I-imagine interactive

Hi.

For some reason i remembered i-imagine interactive, after so many years.

It was one of the companies i had admired so much that i drove to their offices in 2006 to try and interview them for my 3rd year thesis.

But they were on a tight deadline at the time so i ended up refering to an interview they had with NAG around those times.

I even recall a game called Final Armada, and the famous Chase Hollywood Stuntman game for xbox.

Anybody know what happened to the company?
Thanked by 1AlienInvader

Comments

  • Hi Kulu,

    [Disclaimer: Most of this is my recollection of events and opinion and might not reflect how others perceived the reality]

    In a nutshell, the investment funding, profits and publishing deals dried up.

    I joined I-Imagine in 2004 (after working hard to follow my dreams) and remained there until most of us had to be laid off early 2006. Only 3 members stayed on to finish Final Armada and get the game published.

    Before Final Armada we worked on a couple of tech demos to try and get publishing deals or even outsourced work. The company managed to do well enough after Chase was released and there was enough profit and investment (or so I was told) that meant the company had a few good years to pursue ideas and different platforms (like GBA). However 200x was turbulent times in the games industry and most companies that tried to make original IP went belly up. We tried to get deals for a number of concepts and outsourced work ... but nothing came of it.

    Eventually we settled on Final Armada that was going to be for Xbox, PS2 and Game cube. We were about +/- 13 people working on the game to start with and just before the end of 2005 we were 11 (5 programmers, 4 artists, 2 others).

    At the time we didn't have a publisher and from what I recall the original main investor in the company wanted to shut it down and I guess extract what ever profits still remained in the company. We were all told that we are being laid off and that only 3 people will remain to try and finish the game and get a publisher. However most of us (if not all) worked at least a month (if it was not maybe 2 or 3) and crunched for FREE (I am not joking) to finish as much as we could to try and get the game over the finish line because we all new the team, company and the game meant a lot to us.

    From what I can recall, a publisher was found but was only interested in PS2 and then the newly launched PSP. The game was eventually released (thank goodness for that)!

    As for the people. I know of at least 5 of us that went to the UK for a bit. Some returned to South Africa and still works for overseas companies. Some of us remained overseas. Some remained in South Africa and went onto to other game development ventures. Most notable is probably Luke Lamothe and fellows that went onto to Luma and eventually 24 bit games. I myself went to the UK to go work for Climax, Criterion (EA) and Lionhead studios before the games industry burned me out and I wanted to go do my own thing (just as Mobile apps started taking off).

    As for the original founder, he did manage to keep the company name and branding and tried a couple of game development ideas after Final Armada and other ideas. It looks like he eventually managed to build WalletDoc and that seems to be doing well (just from what I can research on the web).

    I-Imagine will always be a MEGA amazing memory and powerful emotional connections for me. You hear people talk about synergy of a team etc. and I don't know quite exactly what it was but we as such a small team in Africa had a special kind of magic or bond that I have never experienced since. Maybe it was just that we were all working in our dream job despite all the challenges of being the only game development setup in Africa (at the time!), being young and full of energy (and trust me we crunched ... and played a ton of games as well) but honestly I have longed for the synergy we had there since and have never been in a team or company where I could experience it like that again.

    I and many others will always be grateful for the time we had at I-Imagine and it helped launch further careers into the AAA business.

    I-Imagine, Dan, Luke and all the guys they persuaded along the line to come to South Africa and create a game development company really was a strong signal to me at the time that I could pursue my dreams of becoming a game programmer and for that I will always be very grateful to them for that. Remember this was at a time where no body believed that game dev in SA was a possibility. I was even laughed at and told it was impossible and to rather just stick to a "normal" programming job ... that was until I discovered I-Imagine started in SA and was working on an Xbox game (Chase). That set me on a journey to pursue getting into I-Imagine and game dev at all cost.

    I am always super impressed about how much the game dev scene in South Africa has grown and the amount of awesome ideas that are launched from you folk. I really hope all of you can work hard on you passion and dreams and have fond memories to tell in the future. Honestly if I was still doing game dev, I would want to setup shop in SA or even persuade the big companies to come and invest in the amazing talent over there!

    Kind regards to all of you amazing folk


  • Hi AlienInvader

    Shucks ,what a story. Well as someone who was looking from the outside. I-imagine Interactive was inspiring to me.

    Im glad yall went onto doing greater things, obviously the technical skills and drive to succeed was there . Shucks, i guess SA or Africa video games market was still a risk to many.

    But hey!! Look where the 3d and video game industry in SA and Africa is now!! Its actually quite i feat to compete with fellow artists, which is a demonstration of how much talent has emerged on this continent.

    Thanks for answering my question AlienInvader!!
  • I was on the skeleton team at I-Imagine that finished up Final Armada. They brought me in to do networking on the PSP when the publisher they managed to secure decided it needed to be on both PSP and PS2, they were going to try to court Sony by offering pick-up wifi multiplayer. I had to retrofit a whole multiplayer mode on top of a game built as single player and we didn't have enough PSP devkits to test with, so we did almost all of our testing on Xbox instead. Fun times.

    It was a horrific crunch. I seem to recall the initial publisher went bankrupt and then Dan (Wagner) had to scramble to find someone else to pick up the game. I-Imagine went into hibernation literally as the master copy was sent out the door. It eventually did get released but reviews weren't kind :(

    After Final Armada, Luke went on to join Luma as they built a game development arm, I stayed in PTA and focused on MGSA's precursor (Game.Dev) and started the game design consulting that would turn in to QCF Design. Dan would go on to start MI Digital which secured the Xbox 360 rights for SA and brought the console to our shores (and got burned by all the red ring issues), he also resurrected I-Imagine after a few years and brought back a bunch of the old team that were still in SA.

    The new I-Imagine produced quite a few games trying out the mobile space and some work for PS3, there were a bunch of football-related quiz games IIRC, but I only visited them a couple times. Still miss that secret door in the old office!
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