Ashes to Ashen—Aurora 44 brings new life to Upper Hutt’s former CIT complex
Game developer Aurora 44 has taken up residence in Upper Hutt’s former CIT complex as they continue development of their flagship game, Ashen.
UPPER HUTT, Wellington NZ, 29 JAN 2016—Upper Hutt’s former CIT campus has a new tenant, Aurora 44, who are developing their first official game—Ashen. According to Aurora 44’s web presence, “Ashen is an action role playing game about a wanderer in search of a place to call home. There is no sun and the natural light that exists comes from eruptions that cover the land in ash. This is a world where nothing lasts, no matter how tightly you cling to it. At its core, Ashen is about forging relationships.”
The game is the first of its kind to be created in New Zealand and is being developed for Xbox One and PC with funding from Microsoft. The studio will open on 1 March with a team of 20 highly-skilled artists, programmers and producers on site, by mid-2016 it is envisaged that this will be increased to 30 developers.
Aurora’s arrival is another example of Upper Hutt City Council’s open approach and willingness to attract business into the city. Mayor Wayne Guppy and Council’s Chief Executive Chris Upton met with Aurora 44 CEO Derek Bradley in late 2015 and, with the help of Council’s Business Development Manager Phil Gorman, were able to organise premises at the former CIT campus.
The Heretaunga Company owners, Malcolm Gillies and Kevin Melville, who bought the campus in 2015, are delighted with the new tenants, claiming the investment’s proof-of-concept a success. “This is win-win for both parties,” says Mr Gillies. “Since it was first built, the potential for this site has always been centred around technology. This is the first of our technology tenants, and we are excited to see where the future leads.”
The Ashen project has the potential to highlight Upper Hutt on the world stage as Aurora 44 will once again be attending E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre in June.
“The Upper Hutt City Council is a big part of our choice to relocate to Upper Hutt,” says Mr Bradley. “I get the sense that Council wants Upper Hutt to grow and thrive, and they are putting all their effort into making this happen… which is exactly the kind of city we want to get involved in.”
“The former CIT complex is a remarkable space. For our part, we like the interesting exterior that combines an idyllic park-like setting with brutalist architecture. The fact that it was built as a university also means that it is perfect for setting up a modern office, with things like service tunnels and robust construction, making the retrofit painless.”
Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy is also ecstatic about the move. “Our economic development stimulus policy is continuing to build momentum and critical mass. We are experiencing a surge in interest as our policy and incentives continue to pay off.”
“For many years, Upper Hutt had its place at the forefront of the manufacturing industry with Dunlop and General Motors. Now we are seeing a new generation and new technology industry opening up on our doorstep for our skilled workforce to become a part of.”