But unlike the classic novel from which the founders chose their name, they’re likely to land their whale.
And their “whale” is a fantasy sword fighting game for IOS, Mac and PC platforms that they spent the last year creating called God of Blades.
In the game, players go on quests in an apocalyptic world and encounter sword fights as they defend their kingdom from all kinds of onslaughts. Throughout the game, players can earn better swords and other rewards. They also get special swords for visiting libraries in real life.
The creators say they took their inspiration from “pulp novel covers, classic Dungeons and Dragons modules, and 1970s rock.”
The game should be out next month. It’s in beta testing right now, said George Royer, co-founder and lead game designer.
“We don’t want to put it out before we’re totally happy with it,” Royer said. “It’s got a lot of stuff in it.”
Jason Rosenstock, creative director, and Jo Lammert, studio director, are the other founders. The three met at the University of Texas campus. Rosenstock was just finishing up work on BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. Lammert and Royer met at UT’s School of Information. Lammert earned her master’s degree from the school in 2011 and Royer is a doctoral student focused on digital media, archives, online communities and interaction design.
I recently met up with Lammert and Royer at Austin Java on Barton Springs Road to talk about their startup adventures as an independent game studio.
The game draws from all kinds of resources in Austin’s creative community. For example, White Whale hired a local composer to create a soundtrack for the game.
“Pretty much all of our resources for the game have been local,” Lammert said. “The valuable, wonderful brilliant people in this town have helped us every step of the way.”
To get the company started, Lammert attended every single mixer, meetup and event that could even remotely be valuable for the company.
“Through that we’ve gotten to meet a lot of awesome people here,” Lammert said. People have volunteered their time and expertise to help the new company, she said.
“This is one of the best towns in the country for independent game development,” Royer said.
In particular, Juegos Rancheros, a monthly meeting of independent game developers and fans created by Adam Saltsman, Brandon Boyer and Wiley Wiggins has been one of the best resources, Royer said.
White Whale Games is completely bootstrapped, Lammert said. They raised $4,851 from 112 backers during a successful Kickstarter campaign last year. They run a very lean operation. They work out of a rented garage space in Hyde Park. Altogether, they’ve spent $12,000. Lammert says they joke that they built the game and company for what a modest family sedan would cost.
The game, when it’s released should cost about $2.99 and be available for download from Apple’s App Store. They hope to recoup their expenses and earn enough money to launch their next game. The tough life of running a startup company has all been worth it, Lammert said.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said.