A brief history of Graphite Lab!

raitheoshowraitheoshow Developer
edited July 2015 in About the Studio
“Ah, but remember faint hearts never won fair lady. Fear not, my friends. This will be my greatest performance.”
- Robin Hood, Walt-Disney Animation, 1973

Hello fellow Jumpers!

I’m Matt, Studio Director and founder of Graphite Lab…sounds fancy, huh? Well, our “founding” was a little less extravagant and official than those titles may imply. We’re a studio full of developers that are likely a lot like you: guys and gals who are passionate about games and art, and story and code, and all other things in-between. We put games first, and egos last. We care about the details, dearly. We aren’t beneath taking on a few work-for-hire projects from time to time if it means growing our team and our understanding of game development as a whole. We are Graphite Lab and we’re glad you are here!

Our story begins back in 2004, in Springfield, Missouri, USA where a group of entrepreneurs decided to start a game development studio called Black Lantern Studios. Those founders hired a recent art graduate named Matt Raithel (hey, that’s ME!) as a 3D modeler for the studio. I spent the next 5 years working with Black Lantern moving through the ranks, even leading that studio as President for a short time, before the founders of that company were willing to back me in this new venture we call Graphite Lab.

My vision was to expand Black Lantern Studios by growing this new partner-studio in a slightly larger city that was nearby, but not close enough to compete for talent and projects with Black Lantern. Graphite Lab would be a lean and mean team focused on finding new ways for Black Lantern to make different games and new technology. We would explore development for mobile, and facebook. We would (GASP!) make a Blackberry app, and websites. We would do art contracting for bigger studios and we would even consider crowdfunding. So, armed with some insanity and a pocketful of courage, I moved back to my hometown of St. Louis, MO to grow this new studio.

Graphite Lab started in January of 2009 under the name Black Lantern Studios: St. Louis. Fancy, huh?! Since we were still part of Black Lantern, just working in a different city, we did our first project as a work-for-hire for a Black Lantern Client: KONAMI. The project was a platformer based on a Cartoon Network show, called BEN 10: Alien Force. It was released on XBLA and WiiWare in 2010 and met with so-so reviews. We knew we could do better! So we continued to hone our gaming chops (and grow the team) over the next few years by completing more work-for-hire projects for companies like Activision, THQ and Take Two Interactive.

Along the way, we developed great relationship with Hasbro and began strengthening our foundation by working on some of their biggest brands. In doing this we recognized our talent in making great products for others, but also an intense desire to bring something of our own to the world. In early 2011 we started working on a few different original titles: games about fish who get flushed down pipes, and train conductors who can’t seem to keep their trains on the tracks surfaced and were discussed – but none really took off.

Then in late 2012 the stars aligned and our team began cooking up an idea about navigating dangerous tunnels while blasting baddies in a quest to find the end of the tunnel. We tinkered with the tunnels, and characters, explored different movement controllers and even different engines (GameMaker vs Unity was an active discussion for a while). This tunnel-game idea eventually evolved to include a theme of sci-fi space marines who explore said “tunnels” to battle the crustacean-like race called Ordovicians and thus was born HIVE JUMP.

The team stayed hard at work on a combination of titles (hey, we gotta pay ‘dem bills, right?) with Hive Jump nearest to our hearts. With this combination of skill and passion, we’ve grown our team from 1 rascally founder to 12 amazing developers over the last 3 years and have enjoyed bringing great games to the world all along the way.

Present day, Hive Jump has successfully cleared Steam Greenlight, has earned over $60,000 via crowdfunding website KICKSTARTER and has been ranked among the most promising multiplayer games at PAX South. It is an audacious blend of firepower, bug guts and technical feats that don’t come cheap in the indie scene. But we’re up for the challenge.

So buckle up, JUMPERS, 'cause Hive Jump will be our greatest performance yet!



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