Getting to know Simteractive: the Award-Winning Mobile Game Development Studio
Simteractive is an award-winning game development studio based in Morrison Chambers on Nassau Street. We were lucky enough to chat with founder and CEO Elaine Reynolds to get the low-down on her hugely successful business.
Simteractive’s talented game development team create world-class mobile games, specialising in simulation games. They developed Eden Isle: Resort Paradise, a building sim game that lets players create their dream resort. Eden Isle won the leadership award at the EWIG mobile game awards in London in September and was runner up in the Grand Prix award. It was also nominated for Best Strategy Game in the TIGA awards and for best game writing in the ZeBBie awards and currently has a 4.6 average app store rating.
Tell us, Elaine, what inspired you to start your business?
Setting up my own business is something that’s always been a dream of mine. I’ve also loved playing games for years, especially simulation games like Theme Park and the Sims where you’re building, managing and creating. I just love playing these kinds of games and so I got into the games industry to make these kinds of games. At the time I set up Simteractive, there weren’t a lot of jobs in games, let alone in simulation games, so I decided to set up a company to be able to make the kind of games I wanted to make. Playing a simulation game is actually quite similar to the real-life process of setting up and running a business and it’s something I find really interesting – coming up with an idea, building a team, developing and marketing a product. Of course it goes without saying that it’s much easier to set up a business in a game than in real life!
How did you come about setting up your own business?
I was working in game development over in England, first as a programmer at Traveller’s Tales and then as a game designer at Lionhead Studios. At the time I completed my Masters in game development there weren’t many opportunities in Ireland so I applied for jobs in England and I was coming up to five years in England and trying to decide what to do – whether to stay there or move somewhere else. I saw something online about Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme and decided to apply for it and to come home to Dublin to set up Simteractive.
Tell us a little bit about Eden Isle.
Eden Isle is a resort building game where you are creating a holiday paradise for your guests. It’s a quirky game for iPhone and iPad that lets players work towards making a five-star holiday destination, while catering to guests ranging from out-of-touch indie rock stars, to wacky inventors, to reality show producers, each with their own backstory.
The player starts with a small patch of land on a tropical island and builds some Eco-Friendly Tents and a Huggable Tree. This attracts Treehuggers, the first guest type, to the resort. As the player progresses they can attract more guest types – Glampers, Hipsters, Fashionistas, Selfie-Lovers and Backpackers. Each guest type has their own requirements, preferences and personality, showcased by vivid character animations.
It’s the first game of its kind developed in Ireland and we’re really happy with the reaction. It’s nice to be nominated for awards and to win them but what’s really great is hearing from players who love the game. Our app store rating worldwide is 4.6, which means most of our ratings are five stars which is brilliant.
As game developers we play the game so much it’s hard to see it with fresh eyes so it’s incredibly important to listen to what players have to say. We release updates roughly every month with an improved version of the game each time. With each update we generally add a new feature and we also fix bugs, improve the user interface and make adjustments to the game balance based on analysing player data.
Where can people get their hands on Eden Isle?
What do you love about being based in Dublin City Centre?
I love the city centre! It’s full of life with so much going on. Dublin is a fantastic city with lots to do and a really vibrant feel but it’s still manageable and easy to walk around. This city has the best of both worlds. You’ll never be bored or run out of interesting things to do but it’s still a small, friendly city. Of course, the people of Dublin give it a unique character with the Irish sense of humour and friendliness. Aswell as that, I see Dublin as a very creative city – there are loads of people in Dublin making games and also putting on plays, performing comedy, writing, starting businesses, organizing meetups and generally making things happen to bring people together and to be creative. Another thing I appreciate about Dublin is that there are still lots of independent businesses with their own character. It isn’t completely filled with chains and hopefully never will be. And then something that’s pretty special about Dublin that I sometimes take for granted is having Trinity College right on our doorstep, particularly for us on Nassau Street. The architecture of Trinity is amazing with so many different styles and having the students brings an extra energy to the city centre.
Tell us, where are your favourite spots to grab a coffee in town?
We’re very lucky in Morrison Chambers to have Costa and KC Peaches just downstairs so they’re very handy. Keoghs Café is also a great spot. It was our go-to place when I was in college. Industry & Co is a great place too because you can do some window shopping when you’re there and look at all their cool furniture and homewares.
And your go-to place for lunch?
Sprout is amazing for really fresh and tasty food with interesting options. Blazing Salads and Cornucopia are great for vegetarian options. Yum Thai is nice for quick and cheap Thai Food. Tang at the top of Dawson Street too is really tasty. For somewhere where you can sit down The National Gallery and Alliance Francaise are good. And actually Dunnes have upped their game lately and have some really good options too!
If you were to go out after work where would you go?
My favourite part of Dublin is the area between Grafton Street and Georges Street, I love all the little streets and there are great bars there like The Market Bar, Hogans and The Rag Trader and restaurants like Yamamori and The Ramen Bar. I love going to interesting events so I like to go wherever there’s something good on. I enjoy going to the IFI and the Lighthouse too but I don’t go nearly as often as I’d like to.
If people want to find out more about Simteractive, where should they go?
If gaming is your thing, be sure to check out this home-grown game that’s truly taking the gaming world by storm!