Walking around campus, it’s easy to feel inspired by all of the creative spaces, but it’s our extraordinary students, faculty, and staff that bring those spaces alive. With so much happening, you never know who might be sitting right next to you at any given time—a future employer, or collaborator. After graduating from the Game Art program, Drake Cummings had recently made the decision to enroll in the Game Design Master’s program when a chance encounter put him on the path to a career as an independent game developer.
“I was attending a speaking event on campus,” Drake recalls. “My teachers were always stressing the importance of networking, so I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me, a stranger at the time. That guy turned out to be Micah Brown.”
Micah, also a Game Design student, was about a year ahead of Drake in his program, but they came together over a shared love of good stories in video games. Before long, Micah was telling Drake about his plans to start a gaming company with another friend and grad, Sir-Martinique Brown. In 2013, the three founded EPL Games.
“EPL stands for ethos (trust), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic), which are the three literary devices commonly used to persuade an audience. Storytelling is what brought me, Micah, and Sir together, and we wanted our company identity to reflect those values,” says Drake.
The thee immediately began planning out a sprawling, narrative-based epic reminiscent of the Final Fantasy games they loved as kids. Although they started out optimistic, the reality of what it takes to make that kind of game soon set in. “We just didn’t have the monetary resources,” says Drake.
What they did have were plenty of friends willing to donate their time and expertise. After re-evaluating their options, the company came up with Color Strike, a casual-style mobile game the company released last October. Along the way, they enlisted the help of several other members of the Full Sail gaming community to make their now scaled-back dream a reality. Game Development grad Daniel Stover worked on the development side, while recording Arts grad James Pendziszewski wrote and produced all the original music featured in the game.
Color Strike tests players reflexes by having them match a series of changing tiles to an objective color. Unlike many games of its kind, Color Strike is completely free to download and play, and it requires no in-app purchases to advance through to higher levels.
“We consider the game a portfolio piece, which is why we’re giving it away for free,” says Drake, who was able to integrate components of the development process into his Full Sail coursework.
The response to the Color Strike has been overwhelmingly positive. Now, Drake and his team are setting their sights on more complicated endeavors. The company just received its Playstation development license, and they currently have two games in the works, one that’s PC-based and another geared towards console gameplay. As Drake, Micah, and Sir move closer to their goal of crafting a game that also tells a great story, they’re able to rest easy in the knowledge that the timing is right.
“I think if you really want something, you have to be willing to pull back sometimes,” says Drake. “You have to be patient.”