Aliens vs Predator and The UK Games Biz
Rebellion’s main office in Oxford is a fairly unassuming building to look at from the outside. It’s long and flat, with mirrored windows and it’s surrounded by builder’s merchants and the colour beige. It’s also where some of the best games of last decade game come from, as well as being the residence of Judge Dredd.
Despite appearances it’s a full-on hive of activity. The same could be said for co-founder and CEO Jason Kingsley, who looks a rather calm and easy-going sort if judged by first impressions, but who is actually one of the most important men in the UK games industry. Not only does his studio work with some of the biggest and best licenses available, from Aliens to Star Wars, but he’s also a chairman and founder of TIGA, the UK’s games industry trade association. On top of all that, Rebellion also owns 2000AD comics.
We got a chance to sit down with Jason at his Oxford office earlier this week, grilling him extensively on both the current Aliens versus Predator
project and how he feels it is shaping up and what he thinks of the rating systems and company incentives that are currently such massive issues for developers across the world. Here’s what he had to say for himself…
Clash of the titans
Bit-tech: So, tell us about yourself and Rebellion?
Well, this is the main HQ for Rebellion, in Oxford. We also have a studio in Runcorn and one in Derby. It was founded…god, 18 years ago. 1993? 1994? About that. I’m the owner and co-founder with my brother, so really all of this is my fault.
BT: Something for you clarify so we don’t get it wrong; this next game is Aliens versus Predator? With a plural? And the first one was singular Alien?
Plural now, correct.
BT: So, if you’re not going with a AVP 2 or anything does that mean that you’re rebooting the series?
Oof. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s not really a reboot, it’s just that…we know the type of game we did the first time around on the Jaguar
and we know what we did with the PC version in 1999
, which we just re-released on Steam. That last one especially was kind of a seminal game, really. It innovated in so many different ways, though it does look a bit old and creaky now because of today’s gee-whiz graphics. Obviously we were fans of all that – and a large number of the team were involved in the PC game, while many of those that didn’t wanted to work with us because of it. So, it was really that we didn’t want to throw away the good stuff. We wanted to build on it for a new game.
So, that’s what we did. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s not a reboot. It’s basically revisiting the franchise. I wouldn’t call it a reboot though because we haven’t really based anything on the older games. It’s an original storyline and everything.
BT: And it’s not based on any of the AVP films or…?
No, because the Aliens versus Predator films were—
BT: A big pile of crap?
Ha! Well, I’ll say that they were made in response to the game. Paul Anderson came to visit us just after we’d put the PC title and said ‘I’d like to make this into a film’. We said ‘Nothing to do with us, mate. We’re just the developers. You need to talk to Fox.’
Obviously, they did go an talk to Fox and eventually managed to get the money to come and play in our sandpit and make a film based on the game, but of a type that was quite different.