'When you find something you love, make it your job.' It's an idealistic mantra that's often compromised on due to real life practicalities, but a group of young students have been working all hours of the day trying to do just that: turn their passion into their profession by creating their first ever video game. Their total budget? $0.
The game is called Red Awakening and is a first-person shooter set in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, complete with a stunningly distinctive cell-shaded art style inspired by XIII. The students have been working on the project since April, during any free time they find.
I spoke to the community manager at Domino Effect, Ivan Boyanov, about the challenges associated with creating a complex video game for free, and how they've balanced their day jobs with their creative ambitions.
Without an office of any kind, the developers had to improvise. "We used to sit in Starbucks once a week to talk about the game, what to include and how to start it," Boyanov told me. "Then weeks later we started meeting twice a week in the university library. Everyone brought their laptop to work on different parts of the first map."
This year, Domino Effect was invited by Epic Games - the makers of the incredibly successful Gears of War franchise - to show off Red Awakening at the Develop games conference. Boyanov remembers the stressful run up to the presentation:
They emailed us just 5 days before the event and we had to prepare the game to have working multiplayer etc. We spent day and night working hard to make the game properly work.
It was a huge turning point for the young students and marked the beginning of the game's public exposure. But the journey hasn't been an easy one, especially with no funding for the project.
Making a $0 budget game is a very difficult task. We love working on the game, it is our passion. We all want to work full time on this game but because we don’t have investment we can only contribute with our spare time and skills. We all have bills to pay at the end of the day and we all have ‘day jobs’ to support ourselves.
From the looks of the game, Domino Effect has done an exceptional job designing and developing Red Awakening from scratch, without a penny of funding. It goes to show that if you're passionate enough about something, you can make it work.
Red Awakening is due for release in October 2015. Here's some early footage from a work in progress build of the game:
For further updates on the game's development, you can check out their website here.