Core PC game passion drives Ex-EA Tiburon devs' new studio

A couple of EA Tiburon staffers have left the company to start their own studio. But they're not following other game dev startups into the social and mobile spaces -- these guys are chasing the core PC gamer.
Following the example of upstart game developer Row Sham Bow, a couple other EA Tiburon staffers have left the company to start their own studio. However, this particular duo isn't interested in following other fledgling game dev studios that are creating social or mobile games for emerging markets. PixelFoundry is keeping its roots firmly in the high-end PC gaming space. "I think it's important to follow your passion," explains co-founder Jerry Phaneuf to Gamasutra. "Our interests lie in pushing the envelope of innovation in gameplay, and in visuals." "We feel that our style and tendencies are most in line with core gamers, rather than casual game consumers. We love the idea of connecting people and we do plan to offer ways to use social applications to access game info and keep people involved. In a general sense our approach is to use Facebook and browsers as portals rather than game platforms." Phaneuf, former technical art director at Tiburon, is joined by Volga Aksoy, previously lead software engineer at EA Tiburon. The pair say that they are getting by as a two-man company, although that might change in the future. "Currently it is just the two of us and our skill sets complement each other quite nicely," notes Aksoy. "In terms of end to end game production, I can’t say that we have all the bases covered entirely, though we both enjoy stretching ourselves and learning." He continues, "There are many factors that determine the size of a game team but scope, funding, and timeframe are some of the major ones. Changes in any one of these criteria can affect any or all of the others. So it would be naive of me to say we will stay this small through the entire production, but we are currently scoping for our immediate situation." What, then, made the two want to leave their big-time roles at EA Tiburon and enter the independent scene? Aksoy says that he was not particularly bothered "the monotony of working on iterative sports titles" at EA, but rather he had been at the company for a good long while, and was now after something a bit different. "When it dawned on me that I might have to leave Tiburon to work on my own project, I had already been there for almost nine years," he notes. "I've had the opportunity to work on quite a number of different titles as well as some prototype projects that never saw the light of day. I began to feel like it was time to put the experience I’ve gained over the years to the test." He added, "Most importantly I decided to leave EA Tiburon because I wanted to make games of the type that I personally have an affinity for. So I figured it was time to stop complaining and start doing something about it."
PixelFoundry's first game is called BlackSpace, a space-based real-time strategy game which will focus on economic and defensive efficiency against a deep space backdrop. The game is due to be released sometime this year. How exactly do Aksoy and Phaneuf plan to make BlackSpace stand out from the crowd? Says Phaneuf, you'll be right in the thick of things, not simply sitting back and watching over your troops, but right in the fray doing the work and giving orders. "Blackspace is not a traditional RTS but it most conveniently fits in that category when trying to classify it," he explains. "It does have some of the traditional elements of RTS such as base building and resource gathering. This, however, is not a click to command game. You will be right in there, doing the work as well as giving orders. The game is meant to be a delicate balance between skill and strategy." He adds that the game's end goal is different to most strategy games, in that you're looking to make as much money as possible, rather than taking down enemies for victory. "Though your opposition may be militant, and self defense will be necessary, your long term victory depends on your ability to economize and maintain the profitability of your operations. There will be battles but you will likely be thinking less about fueling the war and more about the cost of the bullets," he adds. Phaneuf says that with BlackSpace, the pair is looking to bring something new to the table in terms of RTS play. "You can't help but emulate games that resonate with you to some degree, but we are also striving to make something unique, something that adds to the genre instead of replicating it," he says.

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