Atomhawk Design was founded in July 2009 by four ex-Midway Newcastle developers - Cumron Ashtiani, Pete Thompson, Corlen Kruger and Steven Pick. In the last days of Midway Newcastle before being closed down, the dev quartet would secretly go to lunchtime meetings down the local pub and work out how the company could be a reality. Investment was found and assurances made by the team than they would not be tempted to not search for and accept job offers from other studios. Why "Atomhawk"? A quick Google search revealed very little, which was a good thing for the company to have a unique name. Also it sounded a lot like an old 70's rock and roll band name.
Straight after the studio's closure, work began on the company website, logo design and the search for possible clients. Various news stories regarding the formation of Atomhawk via Midway Newcastle's untimely death helped put the company in the media spotlight, and this in turn helped gather interest and momentum from clients. In August 2009, Atomhawk Design officially became reality. The four devs moved into a tiny yet adequate office in the Greenesfield Business Centre. Work began almost straight away with the PCs built the night before by Cumron himself.
The company soon received regular work in the fields it specialises in - concept artwork and visualisation, video production and UI design/prototyping, and it wasn't long before the need to expand meant an office move to the more fancier Gateshead International Business Centre, just down the road from Greenesfield. Recently the newly-expanded company moved to the even more fancier Northern Design Centre in July 2012.
Since Atomhawk Design's birth, the company has continued to increase in size as more work has become available - from the four founding members to nineteen employees, the company has been lucky enough to have received a constant flow of work from a variety of clients. All new recruits hail from many parts of the globe including Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Italy and Spain, as well as several external freelancers and interns.
The company announced in March 2011 that they have worked in partnership with 3DTotal to produce their first art book. The Art of Atomhawk Design Volume One which was released in April 2011. A Wacom-sponspored art contest was also associated with the book's release. There are currently no plans for Volume Two due to time commitments, though the company hasn't entirely ruled out the possibility of a future book release.
Atomhawk have always been loyal to their roots and have stayed within their original birthplace of Gateshead - also where Midway Newcastle was actually based.
Atomhawk Design released their client list on their website to coincide with the company's first birthday. The list of companies they have worked with include Warner Bros, NetherRealm Studios, Ubisoft, Ubisoft Reflections, Ninja Theory, Eutechnyx, Sumo Digital, Deep Silver, Headstrong Games and Double Six. A recent update to the Atomhawk website also revealed even more clients including Sony, TH_NK, iWin, CCP Games, Sega, Rare and Microsoft Studios.
Atomhawk's Involvement With Pottermore
June 23rd 2011 saw the announcement by JK Rowling herself of Pottermore - a web-based experience designed to extend the Harry Potter experience. Atomhawk was credited with being involved with the development of the project a few days after the initial press release, and has since been credited on the site's about pagewith "Illustration". The company has been responsible for developing many component parts of the project as well as "moments" based on pivotal scenes within the books themselves. An internet leak was responsible for all of these moments appearing online for a short time before they were taken down at the request of Pottermore themselves.
The site has since gone from a beta phase where a million users have had the chance to experience Atomhawk's illustrations, to a full-blown release which gave everyone the chance to experience Harry Potter through a different artistic slant. Atomhawk has also been hard at work on the second book - The Chamber of Secrets - for an imminent roll-out. Atomhawk's involvement in the project has not just been involved with illustrations - it has also stretched to 3D asset creation, iconography and animation.
For their second birthday, Atomhawk announced their internal Realm project. From various pieces of released artwork, the project revolves around two main characters - a girl and a stone golem creature as they venture and explore around an overgrown future Earth. Locations seem to include many real-life areas of the North East where Atomhawk is based; these include the Tyne Bridge, The Sage Gateshead and the rolling countryside of Northumbria. In July 2012, Ron Ashtiani gave a talk at Develop Brighton about creating the IP of Realm, as well as giving the first look at a trailer for the project.
In December 2012, Atomhawk announced that Realm will be an innovative tablet game. The newly-launched website (which features the trailer mentioned above) can be seen here - http://www.therealmgame.com/
In April 2013, Atomhawk's first ever Kickstarter was announced to fund the game along with help from Lantern Interactive and a soundtrack composed by the well-respected videogame musician, Richard Jacques. The Kickstarter page also features a more descriptive plot behind the game itself -
The Realm is set in a far distant future where the world has been reclaimed by nature. Our once proud cities now lie abandoned - overgrown with strange plants and twisted vines. The locations in The Realm reflect the real-life landscapes and architecture of the North East of England.
Some humans remain, but they are now leading a more simple life based around small rural communities entirely divorced from modern technology and science. The age of magic and mysticism has returned and there are rumours of stirrings in the forests.
The Realm follows the story of Sarina, a headstrong young girl who leaves the safety of her village to embark on a desperate quest to discover a cure for her sick mother. On her journey she befriends a legendary giant stone golem named Toru, a gentle but powerful creature, and the unlikely couple begin a treacherous adventure together.
Sarina and Toru travel across the wild and beautiful land to a forgotten city, where legend speaks of a flower growing with amazing healing properties. Their presence in the city awakens a long forgotten shadowy force that controls the Lampheads - mysterious plant-like creatures with a powerful and deadly gaze.
Work-in-progress footage of the game can also be seen in the project's Kickstarter video. The project has a target of £195,000 to be raised within a month.
Games Released With Atomhawk's Input
- Jewel Quest : The Sapphire Dragon - Concept art/in-game art, UI creation.
- Mortal Kombat - Character design, environmental design, animation (selected Challenge Ladder character endings). We were extremely honoured to work closely with NetherRealm Studios on the new Mortal Kombat game. You can check out a gallery of the work we have been allowed to show online here.
- Kinect Sports : Season Two - UI Layout for several screens, Flash animation of stadium logos, Flash asset creation and animation.
- Doctor Who : The Adventure Games - Concept art.
- Kinectimals - Concept art
- Dead Nation - Front end design/UI design. We worked closely with the game's developers, Housemarque, in improving what UI was currently in place.
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - Front end design & implementation. We were tasked with coming up with an initial look and feel of the front end before going ahead with a final direction. We also implemented the final menu system in Unreal before passing it over to Ninja Theory for further programming. We also aided in the development of Enslaved's DLC - Pigsy's Perfect 10.
- Dead Island - Assorted pieces of concept art including two of the playable characters and Banoi Beach. Also produced work on the physical printed map with special editions.
- Driver : San Francisco - Early Flash/UI prototyping. Conceptual art for Tanner, Jones and Jericho plus San Francisco itself. Early motion/storyboard tests of the major introductionary cut scene.
- Sonic All Stars Racing - Transformed - Concept art and early track design.
- Guardians of Middle-earth - Concept art - character design.
- DmC - UI implementation. Early Front End conceptual work.
- Injustice - Gods Among Us - Concept art, animated character endings.