Undergrads Develop and Commercially Release Game

A new commercial PC game came out two days ago from a brand new game development and publishing company. The game is called CellZenith and the company is called Faramix Enterprises. What make this a unique story is not actually the game (full disclosure: we've not played the game, so we cannot comment intelligently about it), but the story behind the game's making and the genesis of the company...

Credit: Faramix Enterprises
Three young men in their twenties, from three different states, enrolled in the online bachelor's degree program for Game and Simulation Programming (GSP) with DeVry University. Their mutual interest in games development quickly clicked with each other and they not only decided to form their own games development and publishing company, but they also started developing the company's first game title. This is not a make-it-big-and-quit-college-to-pursue-your-entrepreneurial-dreams type story, however. They actively pursued their entrepreneurial dreams while still taking classes and earning their degrees--all the while doing this from their respective locations in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. They officially formed their company in 2007 and spent a year or so developing the title to get it ready for distribution. Not only did they develop it, but they also published it as well. The game, CellZenith, is currently available for download from Direct2Drive and GamersGate for $14.99. The three students, Michael Dehen, Nathan Follmer, and Eric Totten, are still enrolled in the GSP program, pursuing their degrees.

The CellZenith game is DX9-based arcade-like, "action-shooter" game that the developers compare to Geometry Wars. They claim the game has the following features:

  • 35 different CELs (ships)
  • 30 Campaign levels
  • 4 Addicting Minigames
  • 14 Instant Action maps
  • 15 powerups
  • 19 secondary weapons
  • 5 Adjustable difficulties (Easy - Expert)
  • 6 intense boss battles
  • Control friendly CEL’s to gain a tactical advantage
  • Destructible environments
  • Interactive environment
  • Dynamic Weather
  • Ability to upgrade main CEL

One of the founding student members, Michael Dehen of Los Angeles, is Faramix's President and CEO. His LinkedIn page (requires LinkedIn membership to see the full profile) indicates that the company has at least three more titles in development: Vindication is being developed for the PC, Xbox360, and PS3, and it is currently in "early pre-production"; END will also be for the PC, Xbox360, and PS3, uses the Unreal 3 Engine, has completed "pre-production," and "will begin production when a publisher and funding is secured"; and the last project is merely listed as "Secret" with no pertinent details. Our best guess is that the "Secret" title is already well into development and is covered by an NDA as a result of a distribution deal that is already in place.

One sign that these guys are serious is that they've hired the services of a CPA to act as a virtual CFO, and that Faramix is actively seeking to hire animators, concept artists, modelers, programmers, and texture artists to work on its END title. Keep an eye on these guys, they might be onto something--of course we say this with the caveat that we haven't actually played any of their games yet--but we're thoroughly impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit.
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