An Indie Game Studio's Beginning (Told Sometime Later)
Everyone knows that the best tech startups begin in some sort of dungeon disguised as a cubicle or garage. And though we haven’t quite reached that mantle of “the best” (unless the category is taste in movies), our story does have a dungeon! Ours was poorly lit, though colorfully decorated, had a basement with no windows, and was filled with scary, terrifying, and horror-inducing … Sunday school kids.
Seth and Jay taught the kids often on Sunday mornings and, in between lessons, crafts, and snacks, the two would talk about the design of aircraft, the particulars of history, and most pertinent, the possibilities of video games.
Jay had worked in software engineering all his life, designing some rather secretive apps for Boeing's fighter planes during his time there. Of course, no examples can be given to the exact nature of these projects, as even I have failed to ascertain the secrets which Jay hides for this country. Seth on the other hand, besides being a professional amateur face painter for 30 years, was a best friend of whatever the current American zeitgeist happened to be; One of those guys that knew everyone and could sell them exactly what they wanted. Together, they would make an ideal team to start Seismic Squirrel.
As George Lucas teaches us, the “real beginning” is only filmed after the original beginning experiences commercial success. Although Jay and Seth only started talking about video games together 5 years ago, the story of the groundwork for their passion started much, much earlier.
Back in 1980-something, when humanity was still living in caves and Al Gore first descended from the Apple in the sky to grant Bill Gates the first computer (not sure about this part, information from before the internet is quite “lo”), a young Jay had finally saved enough to buy his own Commodore 64. Mr. Husby, Jay’s 5th grade teacher, resembling a more kindly George Clooney, had granted Jay a love for programming and a dream to make video games someday. From there, Jay started small with type-in programs from monthly computer magazines for his Commodore, but it wasn't long before he cannibalized the code to make his own games. from scratch.
Seth’s prequel is somewhat different, starting his first gaming experience with his neighbor's Atari 2600, playing those classics now immortalized in nostalgia. But otherwise, he didn’t think much about video games until he started teaching in Seattle with Hellen Bower who used the games to connect with students with special needs and autism. Watching the transformative ability of video games, especially in education, motivated him to search for opportunities to continually bring that vision to life.
And now, many years later, all the hopes and dreams of a future spent making video games is a reality.
We first bought our building in October of 2018, and since then we’ve hired a team, made mistakes and grew, explored a million ideas ranging from WW1 Flubber soldiers to Killer Tomatoes, axed those ideas, found new and better ones, and now we are on track to finish our first game!
COVID definitely threw a wrench in our plans, but we’ve adapted and evolved to the challenges. Each and every one of us desire to create and bring something fun and beautiful into this world, and nothing will stop us.
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