Two former Rockstar Leeds developers, Lee Hutchinson and Matt Shepcar, have left the acclaimed team and started up their own digital games studio, Double 11.
With experience between them of working on handheld titles including GTA: Chinatown Wars and Liberty City Stories, Beaterator and The Warriors, the pair are already working on their first iPhone title and plan to use growing online and digital services to make a mark in UK development.
"Digital distribution has really taken off with the likes of the App Store and Steam and it's now viable for small developers to get their products to market without a publisher," said Hutchinson, speaking to GamesIndustry.biz.
"With the advent of social media it's also possible to spread the word about games successfully without a huge marketing budget. In these difficult times smaller studios like our own can also offer larger publishers and developers outsourcing and consultancy services allowing them to fill gaps whilst avoiding the risk of having to take on extra staff."
Double 11 is one of many new start-ups breaking off from bigger teams and hoping to carve a niche on new formats and platforms, with the team comfortable that their experience, which also includes work for Microsoft's Rare studio, will help them avoid the problems associated with new businesses.
"We've worked on some pretty big projects in the past at the likes of Rare and Rockstar, across many different platforms, learning a lot of useful lessons along the way," offered Hutchinson. "Hopefully the combined knowledge we have gained over the last decade will allow us to avoid some of the traps and pitfalls that those not used to dealing with large projects will be hitting as the smart phones and hand-held devices become more powerful."
With an iPhone project already in development, Hutchinson and Shepcar intend to exploit some of the unique features of new formats – including GPS and tilt controls – and utilise social networking so users can connect through gaming.
"The thing we most want to do is get back to having some real fun making games. We aren't narrowing our horizons to any particular genre right now, we just want to focus on small fun games and not waste too much time labouring to overcome massive technical challenges.
"As for platform, we're looking to focus on downloadable games initially and it's great that there are plenty of options available to us there. The uptake of smart phone gaming is really exciting, particularly with the iPhone, and we're looking forward to experimenting with tilt and touch control and exploiting the GPS and internet connectivity. There's also cool stuff like integration with social networking sites like Facebook with new networks like OpenFeint which allow players to share their experiences with their friends," concluded Hutchinson.
More details on the team can be found at double11.co.uk