INTERVIEW: Aidan Millott on setting up Halfbrick's Sydney studio

Leigh Harris
INTERVIEW: Aidan Millott on setting up Halfbrick's Sydney studio

Under cover of night, Halfbrick set up a small studio in Sydney's West. MCV sat down to speak to executive producer Aidan Millott.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of starting the new studio? How did it begin and how did you pull the team together?

The process started at a yearly review when I was working from home in Sydney. I had been working from home for 18 months and a career goal for me was to run a development team. From there we learned about the DMI grants, and our CEO was interested in starting up another team and having me run it. Things moved slowly at the start as I was mainly looking into locations of the studio and figuring out how we would recruit people.

For recruiting at Halfbrick we aim to find talented young people who can bring something special to the company and grow with it. It was hard to find a team of these types of people but we just did our hiring one by one, and we now have a high quality team of 6 here in Sydney with plenty of room to grow.

Does the Sydney team have its own project to work on, or is it sharing the load on other titles with the Brisbane teams?

Sydney has its own project that it is working on, though Halfbrick is a big family so we are always talking with the guys in Brisbane getting new ideas on how to improve things and getting support from Engine Team with new technical updates.

What’s it like working in a structure where there are multiple smaller teams?

Working in multiple smaller teams is fantastic - not only do you get to see many games being developed at once you also get to benefit from things other teams are doing and then share your progress.

So when one team implements a new feature or process that’s awesome, as other teams can look at how they did it and improve on it. Also working in smaller teams means the team itself is a lot more invested in the project; at Halfbrick we generally have people who specialise in particular skill sets but can easily adapt to additional work and learn even more.

Is Sydney currently providing a good environment for a new developer to set up?  

Sydney is a great place to set up; the industry is just starting to grow with the support of the NSW government.

The key benefits to setting up in Sydney are there are a lot of talented and passionate people looking to make games, and there are a lot of places giving support for indie start-ups, like the DMI grant [now the Interactive Media Fund run out of Screen New South Wales] and the AIE incubator.

The Sydney game development community is growing so fast these days and official organizations are approaching 1000 members.

Is it a lot to have to try and live up to success stories like Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja?

I try not to focus on living up to the success of those games, what I like to focus on is the game and how fun it will be. I think if you make a great game and market it right then it will be a success.

We have learnt some very valuable lessons from Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, and we have really talented people at Halfbrick always working away at what we think is a fun game that people will enjoy.

It would be amazing to make the next Fruit Ninja or Jetpack Joyride and I think every new Halfbrick game is better than our previous because of the lessons we learn and how we grow as a company.

Thank you for your time!

 


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Tags: interview , Development , fruit ninja , dev-team , Halfbrick , Jetpack Joyride , Aidan Millott , dev studio

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