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Shen Technologies SARL

Overview

Shen Technologies SARL is a short-lived French game development studio that was founded through the demo group Constellations, formed around 1989 when the graphic artist Kheang Tan met the Atari ST programmer Elysée Adé in college. Working together as a team, they were later joined by the programmers Stéphane Bensoussan and Laurent Arquetoux. They explored the technical possibilities of the Atari STE making demos and were then joined by William Ilzizine (programmer), Alexandre Habekian (music designer), Olivier Nallet (lead cover) and many more people.

They attracted the attention of the French arm of Atari and were asked to create a demo for a promotional campaign and events. Development at the group then calmed down as they pursued their careers. Elysée Adé started writing technical articles for the ST Mag magazine and eventually became the editor-in-chief. Around 1992 they started thinking about prototyping a game about athletics to see if they could find a publisher. At that time they were inspired by SEGA games such as Out Run, Super Hang-on and After Burner where 2D was used in a realistic way to simulate a 3D environment.

Through his contacts, Elysée Adé managed to obtain a devkit for the Jaguar from Virtual Xpérience. They made the contacts with Atari while the team focused on development. The game, a racing title called Super Burnout, modelled after Super Hang-on, was created mainly between February 1994 and December 1994, by Kheang Tan, Olivier Nallet, Alexandre Habekian and Elysée Adé working together in a Elysée's bedroom. The project took about twelve to fourteen months. They could only use the devkit in the weekends because Virtual Xpérience needed it for their game during the week. Programming was done during the weekends, while Kheang Tan could do graphics on his Amiga on weekdays. During development they were joined by the graphic artist Olivier Baron who helped out. After six months their project was already at a further stage than the one by VX, so they were given a devkit fulltime to complete the project. They were given carte blanche for development, and only had contact with Loïc Duval at Atari who overlooked the project. With the money they received prior to the release in 1995, Shen Technologies SARL was founded.

Work on a second game was started. Titled Stellar X and later Nexus, it was a fast-paced 2D shooter for the Jaguar modelled after Raiden. During development they were joined by programmer Julien Merceron and graphic artist Paul Tumelaire who had worked on Shaq Fu and Fade to Black for Delphine Software International. The game was completed for 70%, with most assets and levels finished, but the arrival of the Saturn and the PlayStation changed Atari's plans for the Jaguar so the project had to be cancelled.

Shen changed its focus to the PlayStation. Paul Tumelaire and Julien Merceron left to join the the Rayman team at Ubi Soft Entertainment Software. They would eventually break through in the industry and Julien even became CTO of Eidos in 2006.

Shen signed with Psygnosis to create football games for the PlayStation. Their released games are Adidas Power Soccer 2 (PSX) and Adidas Power Soccer 98 (PSX/PC). After that, they employed about fifteen people and were thinking about different projects when the financial costs became too much to manage. The studio was closed by the end of 1998 and at that point Olivier Nallet had already left.

Elysée Adé went on to work for In-Fusio for a while, Olivier Nallet moved on to Polygon Studio, then Quantic Dream and eventually became a Lead Programmer at Electronic Arts in the US. Kheang Tan went on to do art for many different games while finishing his studies in architecture.

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