When Mike Daoust was growing up, he spent a lot of time playing video games.
“Too many as far as my parents were concerned!” laughed Daoust.
Now, the founder of Greencap Games is turning his childhood passion into a career.
In July, Greencap unveiled a playable demo of their new virtual reality game, Hubris.
Hubris involves one player using a VR headset to play an ancient Greek hero, while up to four friends use cellphones to play gods who try to foil the hero’s plans with monsters and other devices.
From start to finish, Daoust estimates a session can last anywhere from five to 10 minutes.
When they first conceived of it, the Greek setting was a novel one.
“We rather foolishly decided there weren’t enough games set in Greek mythology, and since then, 50 to 60 games with Greek mythology came out,” said Daoust.
That said, the game’s inclusion of multiple players with only one using a headset means Hubris us unlike many of its competitors.
“VR is usually single player and single viewer so it’s very difficult to play in social situations,” said Daoust. “I like the idea of taking virtual reality and turning it into something that’s a social experience.”
For Daoust, his work goes beyond Hubris though. He said this is just another step in spurring more local video game development.
In 2014, Daoust—who studied computer science at Laurentian University—founded the Northern Game Development Challenge (NGDC) after a national event called The Great Canadian Appathon was cancelled.
“I realized from this competition that we kind of had this critical mass of developers here in Sudbury,” said Daoust. “I wanted to help the community and industry grow here, and starting a company was the best way to do that.”
He decided to take it to that next level in 2018 by founding Greencap and beginning work on Hubris, an adaptation of a university project, to pitch at EGLX—Canada’s biggest video game convention.
While Hubris wasn’t a finalist, they had a solid enough product that they decided to keep working on it. Daoust and his team spent the last year and a half building an entire world with detailed characters, rich artwork, and engaging storytelling.
At the moment, that team involves two people working on Hubris full time, and several others who come in on a contract basis for specialized work.
“The whole goal of Greencap is to try and provide opportunities to those people,” said Daoust. “It’s frustrating for me to see all this talent graduate and leave the city for bigger opportunities elsewhere.”
“The hope here is not just to create a game, but to create an industry locally, and we needed a success story first.”
If all goes as planned, Hubris will be that success story in just a few months, and one of heroic proportions at that, literally.
At this point, Daoust describes the video game industry as having a “90-10” nature, where developers have to put in 90 per cent of the effort before they see 10 per cent of the gain. He said they’ve done the 90 per cent, and now they’re seeking investment opportunities, grants, and other financial backing.
Once they have their funding, Daoust estimates it will only be seven or eight months before the game makes it onto the market.
In the meantime, Daoust will continue developing Hubris, which he described as: “Me and the artists swearing at a keyboard for hours on end.”
Ella Jane Myers is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury. She's fueled by good grub, old sci-fi and long walks with the dog. Visit her at EllaJaneMyers.com.
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