Mar 272011
 

The gaming community has been astir with the limited information available regarding Hogrocket Studios.  All we knew is that Bizarre Creations – the company responsible for games such as Blur, Geometry Wars, Project Gotham Racing, and many more – disappeared and came back onto the scene with whispers that a new indie company was formed in the aftermath.  Hogrocket studios consists of three big names: Pete Collier, Ben Ward, and Stephen Cakebread.  I was able to reach out to them last week, and they were kind enough to answer some of my basic questions.  Here are the results, answered by Pete Collier; Creative director at Hogrocket.


You, Ben Ward, and Stephen Cakebread have been working on a “kick-ass project”.  Is there anything at all that can be said about it?

We’re not talking about it yet, just because we’re still nailing down what it is and play-testing ideas/mechanics. We intend to really involve our community with development but it’s just a little too early to share right now.

Stephen’s blog announced that the game would be for the iPhone/iPad.  Are there plans to work on the computer level as well (Mac or Windows)?  Do you have any console creations in mind?

The initial release will be for iPhone. We have plans to then make versions for iPad, PC and Mac. But we will judge this at the time based on demand. It might be a flop! We obviously hope it won’t be, but if it is we’ll learn our lessons and develop something new. This is the beauty of more agile development, if something isn’t a hit we’re not out of business we get to learn from our mistakes and get better. With that in mind this is why, for now, we’re avoiding riskier console development.

Do you three plan to keep the company as small as it is now, or are there plans in the works to expand in the near future?

Small is probably the wrong word, agile is more appropriate. Whatever happens in the future we plan to always be nimble enough to adapt quickly. To us this makes sense, the pace of technological change is growing exponentially (yes I’m a big fan of Ray Kurzweil!). You can’t keep up with this pace and remain cutting edge if you’re a lumbering juggernaut.

Is your current work something that was invented while working at Bizarre Creations, or did it originate later?

It originated after our employment at Activision. The project is only something that could have come together once the three of us got our heads together. This is what we’ve been working on the past month and I think we’re making really good progress. We will be lifting the lid soon, I promise!

If the game could be classified into genre(s), what would you say to expect?

We’re designing the game for the iPhone. As such we’re playing to its strengths. It’s a tricky beast designing for the iPhone as the audience is essentially ‘everyone’. So I wouldn’t expect us to deliver a hardcore game experience that you might have expected based on our pedigree. We want a new challenge that taxes our design skills in different ways. For me I’m relishing it because moving to simplicity and away from the muddy complexity of traditional AAA is the greater challenge…and refreshing.

Getting away from the game and focusing on the new company, what brought the three of you together as partners?

The three of us have individually wanted to do something for ourselves for a long time. The timing was perfect for us, right place, right time and right people. We’re each at a point in our lives where if we hadn’t done it now we probably never would have. The conditions in terms of own personal positions and the marketplace could not be better. A friend of mine recently said (and in full acknowledgment of the pretentiousness of what he was about to say) that he feels what’s happening creatively on the internet right now is a new renaissance. But he is right and we simply have to be a part of that.

Why the name Hogrocket?

Ben quickly coded up a random word generator and we stuck in all the words that represented what we wanted to be i.e. fun, bouncy, agile, quick that kind of thing. I’m not sure why ‘hog’ was in there as one of those words, but certainly rocket was a good word. Somehow the two words together really rolled off the tongue nicely and brought to mind a fun image. Funnily enough we then spent about another two weeks trying to come up with other names, but we always came back to the first name: Hogrocket. I still smile a little when I say it. We realised after that that I guess we’ve got that whole thing of making pigs fly. But it was completely unintentional. You’ll know in the future when we are trying to be all smart as we’ll be saying that we thought of all this underlying imagery etc. It can be our little secret that we just thought it was funny.

You three have been extremely busy with getting things in place.  How do you find the time to program with so many things to juggle?

We haven’t found the time. I’m writing this on a Saturday afternoon when I really should be taking a rest!

Lastly, are there any sites, companies or shout-outs you would like to make?

Only to all ex-Bizarre peeps, I’ve learnt a lot from them over the years and really thankful for it.

I did not expect to hear back so quickly from a studio that is more busy that I could even imagine.  I sincerely thank Pete for taking the time to answer my questions, and hope that the public is as excited to find out more about their work as I am.  Hopefully as production marches on we will be able to take a close look at this mysterious project, but in the meantime the gaming community will need to remain patient.  Be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or any other  social network possible – I expect big things!

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