Interview with Revelation Games’ Jeff Simmons on Rise of the King

Can you give us a brief history Revelation Games?

Sure!  I started out in 2014 with my partner Steven to ponder ways we could create new interesting experiences in the indie gaming realm.  We wanted to create fresh styles of game-play from a Christian worldview.  I’ve worked in the games industry for the last several years and couldn’t shake the desire to create my own stuff rather than just work for people on other projects.  So slowly over the last two years we’ve been putting together other like minded people who have the same vision.
Can you give us a little introduction to the world of ‘Rise of the King’ and the story that the players will be a part of?

The world of Rise of the King takes place in the lands of Arnithon in the most northern region of New Haven, a frozen mountainous area where criminals go to escape law and brave settlers travel to attempt to become free and expand the ever present conflict at the southern border.  With the recent fall of the King of Arnithon, the people are in a state of distress fearful of as possible invasion from the south.

The story picks up when the son of your local Lord William of Winterlight goes missing.  As the local forester, you’re summoned to investigate his disappearance on behalf of the Lord.  It’s winter time and the area is being hit by one of the worst blizzards ever seen.  You’re the only one with skills to track him down in a time when soldiers are difficult to find.

Where did the idea behind the game come from? What inspirations do you take from?
The idea behind the game formed from a desire to tell a good compelling story that stood apart from the typical good guy/bad guy ones so typical today in AAA.  We love a good mystery and rather than being handed everything up front we prefer to see it unravelled along the way and let the player take part in uncovering the story.  We took inspirations from everything from Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia to Skyrim, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, and The Long Dark.
You blatantly put the gospel message right on the website for your game, what role does it play in Rise of the King? How important is this for Revelation Games?
Yes, I’m glad you noticed!  We put it there because it is the foundation for why we create.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the central piece of inspiration for our work as developers.  Everyone has a worldview and draws inspiration from it.  Revelation Games exists to Glorify God through creating well made entertainment and to bless others pointing them to the Gospel through entertainment.
There have been many “Christian video games” in the past that haven’t found much success from critics or the “serious gamers” out there. What do you think Rise of the King brings that others didn’t? What sets RotK apart?
Good question.  I think the first distinguishing characteristic that sets us apart is that RotK is not a Christian game.  It’s for anyone who likes games.  We’re a Christian company making games for everyone.  Our games at core are a platform to influence culture and encourage people.  The reason most Christian games have not found success is due to budget and talent restrictions or poor ideas and execution of those ideas.  Christians are still a bit torn between the eternal blessing and value that entertainment can do and typically hide from investing much into the avenue so we end up with poor, understaffed game teams unable to compete with the AAA market.  While believers invest in building big churches, the harvest field of entertainment remains in the hands of everyone else.
What kind of interest has RotK had so far within the secular community?
To my shock and amazement it turns out so far only a small percentage of Christians are actually supporting us.  Most have seeming been indifferent to our attempt so far outside a faithful small portion of the community.  Most interest has come from normal gamers who dig games have been checking us out and are interested in the project.  This is sad to me but something I’m seeing in the Christian community.  Most Christians would rather just play Zelda or the newest AAA game than see Christians grow to get a space in the industry to have a voice as well.
Quite a bit of work goes into game development, can you give us a quick idea of what it takes to bring a game from conception to finish?
Basically it takes everything you have.  All your free time that you’d normally spend playing games or hobbies, money and a lot of mental space as well.  It can be a consuming venture to try to execute conception into reality and its a lot of trial and error.  So you’re constantly failing and trying to figure out how to fix and improve each aspect of the development.
Is the design process more challenging compared to that of a typical “secular” game?
I wouldn’t say so.  We’re not trying to overly Christianize the game but its just working out of an inspiration of the worldview Christ laid out for us.  Just like on the secular side they’re just doing what’s natural for them as well.  We as believers have a new natural and inspirational foundation in our hearts that overflows by default now.
Your Kickstarter campaign just launched on April 18th. For those that might not be as familiar with crowd-funding, what will funds raised from the campaign help you do?
They mainly help us to hire expensive artists and additional team members we need for completion of the game.  A lesser percentage goes to helping our core small team live and work full time on the project for X amount of months as well.  Basically its for time and content creation that’s needed.
The game looks great and I am hoping I get a chance to try it at some point soon, but what about the people that don’t play games, how can they still support this project?
If they’re believers, they can pray.  Even if we fail and it all goes to dust, they can pray that God raises up others, so that through the arts and entertainment Christ would be known in hearts through the Gospel as valuable, precious, exciting and delightful in his saving grace he gave for sinners like me. =)
What are your hopes and goals for Rise of the King beyond the Kickstarter campaign?
Well a big focus regardless of success or failure of the Kickstarter is to create a vertical slice demo of the game.  To create a super polished and accurate representation of the game for press and others to try out to help them to grasp the gameplay and concept of the game which we hope might lead to more coverage and support.
Are there obstacles for Christians within the video game industry?
Absolutely!  The risk and danger of both sin and compromise through a lot of the games developed today.  To expose ones self to the constant threat of what Jesus says in Matthew chapter five where he warned us that sin is not just an external action but also takes place in the heart at just the virtual act of sin.  People tend to think they can play like an evil monster in games like GTA and its just a game.  But Jesus gives us warning that these things reveal to us the state of our heart and we must be careful to not set before our eyes darkness that dishonors the Lord.
Thank you again for your time. All the best for the future of Rise of the King and the future of Revelation Games. We pray that God continues to use you and your games in some amazing ways.
Thank you so much for the time and interview!  I’m honored to get the opportunity.
Check out Rise of the King and their Kickstarter
***Update from Revelation Games***

We just wanted to thank everyone so much for their support of our recent Kickstarter campaign. We are very grateful to everyone who supported us! However, we have made the decision to cancel funding and for the time being put ROTK on the shelf.

Obviously we were not able to drive interest on the large scale needed to proceed with development. We learned a lot and received tons of really helpful and encouraging feedback.

For now we’re going to set our sights in some new directions and ROTK may yet live again  Thank you all who helped us! It means more than you know!

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