MichaelArts gaining early experience for developing career

Michael Hicks of MichaelArts studios may be shy of his twentieth birthday, but he has more experience making media than guys in their thirties.

Hicks began making films with his cousins, as well as machinima, in grade school. One of his later movies even took the top spot on The Movies Online, a now defunct message board that allowed people to release their movies to others online.

“That’s really the only ‘claim to fame’ I had before I started publishing games,” Hicks said. “I’ve done a good number of short films, music and game projects under MichaelArts… it’s impossible for me to list them all.

Yet, even with his relative success making films, Hicks wanted to do something more – he wanted to make games. Yet, he was too young to get his games published.

“I started developing games back in grade school,” he said. “When I was a kid I loved playing around with the GameShark I had, and I also made paper prototypes of game ideas… those were kind of the starting points of my career.”

Michael Hicks of MichaelArts.

Within days of Hicks’ eighteenth birthday, he had his first game released on the Xbox Indie channel, Honor in Vengeance. Since then he has published the sequel to his first title, Honor in Vengeance II, and will release his newest title, Sententia, on September 11. Hicks described his newest title as an attempt to tell a personal story through gameplay mechanics.

Although Hicks has been the driving force beyond all three titles, he hinted some variances may be noticeably different since he has worked with different artists to draw the characters and such of the game.

Each of the artists brought “a distinct visual feel to the table,” he said. “I like the fact that I’ve worked with different artists, because I enjoy experimenting with different styles and seeing how that adds on to the project.”

The varying feel of art is not the only thing differing Sententia from the Honor in Vengeance series. Hicks also had some peculiar subconscious worries something may go wrong with the title.

“When I submitted the game for publishing I had a nightmare,” he said. “There was a piece of code I forgot to update that updated the box art dynamically through the web…. not sure where that came from, but it was such an off-the-wall dream that I remember it pretty well.”

This is not the only time Hicks has been intently focused on his work. He said while he hates the constantly looming deadlines, he has his days when he does nothing but his work.

“If I am in the heart of making something I will literally do nothing else with my life but work on it,” he said. “There’s never a moment where I’m not working on something in some way though – if I am not making something I get very depressed and feel horrible, so even if I’m just thinking about projects, my mind is always on creating stuff.”

That constant thought on the task at hand undoubtedly appeals to Hicks on a professional level, but likely extends beyond that.

“It’d be very great to do this for a living,” Hicks said. “But if not, I’ll never stop making games. I’ll work on music and games for the rest of my life.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=114OyGvcUCo

avatar

About Steve Lesniewski

Steve lives in Chicago and recently graduated from the University of Illinois. He has been fascinated with video games since his ninth birthday when he received a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Blue. He loves following sports and cheers win or lose for the Bears, Bulls and the Fighting Illini, who include the 2012 men’s gymnastic national champs as well as the 2011 women’s volleyball national runner-up.