It’s game on for Vesuvius Media in Nova Scotia
Thursday, October 30, 2014
For independent Greek game developers Konstantinos Manos and Stefani Angelopoulos of Vesuvius Media, moving to Halifax from Athens was a big decision, but one they are confident will help their burgeoning business grow and prosper. When the husband and wife team visited Nova Scotia in the summer of 2014, they were thrilled to discover a vibrant community of gaming studios and knowledgeable industry leaders.
“When we visited Nova Scotia, we weren’t even thinking about moving but NSBI basically took us by the hand and showed us that there is a whole world here, a great community of people making games,” says Angelopoulos. “That’s what we’re really looking forward to becoming a part of and we can’t wait to learn more.”
On the heels of resounding success with their first game, Universe Online (a space-themed adventure with about 140,000 players), Manos and Angelopoulos have just released their second game, Nocturion. Angelopoulos acts as the communications manager for Vesuvius Media while Manos is lead game designer and software developer.
Nocturion is a complex, multi-player online strategy game that allows players to become heroes and create intricate empires in a medieval world. Developed by a small group in Athens that launched Universe Online, the new game is free with players having the option to purchase upgrades if they want to advance faster. Both Manos and Angelopoulos agree that a key factor in expanding their business will be exploring the potential for local partnerships.
“We’ve realized that the nature of our business is intellectual property because we create our own games,” says Manos. “We bring the IP such as the graphics, stories and the material but we are interested in partnering with professionals in Nova Scotia who can bring the know-how.”
Angelopoulos is originally from Halifax and has family and friends here which has made the transition easier for the enterprising couple. Despite Greece’s struggling economy, they have already set the stage for a successful business. Universe Online boasts an active, loyal community of players and Manos and Angelopoulos expect the new game to quickly gain a following. With Nocturion now available online, the Vesuvius Media team will start focusing on the marketing phase and plan to use multiple platforms for promoting the game including social media and advertising.
Manos and Angelopoulos plan to join the Nova Scotia Game Developers Association and begin setting up meetings with potential local partners as soon as possible. The couple agree they are completely open to all possibilities including expanding to target the mobile and tablet market. They are in the early stages of developing a board game for Universe Online and are also interested in the possibility of creating books inspired by their games. Designs are already in the works for a third game called Atlantean World, an adventure game all taking place in a world under the sea. According to Manos, it takes about four to six months to create a new game and it’s the details and complexities of these games that make them so unique and engaging.
“For us, we don’t just change the graphics with a new game,” he comments. “We need to create the story, the illustrations, video animations - an entire whole world with characters, politics and battles. So, all these things need inspiration. We have extreme amounts of text produced which is then taken by our graphic designers to create images, icons and an entire world. We are also very hands-on with our players. They know us and we communicate with them and guide them through the games step by step.”
Nova Scotia has a rich history of attracting innovative new business leaders to the province and the gaming industry is full of success stories. Halifax continues to be a sought-out place for game development and ranks number one for cost competitiveness in video game production out of all mature markets around the world. Nova Scotia remains a competitive location for the industry through the use of incentives such as the Digital Media Tax Credit. NSBI also administers export programs which help local developers enter and pursue growth in markets around the world.
Additionally, the province boasts cutting-edge programs in video game development at both Acadia and Dalhousie universities. Nova Scotia also has more graduates in engineering, applied science, mathematics and physical sciences per capita than any other Canadian province. There are a variety of successful gaming studios in Nova Scotia including Longtail Studios, Frontier Developments,Silverback Games, REDspace, and Media Spark. For Manos and Angelopoulos, these factors helped shape their decision to move forward and not look back.
“We spent two days meeting with local gaming industry professionals here in the summer,” says Angelopoulos. “After our last meeting, on the evening of our flight back to Greece, we made up our minds to move. The very next week we bought one way tickets to Halifax and packed up our house in less than a month and here we are now, ready to do business.”
Learn more about the digital media sector in Nova Scotia.