Gamers Classified recently spoke to Thomas Sutcliffe, the Co-CEO and Chairman of Melbourne-based Digital Production Company, TeePee Studios. While he may hold a senior managerial position, Sutcliffe is still actively involved in his company’s productions. Sutcliffe has a background in VFX, 3D modelling and on-set production, and works as the lead VFX Compositor for TeePee Studios. He recently took some time out of his busy pre-PAX schedule to speak with Gamers Classified about what to expect from TeePee Studios at PAX and into the future.
TeePee Studios is a versatile company which provides film, VFX and game services. Can you tell us a little bit about each of these divisions?
On the film side, we produce our own in-house content from start to finish. We begin with our own original script and go right through to recording the footage, editing and then adding special effects. We also provide film services for clients where we specialise in post-production. We have done some on-set production work for film clients before but we tend to focus more on post-production film services.
When it comes to video games, we create our own and have two titles out at the moment: Staff Wars and DimensionsVs. Staff Wars has been out for about a year now and is like the video game version of Jenga. It’s a multiplayer version of Jenga meets Bomberman. The aim of the game is to blast your opponents into oblivion without obliterating the tower you’re standing on.
DimensionsVs is a 2.5D platform fighter which is currently in early access. It’s a 1-4 player game which features a roster of unique characters all battling it out for survival. Besides these in-house projects, we also create assets, textures and animations for clients’ game products.
You provide client services and also produce in-house content: can you tell us how you decide what ideas you want to work on in-house?
We have a team meeting within the division, be it film, VHR or games, where each person can put forth their idea. All team members are welcome to create a pitch document and are given ten minutes in the meeting to sell their idea. The team then have a vote to determine which project they want to work on. Once that’s done, we look at the profitability side of things so we’ll research the target market and see if it would be receptive to that particular project. We want to make stuff we like but if it’s not going to sell, well, you need to give or take. It’s about finding the right balance between creativity and profitability.
Take our games, for example. We’ll look at what’s hot right now and what genres are selling well but we also want to make games that we like. We want to make our developmental process as fun and enjoyable as possible so it all goes back to finding that balance between creativity and profitability.
I note that you’ll be at PAX in Melbourne later this month: will any of your in-house projects be on display there?
We’ll be showing off Staff Wars and DimensionsVs. DimensionsVs is in the early access stage online at the moment but we’ll be bringing it to multi-player mode at PAX. We’re going to give people the chance to try it at PAX. It’s in early access and free to play online right now but we’re hoping to draw more people in via PAX.
We’re also doing to be displaying two prototypes that we’re working on at the moment. No one has had a chance to play these yet so it’s pretty special. The first prototype is called Dungeon Swipe and it’s our first mobile title. This is a decision-based game where you’re presented with a scenario and have to make a quick decision about what to do.
What else can we expect from you at PAX?
Good customer service from warm and friendly people. Yes, we have our own company but we’re rooted in development so we’re approachable and happy to chat. We welcome any conversation about our industry or our creative projects. Our booth will showcase four of our titles and some cool artwork, and one of our staff will be cosplaying as a character from one of our titles as well.
With regards to client services, what types of projects do you accept? Can a dreamer with an idea for a movie script get in touch with you, or would you prefer clients to have a certain amount of their project completed before contacting you?
It really depends on the person and what they want. We’ve had a few clients that we’ve helped out from start to finish but we do tend to focus on the post-production side of things as that is our speciality. The only thing we tend to avoid is script writing as that isn’t our strong suit. Besides that, if someone really wants us to help out with on-set production, filming, lighting or actors, we do have resources to do that. If anyone is looking for post-production services for their project, we can definitely do that.
When it comes to games, we’ve gone from start to finish. We’ve created concepts, animation, characters- you name it, we’ve done it. If you’ve got a game idea, we can help out from any point in the project.
Looking forward, I hear that TeePee Studios has recently partnered with the father of Australian video games, John De Margheriti. Can you tell us anything about what to expect from this partnership?
John is one of our shareholders and is working with us in an advisory capacity. He’s considered the Godfather of Australian video games so he’s very influential, he knows a lot of people and can open a lot of doors for us in the business world. He’s got many years work experience in gaming and is now working in film so we think he’s a good fit for TeePee Studios.
He’s advising us from a business perspective and especially helping with our marketing efforts to raise our profile. You can make the best game but if no one knows about it then who’s going to buy it? You’ve got to have good ideas and good marketing so John will be helping us get our name out there.
To stay up to date with TeePee Studios, you can visit their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Two of their titles, Staff Wars and DimensionsVs are available now. To see our quick chat with Thomas Sutcliffe at PAXAUS, please click here.