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Tranzfuser 2016: Cold Sun Studios

Last year’s Tranzfuser saw Cold Sun Studios succeed in the competition and be selected for support from the UK Games Fund. We recently caught up with Caoimhe Roddy producer at Cold Sun Studios, to look back on the competition.

Growing-up in the small town of Toomebridge in Northern Ireland, Caoimhe Roddy could only have dreamt that one day she would be embarking on a career in the video games industry. Nowadays, she can still hardly believe it:

“I think what we are doing is amazing all the time. I’m only 22 and when I tell people I run a games studio, the look on people’s faces re-asserts in my mind that what we are doing is amazing!

“I always loved video games – my family are big gamers and my two older sisters got me into them. I really wanted to make games, but all the courses I could find were programming related and required me to be good at Maths.

“I ended up applying to study English Literature at the University of Manchester, thinking I could make my way into writing. Instead, what actually happened is that I ended up changing course two weeks before I was set to start uni when I found out about Futureworks’ Game Design degree.”

Fast-forward three years to 2016 and not only is Caoimhe graduating from Salford’s Futureworks Media School with a first class honours degree in Games Design, but she and three fellow graduates have been selected to take part in the inaugural year of the Tranzfuser competition.

Tranzfuser gives graduates the opportunity to take a game from project to prototype with a view to breaking into the games development industry. It is designed to provide a platform for the creative leaders of the future. So far, for Caoimhe and her colleagues, Tranzfuser seems to have done just that:

“I knew my teammates from my course. We became Cold Sun Studio and I think immediately we were on to something good because we all had different specialities.”

Over a period of 10 weeks, the team worked tirelessly to turn their 4 player physics based adventure – Tome Travellers – into a game worthy of exhibition at EGX – the UK’s biggest gaming event. Not only that, they along with the other Tranzfuser teams would have the opportunity to pitch to industry professionals and experts for additional funding up to £25,000 from the UK Games Fund.

So how did Caoimhe and her team cope with the task at hand, and what were the challenges? Caoimhe explained:

“Tranzfuser gave us the opportunity to make our own experiences and to make mistakes and learn from them as we went along. We were doing what some games developers have been doing for 40 years but we weren’t cushioned as you might be in an established games studio and there was no safety net. It was fun everyday and we learnt hard!

“Our limits were tested constantly and as a result it became quickly apparent that good communication was key to our success. Everyone needed to know what their tasks were so that we could work coherently together to produce something really great.”

Cold Sun Studios weren’t alone on their journey though. Like all Tranzfuser teams they had the support of a Local Hub, in this case Sheffield Hallam University. Tranzfuser’s Local Hub network provides teams with expert advice and the opportunity for mentoring. Caoimhe was keen to share some advice for current or future Tranzfuser participants:

“Anyone taking part in Tranzfuser should take advantage of all the mentorship, feedback and help on offer that they possibly can. It is so important to have a “library” of people that you can turn to a support.”

Ultimately, Cold Sun Studios hard work paid off with the team going on to secure a further UK Games Fund grant in recognition of their continued development and progress. However, beyond that success, Caoimhe has found Tranzfuser rewarding on a personal level:

“The Tranzfuzer process has transformed me. I wasn’t initially intending being a producer. I went into Tranzfuser as an artist but I wasn’t confident in that role. I realised that I was confident managing the team and helping them make their work coherent. Its fulfilling for me when they’re fulfilled with their work.

“This experience has also allowed me to develop myself in a business sense. Now I’m constantly thinking up new projects and new business strategies. Realising the overall goals of the studio is not something I ever thought I would be part of but Tranzfuser has given me the confidence and skills to take on that role.”