We can see in various game developer hotspots around the world where successful game companies have spawned off many other companies in the same area as employees break away to start their own studio. Dallas, for example, was where Apogee Software (3D Realms) was based and where id software relocated. Ex-employees of those companies left to form Ritual Entertainment and ion Storm, making Dallas a hotbed for First person shooter games.
Australia has its own similar stories, and during Alfred Milgrom's opening speech at the ACMI Hits of the 80's exhibition, Alfred mentioned with pride of the role Melbourne House had as a catalyst for the game development industry in Australia. We decided to graph out some of the links between the origins of various Australian game developers, and the results were very interesting. While many Melbourne game companies can be linked back to Beam Software / Melbourne House, it's amazing how many are linked directly to Torus Games. What was it about Torus Games that motivated so many entrepreneurs?
Of course, we're continuing to refine and update this chart, so if you know of any corrections or additions that need to be made, please do post about it in the comment box below and I will make an update!
1994: Tantalus co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Andrew Bailey, was enticed to Australia by Beam Software where he worked for five years as a programmer before starting up Tantlus with Trevor Nuriden.
1994: Torus Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Bill McIntosh, got his start at Beam Software as a programmer for the company from 1985 until 1993. Watch Bill talk about it at the ACMI website.
1999: After a four year stint at Torus and learning the ropes from Bill McIntosh, Rob Murray started up ndWare to provide high tech programming services to the games industry, and then focussing on game development itself as Firemint in 2001.
2001: Chris Wise worked on titles like Carmageddon TDR 2000 at Torus before leaving and founding Virtual Mechanix
2002: After completing Dark Reign 2, several ex-Auran developers working on the project in Santa Monica, California became homesick. Rather than lose their exceptional talents, Pandemic established a second studio in Brisbane, Australia.
2002: (Creative Assembly) Ken Turner, Project Director (from AustralianGamer) "Basically, we left EA (they had a Gold Coast studio back then), and by left I mean in the nicest possible way - booted out the door. George used to get Creative Assembly to do all the sports products, local sports: AFL, Rugby and stuff like that. I think they even did an early version of FIFA on the PC way back when. So, when Tim, the owner of Creative Assembly at the time, heard that we were available to resources, he went "wow, that's great, I’ve always wanted to have an Australian studio". Back then I think we were seen as terribly low cost."
2002: Firelight Technology, the company behind the famed FMOD, has origins in Tantalus. Firelight CEO and lead programmer, Brett Paterson, was previously a Tantalus employee.
2003: Redtribe is started up by Blue Tongue co-founder, Chris Mosely
???: Interzone Entertainment Chief Operating Officer and co-founder, Robert Spencer, has roots in BigWorld as Strategic Business Manager.
Rebrandings and acquisitions
To complement the origins chat, I've decided to compile another chart of company renames and acquisitions.