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Ex-Realtime Staffer Names Hetherington As MyWorld Buyer

An ex-MyWorld art lead told Gamasutra on Monday that ex-Realtime Worlds chair and industry veteran Ian Hetherington's company Kimble Operations has purchased the social game.
An ex-MyWorld art lead told Gamasutra that ex-Realtime Worlds chair and industry veteran Ian Hetherington's company Kimble Operations has purchased the social game, which is still projected for a market release. Tahir Rashid, former lead artist on MyWorld and newly-appointed co-company director and art department head at independent studio Electric TopHat said in a Monday email, "MyWorld was bought a few weeks back by Kimble Operations which is basically Ian Hetherington as he wanted the project to get to market." Hetherington was previously rumored to be linked to a MyWorld buyout, but this is the first time a key member of the team has gone on-the-record to confirm that a deal actually took place. Reports suggested that the exec did not want to be publicly linked to the purchase. Industry veteran Hetherington co-founded Wipeout creator Psygonsis (now Sony's Studio Liverpool) and was chairman of defunct Dundee, Scotland-based APB and Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds, which went into administration during MyWorld's development. Rashid, who was also senior artist on Crackdown, added, "There are 20 people left from the original MyWorld team that decided to stay with it. We are very pleased the project is not dead and look forward to them getting it out the door." "This was the project that most of the Crackdown team who stayed at Realtime Worlds worked on and you can see that some of the tech was inherited from Crackdown." Rashid said that he left Realtime and the development of MyWorld along with a few others in order to get back to development of smaller, independent games. At Electric TopHat, he is joined by MyWorld senior designer Sam Philips and senior artist Chris Black. At Dundee, Scotland-based Electric TopHat, Philips is serving as co-company director and design department head, while Black is holding an unspecified position at the studio. Robert McDowell, who worked on the original 2007 Xbox 360 game Crackdown founded Electric TopHat in 2008. Rashid's statements about the number of people working on MyWorld are corroborated by Realtime's administrator Begbies Traynor, which said earlier this year that it was able to hire back 23 people from the MyWorld development team. Realtime laid off its remaining skeleton crew staff in Scotland and the U.S. about two weeks ago, as it also shut down the ill-fated MMO APB. The developer originally went into administration in mid-August this year, initially laying off 157 workers. Rashid said that the recent hirings of Electric TopHat mark a "Version 2.0" of the studio, which plans on creating smaller games on Xbox 360. "As you can imagine the budgets were absolutely ridiculous for these games at RTW and we knew [RTW] would end sooner or later," he said. "We just wanted to get back to making small great fun games on a smaller budget but with the same great team that worked on Crackdown which we started the day after Realtime Worlds collapsed," he added. "We needed to think about making the games we were dreaming of since we finished Crackdown." Last week, Dundee-based startup studio Montynero emerged, founded by former APB lead character artist Jimmy O'Ready.

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