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Alec Holowka

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Alec Holowka
Alec Holowka 2019 IGF.jpg
Holowka at the 2019 Independent Games Festival
Born(1983-10-30)30 October 1983
Died31 August 2019(2019-08-31) (aged 35)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
OccupationGame programmer, designer, musician
Notable work
I'm O.K – A Murder Simulator
Night in the Woods
Aquaria

Alec Holowka (30 October 1983[1] – 31 August 2019) was a Canadian indie game developer and co-founder of independent game companies Infinite Ammo, Infinite Fall, and Bit Blot.[2] He was known for collaborating with Derek Yu to create Aquaria and freeware game I'm O.K – A Murder Simulator and with Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry to create Night in the Woods.

Life and career

Holowka was introduced to programming at the age of eight when his father purchased him a book Basic Fun. Eventually he began working with a freeware group called Zaphire Productions. He then worked for a number of failed startups, including one in Winnipeg working on a PC multiplayer fantasy action title and a combat racer in Vancouver for the Xbox 360.[3]

Two men stand behind a podium marked Independent Games Festival, while a woman in a blue dress stands to the left.
Jenna Sharpe, Holowka and Derek Yu accepting the grand prize at the 2007 Independent Games Festival.

Holowka acted as sound engineer on the 2006 freeware title I'm O.K – A Murder Simulator as a response to American lawyer Jack Thompson's A Modest Video Game Proposal. Holowka met Derek Yu in the comments section of popular technology website Slashdot in a post regarding Jack Thompson's proposal and along with Chris Hanson and Phil Jones formed satire company Thompsonsoft for the once-off release.[4]

After its release Holowka introduced Yu to a project he had been working on independently, Yu was interested in the project and the two officially formed developer Bit Blot the week before the Independent Games Festival deadline.[2] The project was released on 7 December 2007 under the title Aquaria,[5] and was the recipient of the Independent Games Festival Seumas McNally Grand Prize for 2007.[6]

In October 2013, Holowka and independent animator Scott Benson successfully crowdfunded the game Night in the Woods under the studio name "Infinite Fall".[7]

In August 2019, among a number of other accusations of sexual harassment towards other developers, Holowka was accused of physical and emotional abuse by Zoë Quinn.[8][9] The day following the accusation, the Night in the Woods development team cut ties with Holowka, with Scott Benson stating "We take such allegations seriously as a team",[10] and affirmed that other corroborating evidence related to the accusations had been presented to them.[9][11] Their publisher, Finji, backed the team's decision, and also postponed plans to publish physical copies of the game in wake of the allegations.[12][10]

Holowka died on August 31, 2019. According to his sister, who posted to Twitter about his death, Holowka had been "battling mood and personality disorders" through his life and "was a victim of abuse".[13] She explained he had been trying to correct his own disorders in recent years through therapy and medication. She also stated that Holowka "said he wished the best for Zoë and everyone else".[13][14]

Games

I'm O.K. (2006)

I'm O.K. is a side-scrolling satirical platform shoot-em-up created as a response to Jack Thompson's open letter, "A Modest Video Game Proposal". It was made by Holowka on the game's audio along with Derek Yu for artwork and Chris Hanson on coding, working under the parody studio name Thompsonsoft. It is a "retro" style arcade game, which parodies various famous games, game companies, and game developers, and features its lead character Osaki Kim (or abbreviated "O.K"), going on a murderous rampage against the video game industry.[15]

Aquaria (2007)

Aquaria is an action adventure game, based heavily on exploration. It is an epic story about adventures of Naija, an amnesiac underwater creature, who is in search of information about her family and her past. She explores many ancient ruins of Aquaria, an underwater world created by a mysterious creator. Created by Derek Yu and Alec Holowka, Aquaria is their first commercial game and the winner of the Independent Games Festival's 2007 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.[16]

Owl Country (2008)

In early 2008, Holowka along with a group of other independent developers during the Game Developers Conference 2008 in San Francisco, California created a project with most of the work being done at their hotel, the Holiday Inn. Holowka acted as musician and programmer. The project was created as a response to an incident occurring following Kokoromi's Gamma 256 party following the Montreal International Game Summit in Montreal, Canada.[17]

Paper Moon (2008)

Holowka, along with newly formed developer Infinite Ammo, created Paper Moon, a game that was picked along with another five games to be showcased at the 2008 GAMMA event. It was released on 15 August 2008.[18]

Everyone Loves Active 2 (2008)

Holowka wrote the music for Kyle Pulver's freeware game, Everyone Loves Active 2.[19]

Verge (2008)

Holowka teamed up with Pulver again for Verge, providing the game's music. Verge is a short side scrolling platformer focused on life and death. It was created for and won The Independent Gaming Source's Commonplace Book Competition. An extended version of the game is currently in development.[20]

Crayon Physics Deluxe (2009)

Holowka provided some of the soundtrack for Crayon Physics Deluxe, which was developed by Petri Purho under the developer name Kloonigames, and which received the 2008 Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the 2008 Independent Games Festival.[13][21][22]

Offspring Fling (2012)

Holowka wrote the music for Kyle Pulver's game Offspring Fling.[23]

TowerFall Ascension (2013)

Holowka wrote the music for the indie game TowerFall Ascension, initially released in 2013 for the Ouya, but re-released with the Ascension subtitle and an expanded soundtrack in 2014 for the PS4 and PC markets.[13][24]

Night in the Woods (2017)

Night in the Woods was created by Holowka's Infinite Fall, with development led by Holowka, Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry. Further, Holowka providing the soundtrack for the game.[25] The title won numerous awards including the 2018 Seamus McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival.[26]

Oceanheart

Holowka had been working with Karen Teixeira on Oceanheart, a game that blended elements of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Animal Crossing, which had been announced in 2016. In late 2018, Holowka stated that he and Teixeira had "given up" on the game for the time being.[27][28]

References

  1. ^ "Alec Holowka - Indie House / Night In The Woods [October 2013]". YouTube. FullIndie.
  2. ^ a b "Bitblot - company". Bit Blot. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  3. ^ Wallis, Alistair (23 October 2006). "Road To The IGF: Bit Blot's Aquaria". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 21 December 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  4. ^ Tucker, Michael (16 February 2006). "4cr Interview - Thompsonsoft". 4 Color Rebellion. Archived from the original on 5 November 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  5. ^ "Aquaria - IGN". IGN. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  6. ^ "2007 Independent Games Festival Winners". Independent Games Festival. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Kickstarter page for Night in the Woods".
  8. ^ Graft, Kris (28 August 2019). "New allegations of sexual assault surface against established game devs". Gamasutra. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b Carpenter, Nicole (29 August 2019). "Night in the Woods studio cuts ties with designer after abuse allegations". Polygon. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b McAloon, Alissa (28 August 2019). "Night in the Woods devs cut ties with Alec Holowka after abuse allegations". Gamasutra. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  11. ^ Schreier, Jason (1 September 2019). "Night In The Woods Designer Alec Holowka Dies". Kotaku. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  12. ^ "@NightInTheWoods on Twitter". 28 August 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Woods, Andy (31 August 2019). "Night in the Woods developer Alec Holowka has died". PC Gamer. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Night in the Woods Developer Accused of Sexual Assault Dies". IGN Nordic. 31 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  15. ^ Remo, Chris (7 February 2006). "I'm O.K.: A Murder Simulator". Shacknews. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  16. ^ "2007 Independent Games Festival Winners". IGF. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  17. ^ "TIG Forum Post". TIG. 18 November 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  18. ^ "Kokoromi - Gamma 3D Featured Games Announced". Kokoromi. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  19. ^ "Everyone Loves Active 2 Profile". Kyle Pulver. 31 May 2008. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  20. ^ "Verge Profile". Kyle Pulver. 29 November 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  21. ^ Benedetti, Winda (13 January 2009). "Indulge your inner child with 'Crayon Physics'". NBC News. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Day 2: Music of Crayon Physics Deluxe". Kloonigames. 2 January 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  23. ^ Mallory, Jordan (31 March 2012). "Behold the unrelenting cuteness of 'Offspring Fling!'". Engadget. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  24. ^ Plante, Chris (2 July 2014). "What It Feels Like To Launch An Indie Hit". Polygon. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  25. ^ Byrd, Christopher (2 March 2017). "'Night in the Woods' is great, and a lesson for all game creators in how to develop characters". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  26. ^ Whitney, Kayla (22 March 2018). "Complete list of 2018 Independent Games Festival Awards Winners". AXS. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  27. ^ Serrels, Mark (2 June 2016). "Oceanheart Is Like Wind Waker Crossed With Animal Crossing". Kotaku. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  28. ^ "@InfiniteAmmoDev on Twitter". 12 December 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2019.

External links