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Hunters dev reveals triple-A woes

Ex-Bodycount staffer heads for iPad.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

One of the founders of UK powerhouse mobile phone studio Rodeo has railed against the frustrations of creating triple-A video games.

Ben Murch, who was group lead environment artist on still in development first-person shooter Bodycount at Codemasters, and an artist on open world arcade racing game Burnout Paradise at EA-owned Criterion Games, left triple-A development behind last summer to form iPhone and iPad studio Rodeo Games with three former Lionhead, Criterion and EA staffers.

Rodeo's first game, Hunters: Episode One, is a science-fiction turn-based strategy game inspired by board games such as Space Hulk and classic turn-based video games such as XCOM.

Explaining the decision to Eurogamer, Murch said he and his colleagues were dissatisfied with the triple-A creative process.

"It's down to a lot of people wanting more creativity in the games they're making," he said. "When I was working at Criterion it felt like it was a great big team, and I wanted to have more in the decision-making.

"On Burnout it felt a lot more like you were a cog in the machine. There were the big guys at the top and they were making the decisions. To be fair, that's absolutely fine, because when you go to work and you're an artist, you can't really expect to be making calls on design and those sorts of elements. Otherwise it would just be an absolute mess. So you need people to just go to work and do their jobs.

"Whereas during Bodycount, we were all getting into the... We feel like we've got something more to add here. Almost like, why aren't we running the show? Which is a bit of an egotistical thing to say.

"Quitting then starting up this, there's definitely an element of just having all the power in your hands and being able to do whatever you like and not having to run through a million meetings to make a decision on something."

Murch is the latest in a long line of former triple-A developers who have answered the call sounded by Apple's App Store.

Only last week former Bizarre Creations developers formed Hogrocket, a micro-studio targeting iPhone/iPad, PC and Mac.

Murch said Rodeo considered creating an Xbox Live Arcade game, but decided it was "impossible".

"Doing things like the Xbox Live Arcade stuff never seemed like something we'd be able to go into and make a good living for ourselves," he explained.

"It's a hard submission process, and it's hard just getting your game into the queue. We looked at that a couple of years ago, and it seemed almost impossible to make any headway into that kind of market, whereas all the Apple stuff is ultra developer friendly."

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