Vancouver’s Slant Six Games back on the road and revving up

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Slant Six Games, named after the 1960s engine that powered the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart, is again running at full speed. In the fall of 2010, the Vancouver video-game developer nearly ran out of gas.

“I wouldn’t say that we were right on the edge of the cliff,” Dan McBride, director of development at Slant Six, told the Georgia Straight by phone, “but it was certainly a perfect storm for many developers at that time.”

In San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference earlier this month, McBride recalled that there was a hangover effect from the global financial crisis. “A lot of the people who were making reasonably-sized plays in our industry were finding that the credit taps had been completely shut off,” he said. McBride noted that the studio has “come out the other side” and is diversifying to take advantage of shifts in the game industry. For example, there is now more than one development team at Slant Six, and they aren’t all working on console titles.

Formed in 2005 by a group of veterans from the Vancouver game-development scene, Slant Six has released three third-person shooter games for Sony’s PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable consoles. All of them are in the SOCOM (Special Operations Command) series: Tactical Strike (2007), Confrontation (2008), and Fireteam Bravo 3 (2010).

It was an opportunity to work with Capcom that fueled the recovery. The Osaka-based publisher has been candid about wanting to work more regularly with western game developers and has been regularly vetting developers who catch its attention. McBride said his studio’s development experience was of interest to Capcom.

“We were a shooter studio; they had a desire to do a genre shift with the Resident Evil IP,” said McBride.

The result, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a squad-based shooter, not a survival-horror game like other titles in the franchise. And working with Capcom gave Slant Six the opportunity to get its proprietary game engine working on other platforms. Operation Raccoon City, released on March 20, is available for PS3, Windows, and Xbox 360.

McBride said that the studio is continuing to develop Hexane for additional platforms. “We developed our own engine and tool suite,” he said, “and now we’re really starting to see the fruit of that.”

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