Duo joined forces to start up company

Built up: Destinctive Developments' technical director Keith Birkett, left and managing director Nigel Little.      Picture: Barry Richardson
Built up: Destinctive Developments' technical director Keith Birkett, left and managing director Nigel Little. Picture: Barry Richardson
0
Have your say

Distinctive Developments was founded in 1994 by Nigel Little and Keith Birkett, who met working for Rotherham-based computer games company Krisalis.

“We were about 23 years old, had a little bit of experience and didn’t have any commitments. It was the perfect time to do something,” recalls Nigel, who got his first computer when he was nine and had been working at Krisalis since he was 18.

Distinctive started out developing games for the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo platforms in the front bedroom of Nigel’s parents’ house, before moving first to Sheffield Technology Parks’ Cooper Building in Sheffield city centre and then its current headquarters, close to Sheffield’s Anglican Cathedral.

By 2001, Distinctive decided it simply wasn’t big enough to develop the next generation of console games.

“Mobile ‘phone gaming was just about to take off, so we jumped in with both feet,” says Nigel.

“When we moved into mobiles, Keith went off to work for various other companies, including Plusnet (the Sheffield-based Internet Service Provider), but, games were in his blood and he is now our technical director.”

Distinctive’s switch to mobile gaming came just as the first 3G phones were becoming available and two years after the first mobiles capable of accessing the Internet had been developed.

Their graphics capabilities were rudimentary – black and white screens, with resolutions no more than 100 dots wide by 100 dots tall – so Distinctive started out developing mobile versions of Arcade Games from the 1970s like Space Invaders.

“The change since then has been incredible,” says Nigel. “It’s staggering to be involved in that and take advantage of the technology.

“It has been a good thing, because you can keep increasing the quality of the games, but it is also a challenge, because you are always trying to keep up with the technology.

“With today’s high end devices like the iPhone and Android ‘phones, you have practically got a mini-computer in your pocket.”

Compare a modern Android ‘phone with the Commodore Amiga Nigel Little used to develop games for and you’ll see just how things have changed.

The Amiga 500 boasted a processor running at seven million cycles a second, 512 thousand bytes of memory as standard and the ability to display just under 4,100 colours.

Compare that to a HTC Desire Android Smartphone, with a processor running at a thousand million cycles a second, with nearly 580 million bytes of onboard Random Access Memory and a further 512 million bytes of Read Only Memory, and the capability to display 16 million colours.