A former Castlegar resident and Stanley Humphries Secondary School graduate’s video game development company launched its first title in September. The game has been so successful that he and his co-founder headed to the Canadian Video Game Awards this week, where their game was a finalist for Best Debut Game.
Dylan Gedig moved to Castlegar when he was about 11 years old and graduated from Stanley Humphries Secondary School in 2010. He ended up at the University of Victoria where he enrolled in the Computer Science program, with the intention of going into video game development.
“It’s just always been an interest of mine,” said Gedig. “I’ve always found games just absolutely fascinating. You’re not just telling a story; it’s interactive, so you have to work around that, but you can create these really in-depth interactive experiences. And then there’s also kind of the simpler route, which is what we have, where players kind of, playing amongst themselves, build their own narrative.”
In the summer of 2015, while still attending university, Gedig founded Red Nexus Games to release his own local-multiplayer game The Shipwreck League. But developing the game while still in school proved difficult, so Gedig instead teamed up with Brandon Duncan in January to help him get his game, Friday Night Bullet Arena, ready for release.
“[Duncan] created the initial prototype about two and a half years ago, but because he was also in school and working, he didn’t start seriously working on it until January,” said Gedig. “We worked on it part-time until April, when I graduated and he decided to take a break from school, and then we worked on it full-time until the end of September.”
Friday Night Bullet Arena for Windows was released on Steam, itch.io and Humble on Sept. 30. The game is also now available for Mac, and will release on the Xbox One on Jan. 13. The game is a local-multiplayer, where two to four players in the same room battle it out in one of 250 arenas.
The game’s twist is that each player only gets one bullet.
“It’s kind of a bit cartoony and you have these large missiles, and then you can only fire it once, but it will wrap around the screen forever, and you have to catch your own before you can fire it again,” explained Gedig.
The game was inspired by old-school local-multiplayer games.
“Bomber Man is definitely the biggest one…,” said Gedig, “and then just pretty much any older game where you were playing with your friends on the couch.”
In a press release issued by Red Nexus Games, Gedig and Duncan said that the company was founded “with the goal of creating exciting local-multiplayer games.” The developer’s mandate seems to be on point at a time when more and more AAA developers are moving away from local-multiplayer, favouring online-multiplayer only. To fill in the gap, many indie developers are providing local-multiplayer games, such as Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time — a two-to-four player game where players cooperate to steer and defend a spaceship, created by Toronto-based indie game studio Asteroid Base — or Rocket League, a game where up to four local players can play a car-and-rocket-fuelled soccer game.
Gedig said this trend definitely informed Red Nexus Games’ direction.
“That’s one of the big reasons we moved into the space actually, because you’ve got all these, we call them AAA developers, where you know they’ve got more than 100 employees, they’re creating multi-million dollar games, but they way they sell games is by cranking the graphics to the absolute maximum, and so getting four players on the same console, having that split-screen, you naturally have to divide the graphical fidelity by four, which they’re just not into,” said Gedig. “The Halo series was always very well-known for its local multiplayer, but in the latest iteration, they just completely removed it, which we thought was crazy, but it seemed to work for them.”
Asked whether he thinks indie developers are pushing back with local-multiplayer games, or just filling a niche, Gedig said, “It’s a little bit of both. … A lot of the developers that are making these games know that these are the kind of games that they want to play, and because these AAA games are kind of pulling out of that space, there’s a lot less competition, so it’s kind of easier to get in there and find your niche.”
So far response to Friday Night Bullet Arena has been largely positive, but Gedig said the one thing players have asked for is online multiplayer, in addition to local multiplayer.
“It was built to be local multiplayer, but we totally respect that people have friends in other places,” he said.
Gedig and Duncan are currently working on adding an online multiplayer option, and Gedig said he also looks forward to moving onto their next game. “Still not entirely sure what the next game’s going to be, but I’m excited to move onto it when we do.”
Gedig and Duncan attended the Canadian Video Game Awards on Tuesday night in Montreal, and while Friday Night Bullet Arena didn’t win for Best Debut Game, it was still one of just five finalists for the award.