Shacker wins $75,000 in Activision Independent Games Competition

Activision announced the two winners in the second phase of its Independent Games Competition, and while Christopher Hui's Iron Dragon won the grand prize of $150,000, Shack regular Mike Stanton (aka theDrMikey in Chatty) took home the second prize of $75,000 cash for his game Planet Smashers.

The 2D game, designed using his own Spork engine, is a multiplayer game with space marines battling each other while hopping from planet to planet using jetpacks, vehicles and a variety of weapons. Five different multiplayer modes are planned, including traditional death match and capture the flag, as well as Core Collector, Moon King and Beast Mode. Players can choose from six different classes: Pilot, jump soldier, medic, strategist, soldier or engineer. "I put together an official design doc just before the deadline," he said in an interview with Shacknews. "I think I had it in the mail on December 31, literally the last possible postmark date."

Stanton said the game was already in development before the competition came up late last year. After competing in another competition, he came back to Planet Smashers to refine it with his own original engine. "I've been using the Spork engine, the basic code that let's you run around the surface of bumpy planetoids, for about three years," Stanton said. "As you can see in the demo I sent in, the game was still the very early prototype stages. I'd been bouncing the idea around for years, but only really started actively developing the concept a few months ago."

Unfortunately, Stanton wasn't completely happy with the demo video he submitted for the competition. The multiplayer server he had been using was down and he couldn't demo a key component of the game.

"Between the multiplayer being down and the fact that I didn't manage to get the demo anywhere near as far as I had hoped, I thought there was a good chance that I was in serious trouble," he said. "I was hoping that the judges would be looking primarily at the concept, and not worrying too much about how close to completion it was. Since I had very little to show and am a one -man team, I also included video demos of many of my past projects in order to show that I could in fact build the game, despite what it's progress might show."

IndiCade juried the event. Both Stanton and first-place winner Hui retain the rights to their creations, but Activision gets first look at the games if they ever wish to publish them.

Winning the prize comes at just the right time for Stanton, who just recently got married. "I'm still regrouping and figuring out my exact next step," he said. "I expect that soon I will be developing a concept very similar to the one laid out in my design doc. When you have six months to sit on something and wait, the idea tends to evolve continuously. This is the first time I actually have funding for a project and some breathing room to actually work on it. Hopefully I can roll this momentum into continued support and finally get a game out there that makes a splash."