By now, you’re probably arriving at this blog post having read or heard the news that we’ve been acquired by Sumo Digital and although we’re now going to put our heads down for a bit and quietly get cracking on new projects, it feels like a good opportunity to talk a little about it.
Following the studio’s closure in summer 2017, we were faced with a decision. We knew we didn’t want to just start over, trying to recapture a time in our history where a we could push out arthouse titles and survive the process. It was an amazing few years, but it came at a cost, one that I knew I wasn’t about to take on again. And it was time for a change – to make different games, explore new ideas and, if TCR was going to reboot, to evolve into something that opened up new opportunities.
For a while, we didn’t really know what that would be, or how to do it. We knew Jess was finally cutting the cord, going off to be a composer who worked not just in games, but other projects, whilst remaining the person who would continue to deliver amazing soundtracks for the studio, and be the incredible advocate for game music we all know and love. That meant finding a business partner with the skills and experience to enable me to focus on creative direction and steering some new games into being.
We first started talking to Sumo in the winter of 17/18. Obviously, we knew them from their reputation in the industry as a rock-solid company with a great track record of taking IP and making it really shine. I knew people who’d worked for them and they were always talked about as a great bunch of people who really cared about their teams and their games. We discussed how with Sumo’s infrastructure and experience behind us, we could rebuild TCR into something new, with the capacity to take on bigger projects, offer better security to a team and realise some of my own ambitions for game making that just weren’t going to be possible alone. The way Sumo is structured and the relationship between partner studios and central management seemed like a great fit, and I naturally immediately liked the attitudes of the company leaders – they are open, straight-talking, ambitious and smart (and I’m from Hull and Jess is from Clitheroe, so it’s a good northern tradition). The more we talked, the more of a no-brainer it felt. Particularly with the amazing people and studios who have recently joined the Sumo family it feels like the perfect home, and it’s incredibly exciting to be writing this while we’re gearing up for a new game or two or three.
So what is next? Right, well, quite a bit.
Firstly, those existing concepts that didn’t get made. They are still very much on the table. Before leaving us to pursue his own games, the uber-talented Andrew Crawshaw and I worked up a new prototype of The 13th Interior, with the fantastic support of the UK Games Fund. The game still needs a little bit of work to nail down some core mechanics, but then it’s finding the right opportunity to roll out the rest of development. It’s very much still in the plan to finish it up at some point. There were also two other concepts we were playing around with – very different types of games for us – and they will remain gently percolating in the background.
Then there’s So Let Us Melt, our sci-fi fairy-tale we made for Google Daydream. There’s a working plan to revisit this game, injecting more mechanics, building on the gorgeous art and audio the old team created and getting it out to a wider audience. Particularly because the story is something I absolutely love, and Jess created a soundtrack for it that is probably her best work to date (really, check it out), I want to make sure it’s something that evolves with us and finds new platforms and audiences because it really deserves them.
And finally, but perhaps most importantly: yes, we are talking to a range of potential partners about a new title. Something bigger, something that joining Sumo enables us to pursue because all of a sudden, we’re part of a family of developers with a decade and a half of experience in making all kinds of games, and making them really well. Something that takes a more traditional game genre – no, you don’t get to know what just yet – and lets us spin our worlds and stories on top of that. It’s going to be very, very exciting.
So watch this space. We’re going to start gently adding new faces to the team as we push through prototyping, and I’m so happy to know we’ll be joining the amazing talent of both Sumo and our local network of studios in Brighton – where so many cool things are happening right now
It’s exciting times. A fresh start. If this was a game script, a gravelly-voiced man would probably say something about a “new dawn”.
Whatever it is, it’s going to be proper awesome. Watch this space.