DMA Design

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DMA Design Limited
Formerly called
  • ACME Software (1984–1987)
  • DMA Design (1987–1997)
  • Pinco 900 Limited (1997–1997)
Subsidiary
Industry Video game industry
Fate Reformed
Successor Rockstar North
Founded 1984; 32 years ago (1984) in Dundee, Scotland
Founders
Defunct 27 March 2002 (2002-03-27)
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland
Key people
David Jones
Number of employees
25 (2001)
Parent

DMA Design Limited was a British video game developer based in Dundee, Scotland. The company was established in 1984 by David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond and Mike Dailly. During its early years, DMA Design was backed by its publisher Psygnosis, primarily focusing on Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64 games. During this time, they created successful shooters such as Menace, Blood Money and Walker. The company soon turned to platform games after the release of Lemmings in 1993, which scored massive international success and led to numerous sequels and spin-offs. After developing Unirally for Nintendo, DMA Design was set to become one of their main second-party developers, but this partnership quickly ended after Nintendo's disapproval of Body Harvest.

In 1997, DMA released Grand Theft Auto, which was hugely successful for the company; the game sparked numerous sequels and a successful series. The company was soon acquired by Gremlin Interactive, who published some of their games, including Space Station Silicon Valley and Tanktics. Following the release of Grand Theft Auto 2, Gremlin was acquired by Infogrames. As a result, DMA Design was acquired by Take-Two Interactive, and became a subsidiary of Rockstar Games, the publisher of Grand Theft Auto. DMA Design was ultimately renamed Rockstar North after the release of Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, and the company continues to develop hugely successful and popular games.

History[edit]

Pre-DMA era (1984–86)[edit]

In 1984, David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond and Mike Dailly often met at the Kingsway Amateur Computer Club (KACC) in Dundee, Scotland. While Jones used an Amiga 1000, the others used Sinclair Spectrum or Commodore 64. They developed numerous small games while attending the KACC: Jones and Kay developed Moonshadow (eventually renamed Zone Trooper), Daily developed Freek Out, and Jones and Dailly collaborated on The Game With No Name.[1] When later attending the Dundee Institute of Technology, Jones began development on a game tentatively titled CopperCon1, as part of a company temporarily named ACME Software, alongside Kay, Hammond and Dailly. To publish the game, Jones first approached Hewson Consultants, where Andrew Braybrook played and recommended the game. When Jones was informed that Hewson wanted the game to be the "Amiga version of Zynaps", he realised that sales would be limited, and refused to sign the contract,[2] instead signing a deal with publisher Psygnosis. The game was renamed Draconia, with Tony Smith working on graphics and Jones designing levels, and the company was renamed DMA Design.[3]

Beginnings and Lemmings (1987–93)[edit]

DMA Design's former Dundee headquarters (top)[4]

DMA Design was founded in 1987[5] by Jones, Kay, Hammond and Dailly. The name DMA was taken from the Amiga programming manuals, where it stood for Direct Memory Access;[6] alternative names included Visual Voyage and Alias Smith and Jones.[3] Draconia was renamed Menace, and it was published in 1988 for the Amiga, and in 1989 for the Atari ST, Commodore 64 and DOS.[7] The game sold 20,000 copies,[8] reportedly generating around £20,000,[9] allowing the company to develop more games.[10] This was followed by Blood Money, a side-scrolling shooter which began development in January 1989.[11] The game was in development for five months, and was released for the Amiga and Atari ST in May 1989. The game was ported to MS-DOS by Tim Ansell of Creative Assembly in 1989,[12] and to Commodore 64 by Dailly in 1990.[13] The company was also assigned to porting Ballistix to MS-DOS and Commodore 64.[6]

Jones began developing the side-scrolling shooter Walker in 1989, following the release of Blood Money.[14] In early 1990, Jones scrapped Walker and began development on a new game called Gore!;[15] this was soon scrapped.[13] By the end of the year, Jones hired Ian Dunlop and Niall Glancey to continue working on Walker; Glancey redesigned the game,[16] and it was released for the Amiga in 1993.[17] In 1990, Jones hired Tony Colgan to develop Cutiepoo, and assist with Gore! before its cancellation.[13] By the end of the year, Jones was irritated by the lack of progress on Cutiepoo, cancelling the game and firing Colgan as a result.[16]

In June 1990, DMA was commissioned by Psygnosis to port Shadow of the Beast to the TurboGrafx-16 and Commodore 64; Dailly developed the latter, while Richard Swinfen and Steve Hammond worked on the latter. Psygnosis teamed with Ocean Software to publish Shadow of the Beast for the Commodore 64 Games System; Swinfen and Hammond adapted accordingly.[18] Swinfen, who was subcontracted for his work on the game, found it unfair that Jones was getting paid for the game despite not working on it; the two never worked again.[16] DMA also released Hired Guns for the Amiga and MS-DOS in 1993, designed by Hammond and Scott Johnston.[19] DMA's major breakthrough came with 1991's Lemmings, a dynamic puzzle game originally released for the Amiga in February 1991. The game ultimately sold over 15 million copies, and received numerous ports to different consoles.[8] The game led to numerous sequels by DMA: Oh No! More Lemmings (1991),[6] Lemmings 2: The Tribes (1993),[20] All New World of Lemmings (1994),[6] as well as two Christmas Lemmings (1993–94).[21] It also spawned various Lemmings games by other developers, such as 3D Lemmings (1995) and Lemmings Revolution (2000).[20]

Nintendo arrangement and Take-Two acquisition (1994–2001)[edit]

DMA Design's logo, 1994–2001, designed by Stuart Graham[22]

Following Sony's acquisition of Psygnosis in 1993,[23] DMA signed with Nintendo to publish Unirally in 1994.[a] The success of Unirally led Nintendo to offer to publish an original DMA game for the upcoming Ultra 64 console (later renamed Nintendo 64). In response, DMA created Body Harvest, an action-adventure third-person shooter. Originally intended as a launch game for the Nintendo 64 in 1996, Body Harvest received numerous delays following Nintendo's various issues with the content. Nintendo ultimately scrapped the game, which was later published by Midway Games and Gremlin Interactive in September 1998.[6]

DMA Design began developing a new game, Race'n'Chase, in April 1995.[24] The development team consisted of mostly inexperienced members, who struggled with the task until producer and creative director Gary Penn joined the project.[25] On 4 February 1997, the company officially incorporated as Pinco 900 Limited, and reincorporated as DMA Design Limited on 10 April 1997.[26] Originally scheduled for release in late 1996, the game was ultimately released as Grand Theft Auto in October 1997 for Microsoft Windows, following many development issues.[24] The game was a critical and commercial success, and ultimately spawned a successful series.[6] Following the release of Grand Theft Auto, DMA was bought by British publisher Gremlin Interactive. Gremlin published Space Station Silicon Valley and Tanktics in 1998, and Wild Metal Country in 1999,[6] before being acquired by French company Infogrames for £24 million[27] (US$40 million).[28]

BMG Interactive, owner of the rights to Grand Theft Auto, were bought by Take-Two Interactive in March 1998 for US $9 million, and some staff was carried across to Rockstar Games, formed as a publishing division of Take-Two in December 1998.[29] During the changes in management, DMA Design lost many employees, including Kay, Hammond and Dailly. Several games were also scrapped during this time, including Nintendo 64 ports of Grand Theft Auto and Wild Metal Country, a 64DD port of Unreal (1998), and a game known as Attack!.[6] On 29 September 1999, Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive announced that they had acquired DMA Design from Infogrames for US $11 million. Rockstar president Sam Houser said that "the ability to align Rockstar with a development house ... that is clearly approaching video-game development in a new and exciting manner, makes this a perfect match".[30]

Following the acquisition, it was announced that DMA Design would continue developing Grand Theft Auto titles, including GTA3D and Grand Theft Auto Online: Crime World; the former was later renamed Grand Theft Auto III, while the latter was cancelled.[30] The company received various staffing changes following the acquisition: Jones left the company and founded Realtime Worlds,[31] while DMA Design was headed by Leslie Benzies and Andrew Semple, among others.[32] The studio had about 25 employees at the time of the changeover.[33] Under new management from Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive, DMA Design developed Grand Theft Auto III, which was released for the PlayStation 2 in October 2001.[29] On 27 March 2002, DMA Design became Rockstar Studios Ltd. to integrate the studio with its parent company,[32] and was again renamed to Rockstar North Ltd. on 30 May 2002.[34]

Games[edit]

Key
Blank cell indicates title was not released on any platform(s) by the specified manufacturers
Cell with games console(s) indicates title was released on platform(s) by the specified manufacturers
Title Release details Platform(s)
Microsoft Nintendo Sega Sony Other
Menace MS-DOS Amiga
Atari ST
Commodore 64
Ballistix[b]
  • Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
  • Publisher: Psygnosis, Psyclapse
  • Release date: 1989[6]
MS-DOS Commodore 64
Blood Money
  • Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1989[13]
MS-DOS Amiga
Atari ST
Commodore 64
Shadow of the Beast[c]
  • Genre: Side-scrolling platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1989[18]
MS-DOS Commodore 64
TurboGrafx-16
Lemmings
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1991[6]
MS-DOS NES Master System
Sega Genesis
Game Gear
3DO
Amiga
Amiga CD32
Amstrad CPC
Atari Lynx
Atari ST
CD-i
CDTV
Commodore 64
FM Towns
Classic Mac OS
TurboGrafx-16
ZX Spectrum
Oh No! More Lemmings
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1991[6]
MS-DOS Archimedes
Amiga
Atari ST
Mac OS
SAM Coupé
Walker
  • Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1993[6]
Amiga
Hired Guns MS-DOS Amiga
Christmas Lemmings 1993[d]
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1993[21]
MS-DOS
OS/2
Amiga
Lemmings 2: The Tribes
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1993[36]
MS-DOS Game Boy
SNES
Sega Genesis Amiga
Atari ST
FM Towns
Archimedes
All New World of Lemmings[e]
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1994[20]
MS-DOS Amiga
Christmas Lemmings 1994[f]
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Publisher: Psygnosis
  • Release date: 1994[21]
MS-DOS
OS/2
Amiga
Unirally[a] SNES
Grand Theft Auto MS-DOS
Windows
GBC PlayStation
Body Harvest Nintendo 64
Space Station Silicon Valley
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Publisher: Gremlin Interactive
  • Release date: 1998[6]
GBC
Nintendo 64
PlayStation[g]
Tanktics
  • Genre: Real-time Strategy
  • Publisher: Gremlin Interactive
  • Release date: 1998[6]
MS-DOS
Windows
Wild Metal Country Windows Dreamcast[h]
Grand Theft Auto 2
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
  • Release date: 1999[29]
Windows GBC Dreamcast PlayStation
Grand Theft Auto III
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
  • Release date: 2001[29]
PlayStation 2[i]

Company philosophy[edit]

Games will always be here ... If you do good games, they'll always sell well. What I like is that people are not daft anymore. They really look at games deeply now before they buy them ... There was a time when you could sell anything in this business ... That was more disappointing ... Times are hard now, making people focus more on quality and innovation which is great.

— David Jones, co-founder of DMA Design, March 1997[40]

Game development at DMA Design generally involved taking risks and being unique. When an idea was pitched within the company, the question "What's different about it?" was asked; the team wished to make unique and innovative games, rather than mimicking the trend.[40] By doing this, they found that they were taking risks in the business, witnessing the market reactions and seeking respect from players. The company also strongly valued the development of the games, as opposed to the business and marketing. "It doesn't matter if we were owned by somebody or if we were as we are, we'd still just write games", said Jones.[40]

Jones has expressed his distaste of linear gameplay. "I just love games that are pretty open-ended; you can try things, you can go wherever you want", he said.[40] He claims that this distaste is reflected in the games by DMA Design, including the options available to players in Lemmings and the open world of Grand Theft Auto.[40] DMA Design had a fairly open office space for the developers. "There was this fantastic 'try it out and see' attitude," said developer Gary Timmons.[6] Following his departure from the studio, Kay said that the team members "know each other pretty well and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses".[6]

Literature[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Known as Uniracers in North America.[6]
  2. ^ Ballistix was originally developed by Reflections Interactive for the Amiga and Atari ST.[6]
  3. ^ Shadow of the Beast was originally developed by Reflections Interactive for the Amiga.[35]
  4. ^ Known as Holiday Lemmings 1993 in North America.[21]
  5. ^ Known as The Lemmings Chronicles in North America.[37]
  6. ^ Known as Holidays Lemmings 1994 in North America.[21]
  7. ^ Space Station Silicon Valley was renamed Evo's Space Adventures on PlayStation.[38]
  8. ^ Wild Metal Country was released as Wild Metal for the Dreamcast.[39]
  9. ^ All later versions credited to Rockstar North.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA - Chapter 1, part 2". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA - Chapter 1, part 3". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA - Chapter 1, part 4". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Kushner 2012, p. 23
  5. ^ Wallis, Alistair (21 December 2006). "Playing Catch Up: GTA/Lemmings' Dave Jones". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "History Of DMA Design". NowGamer. Imagine Publishing. 28 June 2010. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA - Chapter 1, part 5". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA - Chapter 4, part 1". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  9. ^ "Grand Theft Auto V: Games visionary behind Scotland's biggest cultural export". Daily Record. Trinity Mirror. 17 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  10. ^ Hammond, Steve. "Scottish Games NET 1st Column". Steve Hammond. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  11. ^ Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA – Chapter 2, part 1". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  12. ^ DMA Design, Creative Assembly (1989). Blood Money. DOS. Psygnosis. Scene: Main menu. IBM Conversion: Tim Ansell 
  13. ^ a b c d Dailly, Mike (2005). "The History of DMA – Chapter 3, part 2". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  14. ^ Dailly, Mike (2004). "The History of DMA - Chapter 2, part 4". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  15. ^ Dailly, Mike (2005). "The History of DMA - Chapter 3, part 1". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  16. ^ a b c Dailly, Mike (2005). "The History of DMA - Chapter 3, part 6". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  17. ^ Virtue, Graeme (14 September 2014). "After Lemmings was a hit, DMA Design declared war with Walker". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Dailly, Mike (2005). "The History of DMA – Chapter 3, part 5". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Barton, Matt (23 February 2007). "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 2: The Golden Age(1985-1993)". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  20. ^ a b c Fox, Matt (3 January 2013). The Video Games Guide: 1,000+ Arcade, Console and Computer Games, 1962-2012, 2d ed. McFarland & Company. p. 169. ISBN 978-0786472574. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "The 12 Days of Last Christmas". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  22. ^ Dailly, Mike (2004). "The DMA Logo saga". Mike Dailly. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  23. ^ "History of the PlayStation". IGN. Ziff Davis. 27 August 1998. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  24. ^ a b Ransom-Wiley, James (22 March 2011). "Race'n'Chase: Original GTA design docs posted". Engadget. AOL. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  25. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (16 September 2013). "How the first Grand Theft Auto was almost cancelled". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  26. ^ https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03312220
  27. ^ Weiner, Anastasia (9 August 2007). "Zoo Digital: Ian Stewart". Startups.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  28. ^ Ingham, Tim (25 July 2008). "Deals that shook the industry: 3/10". Market for Home Computing and Video Games. Intent Media. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  29. ^ a b c d "Sam Houser's CV - in his own words". Market for Home Computing and Video Games. Intent Media. 11 July 2008. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  30. ^ a b Kennedy, Sam (29 September 1999). "Take-Two Acquires DMA Design". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  31. ^ "GAME BOY He is the Scottish computer wizard compared to Branson and loved by Labour. But as his empire continues to expand, how much of Chris van der Kuyl's success is down to spin?". The Herald. Newsquest. 24 August 2002. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  32. ^ a b "Scottish Developer Becomes Rockstar". IGN. Ziff Davis. 19 March 2002. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  33. ^ French, Michael (4 October 2013). "Inside Rockstar North – Part 2: The Studio". Develop. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  34. ^ "E3 2002: Rockstar Studios Changes Name Again". IGN. Ziff Davis. 24 May 2002. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  35. ^ Langshaw, Mark (25 August 2012). "Retro Corner: 'Shadow of the Beast'". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  36. ^ "Lemmings 2: The Tribes for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  37. ^ Wallis, Alistair (21 December 2006). "Playing Catch Up: GTA/Lemmings' Dave Jones". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  38. ^ "Test du jeu Evos Space Adventures sur PS1". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). L'Odyssée Interactive. 7 July 2000. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  39. ^ Stahl, Ben (2 February 2000). "Wild Metal Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  40. ^ a b c d e "Interview with DMA's David Jones". IGN. Ziff Davis. 10 March 1997. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.