My mind is blown. As of today, I have been employed by YoYo Games as a junior developer for three years. The time has flown – it genuinely doesn’t feel that long ago I was creating and releasing stuff like Remaddening independently. Yet, when I look back at it, the amount that has happened has been astonishing. This will be a little bit biography, a little bit reminiscing.
I still remember, clear as day, my visit to Dundee in May 2010 to meet with the YoYo folk – at the time, Sandy Duncan, Mike Dailly and Russell Kay. The location of the original YoYo HQ hadn’t been finalised, I’d never set foot in Scotland before (despite my nationality being 50% Scottish)… it was a great experience. We had breakfast in Costa, lunch in The Pancake Place and dinner in Dil’Se. Me and my dad stayed in Holiday Inn and had a further lunch in a Bangladeshi restaurant that sadly no longer exists.
Roll forward a month and a half, and on July 5th 2010 I did my first official YoYo Games work – porting greenTech+ to PSP. The first week of work I had to work from home due to accommodation issues, but the following Monday I had a room on Bank Street ready, so on Sunday 11th July we spent eight hours travelling and stayed in a bar slash hotel in Perth for the night.
I remember this place clear as day too. Dogs roamed around inside the pub. I remember looking out of our room’s window, seeing my parents’ car full of all my belongings and coming to the sudden realisation that fuck, my life was now going to be massively different. And perhaps most memorable to me, I remember watching the World Cup final on the shitty CRT television in our room. Holland got their asses kicked that day. Infact, this is another thing that makes time seem so much shorter – that the next World Cup is only a year off, so the one I saw that day was three years ago!
So the day after, I began in-office work at the original YoYo HQ, an office above the I.C. Cave in the University of Abertay. Four of us were the entire in-office workforce for a few months – me, Mike, Russell, and Kirsty – with Sandy flying over every week or two. Soon after Realtime Worlds went bust (in August 2010), the workforce grew with an artist, Geoff; a producer, Stuart; and a web developer, Lee, all within the space of a few weeks. Our first game, a port of Chad Chisholm’s “Skydiver Mach II”, was released in October. Shortly after came Maddening, a quasi-sequel to my self published series madnessMADNESSmadness/Remaddening (Maddening was released exactly one year to the day after madnessMADNESSmadness, purely by coincidence). In 2010 we released several ports of existing games under the original YYG business model, including Teka Teki and Sync Simple. We also released an original solitaire game, Simply Solitaire, coded from scratch by me and then fixed laboriously by Mike (at the time I was still very poor at programming, achieving what I needed but doing it messily and without much optimisation). 2010 was also the year in which I met Mark Overmars, the original GameMaker creator, and Jesse Venbrux of Karoshi fame, who stayed for a month to create games in-house including an upgraded port of They Need To Be Fed and a new Karoshi game, Mr Karoshi.
2010 Christmas party: A burger in the student café opposite University of Abertay
Throughout 2011, the growth began. Several new people joined. Multiple more games were released. New teams emerged, with Jack Oatley and Darrell Flood, the two people I still live with in “YoYo House”, spending a year creating YoYo Games’ first social game outing “Grave Maker”. The office, once four of us in a pretty empty room, began to fill out. The year began with the release of GameMaker 8.1, and ended with the release of GameMaker HTML5. I still remember having to pull 11 straight days of work with overtime to help get the new manual (now the old new manual) for the latter ready for its release, but a posh celebratory meal in Playhouse made it all worth it! I also met Kjell t’Hoen towards the end of this year – great guy who I would’ve kept forever had it been up to me, but sadly he was only here for six weeks!
2011 Christmas party: Posh dinner in Duke’s Corner
2012 was when the growth properly began, though the big first change was outside the office. Me, Darrell, Jack, and then also Mark and Piotr moved house! From Bank Street, a small (but adequate) five-room compact cheap flat share where the stairwell leading up to it was frequently home to heroin addicts with no bowel control, we moved to a beautiful house on Adelaide Place with big rooms, a fantastic kitchen, a massive living area, and most importantly a specific room containing a full size snooker table and dartboard! 2012 also saw the release of GameMaker: Studio, the tool allowing anyone to publish their games cross-platform. We celebrated with a good old fashioned burger and beer in Ketchup. Other games were released this year, including probably my personal favourite game I’ve worked on yet, “BASE Jumper”.
2012 Christmas party: Posh dinner, long part-ay and large amounts of free champagne in Queen’s Hotel
And then began this year, 2013! The big story so far was the office move at the end of May. By the move, YoYo Games was on around 25 members of in-office staff, almost a 700% increase from when I started, and with more people still outside of it. We filled the University of Abertay office, which was adequate. And now we are in the top floor of River Court, an air-purified monster office with ping-pong and foosball tables, stunning views in all directions, a balcony, a massively expensive coffee machine and a drinks fridge (along with the rest of a gorgeous kitchen)… everything about it is breathtaking.
So the three years feel like they’ve gone quick as a flash, but when I compare then to now, it’s been a stunning change:
2010: Small room in a compact flat with a stairwell commonly housing junkie turds and a window view overlooking a graveyard
2013: Large house, big rooms, a garden, a dedicated games room with full size snooker table
2010: Converted segment of an IT area of a university, makeshift kitchen area, no plumbing – just a “slop bucket”, view featured a car park
2013: Massive modern office, ultra-expensive kitchen area, ping-pong, foosball, air purifying, beach huts, Chupa Chups carousel, 360 degree view of Dundee featuring miles of River Tay and thousands of square feet of views of Dundee, and a balcony if the fact 90% of the walls are windows isn’t enough
2010: Two core tech, one game developer, one customer support (count: 4)
2013: Around 8 core tech, three game dev teams of artist + programmer, three producers, QA teams, customer support teams and more (count: around 25, with space, and plans, for many more)
2010: Standard 8.0, play games on Windows
2013: Studio 1.1 + 1.2 Beta, play games on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML5, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, with a plethora of options for them all and more
2010: Gradiented Ambex Heavy Oblique wordmark
2013: Recognisable modern “YO/YO” ambigram logo
2013: Not so shit
It’s been a hell of a ride, and a ride I want to keep on riding! Looking back at all the differences of the company in such a tiny timespan is awe inspiring. May YoYo Games live forever!