RIT program supporting indie game developers
Two independent developers are bringing their video game ideas to life with help from an incubator program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s MAGIC Center.
David Kilmer published his puzzle game “Tengam” for the Nintendo Switch console in November. In January, Dennis McCorry will publish “Shot in the Dark,” a 2D point-and-click shooter game for PC that will be available on Itch.io and Steam.
Kilmer and McCorry were the first participants in MAGIC’s Community Incubator program. They received funding, mentorship and publishing support to finish their game ideas and push them to market.
“Support for indie game developers is crucial, as there isn’t much support to begin with,” MAGIC Hub coordinator Rob Mostyn said. “What we aim to provide with this program is assistance in ‘lightening the load’ of making an indie game. A small amount of funding, access to peers and industry professionals, and hardware and software resources can really relieve a lot of the pressure of creating a game.”
Kilmer and McCorry learned about the program through ROC Game Dev, an organization for local game developers. They split $15,000 in funding to finish developing their already existing game ideas and prototypes. The creators had access to space and resources in RIT’s MAGIC Center, including mentors that helped develop strategies for launch.
For Kilmer, director of technology at Measures for Justice, creating games always was a hobby. The incubator allowed him to hire an artist and get his newest game onto the Nintendo Switch console.
“Games is one of those things that allows me to pool together a whole bunch of my interests in storytelling, interaction, music and play,” Kilmer said. “It’s a medium where almost anything can be used.”
“Tengam” is modeled on the Sokoban puzzle video game genre where players must move boxes around a map and put them in the correct place. In “Tengam,” players take on the role of a little warehouse robot with broken magnets that repel and attract certain objects.
“It was immensely helpful to have the experts at MAGIC at my disposal to help with getting the game ready for testing and certification on the Nintendo Switch platform,” Kilmer said. “I hope to pass along the things I’ve learned to the next incubator participants that want to publish on the platform.”
For McCorry, the incubator program was a chance to make the jump from hobbyist to full-time game developer.
McCorry already created and published one game with basic programming. With his next game, he wanted to hire a programmer in order to make the gameplay more complex.
After joining the incubator program, McCorry was able to leave his daytime job to focus on developing his game. He hired a programmer and formed his own studio, Possum House Games.
“MAGIC’s experts provided experience in project management that helped me create a schedule, budget, establish weekly meetings and identify scope so I was organized, rather than just waking up and winging it,” McCorry said. “It was also great to work with other people, because for a lot of independent game developers it can be very isolating to create alone.”
“Shot in the Dark” is a 2D pixel platformer game where players take on the role of a bandit chasing after someone to get revenge. The game uses a black, white and red color palette that makes enemies blend into the background.
Organizers at RIT’s MAGIC Center plan to offer the program again in 2021. The MAGIC incubator is open to independent developers in western New York who are a student, staff or faculty member at RIT. Visit rit.edu/magic/programs for information.