A local gaming company racking up awards is working to help more play

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A local gaming company racking up awards is working to help more play

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Jay Kidd, a Butler Tech School of the Arts grad, is the Founder of Wraith Games, an 11-year-old startup which has had office space at Hamilton Mill for the last two years. Wraith Games is releasing the game Collapsus by the end of this year. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Hamilton-based Wraith Games, which is developing several electronic games, also is breaking ground in the area of making such pastimes more accessible to people with several types of handicaps.

The company, which is working out of the city’s Hamilton Mill business accelerator program in the former Hamilton municipal building, continues to tweak and significantly add to what it expects will be its first major success — a game called Collapsus.

“We are trying our darndest to get it out by the end of the year,” said the company’s founder and creative director, Jay Kidd. Wraith earlier hoped to release Collapsus in time for last Christmas, but instead focused on improvements and additions to the game.

The game can be played for free at www.wraithgames.com.

Collapsus is a puzzle game in which players win points by destroying blocks to connect four of the same kind in a row. Unlike most games of the kind, when the player turns the phone or Fire Tablet 90 degrees in either direction, or 180 degrees, the gravity of the game changes 90 or 180 degrees. Also unique: Eight players can compete simultaneously.

It’s taken longer than hoped to release Collapsus because the Wraith team has put together a heftier group of features than another, more famous, puzzle game — Tetris — which has a main game-play mode, plus many other features.

“Keep in mind, for the developers of Tetris, each new iteration of Tetris takes about 3-5 years to actually get on the shelves,” Kidd said. “With Collapsus, we have the three standard difficulties, which go on infinitely, two unlockable harder difficulties, and all of those are playable in timed or untimed, with (90-degree) rotation or non-rotation. There’s also 25 challenge modes, which add new mechanics into the game.

“In addition to our 25 challenge modes, there’s also 25 plus modes, which are similar to challenge modes, but they have new content on top of that. And all of those are available in all the five difficulties I mentioned. There’s also a puzzle creation and sharing tool, so that you can make your own individual single-screen puzzles, and share them online with friends. And about 240 built-in, single-screen puzzles in a puzzle mode.

Plus there are other features, including a daily puzzle that goes to your device, he said: “Think if it as being like five Tetris games, all rolled into one package…. When you consider the people working on Tetris have a team of about a hundred people, it’s a lot of work.”

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At the same time, the company is working on several other games, is attending regional gaming events to increase its profile and remodeling its studio space, so, “Not all of our time gets to go into Collapsus, like we’d like it to.”

Wraith, he acknowledged, is working harder to improve its games rather than hurrying to make money from them.

That’s because, he says, “At the end of the day, we know a good product sells. Oftentimes in the video-game market, you’ll have people who will just make a quick game and throw ads on it … We want to make something quality that people want to put their money into.”

Antony Seppi of the Hamilton Mill has been impressed with Wraith: “Every time I turn around, it seems that they are adding new members to their team, and driving their company forward. We’re proud of what they’re doing. They’re committed to Hamilton, and Hamilton Mill, and building their company here.”

Wraith is a ground-breaker when it comes to providing game options for the handicapped.

“We’re actually working with the guidelines for the National Society for the Blind as well, so one of the big things is only about 10 percent of the legally blind people are actually fully blind,” Kidd said. “So in addition to having it where you can select what kind of color-blindness you have, we also are working on a mode that actually allows people who are in that 90 percent to be able to see things as well.”

Wraith also uses typefaces that are helpful for gamers with dyslexia.

The company is working with custom game controllers for its games, to allow access for those who are missing arms or are paralyzed — and also a “full-lefthanded mode.”

“We’ve been doing a lot of work with accessibility,” Kidd said.

Here are some other things going on with Wraith Games recently:

  • Wraith this summer was accepted as official Xbox and PlayStation developers, after earlier being licensed Nintendo and Steam developers. “This means that we are covering all four major gaming platforms, which is something that is rare, and important, for studios our size,” Kidd said.
  • The company recently went from a 300-square-foot space at the Hamilton Mill to 1,785 square feet there. “We have basically taken over the second floor,” Kidd said.
  • As of August, Wraith had 12 employees plus three interns, but with semester changes at local universities and personnel decisions, the company currently is at 10 employees and two interns.
  • Its game Radarkanoid is online for free last year, after being sold for a limited time several months ago, with half the profits going to the charity, Louisville Makes Games, which promotes game development.
  • Late last year, Wraith won SlideDB’s App of the Year Award along with four other developers. Last month it won a No. 2 game award at Indy PopCon.

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