'Infinity Blade 2' adds deeper story to hit game
As kids growing up in Houston, all the Mustard brothers wanted to do was tell fantastic stories with their G.I. Joes and Legos.
Now Donald and Geremy Mustard, founders of the successful Salt Lake City video game company Chair Entertainment, have gone from the Texas playground to the digital domain of the iPhone and iPad to indulge in a new breed of storytelling.
Their first game for Apple's portable devices, "Infinity Blade," was a gigantic hit last year that made more than $10 million in its first six months, according to its publisher, Epic Games. It also was an iPhone/iPad favorite that critics said showcased some of the best graphics ever made on iOS devices. Donald Mustard even had the honor of demonstrating "Infinity Blade" not once but twice during Apple media conferences (where he also met and briefly worked with the late CEO Steve Jobs).
Now, the company is about to release the anticipated sequel, "Infinity Blade 2," and the Mustards are giddy about what the new entry will bring to gamers namely a story, something the first game barely had.
"We were always playing together and imagining stuff, whether it was building Legos into fantasy castles or with G.I. Joes. We'd make some huge backstory about them," said 32-year-old Geremy Mustard, Chair's technical director.
"Infinity Blade 2," which will be released on Apple's iTunes Store on Thursday for $6.99, will have a much richer backdrop for its armor-clad fantasy hero.
In the first game's medieval sword-and-sorcery story, Siris was the offspring of a father who was murdered by the evil and immortal God King. As the descendant, the player approached the king's castle and hacked his way through a series of monsters before encountering his nemesis.
In the new game, Siris has defeated the king, and he now possesses the all-powerful Infinity Blade (a gigantic sword). He then embarks on a journey to find the creator of the blade.
"That's when the sequel starts with the question, 'What's next?' " said Donald Mustard, 35, Chair's creative director. "'Infinity Blade 2' is in many ways the story of coming to terms with killing an immortal. He wants personal freedom. He finds the best way to do that is to find the creator of the Infinity Blade."
To help flesh out the game's mythology, Chair turned to famous fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (The Way of Kings) who is from Provo to write a novella based on the "Infinity Blade" universe. The novel was released last month. A soundtrack of the game's music was released last week.
It has been the dream of the Mustard brothers to create a gaming franchise that includes expanding the story to other types of media such as books and movies, something Chair initially tried with science fiction author Orson Scott Card to less-than-stellar results. But with the success of "Infinity Blade," Chair is developing a gaming universe that is attracting millions.
"I see this device as the ultimate device," Donald Mustard said, holding his iPad, "I can hear the 'Infinity Blade' soundtrack and then read the book and then play the game.
"All we really want to do is create cool stories and a cool universe," he said.
It only took about five months to create the new game using Chair's 14 local artists, programmers and local game composer Josh Aker at its offices at the downtown Salt Lake City Hardware Building. The team also relied on programmers from Chair's parent company, North Carolina-based Epic, which produced the software engine that powers the graphics.
The Mustards said the new game will expand on just about everything from the first "Infinity Blade." The sequel will have more than five times the enemies to fight and four times the combat arenas. It also has three times the number of weapons, armor and magical items that the player can use. And it will forgo the usual online multiplayer mode for a new version that involves a form of crowd-sourcing game play. Finally, the game has received some graphical improvements thanks to refinements to the game engine.
The Mustards want to use all the technological tools to their advantage to give gamers the same kind of storytelling that captivated them as kids.
"There are things you can do in a book you can't do in a game and things you can do in a game that you can't do in a book," Donald Mustard said. "I want to do it all."
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