Although internationally known for the likes of Ludacris, Scarlett O’Hara, and a brown beverage of the fizzy variety, in recent years, Atlanta has made a name for itself in the gaming world. Gamers and developers are taking notice of the Georgia Game Developers Association and companies like Hi-Rez Studios and Tripwire Interactive. We’ve recently covered Chris Rickwood and Joe Cassavaugh and now, James Simpson (Cellbloc Studios) has entered the scene with his new game, SnarfQuest Tales (based on the work of Dungeons and Dragons’ illustrator, Larry Elmore). Currently running a Kickstarter campaign, Simpson is looking to make his game the best it can be and we recently chatted with the latest Atlanta developer to get the scoop.
Spending his teenage years in Florida, “I was going stir crazy in the Sunshine State and followed my passions for computers and coding to Atlanta, where I attended school and earned degrees in Computer Information Systems and Game Art & Design,” recalls Simpson. “I had plenty of offers from electronic companies across America, but I chose to stay in Atlanta as I felt a sense of community among the kindred spirits of the city’s tech society. I have built a local reputation as a master of the Unity 3D game engine and prefer working with clients based in the greater Atlanta area, allowing me to give back to my adopted region daily. It’s his way of saying thanks to the city that embraced me and rescued me from my mischievous Florida youth.”
“Fantasy illustrator Larry Elmore and I have been friends for years. I talked to him on occasion about doing a SnarfQuest game based on his comic strip for Dragon Magazine in the 1980s. Since SnarfQuest was his baby, created when he was working at TSR (the company that created Dungeons and Dragons), he really didn’t want an outsider writing new content. On August 8th, 2014, Larry finally gave his permission,” he continues. “I was touched beyond words. Here, Larry was entrusting me with his SnarfQuest characters, but the only catch was that he wanted something ready to show his fans in time for DragonCon. Realizing that DragonCon was in three weeks, I had to jump on it. The alpha demo that you can download from the SnarfQuestTales.com website is what was created with three people in three weeks. It has approximately 30 min of gameplay and everything you would expect in a full-fledged game.”
Simpson has been in Atlanta since 1994 and James earned the nickname “Doctor Unity” for his mastery of the Unity 3D game engine. He’s shared his expertise as an instructor in Unity and game development at the Art Institute of Atlanta for the past five years. “Over the years, I’ve had numerous offers to leave the city to build games in California, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington. However, since I arrived, I haven’t wanted to leave. I know this is where I want to be,” he asserts. “Atlanta has grown into a tech mecca in front of my eyes, and I know that I made the right decision to stick around to see it happen and continue making a small contribution to that transformation.”
At the time of writing this article, Simpson has raised $12,121 of his$30,000 goal. If you want to see this game go live, make a donation today and if you’d like to play a demo of SnarfQuest Tales, visit the game’s website.