Brighton Week: Relentless Software on the city where technology meets creativity
'The biggest benefit is Brighton itself'
Relentless Software is a fantastic example of a small studio achieving long-term success with a diverse portfolio of games.
This Brighton-based outfit has made waves around the globe during its ten year history, in part thanks to its support for PlayStation peripherals the studio having developed several EyeToy titles and the Buzz! series of quiz games, designed to work with its innovative buzzer controllers.
However, in the years since, Relentless has expanded on its trend for supporting new devices, having recently made a move on the mobile market.
Its first iOS title, Quiz Climber Rivals, was released in 2011 and, earlier this year, Relentless launched its second iOS title, Blue Toad Murder Files.
A port of an episodic detective adventure which it originally sold on PlayStation Network, Blue Toad recently broke into the higher echelons of the App Store charts, further justifying Relentless' smartphone switch.
But how did the firm get started, and why did it base itself in Brighton?
Business, beer and the beach
"I moved to Brighton over 10 years ago to live in a great city full of vibrant and creative people," says CEO of Relentless Software, Andrew Eades.
"The walk to work and the beer on the beach on a sunny day was appealing. When the opportunity arose, it was natural to start up in my hometown. Brighton is a games development hub as it appeals to a lot of creative and technical people."
Andrew Eades started Relentless at a time when Brighton was not necessarily on the gaming map as it is today.
So, why chose the city as the studio's base when it come have set up shop within an existing hub such as London the UK capital sitting just 50-odd miles up the road?
"I'm a fan of Brighton and worked towards making Brighton the centre of my home and work life," Eades tells us.
"I've done the London thing and although I love visiting London on a weekly basis, I would always set up a business in Brighton if I could."
"The biggest benefit is Brighton itself"
Starting out in his hometown was clearly of great importance to Andrew Eades, but he admits that trying to grow his business in the city only the fourteenth largest in the UK by population has not always been easy.
"The biggest challenge for Brighton has historically been finding high-quality office space large enough to grow into. There used to be very little choice as Brighton is a relatively compact city but it's much better now."
Relentless' Brighton base
On the other hand, small towns also bring their own unique benefits versus the culture of big cities.
"The biggest benefit is Brighton itself," Eades claims.
"Brighton's a great place for people who love technology and want to be creative. It blends them together really well and because it's quite compact, it's a city you can enjoy walking around."
One theme that unites all of the mobile development hubs we've looked at around the globe is a clear sense of support and community, and Brighton is no different.
But thanks to its development heritage, there are scores of towns and cities across the UK that boast thriving dev communities, many of which hold events and meetups to held strengthen ties. How does Brighton compare to other development clusters across the country?
"The development community [in Brighton] is brilliant and very social," he tells us. "There are so many interesting networking events going on from coffee mornings to monthly games drinks.
"I lived in Dundee for a couple of years whilst working at DMA Design and I visit Shoreditch [in London] almost weekly. Dundee had a great community, but it was freezing!
"I love the Shoreditch vibe. I feel like Brighton is quite a bit like Shoreditch. Brighton has the advantage that I can walk to my Brighton office or be in Shoreditch in about an hour."
Blue Toad Murder Files
This week, however, there's no need for Relentless to travel to Shoreditch, or any of the other gaming clusters in the UK for that matter.
The annual Develop Conference is in town, and that means developers from all over the world will be on the city's doorstep.
Relentless hopes to maximise the potential of having such a big event in its backyard, right down to offering support to what's likely to be a bevy of hungover attendees.
"It's always fantastic to hook up with old friends and make new friends, but it's even better when you are on home turf," says Eades.
"Relentless always supplies ice cream or bacon sarnies in the morning for the hungover and we also sponsor the charity poker tournament for GamesAid."
We also asked if the town's famous friendly atmosphere rubs off on the event.
"The town is famous for partying and that just goes up a notch. The bar in the Hilton [where Develop is held] has usually run out of beer by the first afternoon!"
Getting Wired in Sussex
In addition to his duties as CEO of Relentless, Andrew Eades is also on the advisory board of Wired Sussex, working to promote the technology industries in Brighton and the surrounding areas.
He says the organisation is having some success in bringing gaming to the attention of local MPs.
"Wired Sussex is very active in promoting digital business in and around Brighton," Eades claims.
"The local government has representatives at board meetings and is fully involved with the Brighton digital sector. Our local MPs have also shown much interest in our sector and are very keen to help as they recognise the importance of games to the Brighton economy and it's culture."
We'll be back with more from Brighton tomorrow, including an interview with Mediatonic's CEO, Dave Bailey.
Have you worked in video game development in Brighton? What was your experience of the area? Are you attending the Develop conference this week?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.