How a Carleton Grad helped to found one of the more successful independent development companies in Ottawa.
Game development is a tough business to break into, with frequent turnover post-project and down-to-the-wire high-pressure work environments it’s not an experience many people favour for long. But for Evan Hahn, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Graduating from Carleton University with a Masters in Computer Science he was hired immediately by Fuel Industries, a large development company also in the Ottawa area.
“I got hired to do more of their 3d style games,” says Hahn. “They had a department that was primarily devoted to traditional 3d games and that’s what I was hired to do.”
After working for a few years at Fuel, Hahn, and a few of his fellow colleagues were laid off, a common occurrence in the game development world. After working freelance for a few months, decided to found Snowed In Studios and they haven’t looked back since.
Working on titles such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Warhammer 40k MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Snowed In has seen a wealth of opportunity come their way.
“My favourite triple A project we’ve helped with has to be Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” says Hahn. “We worked a bit on the first release, basically bug fixes and TRCs (Technical Requirements Checklist).”
Hahn has taken the company to many trade shows throughout North America, spreading the companies reach to more than just Ottawa.
“We were at Pax East, GDC and Pax Prime,” says Hahn. “We were OIGC (Ottawa International Game Conference) and that one had to be my favourite.”
Not only have they found success in contract work they have also had a release of their own.
Windforge is a game based around the concept of exploration and world building, much like Terraria or Minecraft, but includes airships and sky whales.
Evan has kept in close contact with other independent developers here in the city to help up-and-coming developers make it in the industry. He holds talks and presentations designed to help people get jobs or to start developing their own projects by pitching to publishers.
“I’m especially involved in the indie community around town,” says Hahn. “Groups of us get together including Dirty Rectangles usually at OIGC.”
Much of the business of video games is similar to that of film. The designer, or writer, takes their idea to a publisher, similar to a production company, and secures funding by convincing this company that their idea is profitable.
Jean-Sylvain Sormany is the President of Snowed In Studios and is an active developer as well.
“It’s great working here at Snowed In,” said Sormany. “We get along great and it’s a really fun environment to work in.”
Using primarily the Unity engine in their other endeavours Snowed In actually wrote the engine for Windforge themselves, a feat not matched by many and takes a lot of devoted time and energy. Both of which Evan Hahn and Snowed In Studios are willing to put in plenty of.