As coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) is keeping most stuck inside home, a Lutz-based video game studio is discovering novel ways to keep users together and entertained.
For years, Artix Entertainment has been creating free online fantasy-based video games filled with monsters, magic and storytelling.
Among the most popular iterations is the AdventureQuest3D series, which takes role-playing users into an expansive fantasy world where combat skills are tested in an environment filled with the undead, beasts, dragons, dungeons and all sorts of other challenges. The game is cross-platform, meaning it can be played through computer, tablet or smartphone.
More recently, AdventureQuest’s creators have added a new wrinkle: in-game, virtual battle concerts from various well-known bands like Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Korn and others.
And, ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus has canceled many activities and concerts, game makers vowed to keep the music going.
So, the company decided to again team up with Breaking Benjamin, a multi-platinum rock band with nine No. 1 hit songs, to re-release an “encore” virtual battle concert, with some newly added features and objectives.
Here’s how the battle concert works: After completing a short tutorial, an unlimited number of users enter the concert and are tasked with fighting off a host of giant monsters all while the band’s music plays in the background. Users also have the option of taking a virtual selfie and interacting with Breaking Benjamin animated characters.
The virtual concert loops nonstop, and is designed for players of all skill levels. Bands send pre-recorded songs and custom voiceovers to Artix for the virtual concerts.
“I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever created,” Artix CEO/founder Adam Bohn said of the virtual concert series. “We’re trying to provide the most fun we can and help people during their stays at home.”
Artix also is expanding the virtual battle concert series to include local bands, so long as their music is safe for radio play. Interested groups can email .
“We have the ability to do these performance with any band in our game,” Bohn said. “Right now, I’m sure there’s musicians, with all the concerts canceled, there has to be some other way we can help, so it’d be great if anybody wanted to contact us.”
Humble beginnings, to millions of users
Artix today has over 30 employees, headquartered out of the NorthPointe Village business plaza off State Road 54.
Yet, the company started with humble beginnings back in 2002.
“It started out at the kitchen table of my first home here in Lutz,” Bohn, 44, said. “Our offices have been very, very slowly, methodically just moving down (State Road) 54.”
A computer video game enthusiast growing up in Pennsylvania, Bohn’s “lifelong dream” was to someday create games of his own.
It first came from the encouragement of his father, who all but told a youthful Bohn that if others could build video games, then his son could, too.
The planted seed led Bohn on “this kind of obsessive mission” that included years of trial and error “and unbelievable persistence.”
In the almost 18 years since Bohn launched the first version of AdventureQuest — then in 2D form — over 200 million accounts have been created worldwide across Artix’s platform of more than a dozen games.
It’s more than Bohn could’ve ever anticipated two decades ago. “I put the game out there hoping we’d get 100 players,” said Bohn.
In addition to AdventureQuest, other Artix titles include DragonFable, MechQuest, and BioBeasts. While the games are all free to play, users have the option to purchase cosmetics to improve the likeness of their characters.
Bohn acknowledged he entered the video game industry at the right time — when internet technology began booming in the early 2000s. “We were very early, so we were a part of this great video game evolution that’s been happening,” he said.
Like other area businesses dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Artix employees have begun working remotely from home, collaborating via Google Docs, Trello and a chat program called Discord. “I think gamers maybe have an easier time with this (coronavirus) problem because we love staying at home,” Bohn quipped.
However, the work to fine-tune a host of online games is anything but easy.
Bohn explained gameplay updates and problem-solving requires long hours from his team of artists, programmers and developers, and database managers.
For him and his team, it’s “pretty much a 24/7 job.”
“Most of the team is quite a fan of coffee,” Bohn joked, adding video game creation is more difficult than some may think. “There is this belief that we have this magical “make game button” and we press it and then there’s more games…”
As if running an independent video game studio day and night wasn’t enough, Bohn has another side project — he’s building a new video game for the 1985 Nintendo.
Bohn said the game, coming in a physical Nintendo cart, should be finished in two months’ time. “The game’s really, really far along,” he said. “We’ve already kind of done all the fulfillments. I have the circuit boards, I have the shelves…”
To play AdventureQuest and other Artix Entertainment games, visit AQ3D.com and Artix.com.
Published April 08, 2020
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