When you think of the granite city, game development isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. That’s something that happens sixty-odd miles south in Dundee, right? Yes and no, yes Dundee is a hub of creativity and development. However, Aberdeen can still hold its own in this Industry we care so much about. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it! Here are FIVE Game developers based in the city I call home. (Warning: I might make some jokes that only us Aberdonians will understand here)
Aberdeen is not what you would call a colourful place. On your average dreary day the granite buildings that line Union Street are equally as dreary and grey. However, on a sunny day that granite will… look like a lighter shade of grey? Okay, up until a few years ago we hadn’t invested much time or money into brightening up the city. In recent years, however, the Nuart festival (starting in 2017) has added a much needed splash of colour. Bringing in street artists from around the world to brighten up the Granite City, it has made my home a much more colourful and inviting place.
It’s not just street art that comes from Aberdeen! Film, music and of course game development is also found in our city. For music you have Annie Lennox and for a more recent example, The Xcerts’ Murray Macleod. For film, one of my personal favourite Indie movies, One Day Removals was written, shot and produced right here in the Granite City, and right now Kingsman and Rocketman star Taron Egerton is filming in Aberdeen for an upcoming Tetris Movie. However, we’re not here to talk about movies or music (despite which you should definitely listen to the Xcerts and watch One Day Removals if you get a chance). We’re here to talk about game development!
Originally from Glasgow, Brilliant Skies have moved to Aberdeen (we’ve poached them and you can’t have them back, now you know how our football team feels). The creators of From the Depths are now in the granite city and are continuing their great work! The best way to talk about any creative is through their work, so lets discuss From the Depths. In this game you will create and command your own machines of war, constructing battleships and whatever else you can come up with to dominate the battlefield. It might be a cliché but in this game your only limitation is your imagination. Due to that, I’ll be making a red and white striped, fully loaded war ship and I’ll be calling it the HMS Dandy.
Dating back to 1999, Firefly studios formed when Simon Bradbury and Eric Ouellette met at Impressions Games while working on Caesar and Lords of the Realm. Firefly’s aim: to merge the city builder and strategy genres. Two years after forming, Firefly achieved their goal with Stronghold, a surprise smash hit for publisher Take Two. Stronghold even beat Grand Theft Auto 3 to the top of the PC Christmas Charts in 2001. A year later Firefly released Stronghold Crusader and experienced even more success. Both titles went on to sell over two million copies each. Amidst the 2008 credit crunch, the studio decided they had to change their business model. This led to them opting for a self-publishing, free-to-play approach. It was at this time that they released Stronghold Kingdoms which saw massive success on Steam and on mobile devices.
For fans of the Stronghold series, Firefly are still going strong with Stronghold: Warlords, released in March 2021!
Travel (remember that) can be difficult, walking around a city that you’ve never previously set foot in can be daunting. However, if you stick to your hotel and the surrounding three blocks you’ll never truly get a feel for the place you’re visiting. Luckily, video games have come to your rescue yet again! Currently in development in Aberdeen, Tudu is a travel app that claims to allow it’s users to “see a city through the locals’ eyes”. With a heavy focus on community this app encourages tourists to share information and help guide each other.
Bonus fact: Cultoural Limited are based on the Robert Gordon University campus. That’s where I study so I’ve got a soft spot for these guys.
vK Games Ltd.
vK Games were founded in February of last year and are “dedicated to creating memorable, beautiful, and fun games that engage and delight users worldwide.”. In the year that they have been operating, vK have produced a mobile game Pandainia: Panda Pick-Up. The game is set in the town of Pandainia, found high in the mystical Minshan mountains. Your job is to find missing pandas for a group photo before time runs out – hiring professional photographers is expensive after all, and those guys charge buy the hour. Described as a “fun panda filled game for all ages” you can find vK’s debut title on the Apple app store and Google Play store.
Common Profyt Games
Based in RGU’s hometown rival, Aberdeen University, Common Profyt Games recently ran a successful Kickstarter for a game that has peaked our interest. Founded by Dr William Hepburn and Dr Jackson Armstrong, Profyt Games are aiming to make a game based on Aberdeen’s historical records (from 1398 to 1511) to drop the player into plague era Aberdeen.
The upcoming title, Strange Sickness, enables players to make decisions that can shape the story and impact the lives of the characters around them. Additionally, gamers will be exploring the Granite City and uncovering truths from its past. I for one, cannot wait to uncover the secrets of a medieval Aberdeen and see how my ancestors lived. Strange Sickness‘ progress can be tracked on the game’s Twitter.