No more cheese Gromit: The future of Photon Storm

So the cat was let out of the bag today and it’s true: I’m leaving my very good friends at Aardman Digital and heading for pastures new. Giving up the “day job” and becoming a freelancer / indie dev hybrid. As you can appreciate this is both an exciting and somewhat scary move, especially being the sole income earner for my young family. But I’ve been careful with my planning and sensible with my predictions and  will make the best of it that I possibly can.

Fancy working with Wallace and Gromit?

This of course means that Aardman are now looking for a kick-ass Technical Director to join their digital department. If you’re in the UK and either live near or would re-locate to Bristol and have the experience, then I strongly suggest you apply for this job. You’ll get to work with some fantastic brands and characters, including both Aardman’s own such as Wallace and Gromit, and 3rd party. There’s a truly brilliant and talented team there, working on fun stuff in a gorgeous office (complete with its own canteen and cinema). If this sounds appealing and you’ve got the skills then please do consider sending in your CV.

So you’re probably thinking why on earth would I give this up? There’s no one significant reason. It’s more a collection of smaller things which ultimately boils down to wanting a change in lifestyle that allows me to create the sort of games I enjoy and spend more time with my family in the process. I’ve been at Aardman for 6.5 years, indeed I was the very first employee in the department. And I’ve seen it grow and expand, taken on huge challenging projects and then morphed into a director role. Those of you in this position know it’s more about technical guidance than actually building stuff. And while you do have a large amount of creative input into a project, it’s always working with someone elses characters or brand. You can never really push it quite as far as you’d like :) (and for sensible business reasons too).

But it’s not just about the creativity. In March my daughter had her second birthday, and this was really something of a wake-up call for me. I live quite a long way from the Aardman offices and the daily commute often means I’ll see a maximum of 5 minutes of my children, during a frantic pre-school rush in the mornings, each day. Often they’re both sound asleep by the time I get home. Even though Aardman were great in letting me work from home one day a week, I was still effectively missing my children growing up. And they’re only going to do that once! I know a lot of Dads are in a similar situation, and I’m under no illusion that my new role will be any less busy (if anything, it’ll be more so!). But at least the way in which I work will be under my control, and if I want to go and collect my son from school, I can do that now. That, to me anyway, is worth giving-up my generous monthly salary for.

The Future Sound of Photons

So what will happen from this point on? It’s actually pretty damned exciting. Photon Storm was incorporated as a company on April 18th, preparing for what’s coming. I’ll work out my notice until the end of June and then our new life begins, but with a really awesome project to kick things off. A great company based in New Zealand have hired me to build a fully open-source HTML5 game engine. We’ll be taking all the virtues of frameworks like Flixel, applying what we’ve learned from our HTML5 game development and mixing it all together. Our primary aims will be ease of use, solid documentation, examples and tutorials and a strong plugin driven architecture: A minimal core supported by a huge array of components to extend or replace the engine however you want. Everything that was ever planned and dreamed of for the aborted Reflex project will come to fruition here.

I’ll be working on this solidly for 6 months (and beyond). The nice thing about it, aside from the fact it’s a freaking cool project!, is that we’ve agreed I’ll have free time every week to work on our own games as well. This means you will start to see a rapidly elevated output from us as we set about finishing games currently sat collecting dust, and building out new ideas and concepts we’ve been itching to try but have avoided due to lack of time.

It also means that we’re open for contract work too. I’ve got to be practical about this change. The 6-month starter project is great, but I’m not naive enough to think that after this if I swap to being a full-time indie that it’ll continue to feed my family. Instead I’ll settle for trying to balance freelance/contract work with my indie dreams. This should ensure that we can carry on making great stuff and still pay the bills.

Maybe one day the indie side of it might be large enough, but I’m sure you can appreciate I need to play it safely for now. So if you’ve ever wanted us to create a game for you (HTML5 or Flash), or need help porting a Flash game to mobile browser, now would be a great time to drop me a line :)

*sniff* You’ve been beautiful guys

I also just want to say a quick thank you to everyone who has supported what we’ve been doing here over the years. Thousands of you have expressed your gratitude for our hard work, be it by enjoying our games or benefiting from our tutorials and code. We really do appreciate it when people drop us a line to say thank you, and I still get a genuinely warm and fuzzy feeling inside when we see or hear about our code helping fellow developers get their games made. We do try our best to answer all emails we get sent, no matter how trivial they may seem, and apologise to all the people who keep writing to us asking for intern-ships :)

There are a lot of great people out there that we’ve met, both online and off. People who continue to influence and inspire us on a daily basis. Your feedback and support has meant a lot. And as we enter this new and very exciting phase of “Photon Storm” we hope you’ll stay along for the ride.

Posted on May 16th 2012 at 10:50 pm by .
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29 Responses

Leave a comment
  • May 16th 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Nice post mate. I’m really excited for you :)

  • May 16th 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I wish you all the best, man! I think it was a tough decision to make, but I am sure you have chosen wisely 😉

  • May 16th 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Good luck Rich!

  • Will
    May 16th 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Congrats on the new career move! I’m so excited to see the games that come out of it! Of course, I do feel like Aardman ought to hire Photonstorm to make Sharks VS Dracula: The Game.

  • May 16th 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Looks like you have your priorities in order. Can’t wait for an HTML5 version of Flixel, that will be loads of fun.

    Good Luck!

  • May 17th 2012 at 12:17 am

    Always a tough decision but I hope the best for you.

  • totor
    May 17th 2012 at 12:30 am

    Good Luck! Your blog is always food for thoughts. Maybe you could make your open source engine with haxe or haxenme, covering flash, html5 and mobile.

  • May 17th 2012 at 4:07 am

    Wow, good luck. I’ve been using your Flixel Power tools in my new project, and am finding it super handy.

  • May 17th 2012 at 4:57 am

    Good luck Rich! I hope that everything will be allright.

  • May 17th 2012 at 8:46 am

    Hi Rich,

    I’m happy that you feel better already and can only hope for the best.


  • Grama
    May 17th 2012 at 9:12 am

    I wish you all the best! I hope you enjoy the extra time with your family and games!
    And I am seriously looking forward for that engine. I hope it will be as good as the stuff you have been putting out on Flixel and AS3.

    Good luck!

  • May 17th 2012 at 10:08 am

    Way to go Rich. Best of luck mate :)

  • May 17th 2012 at 10:52 am

    All the best Rich. Really looking forward to seeing your future projects.

  • May 17th 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Good luck – your a braver man than me dude!

  • dimumurray
    May 17th 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Forward to pastures green! Best wishes on your new endeavor.

    Pleasantries aside though, what’s this about a new game framework. Is it entity/component based (like Push Button Engine). Details please.

  • May 18th 2012 at 11:56 am

    Best of luck with the switch, and congratulations for making it!

  • May 19th 2012 at 4:07 am

    Good Luck, Rich!

  • May 19th 2012 at 10:14 am

    This is awesome! Good luck, Rich!

  • html6game
    May 19th 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Photonstorm.Davey, dear, hope that you can realize their own ideas, I have nothing to say, I wish you a good luck.

  • May 21st 2012 at 4:19 am

    Best of luck, your blog has always been a source of inspiration. Good thing is that now if I ever need to outsource some development, I know who to call :-)

  • MC
    May 23rd 2012 at 7:20 am

    One more thing… Flixel is great, but take a look to: Starling Framework
    since it looks promising…
    Good luck with everything!!!

  • Chelnok
    May 27th 2012 at 3:35 am

    Many thanks from Finland! Flixel Power Tools, your blog and forum posts have been very very big help for gamedevelopers around the universe.

    I hope all the best with your new career.

  • May 28th 2012 at 10:19 am

    I took the freelance-plunge a little over a year ago and haven’t looked back, I’m sure you won’t either! Good luck with it all – not that you’ll need it! :)

  • June 1st 2012 at 3:02 am

    Well I’m also making a HTML5 library based on flixel!
    I thought making a game library would be the best way of learning HTML5, and it has!
    If you want to look at it, it’s at

    Good luck with your new career!

  • June 4th 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Good luck!

  • Morgan
    June 10th 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Good luck! I’ve learnt so much from you. Cant wait to see this HTML 5 engine and as a New Zealander cant help but be a little curious as to who the company is. Im guessing you cant disclose that?

  • July 5th 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Good luck Rich :)

  • Manoj
    September 29th 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Good luck with your new career Rich …
    alll the best.

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