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The History of Dementium


Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove

Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove first met in 1994 as pixel artists at game developer Iguana Entertainment, a studio located in Austin, Texas known for developing titles including NBA Jam, Southpark, Batman, and Turok. Hargrove and Watsham immediately became good friends, sharing a passion for creativity, movies, music, and video games.

Fast forward twelve years to 2006, the duo was working at KingsIsle Entertainment, Watsham as Producer and Hargrove as Art Director, on a title called Wizard 101. They felt the urge to finally go solo and start their own company. A desire they first discussed 10 years prior. Renegade Kid was born!

While their peers were working on cutting edge titles on the latest “next gen” platforms of the time -  PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – our two renegades chose to pour their efforts into the Nintendo DS. A platform that was near and dear to Watsham’s heart, and one that possessed similar power to the Nintendo 64 – a platform that both gents had experience with while working at Iguana Entertainment.
It wasn’t all roses and sunshine yet, though; Gregg and Jools still needed to find a way to fund the development of their new studio and their first project. Fortunately, they scored a remote gig with a toy manufacturer. During the day, the two amigos leaned into their pixel art experience developing toys for MGA Entertainment. Products included Cube World, Miuchiz Pawz, Pixel Pets, and Pixel Chix. 
Their “day jobs” enabled them to pay their regular bills and pool their money together to hire Bob Ives as programmer, while utilizing the evening hours to work on their new game. Renegade Kid was a go! The trio immediately started prototyping ideas for a survival horror title called The Ward for Nintendo’s handheld, convinced it would either stand out like a bloody thumb on the family friendly platform, or die of atrophy.

Creating a tense atmosphere on the Nintendo DS was one of the first challenges to overcome for the new team. Harnessing an unconventional use of the “fog” effect on the Nintendo DS, by cutting through it with a clever stencil effect, a convincing flashlight effect was created that allowed players to see to the end of the corridor. Once this effect was realized on the Nintendo DS, the team knew they had something special.
Many months were spent fleshing out the gameplay content for The Ward, until it was ready to demonstrate to potential publisher partners. There was not an eShop available for the Nintendo DS at that time (DSi launched in 2009 in North America), making retail the only option for a game release on the platform. After many meetings with various publishers, the team signed with local Austin publisher, Gamecock.

Dementium NDS
Dementium NDS box

Dementium: The Ward was released for Nintendo DS on October 31, 2007 – selling over 100,000 units worldwide, quickly becoming a fan favorite and earning multiple awards from IGN and other press outlets. The team was thrilled with the response to their debut title and went on to develop a sequel as well as a remastered version of the original game in 2015 for Nintendo 3DS - eight years after the launch of the original title.
Eight more years passed, with the legend of Dementium growing stronger each day. Gamers demanded their thirst for more Dementium be quenched, and for it to be quenched in the month of horror! Dementium: The Ward answered their call and made its console debut on Nintendo Switch, offering itself for gamers to feast upon its bounty once more.

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