Last Stand have barely had a month to recover from the Games Jam at Brains Eden 2013 before hot footing it back to Cambridge. As the runners up of the competition, the five students from Howest University in Belgium went on a two-day in-depth tour of no less than five major studios here in Cambridge.
On Thursday we visited Geomerics and Sony Guerrilla Cambridge. The day started at Geomerics, a 22 person strong middleware studio that develop lighting technology used in loads of games. We saw their most recent demo, an absolutely stunning piece of art that showed off the achievements of the most recent technical developments in Enlighten (the leading real-time global illumination technology) and we also saw an Enlighten post-E3 trailer that includes footage from games like Battlefield 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
At Sony Guerrilla Cambridge, Last Stand got a tour of the entire studio but, more importantly, were matched with their disciplines and chatted for more than an hour with individual artists, programmers and designers. They were able to show and discuss their portfolios, get personal career advice and gain invaluable insight into working in the games industry.
Thursday evening continued with more networking over drinks, where we were joined by two members of the Ninja Theory team. As well as a good opportunity for a beer, the students were offered yet another chance to show off their portfolios. More importantly, though, this was a good time to get to know each other better and share enthusiasm about games and popular culture in a broader sense.
On Friday we started our day at the impressive Jagex studios, boasting the biggest team of game developers in Cambridge, currently over 500. Quirky and cool, Jagex showed us around all of their departments, from art to audio, and they let us take a peek at their most recent projects. It was amazing to see the range of titles coming out of cambridge, from the PS VIta exclusive Killzone: Mercenary to Runescape, the world’s most popular free-to-play online adventure game.
Next on to the Frontier Development, a studio with a tradition of innovation, who are currently working on one of the most expected games of 2014: Elite: Dangerous. Here, the recent graduates got advice from senior programmers, artists and producers on how to move forward with their game, especially in the context of GamesCon.
We finished the day off at ARM, the world’s leading semiconductor intellectual property supplier, whose technology can be found in95% of smart phones and 80% of digital cameras, who also have a games development team. Here we were shown around their headquarters, from servers to gym, and we were shown some of their most recent demos (even got to play some in a cool gaming chair).
Overall, the two days provided a unique behind the scenes look at these major studios. Sure, we got down to the nitty gritty, got real advice and a proper inside look, but we also got a more personal, human feel of what these studios are really like, the sort of understanding that you only usually get by actually working there. The tours were extensive and the possibilities for networking seemed almost endless.
We expect the members of Last Stand to make waves in the games industry very very soon!