Big Rooster, LLC, is the latest video game developer to open its doors in the Madison area.
Old school joins forces with new school as Big Rooster LLC, Madison's newest video game development studio, gets to work after officially opening its doors Wednesday at the Fitchburg Technology Campus. Their first project is a game based on the fantasy board game Talisman, which was created in 1983. The game is scheduled to be released in late 2007.
Although unable to comment much about Talisman due to Big Rooster's deal with Capcom, Timothy Gerritsen, former CEO of Madison-based Human Head Studios and one of the four founders of Big Rooster, said they had developed an advanced, multi-platform engine of their own called the Atlas Engine, which they will be using in the development of Talisman and other titles.
Gerritsen, a Wisconsin native who has been a professional game developer since 1992, sees the current atmosphere of the video gaming industry as ideal for new, smaller companies to make it big.
"There's a bit of a sea change happening in the video game industry," Gerritsen said, citing the new distribution technologies of the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. He points to the increasing importance of "direct-sale" distribution models, such as XBox Live, as giving an advantage to smaller developers and publishers who can take more risks than larger development studios.
The founders of Big Rooster, who between them have over 50 years of experience in game development, hope that their combined programming and management experience will mix well with the company's small size to give them an advantage over larger studios. In an industry well-known for burning out its talent within ten years, Big Rooster hopes that their approach to game development, which is notably less intense than what has come to be expected from game studios, will actually serve them better.
That's one of the reasons the founders of Big Rooster decided to open in Madison. Here, they won't have to compete as much with the overworked and super-competitive atmosphere of the coasts, and it will allow them to take part in what they expect to be a growing Wisconsin game production industry. Gerritsen hopes Big Rooster will help turn Madison into a center for video game development, as Austin, Tex. and North Carolina are.
"I think Madison really has a unique blend of both technology and art, which combine well and lend themselves to making video games," he said. Big Rooster currently has a relationship with the Commercial Art and Animation programs at the Madison Area Technical College. The company has a staff of 10, but Gerritsen indicated that they are looking to expand to 40 or more employees in the near future.
Big Rooster joins Raven Software, which was founded in 1990, and Human Head Studios, founded in 1997, as a Madison-based game development company. Asked whether gamers could expect titles along the lines of Rune or Prey -- two hit games from Human Head -- to come out of Big Rooster, Gerritsen said that while the public can expect them to produce some "triple-A level games," he is more interested in doing research and development to explore new gaming territory and hopefully create new niches in a fairly niche-saturated industry.
More details about the background of Big Rooster and Gerritsen's goals for the company can be found in an interview with Firing Squad.