In game development, being in control means a lot (just like the games themselves), which is one reason why the indie game market has been rapidly growing in recent years. But with the increasing demand for better looking and more complex games, successful titles are difficult to produce alone. TechSPARK caught up with Alexander Birke to talk about setting up his own game development company in Bristol, and what it takes to get a game startup off the ground in a rapidly growing market.

Having already gained a lot of industry experience: freelancing for Auroch Digital and working on three games of his own, Alexander tells us he feels ready for the challenge of full time indie development.

When asked what the motivation was for founding Out Of Bounds, Alexander tells us it ‘stems from both wanting control over what I make and to see if I can avoid the mistakes I have seen in the games industry’.

casual connect at bertram_AlexanderBirke

Alexander Birke: Showcasing Bertram Fiddle at
Casual Connect in Amsterdam last year

He also seeks to set an example: “There are a lot of problems in the current games’ industry with crunch, poor project management, and inequality in the workplace. Since I have a visual impairment I know how painful it is to not feel included and I am now in a position where I can help our industry move forward on those issues with the actions my company takes.”

Alexander is already getting out there to share his expertise and lists one of his proudest moments as ‘speaking at the Europe Game Developers Conference on how production methods and tool development can help small teams ship content driven games on time’.

LAST DAYS OF OLD EARTHHe has been busy developing games too. Out of Bounds Games will be announcing a new title at the end of this month (more on that to come), however Alexander is “looking forward to Last Days of Old Earth (pictured) being released into STEAM’s Early Access by Auroch Digital since I had the pleasure of working on it earlier in the year. It’s a 4X game with an interesting card game mechanic thrown into the mix, and is the most ambitious project I have worked on so far.’

If you’d like to get on board with Out of Bounds, Alexander is “on the lookout for a good intern programmer”. He’s also a regular attendee and advocate of Bristol’s various Meetup opportunities.

He tells us: “If you are also interested in games as a medium you should check out the Avon Games Collective which I am a part of. There’s also a ton of other games related groups such as the Unity Meetup, the Unreal Meetup and the Bristol Games Hub that are worth checking out if you want to get more into the games industry.”

“There’s a great sense of community here. The region also seems to have a lot of funding opportunities you don’t see in London…”

 

Alexander also believes being based in Bristol has its benefits for setting yourself up as a game designer “because the game development scene is made out of so many small companies and individuals. There’s a great sense of community here. The region also seems to have a lot of funding opportunities you don’t see in, for example, London.”

As well as this, successful and respected development companies already exist in Bristol. Alexander tells us his experience at Auroch Digital was very positive: I like the amount of respect and flexibility they show their employees, and the good work environment they cultivate.

Out of Bounds games will be announcing a new title at the end of January, which we will be writing about here on TechSPARK, or you can hear it from Alexander himself on Twitter. You can check out some of Alexander’s previous projects at the Out of Bounds website. Why not have a go at playing Last Days of Old Earth in your free time, or heading down to the Unreal or Unity Meetups to learn a little more about the ins and outs of game design.

Jimmy Crosthwaite