20-Year-Old Drawings Inspire the Award-Winning MilitAnt

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When Steven Johnson, the cofounder and tech director of Xibalba Studios, was a fifth grader in Minnesota, he had an idea for a game. The idea was one part World War II shooter, one part lesson in entomology thanks to the main characters: soldier ants. Johnson hung onto his initial sketches through college and as he moved to Mexico where he and Ricardo Villarreal founded Xibalba Studios.

The team’s first game was Icebreakers, a game that requires users to battle on ice, which went on to win recognition in the 2010 Intel® Level Up game developer contest. But Johnson still had that idea for soldier ants. When Villarreal attended the Game Developer Conference Online in Austin, TX, last year, he saw there was a new Intel Level Up game developer contest.

“I came back to the office and wrote the deadline for Level Up on our office whiteboard so we’d all be forced to keep it in mind.” The Xibalba team wanted to enter, but needed a game that would stand out among the tough competition. Johnson offered his fifth grade drawings as inspiration.

“We knew the concept was original and had the possibility for great game play and graphics, so we got to work,” said Villarreal.

When the team started coding, they wanted to take advantage of the advanced gaming capabilities of the Ultrabook™, like touch and the Intel® HD Graphics card. “Shooter games had been a challenge for laptops because using a mouse can be cumbersome. The Ultrabook is perfect for a shooter game, because you don’t need a mouse. It’s also so powerful -- we can push more 3-D graphics,” said Villarreal.

Developing for the new device presented a steep learning curve. The team was under a deadline so they turned to the experts at Intel. “Our account manager has been essential. Whenever we got stuck in the development, we reached out to him and he provided contact with Intel engineers, and tools that would help us take advantage of everything the Ultrabook has to offer.”

“The games we make are like our babies,” said Villarreal. “There’s nothing like seeing someone playing your games and loving it. We work so hard on our games for so long, it’s very rewarding when people enjoy them.”

Villarreal was at the Intel® Developer Forum 2012 to network with the folks they work with at Intel and to interact with other Intel Software Partners and developers. “Of course we learn so much in the instructional sessions, but meeting people is the best part of being here,” he said. 

Xibalba Studios is an Intel Software Partner in the Intel Developer Zone. The Intel Developer Zone is the premier software development and business resource to create and sell amazing software across today’s prominent platforms and technologies powered by Intel® architecture.  Visit the Xibalba Studios website to learn more about its games and download MilitAnt from the Intel® AppUp center.

Join the Intel Developer Zone and become an Intel Software Partner  today.

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