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Hamilton has long been synonymous with the “Steel City” moniker, but a growing market for entrepreneurs is helping to re-shape that perception.

This, along with the growing popularity of online crowd-funding models like Kickstarter have allowed developers like Nathan Dworzak, Parker Martin and Michael Huynh to gather support for their own online action role-playing game they’re calling Dragon of Legends.

The three are founders of Thrive Games, which they initially began in 2013 as Thrive! Entertainment. The project, their first game developed from scratch, is described on their Kickstarter page as a “2D online [action] RPG inspired by Celtic and Norse mythology” and resembles the style and art reminiscent of video games in the early 90s.

“If you grew up playing the Super Nintendo, it’s kind of tapping into that aesthetic,” explained Dworzak.

“But we’re also adding more advanced mechanics, like being able to play the game on any device.”

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At the time of writing, the game had accumulated nearly 500 backers and $18,000 on their Kickstarter with a couple weeks left in their campaign to reach their $60,000 goal.

While the team made the decision to briefly shut down the campaign as they didn’t expect to reach their end goal, Dworzak went on to explain that an investment firm had very recently stepped forward to cover 80 percent of their costs.

The campaign is expecting to re-launch on Kickstarter before the end of February with a more modest goal of $12,000 for the project to be fully funded.

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The project follows in a style of games that have grown in familiarity in recent years. Cult-hit titles like Shovel Knight, and more recently, Undertale, have demonstrated that independent developers like Dworzak and his team can experience critical success with their games, despite having a minimalist approach to the game’s aesthetics.

However, the team at Thrive has certainly spared no expense in attempting to flesh out the world that they’re promising on their Kickstarter page, and the wealth of information they’ve provided on the world and the mechanics of their game indicate just how serious they are.

With a team that Dworzak has estimated to have involved up to 25 people, the input and background of the team has had a variety of influences as well, both within and outside Hamilton. While Dworzak graduated from Wilfred Laurier University with a degree in music composition, Martin graduated from McMaster University with a background in Multimedia/Theatre & Film.

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However, the three co-founders have grown up as friends in Hamilton since middle school, and have shared a passion for video games that they’ve been able to turn into more than just a passion project. They’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with The Forge, a start-up accelerator associated with McMaster, as well as McMaster’s Innovation Park.

“For me, it was just a passion, and I’ve always wanted to make games,” Dworzak explained. “But as a composer, I was limited … I managed to be lucky with the people I knew.”

“We shared the same vision in what we wanted to do; we wanted to create a gaming company that would create heartfelt experiences.”

With their Kickstarter set to re-launch, they’re hoping that others will share in their passion for these experiences.

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