St. Louis Developer Creates Video Game You Draw and Play

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Is the ability to create your own video game worth $100,000? Robin Rath is betting that you'll think so.

Rath, a St. Louis web designer and serial entrepreneur, is the mad scientist behind Pixel Press, a mobile app that lets you draw, play and share your own video game. Through his software company Roundthird, Rath launched the Pixel Press idea on Kickstarter May 7, and the project has already nabbed more than $15,000 of the $100,000 goal with a little over a month to go.

"We launched the Pixel Press Kickstarter on Tuesday, and after two days, the response has been pretty incredible - over 700 backers," Rath says. "And we've seen so many positive comments from fans saying how excited they are to help us make this happen."

So what the hell is this thing and how does it work? Let's just say that all those days you spent mapping out Super Mario Bros levels as a youngster won't go to waste.

Pixel Press marries modern technology with hand-drawn fun and old-school Nintendo nostalgia. Users print Rath's specially designed Pixel Press sketch kit onto any white paper and draw their own terrain. Moving platforms? Check. Dark pits? Yep. Jumping fireballs? Yes, and ouch.

After drawing five levels of hell, users photograph their masterpiece and upload their game draft through the Pixel Press app for iPhone or iPad (Android apps will be considered after the IOS launch). The app does some voodoo tech magic, and after a few tests and design tweaks, you've got a playable game worthy of a brave hero.

Continue for a video of how Pixel Press works and more.

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That's not where Pixel Press ends, though. Users also can share their games and play others within the Pixel Press community. That means you can design a game full of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and bet your pesky little brother that he'll never make it through. Additionally, users who claim no artistic talent simply can play games that others create.

"That's where I think it gets really cool; everything you create goes into the community," Rath says. "Now you've got a game that you don't even have to build levels in yourself, but you've got thousands of levels to play."

Rath says Pixel Press is customizable, with a variety of skins, colors and design elements available. Advanced users can further customize games by uploading their own unique elements, including music. Rath even has considered partnering with brands for special content and levels.

The app initially may appeal to artists and nostalgic gamers, but Rath envisions a much wider -- and much shorter -- audience. He sees Pixel Press in classrooms, sparking students' imaginations, advancing hand/eye coordination and developing community.

"We've been especially thrilled by the number of teachers from all of the world reaching out to us, and in many cases sharing details and photos of their students already diving into the level design process," Rath says.

This isn't Rath's first foray into app work. His IOS ball-paddle game Radial 50 launched in 2009 and was a featured pick in the iPhone App Store.

Rath is optimistic about Pixel Press' chances for funding and appreciates that his idea could help enhance St. Louis as a bright spot for development.

"Locally, the St. Louis community has been pretty amazing," Rath says. "We've received a lot of emails from people sharing in the excitement of something from St. Louis receiving national attention -- and we're excited too."

To contribute to Pixel Press or learn more, visit the Kickstarter project page or watch the video below.

Pixel Press: Draw Your Own Video Game from Robin Rath on Vimeo.

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