How It Got Started
The Full Story
Jonathan and Jesse have been close friends and have collaborated on numerous projects over the last several years. While the two knew each other in high school, they did not become good friends until they met each other again in college. After running into each other while attending The Ohio State University, their Alma Mater, the two discovered they had many similar dreams and career goals.
Deckpoint Studio was a topic of discussion from as early as 2012. It was not until the summer of 2013 that the two put serious thought into the design of the company. The idea of Deckpoint came from the desire to create a card game RPG created through the Unity engine. The two fleshed out the ideas of the company and the game during the latter part of 2013. After working feverishly on Luckless Seven over the holidays, the two were finally ready to unveil the company in early 2014.
Co-founder and Lead developer
Jesse Kooner is the co-founder and lead developer at Deckpoint Studio. But at the beginning of university, it was all a dream.
A longtime gamer, Jesse was concluding his time at Ohio State University in 2012 with no plans to enter game development. But when a friend showed him their class project #madewithUnity, that all changed. Jesse decided to take a glance at the software, and that casual glance led to hundreds of hours of learning in just that semester.
At the same time, Jesse connected with Jonathan Lee, an old friend from high school. Jesse and Jonathan recounted their fond memories of Knights of the Old Republic and its iconic minigame, Pazaak. Following graduation, in December 2013, Jesse co-founded Deckpoint Studio with Jonathan to pursue their shared goal of combining card games and storytelling in the first ever narrative-focused card game: Luckless Seven.
Early versions of the game pursued a 2D, pixel-art style, but there were some hurdles. (As it turns out, 2D animations are not 33% easier to make than their 3D counterparts.) After about half-a-year of development, Jesse and Jonathan knew they had to change directions, and they knew they would need help to do so.
In 2014, Jesse recruited Emma Salamanca as Luckless Seven’s artist and Brandon Ledbetter as its composer, and the game started to take the shape we know today. After another year of development, Jesse and Jonathan realized that story writing was not their strong suit, and that’s when they brought on Tyler Clementi, who is secretly writing all this. (He’s very good.)
Since then, Jesse has operated as the sole full-time member of the team, acting as lead developer/producer for Deckpoint Studio. In this role, Jesse has had a hand in nearly every aspect of the game. To name just a few, Jesse handles any programming and animations, designs 3D levels, and manages the central card game. Outside of Unity, Jesse handles most administrative work and website design, and one of his most important jobs is coordinating the work and responsibilities for the rest of the team.
Writer and Designer
Tyler Clementi was an old friend of Jesse’s from some philanthropic efforts in college. Tyler joined the Deckpoint Studio team in Summer 2015 to help retool the Luckless Seven narrative ahead of an important Kickstarter campaign.
As part of that work, Tyler planned out a new story, revised the existing characters, and wrote all new dialogue for the opening 45 minutes of gameplay. As part of the campaign, Tyler also wrote promotional text, created marketing graphics, and assembled a video trailer for the game.
After the campaign was successful, Tyler came aboard the project permanently, and has worked part time on the game ever since. His role focuses on writing the Luckless Seven story and the majority of dialogue, but other contributions include level design input, character modeling, creating many of the promotional materials, and even writing biographies for the team. ;)
As a writer, Tyler’s priority is to make Arithia an interesting, historied country; to make the Luckless Seven crew as damaged and likeable as a cast of characters can be; and to make the problems they face super daunting -- while also conquerable via card games.
Co-founder and Community Manager
Jonathan Lee co-founded Deckpoint Studio in December 2013 with his old friend Jesse. United by fond memories of KOTOR, Jonathan and Jesse worked together in the early days of Deckpoint to build a better card game in the image of Pazaak.
In those early days, Jonathan balanced studying in graduate school with designing some of the essential systems that undergird Luckless Seven to this day: Ekosi and the dialogue system. Over time, the burden of graduate school and playing a heavy development role in the game took its toll, and Jonathan stepped into a part-time role as Community Manager in late 2015.
Since then, Jonathan has continued to assist with some of the game’s dialogue, team coordination, and, most importantly, community management. Jonathan’s community management responsibilities entail pleasures such as engaging with the #gamedev community on Twitter, reaching out to games’ journalists for promotion, and building a sentient robot, Jon-E, to tell gamers about Luckless Seven so he won’t have to.
Emma Salamanca has been an artist for as long as she can remember. Starting with her childhood drawings in Spain, Emma went on to receive formal instruction in drawing and painting. Following her formal education, Emma’s constant drive to improve led to her self education in 3D character modeling. (And thank goodness. If not, Jesse or Tyler might have been responsible for shaping Luckless Seven’s protagonist!)
Proficient in a variety of 2D and 3D artforms, Emma has constructed art for games, illustrations, and comics since 2005. When Emma joined the Deckpoint team in 2014, she began to put her wide array of skills to work. In her years of service, Emma has overseen the transition from an initial pixel art style to the photorealistic 3D art style of today. In that effort, Emma has created each one of the hundreds of portraits that give Arithia with its wide array of characters.
But that’s not all. Emma also created the 3D model for our hero, Mark. On the 2D side, Emma has created a lot of the UI graphics, including those used as observation icons in the overworld, the phone’s menu buttons, and even the dialogue system’s animations. Finally, Emma has created and continues to work on some of our larger art pieces including the map of Arithia and the cityscape used in L7’s loading screen and plenty of promotional images.
You can check out more of her work on her DeviantArt page or her website.
Composer and Sound Designer
Brandon Ledbetter has a long history with games and music. Back in high school, Brandon got his start by taking apart an original Gameboy to make his very first chiptune music. When Jesse went searching for the right person to create the Luckless Seven soundtrack, Brandon -- a friend from the area -- was his number one candidate.
Brandon’s come a long way since the chiptune days. Since 2014, Brandon has composed over 25 tracks for the game -- enough that the Soundcloud playlist takes an extra second to load all of them. And, in this secret narrator’s opinion, each one has been better than the last.
Brandon is responsible both for creating engrossing, meditative, and inspiring ambient tracks for the game’s overworld and for creating the exciting battle tracks for the fast-paced card gameplay. Making that diverse range of music requires a wide array of musical skills, but Brandon’s greatest skill may be his ability to comprehend and convert the rest of the team’s musically-challenged requests into the perfect sounds for the game.
You can listen to several of his works and our Luckless Seven soundtrack on his SoundCloud.