Local game developer making his mark [South Bend Tribune, Ind. :: ]
(South Bend Tribune (IN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 27--SOUTH BEND -- Young gamers from the around the world are playing a local teenager's online game, teaching him valuable tools he can use for a possible career in game development.
Tucker Stuff, 15, of South Bend, created Skybound, an interactive game favored by more than 61,000 users on an international game development platform called Roblox. Since finally being able to publish his game in March 2013, the game has been used more than 2.3 million times, with Tucker being one of the website's top developers.
"I originally started playing on Roblox when I was 10 years old," said Tucker, who will be an incoming freshman this fall at South Bend New Tech High School. "When I created Skybound, I had just seen the movie 'Up,' and I wanted to build the house."
In Skybound, Tucker said users begin the game with a ship and are supposed to search their surroundings. There is also a fighting mode, in which players can battle other users online for points. These points, or Robux, can be used to purchase items or extra content for games on the website. There are also memberships that can be purchased for more intricate development tools and features through PayPal.
Alan Fackler, a communications specialist for Roblox, said Tucker is part of its new development exchange program.
"We pay a lot of our top developers to motivate them to keep adding content," Fackler said. "They can also cash out Robux for real currency."
Fackler said the program has since cashed out more than $300,000 to the developers in the exchange programs. Members can earn up to $10,000 each month, a cap only one developer has reached, through players using their game. Creators can also have advertisements on their games, teaching them important skills in marketing they can use in later careers. Fackler said some users have even used the money they have earned to pay for college tuitions.
Brad Justus, the vice president of marketing and branding at Roblox, said the website is a platform for creativity for children and teens. It is completely free to build and play. Completely in "the cloud," the website is centrally managed and monitored to create a safe environment for children who are 8 years old and older.
"It's like a giant, virtual Lego set," Justus said. "Users can build whatever they want, they have the ability to script the games any way they want and then can share it with the rest of the Roblox community to get feedback on their developments."
Justus said Skybound is very visually striking.
"Some players, like (Tucker), are interested in making game development a career," Justus said. "He's constantly updating his game, trying to make it better."
Since the popularity of Skybound was increasing, Tucker has been working on another game similar to it.
"I've had a lot of experience between now and then," Tucker said. "Hopefully it will be finished soon."
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