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  • Going The Distance: Moving From School To Indie Development

    - staff
  • [After graduating from DigiPen, a trio of developers chose to go indie and create a successor to their hit student project -- here is their story.]

    Back in 2011, an 11-person team from the DigiPen Institute of Technology launched Nitronic Rush, a high-speed racing title that was lauded for its inventive arcade mechanics and striking visual style.

    The game was nominated for numerous awards, and even earned an honorable mention at last year's prestigious Independent Games Festival. Since its release, however, many members of the renowned Team Nitronic have graduated school and have thus moved on from this unique racing title.

    While many of the developers have gone on to secure jobs at existing game studios, three of them chose to remain on their own and keep Nitronic Rush's vision alive with a brand new spiritual successor known as Distance.

    The game takes the core ideas behind Nitronic Rush, and adds new elements such as multiplayer, a level editor, updated aesthetics, and more. The team recently turned to Kickstarter to fund the upcoming game, and we recently spoke with Refract's Jordan Hemenway to learn more about the ambitious project.

    In the following interview, Hemenway offers plenty of details on Distance, while also noting why his team went independent after graduation, what it's been like to transition away from school, and much more.

    To start off, what have you all been up to since finishing Nitronic Rush?

    After releasing it last Fall, we finished up our degrees at DigiPen Institute of Technology and continued to release major updates to the game every couple of months. Soon after graduating we set up our own company called Refract Studios and started development on a new game. Originally we were planning on doing a much simpler experimental project like some games we've done in the past (i.e. Solace, The Fourth Wall, Solstice). In the end though we decided that there was so much we didn't get to do with Nitronic Rush, and it's a great opportunity to continue innovating in arcade racing. We've been developing a prototype for a spiritual successor to Nitronic Rush called Distance, and we've already re-developed all of the original car's mechanics, several early multiplayer modes, and a brand new level editor.

    Why go indie? Why not accept AAA job offers like other members of Team Nitronic?

    In short, we're really passionate about creative control over our projects since we love to continually experiment and try crazy ideas. Starting our own studio gives us the ability to not only create something we're excited about everyday, but we can also bring others into a collaborative atmosphere designed with our core values in mind.


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