While enjoying Tempura Beer Haddock at Thomson’s Grill at the Hyatt the other day, I chatted with Bruno Steppuhn, President and CEO of Zensoft Studios. Mmmm… Tempura Beer.
Over the past few years, Bruno and Zensoft have developed soft modeling, 3D rendering and multi-player algorithms through various projects.
Ultimately, though, he wanted to create video games. Multi-player video games.
He had the tools and algorithms. But, where to find the developers? That’s where the CrowdedGames acqusition comes in. CrowdedGames is a crowdsourcing games development community. Instead of cramming dozens of games developers into a bricks and mortar room, the website allows developers and artists from around the world to collaborate on games development seamlessly. Considering the Calgary high-tech staffing issues, this is an inventive solution.
The effect is mind-boggingly efficient. (or, as my buddy Bob E. Hayes coined, “Mind-Googling”). Here’s something Bruno wrote me in an email:
“The Pond Hockey project originated back in June of 2007. Development was slow and things weren’t running as smoothly. When Zensoft took over, I spent 2 months setting up our makeshift site we use today (dev.crowdedgames.com), re-gathered the team and we started production January 4th. The crowdsource team started their tasks on the 10th and we already have the game framework, multiplayer functionality, one environment and 3 characters being modeled. There is quite a bit yet to do but we have blown through 20% of the development cycle for this demo in less than two weeks time at a part time commitment from our developers. Everything that we have accomplished now has all new code and all new assets. So from what I can see so far this is a pretty amazing opportunity for low cost professional xbox live arcade game production. It helps as well that Microsoft and others provide cost effective resources like XNA”
The 13 person team hails from Calgary, Vancouver, U.S. and as far away as Sweden. They are targeting the end of February.
Bruno’s vision is to create seasoned teams of project managers, art directors, and technology architects to lead projects that are contributed to by junior developers, some of whom are simply looking for experience before they get to a big studio like E.A. Games or Microsoft. Or, perhaps, Zensoft becomes a big studio, too. Bioware/Pandemic Studios is Alberta’s latest gaming success story (selling for ~$860M to E.A. Sports), so there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be more.
The secret spice in Bruno’s mix is his Saas project management system: dev.crowdedgames.com. Not only is it a crowdsource development community, it includes a project management system to help the teams work together seamlessly in their virtual offices. If you are a game developer, artist or can contribute to game development in any way, you should absolutely check it out.
The sky’s the limit. Bruno hopes to expand the number of titles they’re working on, in addition to doing work for the studio’s as well as helping to manage independent developer’s on studio’s behalf. Another element to his business is to expand Zensoftstudios offerings for consulting for medical and dental 3D simulation/imagery as he sees an opportunity in vertical markets.
Remember Zensoft’s name. You’re going to see it again.