Game Design Master’s Grad Darren Hill: Achieving Two Dreams at Once

Darren Hill has always had two passions: law enforcement and indie game developing. And while those may seem like complete opposites, he’s been able to simultaneously achieve success in both career fields.

After getting his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Darren enrolled in Full Sail’s Game Design Master’s program. He graduated in 2009 and moved to California with the goal of getting a job with Blizzard Entertainment. During that time, Darren also teamed up with an artist and started working on an indie game project known now as Flight Rising.

“I ended up working as a Project Manager at an electronics company, but it really became apparent to me that law enforcement was still a huge passion in my life,” says Darren. “So I decided to move back to Florida and be in an area in which I care about making a difference, and I can still make video games on the side. It was the best of the worlds.”

He started working for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, but Flight Rising stayed in the forefront, and Darren and his business partner (together they form the studio Stormlight Workshop) launched the game in June 2013 after years of developing and programming. The game – which Darren describes as “a pet-breeding Sim with dragons” – involves breeding dragons, taking care of them, and fighting against other players in the online coliseum.

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“We did a little bit of advertising through Kickstarter, but had already spent so much [money] on developing,” says Darren, who believes developing indie games is all about taking risks. “We got players from all over, and they came together and formed a really good community.”

Darren was recently involved in an on-duty accident that has sidelined him for the past few months (you can read more about that in this great Polygon profile of Darren), but as soon as he’s been given clearance, he’ll be back to work for the Sheriff’s Office in the Economic Crimes Unit, where he’ll be investigating financial crimes. He continues to regularly update Flight Rising and in the future hopes to create additional games as well.

“It was always my dream to make video games, and when I went to Full Sail, it was so I could make that dream a reality,” says Darren. “But when I decided to come back to Florida [to work for the Sheriff’s Office], I thought, why don’t I do both of them? I can work in law enforcement full time and in indie game development part time. Now I’ve got both worlds and I love it.”