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Interview: Sawfly Head On Studio Liverpool Closure

Alex Evans

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NowGamer chats to ex-Studio Liverpool dev and current Sawfly Studios Managing Director Michael Humphrey about starting his new venture.

Published on Feb 11, 2013

Studio Liverpool's sudden closure is not the end. At least, not for the supremely talented devs who worked there. 

The studio may have been shuttered by Sony in August 2012, but for Michael Humphrey and his team of Karl Jones, Jon Eggleton and Andrew Jones at Sawfly Studios, that end has given way to a new start.

Set up by former members of the now-defunct dev studio that gave the world WipEout, G-Police and a rash of Formula One titles, Sawfly Studios is a bold new direction for a group of devs versed in the ways of racing. 

There’s no doubt the death of Studio Liverpool is the end of an era for the PlayStation brand – the former studio has been synonymous with cutting edge PS cool since Sony bought the company as Psygnosis in the mid-90s.

But for some of the studio’s immensely talented devs, it’s also the start of a new era under Sawfly.

The team’s first title is a project for Ripstone, a title being kept well under wraps.

Sawfly Managing Director Michael Humphrey said: “This game is not like anything we've done before and not what people will be expecting from us, but we can't wait for people to get their hands on it.”

In fact, future output from the studio could end up having more in common with Journey and Limbo than WipEout and Formula 1.

Humphrey added: “For us, those games [Journey and Limbo] are inspiring not because of genre, or scale or scope but simply because of the way they make you feel.  

“They are games that really leave an impression, and that's what we're aiming at.

“As for racing, the genre is in our blood, and we would never actively rule it out.  We'd be very surprised if we weren't involved in a racer again at some point in the future.”

Humphrey said the closure of SL was a surprise, but it has given the devs a new opportunity.

He said: “It was certainly a shock, but this sort of thing seems to be happening more and more in the industry at the moment.

“The closure was really sad, both from a personal and an industry standpoint, but we wasted very little time before deciding to set up on our own.

“It was an idea that evolved over a very short space of time. 

“We realised early on that there was plenty of work out there for good developers, and that if we teamed up we would have all the major disciplines covered, which would put us in a very strong position.  

“It meant that we could take on projects in their entirety, which was very attractive to publishers.”

Those projects, however, will not be tied exclusively to PlayStation, if they grace the brand at all.

Humphrey added: “We're very experienced with coming up with new game ideas and pitching them internally at Sony, but it's nice to be doing it for ourselves now.

“We're not going to limit ourselves to specific platforms.  

“People want to play games wherever they are, and ideally we'd put our experiences out on everything.

"If it makes sense for a title to appear on particular hardware, then we're happy to do it.

"What we won't do is port everything to everything for the sake of it, the experience should always make sense on the hardware.

“We have a lot of experience at creating highly rated games to a very high standard. 

“Previously this experience has been used primarily to create games for PlayStation platforms.

"We now want to bring that experience to other kinds of experiences and platforms, and we're well on our way to doing that.”

 

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