Anthony Palma, a 2010 graduate of West Virginia University, is blazing his own trail to become a top computer game designer. His startup, Kermdinger Studios, is set to launch its first game titled “Stunt Runner” in January 2014.
Palma, a Wheeling native who came to WVU on a Bucklew Scholarship, discovered his passion for game design while taking a computer graphics class during his junior year.
After graduating from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources summa cum laude with degrees in computer science and computer engineering, Palma went on to graduate school, where he met his soon to-be business partners, Russ Mester and Ethan Gagorik. In January 2012, Kermdinger Studios was born.
Palma, who serves as the company’s CEO, described “Stunt Runner” as a “comedic physics puzzler.” It features a washed-up Hollywood stuntman named Smash Johnson, who has been given a chance to reignite his career by acting in a new movie directed by the game player.
The goal of the game is to design a movie set that Johnson can safely navigate from start to finish of each level. Unlike most games, in “Stunt Runner,” the player controls the environment, not the character.
Johnson, due to years of trauma from his stuntman career, can only run straight, so the player must figure out a design that allows the stuntman to safely complete the scene.
“When Smash Johnson encounters the props, he interacts with them,” Palma said. “He may use a jet pack to blast off into the air or an umbrella to float down slowly.”
While playing “Stunt Runner,” unexpected outcomes may happen when Johnson comes across the stunt props. The player may think they have set up a perfectly good movie set, but once Johnson takes off, the outcome may not be what they had hopedbut that doesn’t mean the take will not be entertaining.
Kermdinger Studios created the game to purposefully bring out “user-generated comedy.”
“We like comedy games, but we aren’t comedy writers,” explained Palma. “This way, the player can control the comedy.”
Palma and his team have built in a recording feature on the game so players can record their takes. They can then upload the recordings to YouTube and view other funny or well-designed takes from other players.
Also, a leaderboard will be up on the Kermdinger website for players to see how they compare to others.
According to Palma, the game is about 60 percent completed. Two sets and more props still need to be designed before launching in January 2014 for both Mac and PC.
Palma said that the hardest part of entrepreneurship has been working full time with limited capital and learning how to run a business.
“It has been a wonderful experience? something that has opened my eyes to a whole new world,” he said.
In 2011, Palma started working on his first game, an iPhone game called “Aww, Eggplant?!” He credits this experience for helping him navigate Kermdinger Studios through the waters of the gaming industry.
“Our main business strategy is ‘Make great games no matter what,’” Palma proudly stated.
Palma is set to have quite an eventful 2014. Not only is “Stunt Runner” set to release in January, but he and his fiancée plan to be married that summer.
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Staler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.