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“I,Hope” is shaping up to be a real GameChanger

Article from Microsoft’s News Center
*All pictures from ANOMALIA are courtesy of David Toušek from 
3BOHEMIANS, producers of ANOMALIA 

There’s a new indie game on the horizon, and it’s not your typical Xbox release. Profound, poignant and undeniably cathartic, I, Hope is a strikingly designed 3D adventure game on ID@Xbox, Microsoft’s self-publishing platform for indie game developers, aiming at helping young patients take their mind off long hospital stays and difficult treatments – all while having a blast.

I wanted to bring uplifting virtual experiences to people who really need it – and that’s kids fighting for their lives in hospitals.

Kenny Roy – Creator of I, Hope

Love child of Kenny Roy from Arconyx, the European ANOMALIA community and the GameChanger charity, I, Hope is an ambitious, yet sincere take at building a game that will make children’s lives better, one magical island at a time.

Developed specifically with combating cancer in mind, 100% of the profits generated by I,Hope will go to supporting children with life threatening illnesses and their families. The game is set to be released in 2017 on Xbox One.

Who said games weren’t good for you?

With I, Hope, Arconyx and GameChanger hope to motivate, encourage, and give hope to children in the fight of their lives. Adventurous, enchanted, yet emotionally rooted in reality, I, Hope tells the moving story of a young girl called Hope, struggling to defeat “Cancer”; a mysterious evil creature that has ravaged and scorned her beautiful island home. In order to attain the weapons, knowledge and courage needed to defeat the monster, Hope travels through five different floating fantasy islands in which she’s confronted by various perils.

 I, Hope is a very special little game which I’m hoping will speak to people in a way they don’t expect from games – and maybe spread a little happiness.

Richard Tongeman – 3D Animator and student at Anomalia

I, Hope was designed with a greater purpose than mere entertainment, and goes way beyond what typically is expected from an adventure game. As a matter of fact, Kenny Roy, founder of Arconyx, considers games as a mode for change and strongly believes in their potential to deliver experiences that can shape the world. “As much as I love Shoot ‘Em Ups, big explosions and arcade experiences, I believe that games can be so much more. There are real positive experiences to gain from gaming, and I wanted the public to experience that. With I, Hope, I want to move minds,” explains Roy.

Gaming for the greater good

When we think of video games, our minds go to epic battles, fantasy worlds, crazy races and mind-boggling adventures. For Roy, creating a game should be about all of the above and, on top of that, have a higher purpose.

I wanted to create a great game that was fun for everyone, while still delivering a powerful, meaningful message to kids struggling in hospitals around the world.

Kenny Roy – Creator of I, Hope

However, hitting the perfect balance between pure amusement and lifting spirits is not an easy task; and it doesn’t happen overnight, nor does is happen by itself.

Roy’s game development adventure started in 2014 when, inspired by the creativity and artistry in the gaming industry, and enthused by Jane McGonigal’s views on positive gaming, he decided to take his animation company to new heights and, eventually, new platforms. “I fell in love with game development, and decided to bring my company with me on this new journey. I started working with the Unity engine and before we knew it, we were building games for clients”. After a successful Steam Greenlight campaign and acceptance into ID@Xbox for Arconyx’s upcoming title DeathCrank, Roy started toying with the idea of designing a game with a “socially conscious angle”.

The initial idea behind I, Hope was straight forward; come up with a story, design the game and donate it to a charity. After a Kickstarter campaign, huge support from Unity and GameChanger on board, Roy submitted the game to ID@Xbox.

ID@Xbox is the absolute smartest way to make sure that indie games are successful and being seen, and that indie developers are actually helping to drive the state of gaming.

Kenny Roy – Creator of I, Hope

From that moment on it all went very fast: “Microsoft supported us right away, and right from the get-go, understood exactly what we were trying to do and kept setting us up with opportunities. SDKs were on our doorsteps in a matter of weeks, and we were getting full attention from the team at Xbox – it felt really good,” explains Roy. Through ID@Xbox, Roy was able to make this dream a reality and fast track the development of the game.

For Katie Stone Perez, Senior Programme Manager at ID@Xbox, it’s all about expanding the stories, experiences and amazing content that game developers are creating. “I, Hope is an amazing example of a game that is expanding the content that we have on the platform while also providing such support (both mentally and financially) for those who are dealing with such a difficult disease. We are truly honoured to have this amazing game coming to Xbox One and to support this amazing group of developers who are using their talents for such a noble cause,” explains Perez.

Precious help from ANOMALIA

ANOMALIA is a development and training laboratory offering a series of professional collaborative labs and courses that take place every year during the summer, in Litomyšl, a picturesque small town in the middle of the Czech Republic.

During the course of the event, animation artists from all around Europe and the world come together to be part of ANOMALIA’s collaborative environment where they can practice, collaborate and share thoughts while developing new projects under the supervision of professionals from renowned animation studios, as well as independent artists with entrepreneurial minds such as Roy.

Not everybody gets an opportunity to work on this sort of passion project, it’s a labour of love and gamers will feel the care and intent in the final product.

Richard Tongeman – Animator and student at ANOMALIA

Because ANOMALIA is a development and training laboratory, the artists participating are all young and experienced professionals alike. The overall goal of ANOMALIA is to offer professionals dedicated time, space and guidance to boost their animation projects, skills and careers over a summer. “This year was my third year at ANOMALIA as an instructor and I thought that a good way to get the absolute best work on this game would be to propose that we work on it during our ANOMALIA sessions,” explains Roy. “Everyone agreed, and we spent two incredible weeks working around the clock to get the game ready,” continues Roy.

As a result, 16 brilliant artists from all around Europe worked on I, Hope and brought the game closer to the finish line. They all saw the message and understood how good this would be for the kids, and for the public to participate in the goodwill that gaming has in the medical community.

It was really great being part of a group working on such a unique game, with a great purpose, beautifully designed, and with people coming from all around the world. It’s not something you see in many other places. I, Hope could be the start of something really big.

Jonas Schild – Animator and student at Anomalia

More games, more kids, more good

A game is only as good as its sequel, and Roy is already flirting with possible scenarios for the next chapter. Ideally, the follow-up would be bigger, longer, with more characters, and take a lot more time to finish. Children in hospitals spend hours going though sometimes painful treatment, and the longer they play games, the longer they can keep their mind off it.

Last but not least, a hospital stay is a stressful time that affects the entire family, and to better reflect how the family as a whole is affected, Roy is thinking of bringing some of Hope’s siblings into the game, and give them the attention they deserve.

Read more about Kenny Roy’s projects here, and keep an eye on the Xbox Wire for more info about I, Hope.