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Today is the day that a friend of the Alien universe celebrates a birthday…
That’s right: Creative Assembly turns 31 years old today! Come along with me as I review their accomplishments, will you? Just my humble way of saying, “Thank You!” for Alien: Isolation…
When a little game development company named Creative Assembly got its start in 1987, I was the bright young age of 23 years old. Up until then, the only video games I knew were the arcade games like Asteroids (1979), Galaxian (1979), Space Invaders (1978), and Tank (1974).
I played Pong when it came out in console form in 1975, and the first game console I owned was Mattel’s Intellivision (1979). My favorite game was Sea Battle (1980). I will never forget that user interface! (Now, it is archaic, but compared to Pong’s controls, it was a huge advancement.)
But Creative Assembly has grown by leaps and bounds since 1987! Founder Tim Ansell and creative director Michael Simpson helmed the company until 2005, when Tim Heaton, assumed leadership of the burgeoning operation.
The company currently employs over 500 people, with hi-tech studios in the UK and Bulgaria. In 2017, Heaton oversaw Creative Assembly’s acquisition of a Bulgarian developer, and establishment of its first overseas studio!
To say that Alien Isolation caused a big splash among fans of the Big Chap is an understatement. News spread rapidly through online reviews and word of mouth. The wealth of promotional material shared at the official website was of high quality and gave further breadth to the world created in the video game.
Creative Assembly has also received critical recognition from their peers. Here is a list of awards, according to the Internet Movie Database:
BAFTA Awards 2015:
- Winner: BAFTA Games Award for Audio Achievement.
- Nominee: Best Game, Best Music, Best British Game, Game Design, and Game Innovation.
Behind the Voice Actors Awards 2015:
- Nominee: BTVA Video Game Voice Acting Award, Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Video Game (Andrea Deck as the voice of “Amanda Ripley”).
iHorror Awards 2015:
- Nominee: iHorror Award Best Horror Video Game (Alistair Hope)
NAVGTR Awards 2015:
- Winner: NAVGTR Award
- Use of Sound, Franchise (Mark Angus, The Creative Assembly)
- Sound Effects (Mark Angus, The Creative Assembly)
- Lighting/Texturing (Ben Hutchings, The Creative Assembly)
- Game Engineering (The Creative Assembly)
SXSW Film Festival 2015:
- Nominee: SXSW Film Design Award Excellence in Title Design (Jon Mckellan)
Visual Effects Society Awards 2015:
- Nominee: VES Award Outstanding Real-Time Visuals in a Video Game (Jude Bond, Alistair Hope, Howard Rayner, Oriol Sans Gomez)
Writers Guild of America, USA 2015:
- Nominee: WGA Award Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing (Dan Abnett, writer; Dion Lay, writer); Will Porter, writer
As I did some research for this post, I was surprised to see the list of the games currently available for purchase:
- Thrones of Britannia: A Total War Saga
- Total War: Arena
- Total War: WarHammer II
- Halo Wars 2
- Total War: WarHammer
- Total War: Attila
- Alien: Isolation
- Total War: Rome II
- Total War: Shogun 2
I also learned that if you are looking to get in on the game, Creative Assembly’s Careers page has a list of the disciplines they need in their work:
- Business Planning/Analysis,
- Human Resources,
- Marketing & PR,
- Quality Assurance, and
- Web Development.
Too bad they don’t have any opening for “fans who can gush with praise on demand.” I have lots of life experience with that.
But seriously, have a look at their Values logo. They did not reach their current position by ignoring these important things:
Besides the close attention to the aesthetic of Alien’s production values, I was also very impressed with the variety of ways they provided players to approach the game. Players can start at Novice level or really get with it by diving into Nightmare level!
You young pups out there, with vastly more experience, may not be as terrified by the game as much as me. Like many, I began at Novice level, enjoying the sheer beauty of the environment as much as possible… until the Big Chap comes a’knockin’!
I have played the game at all levels, though I have not yet finished it in Nightmare Mode.
In addition, the Nostromo DLCs were right up my alley! I love the way they explored those things that were left out of the movie, or suggested off-screen. (I won’t include spoilers for my friends out there who have yet to play!)
It was also good to experience the human side of Creative Assembly. I come from the days before we had such easy access to the creatives who make the stuff on which we “geek”, so I am always impressed by those who take the time to answer questions for their fans.
At Creative Assembly, that would be Senior Writer Dion Lay (aka @cannibalgymnast). When I was compiling the Archive Logs & Tanaka Tweets timeline page, he was most helpful, despite his obviously heavy workload.
This is a time to acknowledge the hard work, the bitter disappointments, and the sheer joy of accomplishment that pave any road to success.
The Nostromo Files wishes the folks at Creative Assembly many, many more years of success…
of setting industry standards…
of pushing back the boundaries of the imagination…
of bringing our favorite fantasy worlds to our local gaming consoles.
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