Having worked alongside each other for several years, Duncan Kershaw, Chris Lamb, and Neil McEwan decided to create a studio together after a project they all enjoyed at their previous employer was sadly cancelled. With opportunity coming at just the right time, they were able to create and pitch out a strong concept and project which subsequently was signed off by a well-known publisher relatively quickly.
James Bowers from Aardvark Swift speaks to them to discuss the driving force behind Ballistic Moon, what makes them stand out as a development house, as well as their hopes for the future.
“Starting Ballistic Moon has been such a career highlight. To be in a position to do what we want to do, in the way we want to do it, is amazing,” says Chris Lamb, who functions as the studio’s head of technology. It’s a sentiment echoed by co-founder and director, Duncan Kershaw. “We decided the timing was right to make something of our own. That was a year and a half ago now. We’ve all worked together for years and our paths have crossed a few times. Our best days, both professionally, individually, and as a group, are definitely ahead of us.”
The drive behind Ballistic Moon is to be at the bleeding edge of innovation, and they’re not content to create experiences that people have played before. “Part of what we do as Ballistic Moon is embrace creative risks, even if some of them fail, it’s about refocusing quickly. It’s rare in games that you have the freedom to take these risks, but our publishing partner allows us to do that. Ultimately, the game is going to benefit from that.”
As the studio looks to grow into 2020 and beyond, with several vacancies across a variety of disciplines, it’s the studio culture and underlining ethos that sets them apart from their peers.
“The reason we set Ballistic Moon up was to collaboratively come at things from different angles, bounce ideas off each other, and regularly problem solve together,” adds Neil McEwan, who heads up the creative direction within the studio.
“We are very software-driven in our approach, it’s a key part of our culture. What’s in the game, what areas do we need to make improvements to, and what comes next. We try to give everyone ownership of their own areas, rather than jumping in and telling them how things should be done. We collectively want to create games which emotionally resonate with people, and mean something to them, not just something disposable which they move on from.”
Finding the right people with the right soft skills to fit within their team dynamic is a key part of their growth strategy. “We don’t want just bodies in seats, we’d love to have people who don’t accept the norm and want to innovate along with us,” says McEwan. “Even if people don’t have the specific experience or skills, we want to facilitate the type of person who can figure it out and grow into the role.”
“Being confident enough to admit what you know and what you don’t is very important to us,” adds Kershaw. “You can’t do everything yourself, and frankly, you’ve got to admit to yourself that other people are just going to have better ideas sometimes. Not only that, but just being a nice person is a frequently underappreciated trait.”
To find out more about the studio, and to see updates from Ballistic Moon, please visit ballisticmoon.com. You’ll be able to listen to the full conversation with Kershaw, Lamb and McEwan in an upcoming episode of the Aardvark Swift Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, third party apps, and the aswift.com website.