30 in 30: Rockstar North / DMA Design

The Scottish studio that created a monster

The studio formally known as DMA Design is most famous for the creation of monster cash cow Grand Theft Auto, but the Edinburgh-based developer was behind plenty of other excellent cult games throughout the 90s including Lemmings and the brilliant Space Station Silicon Valley.

But it was GTA that put DMA on the map, and Grand Theft Auto III specifically which propelled the studio to its current position among the true gaming royalty.

Having become Rockstar North in 2001, the studio focused its efforts on the Grand Theft Auto franchise, making it one of the most successful and sought after game series in the world.


The studio diverted somewhat in 2003 and 2007 to make the controversial Manhunt games, and worked with Rockstar San Diego in 2010 on development of Red Dead Redemption.

Now busily constructing the mammoth Grand Theft Auto 5, Rockstar North is undoubtedly one of the most influential and important game developers in the world.


Founded: 1988 (DMA Design) 2001 (Rockstar North)
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Killer quote: "The masterplan, if there is one, is to keep evolving and make the perfect game, and I don't think we've even got close to that." - Dan Houser



David Jones

Founder of DMA Design, David Jones is credited with the creation Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings.

In 1997 DMA was bought by British publisher Gremlin Interactive. After remaining on board for a few years and developing a sequel to Grand Theft Auto, Jones decided to leave the company when it was acquired again, this time by US publisher Take-Two.

"It was the right thing to do to have [the studio] become part of Take Two," Jones told Gamasutra. "I did not want to carry on working on the one franchise, but the mood within the company was good, as it is a great series to work on.

"I wanted to get back to creating something new and the team at DMA was more than capable of looking after the franchise," he added. "I loved Vice City; I thought that was the pinnacle of the series. San Andreas disappointed as it is pretty dark and lost the tongue-in cheek ethos the game had up to that point. It was also repetitive in terms of its missions."

In 2002 Jones founded Realtime Worlds, where he created the open-world Xbox exclusive Crackdown and later the ill-fated crime MMO All Points Bulletin.

Mike Dailly

Dailly is listed as the first employee of DMA Design and is credited for much of the inspiration behind Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto in his role as game designer.

He is also responsible for developing original GTA prototype Race 'N' Chase's "overhead perspective engine", which turned out to be one of the title's most iconic features.

Mike now works for Yoyo Games, which maintains the game creation software GameMaker.



Space Station: Silicon Valley

Space Station Silicon Valley was released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, and later ported to PlayStation under the title Evo's Space Adventures.

The bizarre-looking platform game involves an "advanced amusement park" aimlessly floating in space. Though lost forever, the station ends up reappearing in the year 3000 on a collision course with Earth.

Players controls Evo, a robot reduced to a crawling microchip after crash landing on the station, and to survive they must enter the bodies of animals and use their unique abilities to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

Silicon Valley was largely acclaimed for its innovative level design and intuitive mechanics, and it still carries an 83 rating on Metacritic.

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