Arconyx Founder and Director Kenny Roy On Games as Therapy

Arconyx Founder and Director Kenny Roy On Games as Therapy
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Whether it's beautiful art styles, endearing characters, enthralling story lines, exhilarating game play or a mixture of all of these factors, video games can whisk us away to different worlds and put us in situations we would never usually find ourselves.

But for Kenny Roy, founder of animation and game development studio Arconyx, the aim is to achieve all that and so much more in his upcoming game 'I, Hope'.

Inspired by games like The Legend of Zelda franchise and Shadow of the Colossus and designed to give those fighting for their life's in hospital the tools needed to help overcome their struggles, I, Hope is a game with incredible purpose: To help plant the seeds of hope in those who need it most.

"The goal is to reinforce the strength we have within." Kenny explained. "I want players walking away from the experience empowered and emboldened in their life's adventure."

Set for release sometime this year, 100% of the proceeds of the game will go towards will go to GameChangerCharity.org, an non-profit organization that provides much needed support to children and families with life threatening illnesses.

I had a chance to ask Kenny some questions about the inspiration behind I, Hope and whether he had any tips for those looking to start a game development studio of their own.

 

How did you break into the CG industry and what tips do you have for artists looking to do the same?

For me animation was an early passion; I was creating stop motion animations with a HI-8 video camera in junior high, and moved on to 3D when I was in high school. It was early days for CG animation so a lot of the things that I wanted to learn I had to teach myself. I entered some animated shorts in festivals and gained some awards that led me to decide animation was the career for me. Still, it took a few internships, doing the grunt work, a few years of odd freelance animation jobs building my reel before I was recruited by Rhythm and Hues in 2003.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to create the things that I do, so I think gratitude is the foundation for inspiration." 

What inspired you to make a game like I, Hope?

 
Games have provided some of my cherished and vivid memories. Growing up with two brothers, I spent countless hours with my brothers on adventures into fantasy worlds. I know the escape that video games can provide. So when I entered game development in 2014, I immediately began to think of what kind of game I could make that would make the biggest impact for the people that need it the most. "I, Hope" came from the realization that there are kids right now fighting for their lives that need a message of hope.
 

What films and games helped form your style and inspired you to make games the way you do?

 
Ocarina of Time was a very influential game in my youth. It would honestly be a dream come true for "I, Hope" to be compared to Zelda when it releases, as I always felt that the Zelda series provided the deepest stories with the most engaging game play of any adventure game. Shadow of the Colossus was the first game I played in which I felt there was a cinematic quality and bosses that are epic and scary. In "I, Hope", the goal is to make the bosses have the same large scale and the same rewarding feeling when the player prevails.
 

What do you hope those who play I, Hope get out off their experience with the game?

 
The lessons in "I, Hope" are geared mainly towards patients in hospitals, but they apply to anyone going through any difficulty in life. Our hero, Hope, needs to travel to different Islands to get the weapons she needs to defeat Cancer. Those weapons are Knowledge, Strength, Courage, Support, and Hope. And though you may not be battling cancer, to overcome large obstacles we need those weapons to prevail.
I, Hope" came from the realization that there are kids right now fighting for their lives that need a message of hope."
The goal is to reinforce the strength we have within, and I want players walking away from the experience empowered and emboldened in their life's adventure.
 

What has it been like building your own studio and what tips do you have for anyone looking to do the same?

 
Many studios spring up from a single project. If you find yourself being approached for freelance animation, and you feel you have a knack for organization, finances, and are willing to learn the other tasks in a CG pipeline, then start to approach your freelance animation clients with a plan for executing the entirety of an upcoming project. Once you get that first big project, spend at least a 1/4 of your time looking for the next one, always!
 
I_Hope_Blog.jpg
 

What are the main difficulties of running your own studio?

 
The biggest difficulty for all companies is staying open. In CG, it means having clients and projects.  Typically the work itself is the easy part; there's so many talented people out there who want to work that staffing is not too difficult. Making sure that all your best clients are sending everything they can your way is important.
Once you get that first big project, spend at least a 1/4 of your time looking for the next one, always!"

What are the benefits of studios using advertising tools like Twitch? What can viewers expect to see and learn from your streams?

 
Streaming development of the game was a decision early on. I want people to feel like they have a part in the creation of this game, and the stream allows me to get instant feedback from players. I like to look at animation at any time, so I encourage any animator that wants some quick feedback to hop into the channel at twitch.tv/arconyx and post a link to your shot. The community on Twitch has been supportive of my efforts and I think that live development is the way to go!
 
Kenny-Roy.png
 

What inspired you, and what continues to inspire you, to create the amazing things you do?

 
Well that's pretty flattering. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to create the things that I do, so I think gratitude is the foundation for inspiration. You don't have to have much in order to write a poem, or make a drawing, so being grateful for the opportunity to do that will keep you positive, forward-looking, and inspired. Don't think about all the things you don't have, because you'll find yourself stuck and dwelling on unimportant things.
 
 
I, Hope" is being developed using the Unity game engine, and has received enormous support from Microsoft Xbox, as well as Razer Electronics, and Steam. When complete, the game will be distributed by, and all proceeds will go to GameChanger Charity. Please visit these links to learn more about these companies and their products.
 
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