IllFonic pivots to work for hire to complement game development

After Golden Triangle-based videogame developer IllFonic lost its publisher to bankruptcy last year, Founder Charles Brungardt pivoted to contract work to keep the company afloat. 

The move has paid off in the form of projects with Disney, AMD and Crytek.

"We're really skilled with CryEngine," says Brungardt. (CryEngine is Crytek's game development platform.) "That's what's keeping us alive."

Brungardt launched IllFonic in 2007 with Kedhrin Gonzales as a side project to his main gig producing and engineering records for R&B singer Raphael Saadiq.

"I've been working with Raphael since I was just out of college," says Brungardt. While they worked on music together -- and will again -- Brungardt says Saadiq's interest in appearing video game led to the concept for Ghetto Golf, a game that remains in the works.

Brungardt relocated to Denver from Los Angeles to work with Gonzales from a garage, then a studio apartment, then offices above bars on Broadway before relocating to the current offices off Speer Boulevard in June.

IllFonic subsequently acquired the rights to first-person shooter Nexuiz in 2010 and aimed to bring it to market with a publishing deal with THQ, but THQ went bankrupt in 2012 and its distribution went kaput.

Despite the loss of potential back-end royalties, "It's been a great learning experience," says Brungardt.

Today Ghetto Golf and Nexuiz are on IllFonic's back burner as developers work on a "Lovecraft-inspired" fantasy game, Revival, and assorted work-for-hire projects.

"Video games are hard -- it's hard to get to the finish line and it's hard to release them," says Brungardt, adding, "I know we're going to get back to what we want to make -- it's a matter of time."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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