My Game Dev Story – Cadmus Labs

28 Oct , 2010 Videogames

Cadmus Labs - Our Studio After 20 Years.

I’ve been addicted to Game Dev Story for the past week and a half or so, and last night I wrapped up my first 20 years in business. Since the game is called “Story,” I thought that I’d share the story of my studio, Cadmus Labs.

Twenty years ago, I hired a secretary and opened my first game studio. That’s not true. I helped run a studio for about a decade in another friend’s building (read: iphone). But this was my first proper studio. And there were just four of us. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a vision – Create highly polished games in a variety of genres, and do it with the happiest, most talented developers in the industry. And 20 years later, I’m proud to say that’s exactly what we’ve done, without compromise.

When we jumped into our first game, a small Pirate Adventure title on the PC called Swashbucklers, we poured everything into it that we had. Our developers were living on Dead Bull drinks, staying at the office for weeks on end, and we managed to dip into our emergency funds during our first two months. I won’t lie, it was scary to not know if we were going to be able to make payroll. But we felt like we were onto something big. We didn’t expect to get the reception we did. Swashbucklers didn’t win any awards, but players around the world flocked to the game. It built an amazingly dedicated community around Cadmus Labs, and that community support built a foundation for the next two decades.

On the success of Swashbucklers, I went to the team with an idea for a new franchise. I wanted to leave our first major success behind and step into a universe I had been thinking about for years – the Servo Universe. I pitched to our now four-developer team a little Robot Shooter called Servos of War. We all know how that turned out. Millions of units sold. Awards won. Moving to a larger studio. But most people don’t know that the game almost bankrupted Cadmus Labs. In fact, when we shipped the game, I owed my employees thousands of dollars in payroll. But everyone believed that we were, yet again, on to something big. The Servo Universe has since become out largest franchise. We’ve shipped millions of copies of nearly 10 games in the series. We’ve seen it re-imagined as Servos Reborn, and most recently, Servo War 2 sold 52 million copies. Very few game franchises have had this kind of success. To date, Cadmus Labs has created ten Hall of Fame franchises, shipping no less than three games in each:

  • Secret Agent – Our thrilling Spy Adventure series featuring Alex Cross, expert CIA operative.
  • YouToon – Our award-winning Motion Cartoon games.
  • Sidewinder – The genre-defining Cowboy Action series.
  • Servos – The platform-selling Robot Shooter series that built our studio and has garnered 2 perfect scores from critics.
  • CitySim – The most realistic City Simulation game series of all time.
  • The Deep – The Swashbuckler game that started it all lives on in Pirate Adventure titles like The Deep and The Deep 2.
  • Time Quest – Our beloved Time Travelling RPG series.
  • Time Gate – The Action-RPG spin-off of the Time Quest franchise that has captured the hearts of mobile gamers everywhere and become a franchise in its own right.
  • Kitana Legends – Our Ninja Action series that has collectively sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.
  • Pole Chaser – The Formula 1 Racing series that redefined what racing realism was about.

To date we’ve earned 11 Best Design Awards, 14 Best Music Awards, we’ve won 4 Grand Prizes at the Global Game Awards and been runner-up 13 times.

Cadmus Labs' Industry-Leading 64-bit BD Gaming System

It was on the shoulders of these software successes that we decided to move into building our own consoles. Our first console, the Pandora, dominated the living room for years, bringing our fabled franchises to players that had never before experienced the wonder of the old west that we created in Sidewinder, or who couldn’t have imagined the future we portrayed in Servos. But as our staff grew more capable, we knew the Pandora wouldn’t last. We needed more power, more control, and more players. So we created The Ark – the most technologically advanced gaming system available, and the exclusive home to Servo War 1 and Servo War 2. But we’re not stopping there…

Today, Cadmus Labs has nearly 2 billion dollars in the bank. We have the best developers in the industry and we pay them the best wages around. After every product ships, I send the entire staff on long vacations. We work with Hollywood to generate CGI for some of your favorite films. We create game engines for up-and-coming developers. We even do console analysis for our competitors!

And we do it all for you, our community. At the last GameDex show, 92 thousand of you dedicated fans came to our booth to see our latest and greatest creations. 8,200 of you, ranging from children to retirees, follow our Racecar Sponsorships and Lunar Advertisements, and then talk about them on our forums. Our fans are the reason we’re here, and with your unbelievable support, you will be the reason we’re here for the next twenty years. Our Game Dev Story is your story.

Thanks. You guys rule.

– Six Okay
CEO, Cadmus Labs