Ocean Quigley, former creative director on SimCity and art director of SimCity, Spore, Sim City 4 and SimCity 3000, has left Maxis to set up an indie studio. Alongside Maxis lead gameplay engineer Dan Moskowitz and SimCity simulation architect Andrew Willmott, Quigley has founded Jellygrade – a new simulation-focused outfit already hard at work on their first game.
In a series of tweets, Quigley cited “the desire to do something new” as his reason for parting ways with Maxis after 17 years.
“After SimCity 3k, SimCity 4, the Sims, the Sims2, Spore & the new SimCity, it was time for something new,” he wrote. “I have lots of affection for Maxis, but eventually you have to move on.”
“It was a good studio to work for,” he said of the studio. “I got a tremendous education there (particularly from Will [Wright]).”
Working remotely in both London and Oakland, Jellygrade’s three-man team have begun active development on a “new, custom engine” which is “already coming along nicely”.
“We love making simulations”, tweeted Quigley. “We’re making a simulation about the dawn of life on earth; about lava, water, rock and the emergence of the first primordial creatures. We’re starting off on the iPad with a fundamentally new simulation engine – I can’t wait to start showing it off.”
The project’s working title is Tethys – though that’ll “probably change” – and the team are hoping to port it to other platforms. See more of it on the Jellygrade Tumblr page. Frankly, I think they’re a bit silly to pass up the possibility of an early access Steam alpha. Prison Architect, another indie sim project, seems to have benefitted hugely from its open model of iteration.
As for SimCity? Quigley reassured fans that a “bunch of people” at Maxis are still working to improve the troubled game. Indeed, a recent survey suggested a full-scale SimCity expansion pack was in the works.