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Ashen: gaming success glowing in Lower Hutt

26 Mar 2019

Ashen Screenshot 09

We know Wellington is home to some of the greatest creative talent in the world, and the world of video game creation is no exception.

New Zealand’s gaming industry is growing quickly. It’s one of our fastest growing hi-tech creative exports, with annual revenue from the sector worth around $143 million.

Lower Hutt-based A44 was founded by Director Derek Bradley in 2013 and has since grown to a team of 40 like-minded game developers who thrive on creating well-loved games. 

At the end of 2018, the team launched their first game, Ashen, which has since gained serious international interest and a plethora of impressive reviews.

Derek has a background in games and film, after working at Wellington’s PikPok and Weta Digital – two companies well-regarded for producing world class visual effects.

“I’ve always loved games, and I wanted to work in games,” says Derek.

“The earliest influences that really drove me towards a career in games were Baldur’s Gate, Starcraft and Morrowind. But the true catalyst came when the Lord of the Rings was being produced in Wellington. It clearly demonstrated that dreams like this are possible here in NZ.”

Ashen is an open-world, action, role playing game, featuring stamina-based combat and passive multiplayer – where players can encounter other players from around the world. Players wake up in a world without light, and when the light suddenly returns, players set out to find its source while building relationships with the characters they meet on their journey.

“When we started on Ashen in 2013, we had a very strong vision of what we wanted it to be – a game about forging relationships,” says Derek.

“We stayed true to this vision throughout development. We also took a ‘world first’ approach, which allowed the world we created in Ashen to ultimately inform us about what was needed in it. What we have today - five years down the line - comes from streamlining the whole experience to ensure we’re delivering a great game.”

Derek has also seen Wellington’s game development industry develop while creating Ashen.

“It’s grown fast, there’s a lot of creativity which leads to great projects coming out of New Zealand. Having said this, we haven't even begun to realise the potential of this highly technical and creative industry.”

“As we see more key industry investors and publishers enticed over to New Zealand, the industry will truly blossom.”

For Derek, working and living in Wellington is a no-brainer.

“We have a thriving film and games industry here which leads to having a very rich ecosystem of talented developers and artists.

“It’s also a beautiful city and region, filled with gorgeous landscapes and rich culture, meaning there is plenty of inspiration around every corner,” says Derek.

We can’t wait to see what A44 work on next.

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