Two Madison County engineers leave jobs to make video game, close to funding their dream

HARVEST, Ala. (WHNT) – The Harvest-based part of the team behind Elysian Shadows works out of a room in the back of Lead Software Architect Falco Girgis’s house, with their hearts on their sleeves, their plans on the walls.

In their minds, video games have marked the eras of their lives, right from the beginning.

Lead Gameplay Engineer Tyler Rogers remembers, “Well, I met Falco, I believe in the fifth grade, and he was one of the only other people I knew that had a Dreamcast at the time. And we’ve been friends ever since.”

Now though, they’re coworkers, drawn in by a dream they have in common – that one day a cartridge or case will carry their voices.

Girgis explains, “I’ve always been gifted at programming and math and things like that, but for me, my favorite part about game development is I can use my technical expertise to do something that’s very creative.”

On the wall, you see a bookcase full of games, but behind it, in a darkened closet, you find a bookcase full of code books.

Girgis taught himself at the age of fourteen. His dream of making games rests on a lifetime of learning.

Eventually the engineers, two of a seven man team, realized their time wasn’t sacrifice enough.

Girgis tells us, “I quit my job at ADTRAN about like a month or two ago, I believe.”

Rogers adds, “I quit my job mid-June like about a week or two after Falco did.”

Imagine giving up everything just to add one more jewel to an already full wall of game cases.  Imagine how you would feel if you left your job to chase a dream.

Now here’s how Rogers feels about it, “I haven’t actually been stressed. I’ve been happy the whole time, which is crazy, because I used to work twelve, fourteen hour days, and I was stressed. But doing it here, it’s not so much when it’s your passion.”

They built a YouTube channel about their pursuit, and they put their dreams on the altar of the internet.

Girgis sums it up, “Kickstarter is an emotional rollercoaster, man.”

They’ve already got over $100,000 pledged, out of their $150,000 goal.

But with Kickstarter, there’s a catch.

“Unless we hit the goal of 150k, we don’t get a penny of it,” explains Girgis.

So now it all comes down to this.

“Everything is on the line for us,” sums up Girgis.

As for the game they’re creating, Elysian Shadows fills a void, bridging a gap between retro and cutting edge.

The experience they’ve created reflects a moment in the video game industry, where developers who came of age on the first games have a chance to pay homage and to show off what they’ve learned.

Girgis says, “We’re kind of trying to fuse old and new here.”

The same story their game carries through.

“The premise of Elysian Shadows,” summarizes Girgis, “Is that it’s a world caught in conflict between magic and technology.”

In this world, the religious keep the faith, and they find magic as their reward. But others challenge the old wisdom with new technology.

“We wanted to have a storyline that could be emotionally relevant to other people, relevant in real life,” explains Girgis, “So it’s actually based loosely upon biological advances and some of the dilemmas in modern society in stem cell research, cloning, the human genome sequence, because there’s a group of people, especially religious people, who believe that we’re meddling with things we don’t need to be meddling with.”

In the same way, these developers pull from the history of games themselves, drawn to the old ways, the known truths,  but still unable to resist the temptations of a new era.

You can find their Kickstarter here. It ends with August.

 

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