Video game startup merges genres
Whether it’s a classic arcade game or more complex Minecraft, video games have always been a staple everywhere from grocery stores to living rooms.
They capture the attention of an individual through an alternate reality, lively, full of action, emotions, competitiveness and brilliance.
These are the characteristics that West Michigan-based Anthony Forman, Rebecca Roman and their team of developers from around the world decided to exploit by creating their startup, StarForged Studios, a video game company. They are developing their own video game, “Edge”, a three-dimensional game that merges two distinct genres.
“There are two very popular genres of adventure and construction games, but sometimes each of them has something missing,” said Roman, Creative Director of StarForged Studios. “In a game like Minecraft, it’s all about building. When you get into Minecraft, you just decide what things you want to do and do them, like “I’m going to build a treehouse”. But the game doesn’t tell you to build a treehouse, you just decide that’s what you feel like doing and once you’ve done that the game doesn’t tell you to do anything else. It doesn’t encourage anything more, so that’s exactly what you can find. It leaves people feeling weird and they get disconnected. There is just a lack of closure.
She said adventure games can present the same kind of problem.
“In adventure games, you can get the impression that there is only one unique experience because everyone in many adventure games is going through the exact same story. There is not much to choose from. It’s just you having the same experience as the person sitting next to you. We wanted to combine them in a meaningful way so that building has that kind of extrinsic motivation, there is a reason to build more and continue to develop your adventure. You have something creative and unique for you.
With that in mind, Roman describes Edge as a world divided into floating islands with fantastic races of people who have also gone their separate ways and are hiding from each other. They are also trying to build a city that was once the hub of the whole world, but now they are isolated. They go out to try to find people to bring back to their city – people who are traveling and who have no home. Once reunited, they gather in the center of town and come up with blueprints and decide to build buildings. In addition to building, they can create new cooking recipes, new weapons, and things that were not there before.
“It’s about as strong as we are alone, we are stronger together,” she said. “This community aspect. But the catch is that unlike any other game, we combine these two ideas that every time you build something it actually helps you and your adventure.
StarForged Studios was incorporated in 2019 while in pre-production.
“It was probably a little too early for us to be incorporated, but it started a fire under us because we could tell we had a business, we had something to stick to and it made us work harder. “Roman said.
Forman and Roman first presented their idea for Edge during the Burgess New Venture Challenge at the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“We had a very basic game prototype,” said Forman, CTO of StarForged Studios. “It captured the rudimentary element of the game, but it wasn’t the art style we wanted because art is probably the most expensive part of any game. You have to spend a lot of money on art. to make it look like a real video game. We wanted a painted landscape and it cost a lot of money to just go through different styles and different modifications. We had nothing of art. We had a model-like person walking around town with a sword that looked like a baseball bat at the time so the character could attack.
Roman said the team had to get creative.
“A lot of the stuff we got was either free online or stuff you could buy,” Roman said. “There is a resource store for the game engine that we use. It’s used by people who make games for fun or smaller studios like us, and they can buy small parts licensed to them, like an animation for a character or a tree model. It’s very useful sometimes, but it’s really a skill to put all of these things together and make a game that feels like it’s not just a set of pieces that fit together, but rather gives the impression that it was created by a team.
She said the process was laborious.
“Especially for this game, we weren’t really good at the time. It looked bad, but honestly I think it shone because we were really nervous about presenting it in real time and maybe having to play the game while we pitched our idea. But (due to the pandemic) we had to make this really well edited video where we were able to pitch our idea virtually while the game footage was playing. “
They received corporate challenge funding, and Roman and Forman then enrolled in the MSU Foundation’s 10-week Conquer Accelerator program during the pandemic, where they began to understand the intricacies of building a startup. .
Roman said that when they first entered the Conquer accelerator, they overestimated how much money they would make and underestimated how much production would cost.
“Small games can cost up to $ 500,000 to produce, then bigger games can cost a million (dollars),” she said. “Our game is probably going to cost between $ 3 million and $ 5 million, and I estimated we could do it for $ 800,000. Once we got accepted into Conquer, we had a lot of work to do. We completely re-pitched our pitch and weren’t super optimistic about things. We started to get real and we had to find a timeline for everything. Now we have a really solid budget and schedule for it. We just need to get full funding so that we can recruit new team members and not just work grant by grant. “
Roman has stated that they are in the “pre-alpha” stage of development where all of the end game’s features are not yet complete, but the art style is being built and the base system is complete, including the character’s ability to prepare. meal.
Once they receive adequate funding, she said it would take StarForged about three years to bring its product to market.