A group of independent game developers has relocated to Wellington from Melbourne and hope to be part of the rapidly-developing industry in the high tech capital.
The co-founders of Camshaft Software – Andrew Lamb and Caswal Parker – which makes the car tycoon game Automation, recently moved to the region, along with Jayelinda Suridge, developer of the game Ludus Silva.
Grow Wellington, the region's economic development agency, has been working with the developers over the past year to support their relocation.
Grow Wellington has helped to make connections with Wellington's thriving gaming community and with professional services expertise.
"Grow Wellington has been very helpful and the relocation has been a lot easier having one point of contact," says Lamb.
"Wellington certainly seems to be a very friendly and supportive place to work."
The developers are all graduates of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, where Caz also worked as a lecturer.
Parker says Automation is a car company tycoon game in which you design and build cars from scratch.
"Essentially, you play the CEO of say Ford or Nissan or Rolls Royce and design, test and build your cars, as well as get into the finer points of choosing dealership locations and identifying export strategies."
The game, which has been described as 'Minecraft for engineers and car enthusiasts', is still in development but is available in a beta test version.
"It means people around the world can play and test parts of the game as we complete it," Parker adds.
The developers chose Wellington chiefly for lifestyle reasons but have also been impressed with the infrastructure and support available in the gaming community.
"We had a lot of help and support when we started out in game development in Melbourne and we're keen to contribute to the scene here," Lamb says.
"In Melbourne, there have been quite a few successful studios and from that people have gone on to work on their own projects. I can see the same sort of thing happening in Wellington.
"Also being car and motorsport geeks, we like the cheap grassroots motorsports scene, which is better here. The cost of living is good, the outdoor environment fantastic and we love all the craft breweries.
"Our colleague in Frankfurt wants to come to New Zealand now too."
They're pleased too with the National Broadband Network, which is being rolled out throughout the country. "Fibre to the home makes a real difference," Lamb adds.
Suridge sums it up by saying: "Wellington got everything that's good about Melbourne but it's prettier and a much more manageable city."
She provides development assistance to Camshaft Software but also works on her own project – the game Ludus silva, in which you design forests and plants. The game is in development and she is working on launching a crowdfunding campaign.
Melissa Davies, General Manager of Business Attraction at Grow Wellington, says that it is excellent to see the ex-Melbourne developers in Wellington.
"They see the benefits of being based in Wellington," she adds.
"We've got a collaborative community, a lifestyle second-to-none and with established studios like PikPok and tech companies like Xero, we know global success happens from here.
"Grow Wellington is working to attract a whole range of business and talent to Wellington, especially in the high tech field."