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Invizimal War

Novarama's Daniel Sanchez-Crespo on the Spanish industry and why Gamelab is crucial


INTRO PARA 2 Let's start with Novarama - I'm sure most people will know about Invizimals, but what about the company?
Daniel Sanchez-Crespo

Well, we were founded in 2003 and began as a PC developer - that was the way to go at that time in Spain, because basically you didn't need a dev kit or anything like that. So we were working like that for a while, and then we did a project for the Xbox 360... but that was cancelled, which is one of the realities of this industry.

Then we rebooted the company, worked on the DS for a while, then became a Sony first-party studio, working on external development with Liverpool - that's been for about the last two and a half years. That was basically the life cycle for Invizimals, and as of now we're still working with Sony - and expect to be with them for quite a while. On additional titles, that you can't talk about?
Daniel Sanchez-Crespo

What I can talk about is that we're releasing a sequel for Invizimals this Christmas - Invizimals: Shadow Zone. That's about the only thing I can say for now. Rewinding slightly - the Spanish market is pretty important within Europe, but the Spanish industry doesn't seem to have had a great deal of visibility on the international scene. Why is that?
Daniel Sanchez-Crespo

I'd say that is the key word - "visibility". There was a local scene in the Eighties - the micro-computer age, the Amstrad, Spectrum and so on - because it was cheap to make games then. After that there was a boom in the Nineties because of Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines that was made here in Spain.

That game basically woke up a lot of people, like me for example, and showed us it was possible to make games in Spain on a big scale. From that time onwards the trend has been rising, slowly - and if you think about it, we're the sixth-biggest market in the world in terms of videogames sales, but obviously we're lagging behind in terms of development... though we're slowly picking up speed. Why didn't the industry side of things take off in the same way as the UK, or Germany?
Daniel Sanchez-Crespo

I think it had a lot to do with the financial side of things, but also with the management side of things. Spain has always had a good talent pool for artists and programmers - if you go to any UK studio you're going to see Spanish developers working there.

So there is the talent pool - the problem is that there weren't management or financial people actually backing that effort, to create a meaningful industry. When Pyro Studios was founded in the late Nineties and made Commandos, that became a reality again.

For example, Novarama was founded in 2003 and at that time, when we first tried to get some funds to get the company going, people would laugh at us - "Ah yes, videogames, that's what kids play!" There was still a little bit of that perception in Spain. That's been a common perception in the Western markets though - but it ran deeper in Spain?
Daniel Sanchez-Crespo

Well, we've had a media backlash against games for quite a while, because of things like violence - lots of misinformation, lots of people who had never played a game in their lives giving out very strong opinions.

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