on the artistic vision, menu design, the AR Bots and star of the show Asobi.

"I remember overhearing a conversation at E3 when somebody said there's almost a bit of a look of some of the WipEout menus," Ankers said. "We're really proud of the vision of it."

Now work on The PlayRoom has wrapped up, Firesprite has started on new projects, - although it won't announce them just yet.

"We've been working very hard on creating a new game engine and tool chain," Ankers said. "Really trying to put the emphasis on getting that creative power in the best hands: the artists, the designers.

"We're also looking at how we can do things on multiple platforms. Consoles are really in our DNA. It's something we've always pushed. Our past was always about making things that show off new platforms at launches. What we're looking to do in the future is just keep doing that and make the most out of the hardware and the new power that's available to us. Console will be a big part of it."

The obvious question is whether Firesprite would be willing to work on a new WipEout game - if Sony knocked on the door.

"I'm sure you can probably guess what the answer from me and team is!" Ankers said. "But it's more of a question for the Sony guys and Shuhei [Yoshida, Sony Worldwide Studios boss] rather than me! It holds a special place. It's one of those things - a game part of what happened and shaped the north-west development scene."

Firesprite isn't the only developer to form from the ashes of Sony Liverpool. Sawfly Studios formed earlier this year when Studio Liverpool's principle designers Mike Humphrey and Karl Jones joined forces with lead programmer Andrew Jones, and veteran artist Jon Eggelton.

Eurogamer's feature WipEout: The Rise and Fall of Sony Studio Liverpool, looked at the legacy of one of the UK's most-loved developers.

Comments (58)

Comments for this article are now closed, but please feel free to continue chatting on the forum!