November 27, 2021

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Chasing the dream of four people in a room

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It’s easy to forget there was life before No Man’s Sky at Hello Games. The studio, which is still small now, started out tiny: “four people in a room” as co-founder Sean Murray puts it, somewhat wistfully, when the original team started work on the PS3’s Joe Danger. Speaking to Murray and Steven Burgess, who’s taking the lead on The Last Campfire, the curiously mournful puzzle-adventure that arrived via surprise release yesterday, the focus is very much on that kind of independent spirit.

There’s some nostalgia there, when Murray talks over the studio’s history, starting with the now-familiar story of the humble Joe Danger roots and how the team quickly ballooned to “fifty or sixty” people on No Man’s Sky at the peak, before settling back down to the 25 or so that make up the core, internal Hello Games team now. But that core team’s not the one working on The Last Campfire. Burgess, alongside Chris Symonds and James Chilcott, make up the entirety of The Last Campfire team. The main bulk of the Hello Games team is on something else entirely.

The setup now is all a bit full-circle. Burgess and Symonds were on “a smallish team” of about 18 people within a much larger one at Frontier Developments when their previous game, 2008’s LostWinds, was in progress. After that, it was more or less solely Burgess that headed up the work on porting Hello Game’s own small-team game Joe Danger to iOS (“We worked on that together, but Stevie did all the work,” Murray half-jokes).

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