Edinburgh games developer creates independent design hub

Tony Gowland has gone on to develop independent game Binaries, after a career with Rockstar Games and ActiVision. Picture: Ant Workshop
Tony Gowland has gone on to develop independent game Binaries, after a career with Rockstar Games and ActiVision. Picture: Ant Workshop
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After a career with international games studios Rockstar Games and Activision, developer Tony Gowland struck out on his own to create new game, Binaries and a collective for other indie games designers.

The Edinburgh games hub - which is yet to decide on an official name for their efforts - aims to bring small start-ups in the gaming industry together to pool their resources and generate wider interest in their work.

And as the head of game developer and design consultancy, Ant Workshop, Tony Gowland will also debut his new game Binaries at the UK’s largest gaming festival Insomnia, when it comes to Edinburgh’s EICC on 29 April.

Gowland said: “There’s quite a few tech hubs in the Edinburgh area at the moment. When you’re working as an independent developer, it can be isolating work.

“I started the hub as I wanted to be surrounded more by people who understand the games industry. Most of these people are based in London, so dragging them north of the M25 can be a challenge!

READ MORE: UK’s largest gaming festival, Insomnia, coming to Edinburgh

Game developer Tony Gowland describes Binaries as a "tricky platformer with unique dual character controls". Picture: Ant Workshop

Game developer Tony Gowland describes Binaries as a "tricky platformer with unique dual character controls". Picture: Ant Workshop

“We started our collaboration earlier this year, and so far there’s three developers across four companies. We’ve also teamed up with We Throw Switches, who organise and plan gaming events across the country.”

READ MORE: What next for Grand Theft Auto - Scotland’s biggest digital export?

Aside from his collaborative work, Gowland has been busy working on Binaries. 
Released on Windows and Mac by his studio Ant Workshop at the start of April, the platform game features 101 levels of puzzle-solving to complete and allows the player to plot their own route through the game. To date, even Gowland himself has not been able to complete every challenging mission.

Binaries will be displayed at Insomnia at the end of the month, when the EICC will be transformed into an all-purpose gaming hub and will play host to a number of special guests from the gaming world including Youtubers Gizzy Gazza and Scotland’s Nilesy.

Ant Workshop are part of a fledgling Edinburgh games workshop; a collective for independent games developers to pool their resources. Picture: Tony Gowland

Ant Workshop are part of a fledgling Edinburgh games workshop; a collective for independent games developers to pool their resources. Picture: Tony Gowland

Gowland added: “We’ve had it [Binaries] at a few shows and the response has been absolutely fantastic. They can play a few levels and then get stuck because it’s quite difficult - there’s a real sense of achievement when you actually complete a level.

The game is on PC and Mac at the moment, with console versions set to be released in midsummer. There’s potentially going to be a mobile version too.

“As for the future, I’ve had an idea about a game for two-on-two underwater squid basketball, but that’s a project for later.”

READ MORE: What next for Grand Theft Auto - Scotland’s biggest digital export?

With 16 years of experience in the gaming industry, Gowland has been involved in the development of world-famous titles such as Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and the Call of Duty mobile game.

So why did he decide to leave the corporations and set up shop himself?

“In big games studios, you’re working with teams of about 30 people to make things that no one person could make themselves.

“At the same time, when you’re only making a smaller portion of the game, it becomes less and less rewarding. When my input into games became smaller and smaller - I really wanted to make something where I could point to it and say ‘this whole thing is mine’.”

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