Console Creative Lead: Al Hope

Console Creative Lead: Al Hope

First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at The Creative Assembly?

Hi, I’m Alistair Hope and I’m Creative Lead for CA Console Team. Tell you a bit about myself? I’m a lucky guy. Officially, I’m responsible for the console game’s direction. In reality my role is to work alongside the extraordinarily talented console team to create incredible games people haven’t experienced before. In summary, I have my dream job!

What did you do before joining the company?

Before joining? Wow! That’s a long, long time ago. I’ve always been a huge gamefan. I studied Fine Art painting and sculpture at University. I’ve been a student game developer, a massively unsuccessful night club promoter, early hours radio disc jockey and more successful record producer. But most of all I wanted to make games and I seriously could not believe my eyes when I saw job adverts for games industry vacancies in one of the early editions of UK games magazine EDGE. Joining CA brought me full circle and back into what I love doing the most – making games.

What is it like to work at CA?

When I joined CA was a very different company – I was the 8th employee. Studio founder Tim Ansell and TW creator Mike Simpson gave me my big break into the industry as a Trainee Artist.

When I joined, I was amazed to find that everyone was doing cool work; everyone’s screen had something new and different. Today, we’ve grown beyond almost all recognition (160+ employees) but the foundations of the studio remain the same. We’re passionate about the quality of our games whilst keeping a fantastic, creative, collaborative team spirit. I still get the same excitement when I look around at a new piece of stunning artwork, a new ingenious design mechanic or the truly cutting edge technology created in the team – there’s just so many more screens to look at!

The console team recently moved into a brand new floor. Can you tell us a bit about it?

So as a CA veteran I’ve seen us grow from a tiny, tiny, office in an industrial park with no air conditioning, to an office in the middle of nowhere, so it’s great to be back in the heart of Horsham in a brand new custom built studio space. We wanted to create a space that was open and had a more creative feel to the more Salaryman environment we’d been in previously and with the new studio space we had the opportunity and support to create our ideal world class studio space.

Can you tell us a bit about the console team and what you are working on?

We’re working on a new game based on the ALIEN IP. Our ambitions for the game are very high and that comes back to our passion for delivering quality. To some extent it could be said we’re going against the grain, we aiming for a truly triple A experience, something only a handful of developers in the UK are still attempting. We believe that we’re creating something that will really capture people’s imagination immediately. Certainly when we’ve shown new team members the game the reaction on their faces shows we’re on to something. I genuinely can’t wait to announce what we’re up to.

What is your favourite game and why?

A single favourite game? Just one? Are you kidding me? I love games, so it’s impossible to name just one. A list might be more representative but then again it would have to contain every game, old and new, that’s deeply informed and shaped my understanding of what this unique art form is, can and could be. Crikey. I’ll work on a list.

Have you got any advice to people wanting to enter the games industry?

Show don’t tell.

Breaking into games development can be extremely tough. The quality benchmark is constantly and relentlessly rising. The internet exposes talent on a global scale. Having said that, there’s possibly never been a better time to join the industry.

Get your hands dirty.

Commercial engines are freely available – these are the very same engines, tools and pipelines used in countless professional game development environments – and you have access to them! This is a brilliant opportunity. You can prove you know how to put a game together, because you can put a game together. Whether it’s Unity or Unreal, or any of the other excellent freely available dev environments (thanks guys!), dive in.

Mod something.

Create a new game in an existing game. From a texture pack for Minecraft to creating a new way to play Left 4 Dead. Getting inside an existing game will reveal thousands of the design, art, audio and code choices the professionals have made. How can you make them better? Post the results online, see the reaction, repeat.

Do it yourself.

The explosion of the indie games scene gives people even more chance to work on a real game on a wide variety of platforms. Small, perfectly formed experiences with super-fast turnaround times. Have an idea and see it realised in a matter of weeks or months not years .

Bottom line. If you’re passionate about your craft and your art, show us. Do something, make something. Show the world your enthusiasm, dedication and determination.

Be active. Learn.  Create!

Best of all you’ll have fun doing it.