I had the great pleasure in taking a group of Year 12 and Year 13 pupils (Sixth form in old money) to Revolution Software in York on Friday.
Revolution was founded by Charles Cecil and Tony Warriner in 1990 to develop their first adventure game – Lure of the Temptress. Charles was and always will be a great videogame hero of mine and I was delighted when he accepted an invitation to sit on the BAFTA Question Time panel earlier in the year as part of Games Britannia.
After the tremendous excitement following the Broken Sword: The Serpents Curse Kickstarter, it was a great opportunity to see the game in development, and have first hand experience of the creative and technical processes involved in bringing a much-loved adventure series back to life.
When we arrived, Charles welcomed the kids and gave them an informative history of Revolution and Broken Sword. Charles then introduced various members of the Revolution team, and the kids were able to ask questions and find out about the various backgrounds and skills that each possessed. This was incredibly useful, as it opened both student and staff eyes to the wide and diverse range of skills essential to the success of the game and company as a whole.
Tony Warriner accompanied the kids around a wide variety of devices, from the Nexus 7, to the little-loved Nook, detailing the programming principles behind the new Virtual Theatre engine as well as the processes in testing and designing the user interface. Tony at one part lost the kids whilst discussing the intricacies of Z80 Assembler programming (though Charles did have an impressive recall of several register addressing HEX codes) but was able to answer several questions about coding for various devices with varying screen resolutions.
Tori Davis showed the workflow required for a digital artist to work on such an art-heavy title such as Broken Sword. It was also interesting to hear about how production of art for games varies from other mediums that Tori has worked in – such as traditional animation and cell-based animation for film. It was also beneficial for Brinsworth’s Head of Art to see the technology Tori used, and how the use of digital design packages and digital communication and distribution mediums made the whole workflow and process of art and design more efficient.Tori’s own background into the industry showed (along with Sean Millard of SUMO) that candidates with a traditional and fine art background were in high demand in creative digital industries.
Finally Nigel Kewshaw gave the kids a masterclass in game design and theory and had prepared a wonderful mini-workshop taking the first scene, characters and setting from the new game and allowing the kids to create their own puzzles and solutions to the first “locked door” – an obstacle that the player must overcome to progress further in the game.They came up with some fantastic and innovative ideas – one of which had actually been implemented into the final game. No spoilers here though, you’ll have to buy the title when its released in 2013. Needless to say, I’ve nudged Jake Habgood about this – as it would be a fantastic thing to have as part of Games Britannia 2013.
One the way back to school the kids were raving about the visit. It underlines the vital importance of the industry reaching out to the mainstream community, especially children in primary and secondary education. Companies court Universities for obvious reasons, but there’s such a talent-pool at a younger level that needs aspirational figures like Charles to change lives and really give kids the impetuous to thinking – “I can do that, I want to do that!”.