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Hello 'Moto

Animoto execs Vinnie Reddy and Mark Currie explain their business plans for PC RTS Apox

During GDC Europe last year GamesIndustry.biz first met up with small independent developer Animoto, based in Hyderabad, India. The team has created its own engine, led by former EA and Microsoft programmer Mark Currie and is gearing up for the release of its first game, a post-apocalyptic PC RTS title called Apox.

Here, Currie and the company's CEO Vinnie Reddy explain how the developer is trying to forge a path that combines low costs with high quality in a market that's putting more and more emphasis on marketing as time goes on.

GamesIndustry.biz Tell us a little bit about Animoto.
Vinnie Reddy

Well, it started out as a motion capture facility initially, but when I met Mark we moved into game development. Right now we're not an outsourcing facility - which is what people have in their minds when they think of developers in India. We're into independent game development, and we've started working on our own RTS game with an in-house engine.

GamesIndustry.biz What fuelled that decision towards game development, or was it always the plan?
Vinnie Reddy

No, it was more because I met Mark - we both worked at Trine, on a project associated with that studio - and then we set out for a year trying motion capture in India, but that doesn't really have any market. So that's when we thought we'd diversify into something that's more about games. Trash - the engine that we're using - is actually Mark's project, which he's been working on and off for eight years. The game was released in 2005, so we're really setting out to remake it with more advanced graphics, different gameplay and a few other things.

GamesIndustry.biz Putting together a game engine is no small task, but tell us a bit about the game itself first.
Mark Currie

Apox is an independent RTS made with a very small team. Now we're in India it'd great, because there's a lot of affordable manpower and a lot of talented developers. It was an opportunity, and we've hired a nice team.

Vinnie Reddy

We have about 14 people now, with programmers and artists - the idea was that we wanted to be small and independent, and work on our own games, not working as a service just for anybody. I think we were lucky actually to find programmers on our team - the game is coming along well do far, and we're trying to add some first-person shooter elements into the RTS game as well. We were originally looking at November-December to put the game out [although the game is now scheduled for early 2010].

GamesIndustry.biz So when you were hiring, were there a lot of people with the right skills for you to take ready-made, or was there a lot of training involved?
Mark Currie

I would say it's never easy, but it's a lot easier in India than in other places. It's hard to find people who have good game development experience in the type of game we're making. Most of the experience is in mobile games, or DS games, or games for very small children. You can certainly find talented, smart programmers, and we train them as to what they need to know about game development. So it's a nice fit.

Vinnie Reddy

That's how it's worked, in a nice way. We found people who have experience in software development, and we give them the added dimension of games. Luckily we found Mark who has great experience.

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Phil Elliott