Blade Edge

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About Drew Sikora – Computer Game Development: Blade Edge Software

By early 2003, Drew had met fellow local developers Raison Varner, Coray Seifert and Dino Gravato through the NJ chapter. The four of them banded together via loose contractual agreement to create what became Blade Edge Software (BES), focused on 2D action, puzzle/strategy and adventure games. Drew was the programmer, Coray the designer, Raison the musician, and Dino the artists. All four contributed input on the business decisions of the group. Drew and Coray, sitting upstairs in a Wegmans food market, brainstormed their first game idea, Blitz Blox (BB). The game was originally constructed with an engine in development by Drew in C++ based on the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) called Katana, which was based off an earlier framework dubbed the Blade Edge Software Application Framework, which was built originally from a NJ chapter group project.

During the development of BB, BES was offered a few contracts for game development work. Although all were investigated, none actually amounted to any real work for the members of the team. Some additional work was spent looking for contracts, but in the end focus was returned to internal development and the completion of their first game. The team worked very well together, meeting occasionally in person but mostly collaborating online using various means of communication (IRC, IM, email, FTP, etc).

BB was halted late in 2003 so the team could participate in a retro game design challenge being hosted by the neighboring Philadelphia, PA chapter. The game design, based on a mix of Othello and an interestingly-named game called Pooplyhazard, did not wow the competition judges for its “retro” appeal, however the gameplay was found to be enjoyable, so the team decided to take the quick and dirty prototype and evolve it into a complete turn-based strategy game product. It was dubbed Galaxy Conquest (GC).

Both GC and BB continued to evolve, although the majority of the focus was on GC and BB only received design work. By late 2004 GC was running nearly feature complete under Katana with networking to test out multi-player gameplay. The integration of networking also began a relationship between BES and RakNet, developed recently at that time by Kevin Jenkins. However all projects came to a screeching halt soon after when Drew announced that he was unsatisfied with his work on the Katana engine. It was too much to develop and debug and optimize an engine at the same time he was developing, debugging and optimizing a game on top of it.

The group disbanded but still remained friends and in close contact as they moved on in their respective careers. Coray still resides in NJ and is now an associate producer at the THQ | Kaos Studios up in NYC; Raison has relocated to Texas to work as an audio engineer for Gearbox Software; Dino is also still in NJ and working in NYC as the technology director for ID Society; Drew became more actively involved with and The Game Institute, as well as the industry as a society and along with his other pursuits of video production and coaching gymnastics.

Still, in late 2005 GarageGames (GG) released the early-adopter Torque 2D engine (T2D), which satisfied all and more of the requirements Katana was originally structured around – all based off a tried-and-true commercial 3D engine. By early 2006 Drew had a playable version of GC up and running with T2D, and he has (in his spare time) continued to modify and complete game features while T2D evolved into the current generation of Torque Game Builder (TGB). BB has also received a TGB versioning, and both projects remain in ongoing development, though no end date is currently in sight as all four team members continue to focus on their current pursuits.

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