Italic Pig secures NI's first seven-figure game development deal for adorable dinosaur game

  • Local game development studio Italic Pig has teamed up with UK publisher The Irregular Corporation to develop Northern Ireland's largest video game to date, with support from NI Screen.

    It's been a landmark year for the games industry in Northern Ireland, with several major studio successes in the region and NI Screen kicking off the first year of its Pixel Mill game development accelerator in Ormeau Baths. The industry has now hit another major milestone as NI game development studio Italic Pig has confirmed it's signed the region's first ever seven-figure game development deal.

    The studio made massive waves on social media this year when artwork of its adorable dinosaur game prototype went viral on Twitter. Named Paleo Pines, the game is a casual social management simulator that draws inspiration from the relaxing gameplay of popular titles such as Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, but with a Pokémon style twist.

    Players take on the role of dinosaur ranchers in a friendly land with dozens of different friendly dinosaur species to discover, tame, and care for. Players will even be able to saddle up their dino friends and venture out into the wilderness to find more species to add to their expanding ranch, plant gardens, and make friends with the local townsfolk.

    The original concept for the game was developed by Italic Pig concept artist Jordan Bradley ,as part of the Global Game Jam in January. "I was tired of dinosaurs always being portrayed in film as ‘monsters’," she explained, adding "I thought, surely I can’t be the only one who just wants to pet one on the nose!”

    Italic Pig put its resources behind Jordan's concept to develop a playable prototype and began cultivating a community online, with tweets of Jordan's artwork going massively viral on social media. The strong public interest then attracted UK-based game publisher The Irregular Corporation to reach out and get involved, and a deal was signed for a seven-figure sum.

    "Jordan’s passion for dinosaurs as a life-long paleo artist, combined with the epic flair for storytelling and outrageous local talent of the studio will undoubtedly create something incredible," explained Italic Pig's Creative Director Kevin Beimers. "Everything we do at Italic Pig is a little bit different. It needs a passion behind it, not to mention a quirkiness and a twist on the every day."

    Stuart Morton, Publishing Director of the Irregular Corporation, commented on the deal: "When we saw Jordan’s dinosaur designs show up in our Twitter feed, we saw an amazing hit was on the horizon. We knew we had to be first to the table with an offer if we wanted to be a part of a potentially huge new property."

    The project is being supported by Northern Ireland Screen and is a significant step up for the local industry as the first seven-figure game to be produced in Northern Ireland. This deal follows hot on the heels of the latest Games NI meetup in Belfast, which saw 175 local developers meet to hear from industry legends Brenda and John Romero.

    "The gaming industry in Northern Ireland has always been small, passionate and collaborative," noted Kevin Beimers. "But the truth is, we’re not so small anymore."

    Source: Written based on press release, Italic Pig Twitter

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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