FIU students launch a video game with SkyJoy

Photo by Mykl Roventine, via flickr

Christian Portilla / Contributing Writer

While most students merely manage their classes and extracurriculars, a group of undergraduates and alumni figured out how to shoot a red panda out of a cannon in a video game they designed and programmed that is making its national debut in April.

The Super Kid Cannon developers, which drew inspirations from classics like Sonic and Donkey Kong, decided to give the game a vertical progression rather than a traditional horizontal format because of the way people hold and use their phones. Most screens also display and present content vertically.

Super Kid Cannon is the first vertical launcher video game for iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon devices.

“We wanted to give people a game that would be fun and easy to play,” said George Francis, a recent public relations FIU grad who served as the team’s marketing director.

The students worked with SkyJoy Interactive, a multi-million dollar software development company based out of Brickell that is focused on casual and social games in the mobile market, specifically aimed at iOS and Android.

Edward Alvarez and Karim Blanche, both majoring in information technology, worked on the game’s development with Francis and another alum.

Blanche, who started out as a quality assurance intern and now works in coding and developing, said the process was a learning experience.

“We’re a tight-nit group,” Blanche said. “We can communicate effectively and we have learned from each others knowledge.”

Francis said the team wanted to go with a unique character for Super Kid Cannon, so they chose the red panda – a reddish-brown furred animal, slightly larger than a house cat, native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.

Habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching and inbreeding depression presently threaten the red panda’s existence.

“Most people don’t know what a red panda is, so we thought it would be fun to use that animal. We just thought it’s an amazing animal and also just to bring awareness,” Francis said.

Kahn, who is the arch nemesis of Super Kid Cannon, is a snow leopard –– the  natural predator of the red panda and also an endangered species.

The objective of the game is to save Princess Justine, who was named after the CEO’s wife’s cousin, from the evil snow leopard Kahn, whose name was inspired from the team Star Trek fanatics.

“The cool thing about the game is there is logical and natural progression. It’s not like angry birds where the levels get harder for no reason,” Francis said. “ It gives the gamer the idea that ‘hey, I’m actually advancing here.’”

Super Kid Cannon was released in New Zealand earlier in February, and is expected to be released the first week of April in the U.S.

The game will be available for free for download and the in-game purchases will be for costume additions that change the character’s appearance.

With SkyJoy’s venture, Blanche said the company is a prime example of Miami’s expanding market and emerging tech.

“It’s a good place for tech industries to develop. It’s fertile ground,” Blanche said. “Even though we’re not the biggest market, we have the best opportunity.”

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