Start-Up Spotlight: Gasworks Games

Start-Up Spotlight: Gasworks Games
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

October 7th 2010 at 2:00PM

Gasworks Games share their start-up story with Develop

The move from full-time staffer to self-employed developer is no easy ride. Setting the course for their own vessel, after several years working at top companies in the sector, is the recently formed Gasworks Games.

Founded in 2009, Gasworks have already produced commercial development tools and launched their very first Facebook game, Title Town Football, just last month. CEO and co-founder, Andrew Kaplan, took the time to tell us more about what goes on in their engine room.

How did you start your company?
Well that’s kind of a long story. The short answer; four original founders, Toby Gladwell, Erich VonHeeder, Scott Martin and I formed the company back in mid-2009. Shortly after, we merged our existing companies, Aristen, Inc. and Alert-5 Media, into Gasworks Games. That’s where the fun began!

How many people work at your company?
Gasworks is lean and mean, we have seven employees. We’ve got one producer/engineer (namely me), two whiz-bang engineers, Toby and Josh, two fantastic artists, Pat and Dustin and two amazing designers, Erich and Scott.

What's your company culture like?
I think our culture is best illustrated by a saying we have around here: “Best Idea Wins.” That means no one gets a free pass, and everyone has the opportunity to affect a game with a great idea. Of course, this means we all have to be ready to give the nod to a better idea, but the result is a room filled with empowered people who feel personally responsible for the quality of our product. That’s good.

Tell us a little-known fact or anecdote about your company.
Every single person in our company is a world-class hacky-sacker. Please don’t ask us to prove it because our moves are top secret. Also the moves could blow your mind and we don’t need that on our conscience.

What could you, and/or your team members, not do without on a daily basis?
Pop Tarts. Frosted. Toasted. Crazy delicious.

Why did you decide to enter the casual gaming market?
After spending the last decade making triple-A titles for Warner Bros., Sony, and Vivendi, we were not looking to spend another three years making a single game. We have a passion for sports and fantasy sports in particular, combine that with a strong commitment to making a mass-market product, our decision to build a social game was pretty easy. I mean that’s where our customers are so we committed to the casual market and forged ahead.

What games/tools/services have you made since forming, and how have they been received?
Like I mentioned earlier, Aristen, Inc. is part of Gasworks Games, and Aristen created FxStudio, a fantastic special effects editor for core game developers (it’s kind of like Adobe After Effects for making special effects). Then, as Gasworks Games, we launched a technology demo game called Baseball Blitz which was instrumental in shaping our current game: Title Town Football. Title Town was launched on Facebook September 2nd, and we’ve been blown away by how well it’s been received. Our players are beyond ravenous, they can’t seem to get enough. By all the standard measures, Title Town is a hit!

What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
Right now we are 100 per cent focused on bringing new features to Title Town Football. That said, we are spending the additional 50 per cent of our focus (we run at 150 per cent pretty much all the time) on plans to bring Title Town to other sports beyond football.

What are your aspirations for the company?
In our current “all sports all the time” frame of mind, I think everyone in the company aspires for us to create a game that addresses their personal favourite sport: basketball, F1 racing, MMA, baseball. So let’s just say this: wherever there are insanely fanatic sports fans, our aspiration is to be there for them... give them their fix.

Who do you admire in the games industry and/or beyond?
Like most people who are in the midst of the start-up process, I admire anyone who has ever been there and done that. This is an industry that can be dominated by big players, and I love pulling for the underdog (which, at the moment, is quite convenient).

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your company?
We’re pleased that Gasworks Games’ titles continue to attract a growing fan base. We encourage players to visit www.gasworksgames.com/titletown to keep up with our latest news and the new features added to Title Town Football.

Visit Gasworks Games at www.gasworksgames.com