Local game developer launches debut title

HINSDALE, N.H. — Software developer DV8Games has released its debut title, After Rain: Phoenix Rise, on STEAM, a digital distribution platform that serves over 125 million users. The game, which took two years to create, is available for Windows 7/8/10 personal computer systems.

"Reaction to the game's release this past week in terms of media coverage, community interest, and player feedback far exceeded my expectations as an indie developer," said David Aquino, the game's creator. "It's nice to see interest in the game grow, and it will be interesting to see how it progresses."

After Rain is a "2D action-platformer," a genre that includes such games as Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, and Castlevania. It pays tribute to these and other classic titles of the era, capturing the nostalgic fun of old-school gaming, with a modern appeal. Aquino said, "Retro, is big now. There is always a hard core group of gamers who are into the genre."

Defend the future

After Rain is set in the dark future, where the strong strive to see another day, and the weak are consumed by the Horde. The air is unbreathable, clean water is scarce, and necrobots feast on the flesh of the living. It is up to the game's hero, Gideon Cole, to "Defend the Future," as commanded by his father, Ezra.

The game takes place in the Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic area of the world ruled by brutal warlords, murderous marauders, and killer cyborgs. Fast-paced gameplay, thought-provoking storyline, and a soundtrack featuring music by Hollywood Composer Stephen Lu, make After Rain a truly engaging experience from beginning to end.

Players progress through three different zones: Badlands, the Valley of Nod, and Big Iron, and there are 27 challenging levels. "These games are not easy, and this title sticks with that concept," said Aquino. "More experienced players can take advantage of the game's responsive controls, while more casual players will probably fail a lot, but still have a fun time."

When asked about how he came about developing the game, Aquino said, "It took years to kind of figure out how to do it — to formulate a plan. There is a misconception that people are not into story lines in video games — but they are. The story seems more important than ever."

Aquino did all of the programming, animations, story writing and sound effects for the game himself. During the development phase, he said, "I was so involved in creating this new game that I didn't play or pick up a controller for almost two years." He did have some help though, and hired four people to test game play, months before it was released.

The rise of artificial intelligence

In the game, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) called the Master Program has genetically engineered the planet's life forms in an attempt to control the natural world. But it's not an "us against them" story, Aquino explained. The rise of AI and the dilemma between technology and the environment is evident in the game. How we use technology to our advantage and how we don't use it in a way that is detrimental to our environment is paramount.

Aquino said the game-making process has changed over time. Just a decade ago, developers were often forced to spend up to $1 million dollars for a game engine license, but now there are alternatives, including the Unreal, Unity and GameMaker engines.

Aquino said it would be great to see more software development locally. "There's not much of a software industry in the area, but there are a lot of creative people who live here," he said. "It would be great to someday see a full-fledged game company here. I've met a few local developers who are getting into the process, and it would be nice to see all of us working together to make some great games."

It all started in the arcade

Aquino, founder of DV8Games grew up in Brattleboro and moved to Hinsdale when he was 12 years old. He is a graduate of Hinsdale High School. He remembers skipping school "back in the day" with friends to go to the local arcade High Score, which was then on Elliot Street.

His interest in gaming peaked while taking a course at CCV called "Micro Computer Applications" where he learned more about graphics and design. When not writing story lines for the sequel or writing downloadable content, he works at a local food distributor as a creative associate, and helps run their company web site, digital marketing, and promotions. He is also freelance web developer and enjoys hiking the local trails with his wife Kristine and their pit bull named Buddy.

A STEAM user review of After Rain reads, "What I love about this game is that you are left to your own devices to figure out ways to beat each level. There's no tutorial (you can find the controls in the menu), and you're given no strategies or hints for completing each level. That is what makes this game truly retro, and it's something that I miss from 90 percent of new video games."

After Rain: Phoenix Rise can be purchased on STEAM for $7. A spring 2018 sale is in the works, and the title will soon be available on other digital distribution platforms and online stores. More information about After Rain: Phoenix Rise can be found at dv8gamesstudio.com


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