When eight video game developers published their deceptive, cartoonish shooter game, “Hit,” on Feb. 10, they made history as the first FIEA Ventures entrepreneurs to take a game to the retail market. It was also a dream come true for many on the team.
“It’s definitely something every game developer at some point in their life wonders about. ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to make a game without a publisher telling you what rules to follow,'” says Will Tuegel, the game’s lead designer. “We’re still reeling from the fact that we got to give that a try and learn from all the fun mistakes along the way.”
“Hit” originated as a capstone project for 17 students at the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), the UCF video gaming graduate school in downtown Orlando that ranks No. 2 in North America. After finishing the project, eight of the students decided to pursue publishing the game. They moved into FIEA Ventures, the new UCF entrepreneur space in downtown Orlando, and worked tirelessly for seven more months before publishing “Hit” on Steam, a popular video game platform.
“Office space was one of those things we just couldn’t afford as indie developers so FIEA Ventures was great at providing that for us,” said Will Tuegel, the game’s lead designer. “It was a smooth transition from school space to office space and without it we would not have been able to launch.”
FIEA Ventures is a state-of-the-art digital media workspace designed for encouraging start-up companies in a creative environment. The program is available exclusively to FIEA alumni and is located at UCF’s Center for Emerging Media, which is adjacent to the proposed site for the new UCF downtown campus.
The 5,000-square-foot FIEA Ventures space provides start-ups with office and meeting space, a 20-seat theater, mentorships, equipment, and access to technology and expertise. Tenants also have access to the building’s audio, motion capture and films studios, collectively called Studio 500.
The last few months has seen the team working furiously on the multiplayer aspect of the game, making sure anyone with an Internet connection can host and play. They also have been fixing as many bugs as possible and polishing the art.
For FIEA executive director Ben Noel, “Hit” is more than just a game.
“‘Hit’ is a symbol of the work ethic of our grad students and what they can do when put into a start-up environment like FIEA Ventures,” Noel says. “We hope to see more projects like this coming in the future.”
Companies and individuals are picked using a thorough application and pitch process where clients detail their concept, technology needs, potential staffing, market prospects and business plan. Once accepted, the company can stay in FIEA Ventures for up to two years.
Tuegel said he’ll always remember pushing that “publish button” with the rest of his team.
“We all gathered around to hit the publish button and immediately felt a sense of relief and accomplishment. We had put out a game we worked so hard on.”
But he quickly noted that feeling of accomplishment was short-lived.
“By the next day, we were back fixing bugs that our new players had found.” That, Tuegel says, is the essence of game development.
To download Hit, go to https://store.steampowered.com/app/336670/HIT/.
FIEA Ventures and FIEA are located in UCF’s Center For Emerging Media at 500 Bentley St., Orlando, FL 32801.