Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Dr. Anne Quinn
John Szymanski is having a very busy summer. A second semester sophomore in Edinboro University’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - Game and Virtual World Development program, John recently saw the release of a new game he created, called Sumo Revise, through one of the Internet’s premiere entertainment platforms, and is currently hard at work on a mobile app for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).
“I own an independent game development studio called Cr2cr Studios,” John explained. “I'm the designer, programmer and lead for every game the studio produces, sometimes also acting as artist and music/sound composer.”
John has been working on games since he was a teenager and has released three games through Cr2cr Studios, which he founded at age 16 with a friend in his native Cambridge Springs. Sumo Revise is, however, the first to find its way to Steam, which he calls “the largest and hardest to get on to distribution system in the world for video games.”
“Sumo Revise was about a year-long project between me and my two older brothers, one being the artist and one being the composer, in this particular case,” John said. “I usually market our games myself, but this time around our game was picked up by a publisher, Black Shell Media LLC. The publisher finished our Greenlight campaign within a week of taking over and got Sumo onto Steam.
“Steam is the big distribution service online for video games. Essentially, if you want to be able to sell your game, you go to Steam first and other places later. It’s also very notorious for being very difficult to get onto,” he continued. “You have to go through a community voting process to even be considered, and that’s very difficult; most people cannot get through. Essentially, all this labels me as a professional developer, which is a weird thought.”
John was homeschooled and began his career at EU as a dual-enrollment student during his senior year of high school. Edinboro University offers high school students the chance to earn college credits through dual enrollment opportunities, with most high school students electing to enroll in one or two courses each semester of their junior and senior years, accelerating their education and helping to prepare them for the future. This was particularly true for John, who got the opportunity to take coding/computer programming classes at the college level before fully enrolling at the University.
Animation Career Review recently ranked John’s program, the Game and Virtual World Development track of the BS in Computer Science, 15th on its list of Top 25 Public Game Design Schools and Colleges nationwide; 17th among the Top 25 Game Design Schools and Colleges on the East Coast; and 48th overall among the Top 50 Game Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.
That high level of esteem likely played a large role in LECOM’s interest and confidence in having an EU student create a mobile app to help its students study.
“LECOM contacted the dean [Dr. Nathan Ritchey, Dean of the College of Science and Health Professions] about making games, but they didn't know what they wanted. During one of our meetings with LECOM one of our suggestions was a mobile app-based challenge trivia game, similar to Trivia Crack,” explained Professor David Tucker of the Math and Computer Science Department. “The anatomy professor really liked the idea, so we went with that as a start.”
John began work on the app soon after the end of the spring 2015 semester and will continue through the remainder of the summer to develop two versions of the app, one for Android operating systems, the other for IOS. The intention of the app is to allow LECOM medical students to study for important exams in an engaging way by competing against each other in a trivia game. “The hyper-cool bit is that I get a department office for the summer and multiple computers for different development environments, so it's pretty radical for a summer job,” he said.
Though he still has two years of college remaining, he is already thinking ahead, and expects to continue his already successful work in the field of game development.
Asked were here he saw himself in five years, John responded, “I certainly would like to continue creating games. Since I was 15, all I’ve wanted to do is have my own little independent studio, and I feel like being that I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve broken the large hump, I have some contacts in the industry, [and] I feel like it’s very plausible that I could continue the company.”
John hopes to continue developing new games as he works toward his degree here at Edinboro, with the intention of turning it into a steady enough income – he receives $5 for each game of Sumo Revise sold through Steam – that he will be able to transition Cr2cr Studios into a full-time game development operation by the time of his graduation. “The idea is just take whatever momentum you can from the last product and put it into the next one,” he said.
He credits his time and professors at Edinboro with giving him a greater sense of the bigger picture. “I just have a much larger knowledge base, for lack of a better word,” he noted of what he’s gained from the Game and Virtual World Development program, “about how programming works, about how logic works, and how you construct a years-long project.”