Rockstar Lincoln

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Rockstar Lincoln Limited
Formerly
  • Spidersoft Limited (1992–1998)
  • Tarantula Studios (1998–2002)
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded5 May 1992; 30 years ago (1992-05-05)
Founders
  • Steve Marsden
  • David Cooke
Headquarters,
England
Parent

Rockstar Lincoln Limited (formerly Spidersoft Limited and Tarantula Studios) is a British video game developer and a studio of Rockstar Games based in Lincoln. The company was founded as Spidersoft by Steve Marsden and David Cooke in May 1992. At that time, it primarily developed Game Boy and Game Gear ports of various titles, including pinball video games for publisher 21st Century Entertainment. The publisher acquired Spidersoft in 1995 but shut down in March 1998.

Take-Two Interactive acquired Spidersoft in June 1998, renaming it Tarantula Studios. The studio continued working on Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, such as Grand Theft Auto (1999). In 2002, the development portion of Tarantula Studio was shut down, while the quality assurance portion was integrated into Take-Two Interactive's Rockstar Games label as Rockstar Lincoln.

History[edit]

Steve Marsden and David Cooke, with assistance from Andrew Hewson, founded Spidersoft on 5 May 1992.[1] Marsden and Cooke had previously developed the ZX Spectrum game Technician Ted, which was published by Hewson's Hewson Consultants in 1984.[2] Spidersoft mostly developed ports or adaptations of other games, predominantly for the Game Boy, the Game Gear and MS-DOS, including pinball video games developed by Digital Illusions.[1] The latter were published by 21st Century Entertainment, the successor to Hewson Consultants that Hewson had founded in 1991.[1][3] Following the success of Pinball Fantasies in 1992, the game was ported to several other platforms. Spidersoft developed the versions for the Atari Jaguar, Game Boy, PlayStation, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, all released in 1995. 21st Century Entertainment subsequently acquired a controlling stake in Spidersoft, aiming to ensure a steady supply of pinball games without having to rely on third-party contractors. According to Hewson, Digital Illusions, the developer of Pinball Fantasies, was apparently looking to cease developing games in the pinball niche market.[4] By the time of the acquisition, Spidersoft had roughly 20 employees.[1] In March 1998, 21st Century Entertainment went out of business.[5]

On 1 June 1998, Take-Two Interactive announced that it had acquired Spidersoft, renaming it Tarantula Studios.[6] As part of the deal, the studio shifted its focus on game development solely for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, starting with Montezuma's Return!, In-Fisherman Bass Hunter, and an unannounced project for the former platform, as well as Three Lions and Space Station Silicon Valley for the latter.[6] Notable games developed by Tarantula Studios include Las Vegas Cool Hand (1998),[7] Montezuma's Return! (1998),[8] Rats! (1998),[9] Space Station Silicon Valley (1999),[10][11] Jim Henson's Muppets (1999),[12] Evel Knievel (1999),[13][14] Grand Theft Auto (1999),[15][16] Grand Theft Auto 2 (2000),[17] Austin Powers: Welcome to My Underground Lair! (2000),[18][19] and Austin Powers: Oh, Behave! (2000).[20][21] Among Tarantula Studios' games, some have received largely negative receptions: On the website IGN, Evel Knievel and Jim Henson's Muppets each received a review score of 2.0/10, the its lowest-ever score for a Game Boy Color game, while the site regarded Evel Knievel as the overall worst game on the platform.[22]

By 2001, the development and quality assurance departments of Tarantula Studios had been separated, of which the former was shut down in 2002.[23] The remainder was integrated into Take-Two Interactive's Rockstar Games label and renamed Rockstar Lincoln.[24] In January 2011, Mark Lloyd, the long-time studio head of Rockstar Lincoln who had been with the company since 1999, announced his resignation.[23][25] His departure coincided with that of Mark Washbrook, the founder and studio head of Rockstar London.[26][25] Rockstar Games stated that neither departure would affect the projects in development at the respective studios at the time.[25] Lloyd was succeeded by Tim Bates as general manager.[27] Lloyd went on to found a video game consultancy service, Titanium Consultancy, which he later voluntarily wound down. Together with Washbrook, he joined Activision's mobile-focused Activision Leeds studio in May 2012.[26]

Culture[edit]

Rockstar Lincoln offered its employees subsidised gym memberships and hosted a "Sports & Social" team that organised sporting and leisure activities.[27] The studio won the "Active Workplace" award in the Lincolnshire Sports Awards in 2015 and 2016, and was nominated a third time in 2017.[27]

Leading up to the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in October 2018, it was reported that Rockstar Lincoln staff had, of all other Rockstar Games studios, suffered the worst "crunch time".[28] Both former employees and people still working at the studio at the time reported that testers were paid low wages, had to work long hours, and were subjected to strict security regulations.[28] Mandatory overtime for working on Red Dead Redemption 2 allegedly started in August 2017, prior to Rockstar Games entering "official crunch mode" that October.[28] Testers at Rockstar Lincoln were asked to work on evenings and weekends; initially, they would work three nights per week, and later five.[28] Of those working overtime, localisers and lead testers were paid annual salaries, and thus were not compensated for working additional hours.[28] Meanwhile, regular testers were paid by the hour and, depending on how long they worked, earned more than their leads.[28] In response to overtime reports, the studio's management announced in a meeting held on 19 October 2018 that overtime at the studio would from that point on be optional.[29] Following much public criticism of these practices, Rockstar Lincoln saw changes made to its policy. By 1 August 2019, all testers at the studio were to be converted to full-time employees, security measures were lowered in so far that cell phones could be used at the workplace, and a flexitime system was introduced.[30]

Games developed[edit]

As Spidersoft[edit]

Year Title Platform(s) Publisher(s) Notes
1992 Hook Game Gear Sony Imagesoft Ported only; game developed by Ukiyotei
1993 Poker Face Paul's Blackjack Adrenalin Entertainment N/A
Pinball Dreams Game Boy, Game Gear, MS-DOS, Super Nintendo Entertainment System 21st Century Entertainment, GameTek Ported only; game developed by Digital Illusions
Chuck Rock Game Boy Sony Electronic Publishing Ported only; game developed by Core Design
Cliffhanger Amiga, Game Boy, Game Gear, Nintendo Entertainment System Sony Imagesoft, Psygnosis N/A
1994 Lemmings 2: The Tribes Game Boy Psygnosis Ported only; game developed by DMA Design
Andre Agassi Tennis Game Gear Lance Investments Ported only; game developed by TecMagik
Pinball Arcade MS-DOS 21st Century Entertainment N/A
Poker Face Paul's Solitaire Game Gear Sega
Pinball Dreams 2 MS-DOS 21st Century Entertainment
Math Blaster Episode I: In Search of Spot Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System Davidson & Associates Ported only; game developed by Davidson & Associates
1995 Pinball Fantasies Atari Jaguar, Game Boy, PlayStation, Super Nintendo Entertainment System 21st Century Entertainment, GameTek Ported only; game developed by Digital Illusions
Pinball World MS-DOS 21st Century Entertainment, Rebellion Developments N/A
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Pinball Amiga, Amiga CD32, MS-DOS Alternative Software
Pinball Mania Amiga, Game Boy, MS-DOS 21st Century Entertainment, GameTek
1996 Pinball Builder Microsoft Windows 21st Century Entertainment
Total Pinball 3D MS-DOS

As Tarantula Studios[edit]

Year Title Platform(s) Publisher(s) Notes
1998 Las Vegas Cool Hand Game Boy, Game Boy Color Take-Two Interactive N/A
Montezuma's Return!
Rats!
1999 Hollywood Pinball Game Boy Color
Space Station Silicon Valley
Three Lions
Jim Henson's Muppets
Evel Knievel Rockstar Games
Grand Theft Auto
2000 Austin Powers: Oh, Behave!
Austin Powers: Welcome to My Underground Lair!
Grand Theft Auto 2
Formula One 2000 Take-Two Interactive
2001 Kiss Pinball PlayStation Ported only; game developed by Wildfire Studios
Hidden & Dangerous Ported only; game developed by Illusion Softworks

References[edit]

  • Hewson, Andrew (9 May 2016). Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers (First ed.). Lulu.com. ISBN 9781844991365. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  1. ^ a b c d Hewson 2016, p. 208
  2. ^ Hewson 2016, p. 79
  3. ^ Hewson 2016, p. 187
  4. ^ Hewson 2016, p. 203
  5. ^ "21st Century Entertainment Ltd R.I.P". The Tower of Pin. 10 March 1998. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b Johnston, Chris (1 June 1998). "Take 2 Captures Tarantula". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 3 February 1999.
  7. ^ Cleveland, Adam (24 September 1999). "Las Vegas Cool Hand". IGN. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  8. ^ Harris, Craig (20 March 2000). "Montezuma's Return". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  9. ^ Cleveland, Adam (29 September 1999). "Rats!". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  10. ^ Harris, Craig (30 July 1999). "Space Station Silicon Valley". IGN. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  11. ^ Jones, Tim (20 June 2000). "Space Station Silicon Valley". IGN. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  12. ^ Nix, Marc (17 April 2000). "Muppets". IGN. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  13. ^ Harris, Craig (17 September 1999). "Evel Knievel". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  14. ^ Harris, Craig (7 December 1999). "Evel Knievel". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  15. ^ Harris, Craig (29 November 1999). "Grand Theft Auto". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  16. ^ Harris, Craig (15 September 1999). "Grand Theft Auto". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. ^ Harris, Craig (19 December 2000). "Grand Theft Auto 2". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  18. ^ Harris, Craig (28 June 2000). "Austin Powers: Welcome To My Underground Lair". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  19. ^ Carle, Chris (29 September 2000). "Austin Powers: Welcome To My Underground Lair". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  20. ^ Harris, Craig (28 June 2000). "Austin Powers: Oh Behave!". IGN. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  21. ^ Carle, Chris (29 September 2000). "Austin Powers: Oh Behave!". IGN. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  22. ^ IGN Nintendo Team (31 October 2008). "Worst Reviewed Nintendo Console Games, Page 1 of 2". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  23. ^ a b Lloyd, Mark (23 May 2019). "From Rockstar Lincoln studio head to anti-crunch advocate". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  24. ^ Forde, Matt (17 September 2017). "Feature: The Complete History of Rockstar Games on Nintendo Platforms". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  25. ^ a b c Alexander, Leigh (27 January 2011). "Rockstar London Studio Head Resigns". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  26. ^ a b Martin, Matt (22 May 2012). "Ex-Rockstar bosses working with Activision Leeds studio". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  27. ^ a b c Franklin, Ashley (12 July 2017). "Lincolnshire Sports Awards 2017 – Rockstar face tough competition in quest to make it three in a row". Lincolnshire Live. Archived from the original on 14 November 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  28. ^ a b c d e f Schreier, Jason (23 October 2018). "Inside Rockstar Games' Culture Of Crunch". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  29. ^ Kim, Matt (19 October 2018). "Rockstar Lincoln QA Tester Says Overtime is No Longer Mandatory". USgamer. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  30. ^ Bailey, Dustin (6 August 2019). "Rockstar hires testers full-time after criticism – "things have been better since last year"". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on 6 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.