Pre-True Gameworks era/Sharkhill, Inc era (1999-2015) Edit
Clark Gonzalez and Jason Harris met in DigiPen University in 1999, at a 3D Computer Animation class. They were freshmen and were considering to become game developers after they graduated, so they also were at Game Design classes. They graduated in mid-2000s, and were hired by Turn 10 Studios in 2006. There, they met Eijah Miller, who was an intern and contributed on programming.
Jason, Clark and Eijah left Turn 10 Studios in 2007, to pursue their dreams and started developing an independent video game. During their brainstorming session, Eijah suggested the Sharkhill, Inc. name for the group, because it sounded hilarious, legit and random. One day, Eijah told that his sister, Jill Miller, was coming over to help them in development, and complimented Jill's musical talent and creativity in sound design. Jill lived in Sheffield back then, and "probably got a master degree in music and sound design recently". Jason also bought PrimeSense middleware and a game controller, only because he could include gesture recognition and game controller support, while Clark bought a domain name sharkhill.com.
In 2009, Jill Miller was hired by 4J Studios, to program and do models for 4J's next XBLA port Perfect Dark. Also in 2010, they released a Xbox Live Indie Game, The Fabulous Adventures of Mr. Flutehead, under the name Sharkhill, Inc. and was published by Microsoft Studios. Microsoft soon modified their Kinect to be compatible with PrimeSense's middleware used in development by Jason Harris. Jill left 4J Studios in 2011 to continue being a full-time developer and a part of Sharkhill, Inc. The experiment Jill was creating was created from experience from 4J Studios and a lot of learning in programming, sound, music and animating. This experiment ended up being a 3D tower defense/action game called The Marshmallow Castle, released to Xbox Live Arcade, developed by Jill, all by herself, and published under Sharkhill, Inc, in 2012.
In 2012, they published a self-developed sequel Mr. Flutehead and the Chaos at Interpolis. Jill invited translator Duncan Grodin, the husband of Taylor Grodin (who was then part of Wingstar Studios), character and cinematic artist Sam Katz (brother of Jill Katz, also then part of Wingstar Studios), 3D animator and motion capture engineer Rhee Gun-Woo, "game planner" Ken Sato, and AI programmer Masahiro Kobayashi into Sharkhill, Inc. Duncan then resided in Vancouver (soon moved to Montréal to work for Wingstar Studios), and can translate games to Chinese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Korean, and worked with many companies, like Electronic Arts, Konami, Capcom and Atari.
In September 2013, Eijah, Jill, Clark and Jason moved into an apartment building at London, England.
In November 2013, Eijah, Clark and Jason managed to hire couple of employees who have worked for Microsoft's Salt Lake Games Studio (Indie Built), GameInsight, the Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade group, Crytek, Griptonite Games, Zynga, Techland, Wargaming.net, Codemasters, Danger Close Games, Chillingo, Jamdat, EA Mobile, EA Salt Lake, EA Tiburon, EA Mythic, BioWare Victory, BioWare San Francisco, EA Bright Light, Quicklime Games and Playdom.
In December 2013, Sharkhill, Inc. launched their first cross-platform game The Marshmallow Castle 2: Online, which supported cross-platform, cross-generational multiplayer. It was released to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Android, iOS, Symbian, Blackberry, PlayStation Vita, Linux, Mac OS X, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, MorphOS and PlayStation 2.
In August 2014, they started developing a concept which combines interactive drama with artistic style of games such as Journey and Ico. After few months, they registered the trademarks True Gameworks and Alepho. They were seeking funding since November 2014 until March 2015, when they received "FBS - the funding, backing and support" from UltraNitro Studios, and successfully relaunched Sharkhill as True GameWorks, as part of UltraNitro Studios, in April 2015.
Post-Sharkhill, Inc era (2015-2016) Edit
True Gameworks established 5 additional offices to "boost game development" and UltraNitro Studios moved around 200 employees to the studios. A week later, True Gameworks and Lionsgate Entertainment announced a partnership deal to create and publish games based on Lionsgate's selected intellectual properties. Masahiro Kobayashi (the AI programmer) and Rhee Gun-Woo (a 3D animator and a motion capture engineer) announced their departure. They went on to co-found Pentasaurus Media.
In September 2016, True Gameworks announced Alpeho, to be published by Starbreeze IndieLabs.
In December 2016, True Gameworks sold four studios:
- they spilt its Tokyo studio to Sony Interactive Entertainment and Kojima Productions,
- split its Stockholm studio to Easy Games, Ghost Games and Uprise,
- sold its Berlin studio to Ubisoft Blue Byte
- and split its Bucharest studio to EA Romania, MavenHut and Ghost Games Romania;
Because of this, Sony, EA and Ubisoft licensed their properties to be developed by True Gameworks and UltraNitro Studios. This relieved True Gameworks, as they got rid of over 100 employees, without risking their jobs or the company's financial situation.
The properties licensed to True and UltraNitro include Medal of Honor, Driver, Patapon and LocoRoco. True's new Medal of Honor game will be published by EA through EA Partners, while their Patapon/LocoRoco cross-over game will be co-developed with Guerilla Games (Killzone) and Team Gravity (Gravity Rush, Siren) and published by ForwardWorks - a SIE studio. Both of the games will be developed by their Moscow studio, while the Driver game is being developed in their London headquarters.
Skydance Interactive era (2017-present)Edit
True Gameworks was sold to Skydance Interactive in January 2017, shortly after UltraNitro Studios merged its Chertsey studio to the TGW headquarters. However, the deal didn't include the Moscow studio and was rebranded as UltraNitro Studios Russia. This was seen as an opportunity to work with The Workshop Entertainment, also owned by Skydance Interactive, on their own installment in the Driver franchise and Alpeho (formerly worked on by Moscow, Berlin, Bucharest and Stockholm studios, before the studios were sold; all game assets were moved to the London studio afterwards).
They hired nearly all of the ex-Guerilla Cambridge staff, as of February 2017.
Notable employees Edit
- Jason Harris, a programmer, game scenario and lead writer.
- Clark Gonzalez, an ex-animator, now a lead designer/planner, programmer, a CEO and a quality assurance tester.
- Eijah Miller, a programmer, artist and writer.
- Jill Miller, a sound designer, programmer, modeler and musician.
- Ken Sato, game planner.