CrunchTime goes big time

Street Fighter veteran's support studio starts making its own games; first project to hit Xbox Live Arcade early next year.

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In some ways, Chandler, Arizona-based CrunchTime Games is the prototypical indie startup studio. It is staffed by a group of eager young designers pulled from local universities. Its first game is a labor of love made financially feasible by the current trend of downloadable console gaming. Its studio space is a converted garage.

CrunchTime's logo is the very definition of
CrunchTime's logo is the very definition of "in your face."

On the other hand, the studio has a few advantages over your average startup. It was founded and self-funded by James Goddard, a 17-year industry veteran who worked as a designer on the Street Fighter series (not to mention creating the character of Dee-Jay). It also has four years of history as a support studio, helping The Collective with Marc Ecko's Getting Up and working with Blizzard Entertainment on the cancelled Starcraft: Ghost, as well as World of Warcraft.

After years of working as a hired gun on other people's projects, Goddard wanted a change. He began to reshape CrunchTime as an indie studio that would make its own games, as he said, "uninhibited by corporate BS." To help him in that endeavor, Goddard looked specifically for developers who still had a passion for the business; something he feared might be harder to find in veterans that tend to grow jaded with life in the industry.

"I'm not going to kill myself and have limited time with my four kids just so I could hear other people [complain] about it and be not excited about the business," Goddard told GameSpot. "I didn't care if they were graduates, had never been to school, or had been working for 20 years, as long as they were passionate about what they were doing and down with taking this risk with me."

When Goddard first started looking into setting up a development studio, he balked at how expensive the venture was shaping up to be. He had seen other veterans establishing their own studios struggle to find financial backers or a publishing deal for their games, but Goddard was set on making the game using his own money and on his own terms.

"It all fell into place in November 2005," Goddard said. "I was tipped off about how awesome Xbox Live Arcade was going to be, slept overnight at Sam's Club, picked up the machine, went straight home, and played Geometry Wars and Mutant Storm and said, 'Wow, this is totally doable.'"

By the following March, he had his team up and working on its first Xbox Live Arcade game. Set for release in early 2008, CrunchTime's first original project is being kept under wraps for now. However, Goddard has teased a few details about it. The game will debut CrunchTime's own R.A.K. (Roaming Arcade Killer) Engine, created by three of the studio's first-time developers. It's also a new genre for Goddard, and more details about the project will be revealed in the next two weeks.

For more on the studio, check out the official CrunchTime Games Web site.

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