'Mighty Fight Federation' impresses at MAGFest - Jan. 17, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After the successful launch of Way of the Passive Fist last year, Blyth native Orie Falconer has shifted his attention to Mighty Fight Federation, a different video game he’s co-creating with long-time friend Julian Spillane.
Falconer, the son of Kevin and Lorie Falconer of Blyth, has been developing the game for several months now, creating it from the ground up, including character development, design and gameplay.
Earlier this month, Falconer and members of his team took the game to MAGFest (Music and Gaming Festival) in National Harbor, Maryland, which is along the Potomac River where Maryland borders both Virginia and the District of Columbia. There, Falconer hosted a tournament for the game that saw about 20 participants find their way to their set-up in the independent game section while dozens watched the action.
The game was also part of the convention’s famed Versus Panel, which included celebrity guests and the Mighty Fight Federation game was one of the spaces on the panel’s board, meaning that the guests could play the game as part of the panel.
While Mighty Fight Federation is far from fully developed (Falconer estimates the game will be released in the first quarter of 2020), he said that seeing people universally enjoy the game in its early stages was very encouraging, especially among such discerning gamers.
Mighty Fight Federation began with Spillane, who wanted to develop a 3-D, king of the hill-style fighting game and he wanted Falconer to be involved. The concept, however, has evolved greatly since those early days.
He said that while the game started with influences from well-known game Bomberman and the Sega Dreamcast game Power Stone, when Falconer came on board they started injecting well-known elements of popular fighting games like Street Fighter to make the game a bit more accessible to casual players.
Now, it sits as a four-player fight game in an enclosed stage, featuring special moves for each character and the ability to be bounced off of the stage’s walls. Falconer, Spillane and their team have fully created five characters for the game thus far. However, they hope to have a roster of 11 when the game is fully developed, as well as 11 individual stages for gameplay.
Having individual stages, each with its own intricacies, will make for new and different interactions between characters, Falconer says, and it will create a depth in the game that isn’t often seen in the genre.
While Way of the Passive Fist was made for a very specific audience, which Falconer says has found its way to the game, Mighty Fight Federation is designed to be more accessible to the average gamer or even for those who don’t regularly play video games.
Falconer says there will be ways to find new depths of gameplay for those who want to, but the game will also be playable for those who simply pick up a controller in a party or individual setting and want a fun game to try.
“The goal was to keep moves simple, but still expansive,” Falconer said.
Falconer said it has been good to get back to his game development roots with this project. In recent years his day job has been stage development for the California-based PlayQ Inc., but his side projects have been largely centred around music and sound design, similar to the work he did for Way of the Passive Fist.
His connection to Spillane, however, goes back several years and greatly involves music.
Spillane was one of Falconer’s professors when he attended the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa for its Video Game Development and Entrepreneurship program. He knew him from the school, however, the two met all over again when Falconer began working in gaming in Toronto and he and Spillane worked together at DHX Media.
The two then played in a band together for a number of years. The band, called The Blast Processors, a tribute band to the 1990s gaming console Sega Genesis, would go on to play many of the most storied small concert halls in Toronto.
While they had worked together on a handful of projects over the years, Mighty Fight Federation will be the first time that they have really come together to create something commercial from the ground up.
The process, he says, has been really rewarding, especially after watching people play and interact with the game at MAGFest. To see the game be successful in that arena, he says, is really a dream come true.
Falconer has now been working in game development in Toronto for a number of years. The Blyth native studied the craft when it was in its very early stages.
“I remember playing a game called Metal Gear Solid and really appreciating the way it told its story. It was so much different than any other medium,” Falconer said. “There were moments where things like saving data in the memory card and the game’s box itself had a direct impact on narrative and progression.”
Falconer’s love for video games in high school led him to seek out education options in video game development in the early 2000s. He would go on to study Video Game Development and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa. When he was in his first year, the course was still in its infancy. In fact, those who took the course in its first year had yet to graduate when Falconer started his time at the school.
He said he found the education he was receiving fascinating, but admitted that it wasn’t for everyone. A running joke throughout the course, Falconer said, were the students who arrived thinking they would spend their days playing video games, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Days were grueling, Falconer said, going over the behind-the-scenes development of a game in excruciating detail. Not only were the technical aspects of game development explored in detail, but so too was the business behind creating a game.
Falconer said he felt right at home and loved the course, even as others found it wasn’t exactly what they were expecting it to be.
“As a gamer, you have some sense of the game’s creation through what you can see in terms of objectives and animations, but there’s so much more work behind the scenes that you can’t see,” Falconer said. “You might watch a movie and get an idea of what the director decided on in terms of story or actors, but there’s also set creation, score, camera lenses, budget, etc. Learning how to create an interactive narrative where the player leads the way, the different tricks of creating an effect or focusing a player’s attention one way while you change the world around them was all very fascinating to me.”
After graduating, Falconer went to work at Vast Studios, staying there for several years. He has since moved on to work for the California-based PlayQ Inc. on a freelance basis, designing levels for the game Charm King, played on cell phones, while working on Way of the Passive Fist and now Mighty Fight Federation.
Falconer says that he and the team have about a year’s worth of work left on Mighty Fight Federation, so he is estimating that the game will be released to the masses in the first quarter of 2020. It will be available on all major platforms, including Playstation 4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
For more information on Mighty Fight Federation, visit its website at fightmighty.com or follow the game’s progress on Twitter.