By: Trevor Shanahan

Do you know who Tom Happ is?  A former triple-A developer, Tom Happ is the sole creator of Axiom Verge; a veritable love letter to NES-era games such as Bionic Commando, Blaster Master, Castlevania, Contra, Metroid, and Rygar (to name a few).  Started in May 2010, Axiom Verge started as a side project for Happ as he maintained his fulltime position at Petroglyph Games.  After a few delays Axiom Verge was released on March 31st, 2015 for Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita systems with an upcoming Steam launch on May 14th, 2015.


Shot of the in-game menu.


Happ developed Axiom Verge in Monogame which is an lateral evolution of Microsofts’s XNA freeware.  XNA, at its core, is s set of free software tools and a managed runtime environment that was meant to indirectly encourage video game development for Microsoft platforms.  Monogame takes this tool set and expounds on it by adding cross-platform support (helping Happ release this on Sony consoles) and extensive community support for this open-source software.


Spoiler Alert: There are boss battles!


Why write about this?  Primarily because one individual developed the entire game; programming/coding, music, and art were all done by Tom Happ.  Additionally, this is one of many great examples of individuals (or small groups) who can develop games with incredible potential utilizing free/open-source software.

Aside from creating an engaging 2D game, Axiom Verge also doubles as a into eSport title.  At the main menu there is an option for “speedrun” mode which seems part suggestion and part recognition of a growing eSport; speedrunning.  The “speedrun” option trims the “fat” of cutscenes and dialogue and adds a timer.  This feature is semi-promethian in giving all purchasers of the title the ability to perform, stream, and/or capture a speedrun that traditionally involves more preparation and setup than buying a game and selecting an option.


Screen capture of – a site devoted to the competitive speed running of many game titles.


One person made a game, using free software and their spare time that has become a critical and financial success.  Furthermore, they have facilitated the growing eSport of speedrunning by creating an in-game option that provides anyone the means to do so without extensive work and editing.  What’s stopping you from doing the same?  There’s a ton of free software flanked by great communities for anyone to use.  Consider the next critical and financial hit game not coming from a triple-A company or even Tom Happ.  What if the next great game came from you?4


ccccccAbout the blogger

My name is Trevor Shanahan and I am finishing my undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Media Studies.  I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, cutlure, etc.).  I have come to realize that the more I learn ( and learning is so important) the more I do not know.  Learn as much as you can about what you love and   try to give back to it.