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Local gaming studio kickstarting ‘Starfighter Inc.’

  • A concept piece from the video game Starfighter Inc. designed by Impeller Studios, a gaming studio based out of Savannah, GA (Contributed Photo/Savannah Morning News)

“Mankind’s final frontier is dominated by ruthless corporate interests and the powerful mercenary forces that they employ. In space, this is the one reality: those who can, take. Those who have, protect. Violence is inevitable, and for ambitious pilots with flexible ethics there are always opportunities to cash in.”

Such is the premise of Starfighter, Inc., a new multiplayer space warfare game from Impeller Studios, a Savannah-based startup led by project director and SCAD professor Jack Mamais.

The studio recently re-launched a Kickstarter campaign for the new game, hitting 25-percent funding in the first hours. Impeller’s first attempt to fund the game attracted 5,389 backers, but only reached 90-percent of goal, so no funds came from it.

“Last time we pitched the vision of our concept, but this time we can actually show it,” said Starfighter’s lead designer David Wessman, whose credits include the X-Wing series of Star Wars Space Combat Simulators™, Blood Wake™, and Saints Row™.

The game debuted last month in Boston at PAX East, one of the two largest gaming events in North America.

“The response from space sim fans and core gamers at PAX East was amazing. We’ve been able to create a multiplayer combat experience in space that is both realistic and fun,” Wessman said.

Mamais, designer of the critically acclaimed Crysis™ and director behind the popular MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries™ title, is an industry heavyweight whose local ties should help attract gaming developers to Savannah, said Trip Tollison, President and CEO of Savannah Economic Development Authority.

“Jack Mamais is an accomplished game developer who built his reputation working for big firms in L.A., Berlin and Chicago before coming home to join SCAD as a professor and develop games,” Tollison said.

“SEDA played a role in in making the connections necessary to bring this Windsor Forest and UGA grad back to Savannah years ago, knowing he would continue to pursue his passion for making games and hoping his professional network and experience combined with the world–class game development talent at SCAD would help build an industry here.”

Mamais has high hopes for Starfighter Inc., attributing the game’s promise to a hard-working team — including producer Tara Garrigan — and the power of Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, a professional suite of integrated tools and technologies for game developers.

“It certainly doesn’t hurt that we also have the support of some industry heavyweights such as Alienware, Logitech. Nvidia, Oculus, Thrustmaster, and Valve,” he added.

Wessmann agreed.

“Every time we demo our game, we gain new fans and true believers. This is the sort of project that people get really passionate about — even folks who had no previous interest in space combat simulation games,” he said.

With a dozen days to go in its current Kickstarter campaign, Starfighter has nearly 1,800 backers, who have pledged nearly $83,000 toward its goal of $150,000.

A Kickstarter Live stream featuring the game is scheduled for April 13 at the Chromatic Dragon.

“With Impeller Studios and Starfighter, Jack is doing exactly what we thought he would,” Tollison said.

“Now we hope people interested in growing a high-wage, high-tech, creative industry here will help him.”

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