Discover TechWeek Chicago IGDA Game Lounge

Heather Decker and Jared Steffes

Despite the fact that over fifty video game companies are located in and around Chicago, Illinois, few people are aware of its growing games industry. To raise awareness about Chicago development and connect developers with the tech industry at large, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) hosted the IGDA Game Lounge at Chicago TechWeek.

I am Ross Przybylski, founder of D20Studios, LLC and creator of the cross-platform multiplayer strategy game Hero Mages. This weekend I had the pleasure of showcasing my game as well as meeting many talented game developers right here in Chicago. Chicago isn’t known for its game development community, but with this much amazing talent in the area, it should be! Join me in this 13-part video series as I explore the Game Lounge, meet Chicago game developers and discuss their games and how Chicago is making a huge impact on the industry.

Part 1: Hero Mages

As it so happens, my booth was placed right next to IGDA’s main information table, so, what better place to start the tour! In this video, I show off my cross-platform multiplayer game running on desktop and iPad using Adobe Flash.

Part 2: Walkthrough

This video is a quick walkthrough to show-off the setup and layout of the IGDA Chicago Game Lounge at TechWeek.

Part 3: Toy Studio – Games

Toy Studio is a Chicago based company that develops and publishes social and mobile games. In this interview, Ryan Olsen, community manager, shares with us about three of their game titles, Word Off, Space Off, and The Curse.

Word Off is an original word game with cross-platform asynchronous multiplayer where players compete to control territory by spelling words from letters laid out across the board. Space Off is a unique take on the classic board game Battleship, but instead of military sea vessels, players command space vessels of human and alien races. The players’ armadas can be customized and the ships can even move and use unique abilities to gain tactical advantage. Like Toy Studios other games, Space Off supports asynchronous multiplayer across web browser and mobile devices like Android and iOS. The Curse is a single-player puzzle game that pits the wits of the player against an evil genius antagonist. Players must solve puzzles of increasing difficulty to outwit their nemesis and succeed in their quest.

For more information about Toy Studio’s games, visit: http://www.toystudio.com

Part 4: Toy Studio – Development

Toy Studio is a Chicago based company that develops and publishes social and mobile games. In this interview, Kee-Won Hong, game developer, talks about the technology they use to create cross-platform multiplayer games that are capable of running on the web, iOS, and Android including HTML5 and PhoneGap. Toy Studio creates an in-house cross-platform development platform called Cake that’s available open-source for other developers to use in their HTML5 games. Additionally, they also create Icing, a deployment system that enables asynchronous turn-based cross-platform multiplayer support.

For more information on Toy Studio’s development technology, check out their Tech page here: http://www.toystudio.com/tech/

Part 5: Iron Galaxy

Kurt Tillmann is the Lead Designer at Iron Galaxy, a Chicago based game studio. In this interview, he shares with Ross Przybylski, Manager of D20Studios, about Iron Galaxy’s latest game: Wreckateer.

Wreckateer is an innovative physics-based destruction game for Kinect that will be featured on Xbox Live Summer Arcade 2012. Players assume the role of the Wreckateer who launches projectiles from catapults and other medieval weapons to bring down goblin infested castles. The game is a unique blend of Crush the Castle and Angry Birds set in a 3D fantasy world with an added twist: players can control the projectile as it approaches the target by “flying” with their arms spread out or “batting” the projectile with their hands to guide it to vulnerable areas for maximum destruction.

For more information about Wreckateer, visit: http://irongalaxystudios.com/

Part 6: Sinister Design

In this interview, Ross Przybylski, founder of D20Studios, sits down with Craig Stern, founder of Sinister Design and creator of popular indie title Telepath RPG to discuss his current project, Telepath Tactics.
Telepath Tactics is a multiplayer turn-based tactics game set in the world of Telepath RPG. The game supports up to six simultaneous players, armies consisting of 22 different classes, multiple play modes including Last Man Standing and Capture the Flag, diverse terrain features and the ability to use units to modify the landscape to gain tactical advantages.

Telepath Tactics is created using Adobe Flash, which allows the game to run with fluid response and performance on desktop and mobile devices.

For more information on Telepath Tactics, visit: http://sinisterdesign.net/?page_id=1402

Part 7: Chicago Shipyard Games

Chicago Shipyard Games is a small group of professors and students from DePaul University in Chicago, and Trident College in Nagoya, Japan.

In this interview, Professor Joseph Linhoff shares about their first game, Proppa, a cross-platform PC and mobile game that was started at the 2012 IGDA Global Game Jam. Most of the art and visual design is done in Japan while the design and programming is done in Chicago. It’s this merge of Japanese and American art, technology and culture that makes Proppa unique.

For more information about Proppa, visit www.chicagoshipyardgames.com

Part 8: Young Horses

Playing as an octopus dressed in a tuxedo break-dancing on a dance floor is something that every gamer needs to experience. In this interview, Ross Przybylski of D20Studios speaks with Philip Tibitoski, President of Young Horses, a company founded by students at DePaul University while creating Octodad, winner of the 2011 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase.

Octodad is a third person adventure game that puts players in control of an unusual father-figure: a humanoid octopus! Players use their mouse to control Octodad’s tentacles to control simple household chores and take care of his human family. Learning how to control an octopus is both enjoyable and hilarious as you interact with the 3D physics environment.

For more information on Octodad, visit: http://www.octodadgame.com

Part 9: Cardboard Computer

Jake Elliot of Cardboard Computer is another amazing indie developer I met at the IGDA Chicago Game Lounge at tech week. In this interview, Jake shares about his latest creation, Kentucky Route Zero, an adventure game about a secret highway in Kentucky and the mysterious folks who travel it. It was interesting to learn that the game was inspired by a real-life road-trip. The game has a classic adventure style with a deep narrative and well delivered visuals that immerse the player within the world.

For more information about Cardboard Computer and their games, visit: http://cardboardcomputer.com/

Part 10: Heather Decker-Davis, IGDA

Heather Decker-Davis is a technical artist, game developer, and the Secretary of Chicago IGDA. In this video, she shares insights about the Chicago game development scene and discusses some of the many benefits the IGDA provides game developers.

For more information on IGDA Chicago, visit their website here:
http://igdachicago.com

Also, join the community discussion on IGDA Chicago’s Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/igdachicago/

Part 11: Scott Nichols

Scott Nichols is a video game journalist and freelance writer currently working on an article about the rise of the Chicago game industry. In this video interview, Scott shares some of his insights on game development in Chicago.

Part 12: Jay Margalus, Lunar Giant

Jay Margalus is the chair of IGDA Chicago and founding member of Lunar Giant, an independent game and media developer located in Batavia, Illinois and creator of successful indie titles Delve Deeper and Mega Ran.

In this video, Jay shares about game development in the Chicago area and talks a little about Lunar Giant and their upcoming titles. Jay and Jared Steffes (a man of many talents and successful ventures in games and business) were the main organizers of the TechWeek IGDA Game Lounge- an effort to raise awareness about Chicago game development.

According to Jay, Chicago’s development community is just as diverse as those on the west and east coast, we just don’t take enough time to show off our work and make our voice heard.  With leaders like Jay and the other outstanding members of IGDA, we can surely expect to discover more about the Midwest’s game development talent and the awesome work they’re doing!

To learn more about IGDA Chicago, visit: http://igdachicago.com
To learn more about Lunar Giant, visit: http://www.lunargiantstudios.com/

Part 13: Robomodo

Brian Fuller, developer for Robomodo talks about their latest game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skaker HD. The game is one of just 5 games selected for the Xbox Live Summer Arcade 2012 out of hundreds of submissions. With Iron Galaxy’s Wreckateer also on that roster, that makes two games from Chicago studios to hit the home page of millions of Xbox consoles this summer!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is easy to pick up and play, but exceptionally challenging to master. I had a blast attempting to skate like a bad-ass while my poor avatar succumbed to numerous injuries crashing into things and wiping out on the pavement. Veteran players will be excited by the numerous unlocks you can earn as you progress through the game.

For more information about Robomodo and their games, visit: http://robomodo.com/

Check out the other developers at IGDA Game Lounge!

The IGDA Game Lounge was so popular event that it spanned over the course of four days with different studios represented on different days. I had the pleasure of interviewing developers on Friday and Saturday, but for all the awesome talent I missed, here’s the complete list of studios who participated:

  • Cardboard Computer – Kentucky Route Zero
  • D20Studios, LLC – Hero Mages
  • Day 1 Studios – Reign of Thunder
  • Gimbal Lock Studios – Go Gimbal Go
  • Iron Galaxy – Wreckateer
  • Jellyvision Games – You Don’t Know Jack!
  • Lunar Giant – Delve Deeper 2, Mega Ran
  • Ragtag Studio – Puppy Panic, Unstoppable Fist
  • Raw Thrills – Big Buck Hunter, Terminator Salvation
  • Robomodo – Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD
  • Sinister Design – Telepath Tactics
  • The Men Who Wear Many Hats – Organ Trail
  • Toy Studio – WordOff, SpaceOff, The Curse
  • Young Horses – Octodad
  • Chicago Shipyard Games  – Proppa

About Ross Przybylski

Ross Przybylski is a game designer, Flash developer, and technical consultant. He is the founder of D20Studios, LLC and the creator of Hero Mages, a cross-platform, multiplayer strategy game. He is also the Director of Flash Development for Reflection Software, an innovative eLearning services provider company. You can learn more about Ross on his website and follow him on Twitter @RossD20Studios.
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