Something about being a philosophical backpacker stranded in a forest, completely dependent on survival skills, must have a global appeal.
This is the basic premise for video game On My Own, a newly released from Fargo game studio startup Beach Interactive, designed by UX graphic designer Kyle Weik and Myriad Mobile programmer Chad Close.
On My Own played around the world
The game is not even a month old and currently has 25,837 users from nearly every country.
Even as Weik and Close tell me about the game, they pull up the real-time analytics for the game’s activity: four people are currently playing in Brazil, Canada, Vietnam, and the USA.
“It’s kind of terrifying, this being our first game,” Weik said. “This game seems to appeal to just about everyone. There’s a download in every country in South America, every country in North America, every country in Europe, just about every country in Asia. There’s this essence that it goes beyond culture.”
On My Own: a woodland survival game
The video game On My Own, which is the first game to be released by Beach Interactive, is a 2D, randomly generated woodland survival adventure created with the Unity Software Development Kit (SDK).
Players are required to make thoughtful decisions to keep them alive, such as how to best use their energy throughout the day and what to eat in order to keep from starving.
In the world of video game On My Own, 56,343 days have passed (and counting). In those days, 239, 583 berries have been eaten, and 44,906 fires have been built. Close and Weik purposefully designed the game to revolve around the player’s own intuition, leaving some of the harder tasks for only the truly dedicated to figure out; only 801 foxes have been trapped, for instance, and – as the hardest task- only 188 blankets have been made.
Inspiration for video game On My Own from real-world experiences
Weik and Close were inspired to create the game after a game-making camp in Brookings, South Dakota last August. On the three and a half hour drive home, Close developed a prototype in the backseat of the car as the two discussed ideas for a survival game.
Both describe themselves as outdoorsy; Weik grew up in Alaska and Close as a farm-boy. The game is heavily influenced by their own adventures. During the making of the game, for example, Weik went on a trip to Colorado and came back to announce – “we need to add snowshoes to this game.”
“We draw from real-world experiences,” Close said.
The game is also inspired in part by books like Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, and transcendentalist philosophy like that of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. (A German website’s review of the game even went so far as to call the game, Thoreau’s Vermächtnis or, “Thoreau’s Legacy.”)
On My Own well received around globe
Video game On My Own was released as a Beach Interactive game with free downloads available for iOS, Android, and Web on January 3.
Twelve days after its release, the game had 7,500 downloads spanning across the entire globe.
Close, who has developed other indie games and released them on iTunes in the past, said he was expecting the average amount of 20-30 users a day. When he checked the real-time analytics the day after release and saw that 34 people were already playing On My Own, he said “it was the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen.”
“You look at it and see, there’s people playing my game right now,” he said. “In the world, I’m affecting people’s lives in some way. They are playing something we’ve created.”
“And having fun,” added Weik. “To me, that’s the freakin’ win.”
Players do seem to be enjoying the game, with the average time spent on the game at a solid 10 minutes, and encouraging feedback pouring in from around the world. Some are likening it to other similar-but-not-the-same games like Minecraft, old Zelda pixel games, or that elementary school legend, Oregon Trail (although as of now, you cannot die from dysentery in On My Own.)
“The feedback we’re getting is that this is the start of something good,” Close said. “We just started the foundation, but we want to add so much more.”
Next steps and new additions for On My Own
And that next step is already under way. The two are now creating a winter woodland biome to add as an installation in the near future (prototype pictured below). Talk of a lake and the ability to create a fishing pole and go fishing are also a possibility.
In order to continue bettering the game, the team is looking to purchase some new tools like Unity Pro. They also hope to get a musician to create original music for the game (although right now you can enjoy the sounds of soothing acoustic guitar, courtesy of a public domain YouTube library.)
To fund these purchases, they have plans to hold a small crowdfunding source in the near future. Update 2/18/2015: On My Own crowdfunding campaign is active here.
The entire team at Beach Interactive – which includes co-founders Weik and Sarah English, as well as artist and educator McCal Joy Johnson – is pumped by the attention drawn to the Fargo game-maker community. With CJ Schnase’s Nintendo Wii U game in the works, and Beach Interactive’s other long-term project The Abettor’s Letters slotted to be released in the next few months, things are alive and well for the Fargo video game design industry.
“People think this is only on the coasts,” said Close. “But this is Fargo. And we’re making games.”
Watch the trailer for video game On My Own, here!
More on Beach Interactive, here!
Screenshots courtesy of Beach Interactive. Photos courtesy of Marisa Jackels.