Things have certainly changed since the days of playing Super Nintendo, especially for two graduates of UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Tim Tryzbiak and Scott Pellico.
The pair founded ootii, an interactive entertainment company in Orlando started as part of UCF’s Business Incubation Program.
The business incubation program is a university-driven community partnership providing developing companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become successful enterprises.
Tryzbiak and Pellico started ootii while earning their master’s degrees at UCF. The company focuses creating action-based social games.
Tryzbiak said that traditional gamers are beginning to play on social platforms, such as Facebook, more frequently. And though most of the games are casual, there is a growing need for story-driven, action games.
This, the blending of casual and hard-core gaming, is ootii’s niche market.
“We believe that the social medium is kept to the casual gamer,” Pellico said. “We want to create a game that captures the sense of casual gaming with hard-core gaming and strategy.”
Hard-core games typically incorporate strategy and adventure with action, and they generally demand large quantities of time. These games cost around $60.
Casual games, typically found on social platforms, do not involve heavy doses of strategy and incorporate social media. They are free to play and often have content available to purchase.
The pair’s first game, “Relic Ball,” is a physics-based game (like “Angry Birds”) merged with strategy and adventure (like most hard-core games).
This is the formula they hope will be a successful merger of the sense of casual gaming on a social platform and the strategy largely incorporated into hard-core games.
“A game that we can play and our moms can play,” Pellico said.
A six-month project, “Relic Ball” will be launched in a couple weeks for open play.
At that point, anyone can go on Facebook and play the game, and Tryzbiak and Pellico are hoping to measure the response from users and improve the content.
“We love feedback,” Tryzbiak said. “The goal is to share and be open with the community.”
The team has a blog that tracks the development of the game (blog.ootii.com) and will announce the launch of the alpha version, which will be playable to anyone.
Though the ootii team is made up of traditional gamers, playing mostly on consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation, it realizes that a budding company does not have the resources to build a game for those platforms.
Instead, it turned to the Facebook platform, which allows for more accessibility and flexibility for developers.
Tryzbiak said the social platform allows “two guys with a sort of unique idea and a little bit of support from UCF” to build, publish and promote their content.
It also is a growing industry, estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars in 2012, according to reports from Inside Network and Social Game Observer.
Additionally, many social platform games get more plays in a day than many console games get in a lifetime, Tryzbiak said.
Tryzbiak is the programmer while Pellico is the graphics artist. They started ootii as a capstone project while at UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.
In addition to being students, they worked on the company part time until graduating in December, after which they have been working full time for a little more than two months.
The pair went from playing games on Super Nintendo to designing them for the billion-dollar industry that gaming has become.
“Needless to say, this a pretty exciting time,” Tryzbiak said.