Gun Interactive is scaring game night

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Founded in 2011, Lexington-based Gun Interactive quickly became Kentucky’s most prominent video game developer — and one of the most recognizable independent studios in the world — thanks to its spooky games.

Known for his nightmarish horror titles like ‘Layers of Fear 2’ and ‘Friday the 13th: The Game’, Gun is set to deliver even more scares on his next video game project, inspired by the iconic 1974 film. “The Texas Chain”. I saw the massacre.

Longtime fan of video games and horror movies, Gun Interactive CEO Wes Keltner says he just jumped on the bandwagon as a sociology major at the University of Kentucky in the early 1990s. 2000 when he went to one of his teacher’s offices to discuss a class project. While there, he noticed a pile of video games on the table and learned that his teacher ran a website that reviewed them. After writing for the site for a short time, he was assigned to cover the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, in Los Angeles. Being on the conference floor captivated Keltner, who likened the experience to being a kid in a candy store.

However, Keltner soon realized that he enjoyed playing games much more than writing about them, which eventually led him to found Gun Interactive a few years later.

Keltner launched his first entrepreneurial venture during his time in the UK, when he worked with American Apparel to open a virtual store in the online gaming world “Second Life”. Players could purchase clothing for their in-game avatar, as well as make purchases in real life. It was one of the first brands to appear in “Second Life,” and the idea took off.

“Before I knew it, I was consulting with Ford Motor Company, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Intel and several other big companies,” Keltner said. “For Ford, we partnered with Apple to launch a photo-editing app on the iPhone, which was brand new at the time, to introduce Ford’s all-new Ford Flex.”

A partnership with Clear Channel to bring interactive video games to their video panels in New York’s Times Square followed, along with collaboration with companies like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Sony.

As Keltner’s confidence and professional network grew, so did his ambitions. He secured around $900,000 in angel investor funds from the Bluegrass Angel Fund and launched Gun Interactive with a team of four. The company’s first game, “Breach & Clear”, debuted on PC and Apple devices in 2014.

It was “Friday the 13th: The Game,” released in 2017, that gained notoriety for the indie studio — and some unforeseen reactions.

The game received rave reviews and amassed 14 million players. Shortly after, however, the studio was forced by a court order to cease creating any new content for the game as a lawsuit unfolded between Victor Miller, the film’s original screenwriter, and Sean Cunningham, producer. of several films in the series.

The sudden halt in development after release angered many of the game’s fans, some of whom began harassing Keltner and other studio employees online and even sent death threats. Keltner remains assured that the intellectual property issues that have plagued “Friday the 13th,” while unrelated to Gun, will not return with his current project.

“The problem with ‘Friday the 13th’ was that [Miller] filed to recover its copyright, starting the whole legal battle between the two parties,” Keltner said. “In the case of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,’ it’s just [Legendary Entertainment] who is the owner of the rights. It was his team who came to us to create the game, so I’m not worried about a similar scenario unfolding.”

Legal hurdles aside, what sets Gun’s video game horror apart from other developers has undoubtedly been the attention to detail Keltner and his team – now a dozen strong – have taken when replicating IP addresses. with which they team up.

“We’ve researched all of the ‘Friday the 13th’ movies inside and out so floors, curtains, rugs, sofas – whatever you see in the game, you can find in the movie .”

“We’ve researched all of the ‘Friday the 13th’ movies inside and out so floors, curtains, rugs, sofas – whatever you see in the game, you can find in the movie “, said Keltner. “We also have a cool virtual cabin in the game where you can walk around, look at and hold a bunch of different props from the movies, and even have Jason [the film’s antagonist] run after you. Fans really appreciate this attention to detail and authenticity. We’re doing the same with “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” which we plan to share clips of in the coming month as we continue to work on early development.

Much like “Friday the 13th: The Game”, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” should allow players to play as several different characters, as well as single and multiplayer game modes.

According to Keltner, creating spooky scenarios and environments in multiplayer games is a unique challenge, as music and other cues aren’t proven to be as effective as single-player games.

“In multiplayer, it doesn’t work that way because everyone in space is a human,” Keltner said. “So to create those moments, you have to rather give the player all the tools in the sandbox, and they create their own moments. Sometimes you can play a game where you never get that moment, but it’s going to be a tension constant in the following.

“That’s what gets people hooked. We all used to talk with our friends about what we would have done if we had been in “Friday the 13th” or some other horror movie. In our games. You can put your money where your mouth is and try it.

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