The magical resurrection of an ancient tyrant and two mystical realms bridged by a worm-hole doesn’t sound like something the average insurance worker might imagine, but Ryan Mauldin is practically a game developer by birthright.
Mauldin’s project, Resurrection: The Tyrant King, is equal parts unique and supernatural.
The storyline begins with an ongoing battle between the war-torn realms of “The Watchers,” mystical creatures with intense magical powers, and “The Crux,” a mighty and destructive land of dragons.
The Watchers dart in and out of wormholes seeking a powerful challenger for The Crux to no avail—until one day, they finally stumble across the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on present-day Earth. After resurrecting the dinosaur and granting it intelligence and the ability to use magic, the T-Rex is charged with the task of fighting The Crux and saving all realms from destruction.
It was a fairly new idea for Mauldin, who graduated from Lee University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, but it certainly wasn’t the first time he’d experimented with programming.
“I’ve been a software developer since I was about 14, making websites starting out,” Mauldin said. “And I just got really good at it.”
Mauldin had moved several times in search of a job before finding work at an insurance company in Jacksonville with his best friend, Micah Osborne. Six years ago, the two of them toyed with the idea of making a game together, but didn’t have the money or time to put into a project.
“It got really overwhelming,” Mauldin said. “We were spending 90 to 100 hours a week working with not enough help. So we just decided to take a break.”
But Mauldin fell in love with the process again and decided to try to develop a game of his own. The idea to create a game with a dinosaur as the protagonist came to him after he realized that few titles of the genre existed.
“I’ve never played a dinosaur game that I’ve just fallen in love with, there’s not many out there –and there’s a lot of kids out there that would probably want to play dinosaur games and there’s not a whole lot to choose from,” he said. “It’s a unique selling point and I just have a really good time doing it.”
Despite coming from a non-traditional background, the self-taught game developer is no stranger to the practice.
“I’ve been playing games pretty much my whole life,” he said, citing Ninja Gaiden, Contra and Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls as heavy influences. “It’s always good to create something that people won’t get bored of and just want to put down.”
Although Mauldin has gotten a lot done since the game’s inception in December, development hasn’t been without problems. Newer technologies, such as the Unity 3D game engine, have helped him make strides he wouldn’t have been able to six years ago, but working alone and with materials that aren’t always of superior quality has presented a major time block.
“I need stuff that already looks good and works good … the time I spend tweaking each graphic pixel-by-pixel could be used for doing code and animation,” he said. “That’s the biggest issue I’m having right now.”
Troubles aside, Mauldin’s development and programming strengths give him an edge. Those who’ve worked with him seem to agree.
“Ryan is a brilliant guy with a lot of heart,” said Osborne. “He knows what he’s doing and is always ready to listen and learn when he needs to.”
Like most Creators, he has his sights set on the ultimate prize, but hopes to walk away from One Spark with more than just money. At this year’s festival, Mauldin is seeking to connect with teammates, customers, testers and mentors to officially start his project.
“I don’t have to get the money,” he said. “But [I’d like] more exposure to the community and to people that may want to help that have experience. And I believe One Spark can help with that.”
This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.