Mike Cushing / Technology / December 23rd, 2013

352 Employees Release New iOS Game: Hexi

Last week, the two members of the 352 Quality Assurance department, Chris Manning and Andrew Messenger released a new iOS game called Hexi, the second game produced by their Tribase Studios. In Hexi, gamers control an intrepid hex nut named Hexi on a journey to protect Hexi’s world from evil Power Tools that are trying to take over his universe. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s also ridiculously fun.

In addition to 20 levels of platforming fun, Hexi also allows players to create and upload their own levels for the world to enjoy.

Learn more about Hexi’s development below, but you can find Hexi in the App Store now and coming soon to Android’s Play Store!

Our motto is “By gamers for gamers,” and that’s what we encompass. The ridiculousness of saying: this Hex nut will fight evil tools to save his friends and then jump in a rocket is ridiculous. Anytime someone asks what my game is about, I sound like I’m on drugs – and that’s what makes such a good game.

So, how long did it take you guys to move from your first game – Requiem – to make Hexi?

Chris Manning: Hexi is a game that we’ve been developing for just about 2 years to the day after the launch of Requiem. It’s been part-time because of day jobs. In Requiem, it was more serious, for a dedicated group of gamers, small pool because you had to know what you were doing. For Hexi, we went in the other direction, happy game – it’s easy for anyone from a 3 year old to someone who is 50 -60. We looked at what we could do, we looked at our favorite games. We love platformers, so we wanted to combine game mechanics like Mario and Sonic. We grabbed everything we loved from games in the past and combined them.

Andrew Messenger: To the day, 2 years and 1 month. The art style with Hexi went insane for awhile. Always named Hexi, but started off as a yellow octagon. Octagons are too close to being round and they just rolled around, which made it pretty difficult from a gameplay perspective. The art style also went from a vector style that felt really flat and cold to the new style that you see in the trailer – really light.

How did you guys work together to make the game?

Chris: We had a 6 person team, with me as project lead. Andrew was our tech director in charge of programming. My brother handled the business side of things, and then we had another artist under me along with a sound guy and a music composer. The music is one thing we’re really happy with. Along with the art, we wanted the music to make you feel like “imagination incarnate.” It’s heavy on flutes, and we wanted – when you hear the song – to have it be like you were a kid again.

Andrew: When it came to designing levels, we shared equally. We each designed our levels, and then we played each others levels and broke them, which was natural for us, being QA guys. It became a really fun experience for everyone, and we think it was a really unique way to make games – two friends making fun levels because they were fun.

What do people get with Hexi?

Chris: We have 20 levels at launch, and 20 more that are designed that we are optimizing. If you’ve unlocked the full version, the next 20 levels will be free once we launch them. Our levels had so many revisions, since we wanted a perfect balance of fun and challenge. The game starts off very easy and gradually gets harder, but we wanted a game that everyone could play.

You also have the ability to create levels and upload/download personal levels. How did that come about?

Chris: We had 20 levels ready to go about a year ago and felt it was very close to being ready to launch. Then I said my favorite catchphrase: “Andrew how hard would it be…” Crap usually follows.

So I asked, “How hard would it be to allow level creation?” And I heard a sigh, because he knew it would be an awful lot of work but something Hexi would need to stand out and stay fresh. Tribase wants to be innovative and push that mark, no other game has the ability to upload and download levels. We didn’t want users to wait for content, we wanted  to put it in their hands to have fun and be creative.

“This is your game.”

Andrew very much so nodded his head because he knew it was important – and knew it was a year’s worth of work for him.

Andrew: That’s right. The level creator  adds replayability and ownership that you created something, so we felt it was important. But we’re also trying to bring that AAA quality of a console game to mobile. No reason that a console game can do things that we can’t.

Chris and I both worked at Ignition Entertainment  [former game studio in Gainesville] – it was a creative environment, but it was very restrictive. There was always that guy with the final say that could put his foot down on an idea, so there were a lot of cool innovative ideas that didn’t make it. It did not matter how ridiculous an idea was or how long would it take, if it was a good idea we’re gonna do it because it needs to be done. There were no shortcuts taken when it came to that sort of thing.

Other than the level creator what sets Hexi apart from its competition?

Chris: We’ve gamed our whole lives, and we didn’t want to forget our roots. It’s great that we have such a big industry, but we’ve gotten caught up in graphics. We wanted to bring it back to gameplay and we want to hear “I played your game and it was awesome.”

Our motto is “By gamers for gamers,” and that’s what we encompass. The ridiculousness of saying: this Hex nut will fight evil tools to save his friends and then jump in a rocket is ridiculous. Anytime someone asks what my game is about, I sound like I’m on drugs – and that’s what makes such a good game.

  • Geoff

    Just downloaded it.. great graphics and animation.. nicely done!

  • Joshua Harris

    Wow this is awesome. The art, music, and overall game feel really stand out. I’m definitely going to snag that Android version.

    I was just talking with Larry Hipp about working at 352. If I end up working with you all at 352, then I would love to talk more about your game.