On Saturday (6 Feb) as part of Dundee Popup I had the great privilege of getting to visit one of the UK’s leading game studios.

Realtime Worlds the awards winning game studio makers of Crackdown invited a select few people from Central Station to visit their studio and have a tour.

Colin McDonald gave a great introduction to the studio and let us in on some interesting stats information about how a studio that size starts and runs down developments that last somewhere in the region of 4 years.

As you might imagine the studio in Dundee employs quite a few people, for their latest game APB, which should launch in 2010, they currently have about 200 full time staff working on the game, though the studio in total is about 300. These developers, designers, artists UI experts etc have mostly been sourced from Scotland but about 40% of them have been brought in from around the world as good people are hard to find Colin explained.

Colin then led us out of the board room, where he had given us the intro, and we passed banks of Xboxs, PS3s and a full Rock Band setup. First stop was the testing area, here there were banks of game testers driving, running and most definitely shooting their way around San Paro, the city from APB.

This room was quite amazing, not only did each member of the team have a couple of monitors in front of them, but on 2 of the walls there were 4 meter projected views of the game shown.  On the other walls large screens showing what I can only guess were game stats and information about exactly what was going on in the virtual world at that time.

We then moved up to the sound studio areas where apparently on some days you see the unfortunate site of some poor chickens being punched to record sound effects for the realistic sounds of fight scenes. Colin also explained that some lucky sound engineers, when the studio was working on Crackdown, went out on location around the world to record sound for the different gangs.

Onwards and upwards we made our way up a few flights of stairs to the area where it seemed everything else happened. At Realtime Worlds rather than the teams being split by discipline, everyone is mixed up so concept artists, designers, animators and developers all work in pod type areas of maybe about 15 people. These teams work closely so they are able to share ideas on the part of the project they are working on.

This is where our tour came to an end, I’d really like to thank Colin and the guys at Realtime Worlds for taking the time to let us in to their studio and show us around. As a big fan of Crackdown (the reason I got an Xbox!) it was great to see where the magic happened and to get some insight into their new game APB which does look fantastic.


To find out what Dundee Popup was all about or to read more reviews & blogs  from the day, click here.