Many people around the world play video games for the same reasons: adventure, an immersive environment, and maybe even some unique challenges that you may not face in the real world. Video games are embedded in our culture in many ways, and that passion can remain intact your entire life. A lucky few have lived out their dream of being a professional gamer, many have joined big-name companies to be part of the creative process, and the especially bold game enthusiasts go independent. Dan Battista is one of those trailblazers that took the plunge in creating his own video game, The Islands, completely solo.
As an ambitious 21-year-old, Battista changed the course of his life by moving to Los Angeles to pursue his creative dreams. He started working in MTV’s art department, which could easily be a dream job for anyone. However, when working for a large company, employees can be limited to certain style guides and company-wide rules and restrictions. Battista realized that if he wanted to execute his vision, he had to start his own company. That way he could fully embrace his aesthetic and take charge of the creative process.
This is what led Battista to found his own commercial photography production company at just 24 years old. He’s overseen hundreds of photo and video shoots, honing his visual storytelling skills. This has proven to be a huge benefit, as he used those abilities to create his own video game, The Islands.
Creating a video game may seem like a fun and intriguing project to take on, but Battista knows firsthand how challenging it is. Thousands of hours go into the process, which is mentally exhausting. For Battista, the 5,000 hours he invested in The Islands, fully funded on his own, were worth every second. He and his older brother grew up playing video games together, bonding over the shared experience. When his brother unexpectedly passed away when Battista was 21, it was a massive wake up call to do something ambitious and not wait in life. Battista shares that when programming and game development problems started to seem insurmountable, he thought of his brother. He strived to create something that, if his brother was still with him, he’d enjoy.
The Islands is an open-world survival game that finds the player stranded on an archipelago, empty-handed fighting for survival. Each island is full of resources with which the player can build tools, construct shelter, make food, and battle adversaries. Battista has created a fascinating environment with natural beauty around every corner. There’s an array of blooming life on the archipelago, with diverse species of animals, birds, and sea life. This makes wandering and exploring The Islands as fascinating as it is challenging. The Islands offers an almost never-ending journey for those playing the game, with the possibility to farm, sail, craft, swim, tame wild animals, build shelter, thrive amidst inclement weather, and combat enemies, all while surrounded by lush, tropical beauty.
The more you explore the complexity of The Islands, the more you’re impressed that it was created by one person. Battista has put his heart and soul into the creation of The Islands, something we should all strive for in life. Before the game is released, though, the team needs to meet their Kickstarter goal. To support this entrepreneurial game developer and his first game, visit their Kickstarter here.