Welcome to Bits of Boston, a bi-weekly profile of a video game developer/company/publisher that has planted its roots in the greater Boston area!
This week: Demiurge studios
Nestled in the side-streets of Central Square, Cambridge, Demiurge Studios is a veritable powerhouse of development and creativity. Since its beginnings in 2002, Demiurge has shipped over twenty titles across various platforms working closely with many industry pioneers. They have worked with Ubisoft, THQ, Epic Games, and Electronic Arts. Their work can be seen in major franchises such as Rock Band, Bioshock, and Mass Effect, among others. If you can believe it, they are also hard at work creating original IPs to follow up the success to their freshman attempt Shoot Many Robots. I recently chatted with studio director Al Reed, and he caught me up on all things Demiurge.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Reed founded Demiurge along Tom Lin and Chris Linder. They began writing documentation for the Unreal Engine and were able to land jobs working on games that utilized this engine. Over the past ten years, they have slowly and methodically grown their team to a group of about 30, who work on a variety of projects, many of which use the Unreal Engine. Their team started in Pittsburgh, but according to Reed, they had trouble recruiting and decided to move up to Cambridge. “We found a huge pool of talent from schools, a growing game industry, and a city that was more attractive to prospective hires.” He also mentioned that since the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX east) has become an annual event in Boston, it doesn’t hurt to be in the city that draws over seventy thousand attendees each year.
While Demiurge works on a plethora of projects for several publishers (which you can see here), Reed says that doing this is much more than “paying the bills.” He asserts “we take on projects that we are passionate about, and that help us grow as a studio: creatively, intellectually, and culturally.” Reed’s hoping that their reputation among publishers they work with, coupled with the success of their first original IP will allow them to grow even more:
We’ve spent a lot of time backstage, proudly seeing our work in the spotlight, but haven’t often been the star of the show. Shoot Many Robots was our first venture onto that stage, and we’re following up that success with new games. We don’t plan on becoming a factory, churning out sequels. Our focus is on creating commercially successful products that still push creative boundaries; we want to make memorable and innovative games.
What this essentially means is that Demiurge is going to start taking more risks and including more of their staff in the creative process. Reed says they are beefing up their internal pitch process and encouraging all Demiurge employees to pitch game ideas. Hopefully this will lead to some bold adventures and green lighting more original titles in the coming years. The next Ken Levine or Cliffy B could be diligently writing endless lines of code in the bowels of Demiurge at this very moment!
Demiurge Studios works hard to do it all, and they have worked with many notable local game companies. “We work on blockbuster hit games and indie labors of love.” Reed explained that in the span of Demiurge’s history, they’ve worked on some huge titles – Rock band, Bioshock, Mass Effect – but they’re also hoping to continually fuel the creative process, both internally and externally. They recently announced that they’re publishing a game for iOS that Owlchemy Labs, a local indie studio, is developing. Their relationship with local companies doesn’t stop in the professional world. They are in a soccer league with a bunch of local developers and they have games every week. They are currently seeking engineers with goal-keeping experience, interested applicants can submit their resume and cleat size here.
If you’re interested in learning more about Demiurge, be sure to head over to their website. Though you’ve probably experienced the work of Demiurge without knowing it in your gaming travels, don’t be surprised if they make an even bigger name for themselves in the next few years. Check out the video for Shoot Many Robots, and give it a download! It’s available through many major download services including Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam. Take it from this Examiner, it’s a really great game that will have you chomping at the bit for what lies ahead for Demiurge.
That’s it for this week! Leave a comment with what local developer you’d like to know more about, and I’ll do my best to wrangle them!