Since Club Penguin was first released to the public in 2005 and later purchased by The Walt Disney Company in 2007, Kelowna has seen a massive expansion of jobs within the Okanagan technology community.
As more technology companies begin to move operations to the Okanagan and as Disney veterans exit to blaze new trails, the Okanagan is quickly approaching a tipping point that could transform the Okanagan into a major industry hub for technology growth in Canada.
As a local business, Hyper Hippo Productions is dedicated to making this dream a reality and their new game, Leviathans Online, is one more step in that direction. They have just launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter in an attempt to raise the $300,000 necessary to develop the game. I had a chance to interview Hyper Hippos to learn more about what this project could mean for the Okanagan.
BP: If your Kickstarter funding campaign is successful for Leviathans Online, how will it benefit the Okanagan?
HH: Depending on which fundraising goal ($300K – initial goal, $500K/$700K – stretch goals) we are able to reach in the 45 days, we know that this project will create a small-sized studio locally in Lemonade Labs just to build the game. After the game is released, it will provide opportunities for a range of people from various technical backgrounds to maintain the game, support its community and launch updates. It also allows Hyper Hippo and Lemonade Labs to take on new projects, that in turn can grow the community even more. It’s a domino effect that could really help put Kelowna on the map and grow awareness in the global tech community as a viable place to develop your tech career.
BP: Do you have a backup plan if you don't reach your $300,000 Kickstarter goal?
HH: There is always a backup plan, but we hope that there are enough people that have a vested interest in this product to help us reach our goal. There is a community out there that loves this IP, or loves games of this nature in general, or even those that just want to see the local economy grow and thrive. We hope this combination will result in success.
BP: I understand it can be a challenge for Canadian companies to use Kickstarter for crowd funding. Any tips for other Canadian startups who are looking to use Kickstarter?
HH: The creator of this property is an American company called Catalyst Game Labs. Having a partner in the United States to help with your product or at least the crowd funding aspect of your product is key. There will be many things learned throughout the lifespan of this project and our studios would be happy if other local entrepreneurs wanted to reach out for tips. This whole project is about creating a supportive network here in Kelowna. Let’s not compete, let’s work together to reset the bar.
BP: What connection do the founders have to the Okanagan?
HH: Lance Priebe, Co-founder and Chief Creative Development Officer and Pascale Audette, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hyper Hippo Productions, have both resided in Kelowna with their families for over 12 years. Leviathans Online will be the first game you can expect from their new studio, which aims to help create new studio opportunities locally. Everyone on the team wants to see the gaming infrastructure grow in Kelowna and to keep much of the work associated with it local. Kelowna is a wonderful place to live, raise a family and experience the outdoors. The majority of the team have lived here at least 10+ years so we are invested and actively involved in our communities to various degrees.
BP: Does the Okanagan have the necessary talent to build Leviathans Online, or would you be attracting talent from out of town?
HH: We are confident that the majority of the roles required to develop and maintain this game can be sourced locally.
BP: Explain Catalyst Game Labs and their affiliation with the Leviathans Online project.
HH: Catalyst Game Labs is the publisher of the perennial favourites, Battle Tech and Shadowrun game lines, as well as other tabletop games. The creator of Leviathans, Randall Bills is the Managing Developer at Catalyst, and he is working closely with us to help ensure the core essence, feel and mechanics of the Leviathans board game are translated properly into the digital version.
BP: How can the local community get involved in supporting you?
HH: Please visit the following link to help us reach our goal: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/642736004/leviathans-online-monsters-in-the-sky
About the author: Brad Parsons is the owner of Sticky Consulting, an Internet marketing & web consulting company based in Kelowna.