Features

Has Spec Ops benefited from a hard time in Berlin?

Pt 2: Office space and development

In part one of our Spec Ops: The Line feature we were introduced to Yager Development, a group of guys who grew up on both sides of a Germany divided by the Berlin Wall.

In part two the team talks about life after the collapse of the wall and the drastic change of lifestyle that resulted from it.

THE OTHER SIDE
With no wall in their way any more, the four set out to forge a career in games. "Philipp and Roman and I had worked on a couple of small games for the C64," says Timo, "and we wrote to a couple of publishers in 1990 and offered them our games.

Zoom

They were kind enough to write back and say, you know - 'we like what you did but we don't sell C64 any more'."

While the world was busy moving onto Amiga, PC, and the 16-bit consoles, Uwe, Roman, and Timo were studying Computer Sciences at Humboldt University.

"None of us finished our studies because in 1998 we decided to do games for a living. Philipp's the only one who finished his study."

Philipp, the only Yager founder not a college drop-out, laughs: "I started in 1992 and actually finished in 1998. Mathias was studying Art at the time but he also dropped out."

Working together at their flats the four pieced together their own 3D engine, and were joined by Mathias - now the studio's Art Director.

"I was around sixteen when I met Timo," says Philipp. "He and Roman were about eighteen or nineteen. Mathias is the youngest of the five of us; we met him later when we had the prototype.

All of a sudden this artist showed up. He came from Frankfurt Oder which is pretty close to Poland and was full of enthusiasm so we brought him in to work on what would become Yager."

All of them left university to work on the project full time and the prototype would become the foundation of the studio's first game in 2003.

OFFICE SPACE
"We were travelling around Germany and to the UK to lots of trade shows and we learned to pitch the hard way," Timo explains. "We didn't even have an office back then so when we met publishers we took them to Roman's apartment because his was the nicest.

We didn't realise when people were saying 'thanks, I'll get back to you in two weeks' that they were only being polite. We'd really wait for two weeks and we'd be scratching our heads.

We didn't have a name or an office and nobody had heard about us and a lot of publishers said 'yeah, yeah, you can come pitch to us' and we'd jump on the train and travel for, like, six hundred kilometres for nothing and have to go all the way back home.

Zoom

But in 1999 we went to THQ Germany and met a couple of guys there and did our presentation and all of a sudden someone said 'That's interesting; let's do something together.'"

Before production could begin on their debut, however, the team needed an office, eventually settling not far from the Berlin Wall itself.

"We were just six people in the beginning and we kept growing and growing as a company, advancing our technology, and by the time we finished Yager we were twenty people strong and were working with a number of freelancers outside."

"On the first day in our office I was very proud," says Philipp. "It's a cool feeling when you turn the key to your own office - even though the office back then was pretty cold and we were all wearing hoodies and hats because the heating wasn't good enough."

"We had a lot of trouble finding a good name," says Timo. "We took a dictionary and skimmed through it from the back and found 'yager' which is the Americanised version of the German word 'jäger' which means 'hunter' and we thought it sounded international while still sounding German.

  1 2
  Next

Comments