Hiding Buffalo profile
Hiding Buffalo is a strange name. But if you apply a bit of “gaming” sense and put your tongue firmly in your cheek things become a lot clearer.
You get steel monkeys and you get red lemons (or you used to, at least). So, why not hiding buffalos (description/object – get the link). Well, that was the thinking behind the birth of one of Dundee’s newest computer games development companies.
Hiding Buffalo was formed two months ago by Niclas Kjellin, Iwan Roberts and Torfi Gunnarsson – Swedish, Welsh and Icelandic, respectively – after scooping top prize in the Dare to be Digital competition arranged by Abertay University in conjunction with Interactive Tayside.
Their game, Gumshoe – a three-dimensional detective game inspired by detective stories, in particular the Raymond Chandler/ Phillip Marlowe series, set in the crime-ridden streets of 1930s America – beat off competition from six (initially 29) other teams, including one from Japan, to scoop the top prize.
So, with a £2000 grant, office space in the Abertay Incubator with all their bills paid for six months and a mentor appointed from DMA to help them in their development, Hiding Buffalo went on the trail of a publisher for Gumshoe. However, Kjellin admits that in the meantime the team is producing small web-based games and products for clients while they pitch and push their award-winning concept.
The trio, capitalising on their newfound fame, have already been down to Edinburgh to the Game On exhibition to talk to school kids about the games development industry.
But, despite the huge popularity of computer games leading to a 25 per cent growth in games sales and production on a yearly basis, this growth has not translated to a growth in start-up companies in the sector.
“The games industry is making the same transition that the movie and music industries did a number of years ago. The big companies are taking over at the expense of the independents,” says Kjellin.
“This does make it difficult when pitching your ideas because the publishers don’t want to take a risk. They seem to love the idea for the game, but we have been hitting a stumbling block when we get to the experience bit. They want tried and tested developers with a proven track record – something that we just don’t have.
“It can be understandable, though. The cost of publishing often reaches into millions and can take months and months. Who would invest that amount of time and money into a bunch of university graduates with no past record? But the games industry model is geared towards the publishers and the big studios and it seems to be getting harder and harder every year.”
All of the team at Hiding Buffalo completed an MSc in computer games technology at Abertay University. And Gunnarsson admits that many people have asked what attracts bright young things from all over Europe to Dundee: “It is one of the only universities in the world that offer this type of course. There were 11 people in our course. Not one of them came from Scotland, let alone Dundee.”