Ice Age Skater (J2ME Mobile: Nokia S40 / S60 / Samsung, Siemens, Motorola, Sony Ericsson et al)

iceAgeSkater copyIce-Age-Poster

I joined DC Studios (in Glasgow) around 2003, just after completing my Masters degree in Technology & Innovation Management. I had just gone freelance for the first time after leaving Rockstar North and decided that an MSc would give me the business know-how to get my studio going – and to get there I would freelance for the leading mobile companies, until I knew it all. I learned J2ME (JavaME), I put my CV out and I got a call from DC Studios,who specialised in mobile games. I joined immediately. Just a stones throw away from my first ever commercial coding job at British Telecom Glasgow, little did I know guys were doing fun stuff around the corner, well I did now.

I arrived when Ice Age Skater was around half completed, and I eventually ended up as lead coder tasked with writing a fair chunk of the game and porting it to the many hundreds of handsets available at the time. The game engine was actually pretty much completed and expertly written so it was really quite enjoyable to tack on the necessary features, and really get to grips with all the handsets we had to port it to. The porting by the way was Hell on Earth, let’s just say every phone was different and every phone was full of unique bugs, any more on that subject may be the death of me. But it taught me all about fragmentation, Android devs don’t know they’re born I tell thee :-).

It was an excellent time really, coming from Rockstar into DC seemed like dropping back into the bedroom coder world, a bit messy, not so professional, but full of extreme talent. The office was a wreck of old Star Wars toys and Blue Tack, box loads of old phones and ancient games machines. There were sofas set up with games consoles, but if you actually used them the management were not happy, yet you could laze on them all day if you were testing the latest build 🙂 Even the company signs were lying on the floor covered in coder jokes. I somehow enjoyed it more than Rockstar, probably because secretly I had my own mobile game in development, one that would set me free, into the world of remote coding, which I had observed a few of the best DC guys doing. A lot of the depression was relieved because I had actually worked it so I had Thursday & Friday off to work on my own titles (at that point Super Wah Wah Ball, Terrapede, and Viking Invaders were all in the prototyping phase), this was a perfect compromise.

I did a play through for this portfolio, but the emulator isn’t the best, so apologies for any swearing 🙂

I became great friends with everyone there and we really enjoyed a gathering on Friday nights where all the game devs would meet and sink a few beers (wurr nudge nudge) and chat about their latest creations. The game got finished, ported, and perfected and we actually got to the top of the mobile charts for around 14 weeks, it proved particularly popular in Germany. I do not know eventual sales figures but I would estimate over 300,000 copies of the game were sold, it was actually one of the best games around that time. A kind of Road Rash with Scrat from Ice Age.

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