ITU graduates created one of Italy’s biggest game successes

Three graduates from ITU’s Games programme went on to found what would become one of Italy’s most successful indie game studios, 34BigThings. We talked to the founders about their company and their time at ITU.

Digital Design DepartmentEntrepreneurshipcomputer gamesstartups

It all began in a living room in Turin, Northern Italy, in January 2013 – where it is too cold to start a company in the proverbial garage. Having completed their MSc in Games the year before, Giacomo Ferronato, Giuseppe Enrico Franchi and Valerio Di Donato decided to realize their dream of making their own games.

Fast forward five and a half years, and 34BigThings has 32 employees and a portfolio that includes successful games like Redout, in which the player races at 800 km/h through artfully designed, otherworldly landscapes. In 2017, the game won a Golden Dragon award for best Italian video game.

First of all, tell us how you got started!

“We started out like most of us out there in the most classical way: in our living room, just the three of us. We knew we wanted to make our own games and that was our official kick-off: we simply began to build something, one day, in our free time. Our ‘office time’ was already monopolized by B2B projects, to secure funding for the long-time vision.”

What characterizes your studio?

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Our main goal is to ‘make games we love’ in a laid-back environment, and that is what we do.

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“We decided to keep a startup-like, hyper-friendly, environment where we focus more on ‘individuals and interactions over processes and tools’, literally following one of the most important agile principles. We care about people more than anything else, and we know we need to trust them at a personal level before the professional one. Our main goal is to ‘make games we love’ in a laid-back environment, and that is what we do.”

What are your biggest successes?

“Turin has always been an industrial city, slowly drying out of talent during the last crises. Our presence here gave birth to a sequence of companies around the game industry and truly sparked the innovation on the territory, thus attracting more talent, investments and interest in the area.

 

If we are strictly talking about games, then it’s definitely Redout, a true heir to the throne of the Anti Gravity Racing genre. It took us three long years of development before release, but it was all worth it.”

 

Redout game.
Redout is an adrenalize-filled racing game inspired by old arcade classics. Photo: PR

Why did you decide to study Games at ITU?

“Mostly because higher education in gaming is something extremely rare in the world, especially if you combine that with production-oriented approaches and fields where practical application is as critical as the theory behind it.”

How would you describe your time at ITU?

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ITU has been the critical turning point in our lives because of both the education we received and the ease of access to the Scandinavian gaming scene.

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“Glorious and ecstatic. ITU has been the critical turning point in our lives because of both the education we received and the ease of access to the Scandinavian gaming scene. Everything around ITU has a strong push from the bottom (people who want to succeed in the gaming industry) and an equal pull from the top (companies in need of great talent as much as the government itself). The focus on the practical approach really gave us the tools to face the complete lifecycle of game development, from the pre-production phase to the release.”

What are you currently working on?

“Many things – we have really learned to parallelize production in these years. On one side, we are still supporting Redout, porting it onto new platforms (Nintendo Switch coming!). On the other side, we are releasing new games more often - we launched four titles in 2018 alone, for example. Our next “big thing” will be Redout: Space Assault, an arcade take on the space shooting genre made with UE4 and love.”

And finally… What’s up with the name 34BigThings?

“Well, we started all of this with just three people (34BigThings is pronounced three-four-big-things) and we wanted to do big things, big things together!”

Further information

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email viar@itu.dk