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In the game

By Eric Jou | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-23 08:23

In the game

Retro game lover and game designer Zhou Lu never leaves home without his Wonder Swan Console. It's even present on his desk at work. Provided to China Daily

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A passion for classic video games brought two entrepreneurs together, and now a work of their own delivers both a look back and a taste of the future, Eric Jou reports.

In a homey three-bedroom apartment in the northern outskirts of Beijing, three programmers type code on dual-monitored computers. An artist dabbles at a digital masterpiece magnified by the computer screen, and on the sidelines, creative director Zhou Lu listens to the latest change in the music.

In this apartment is Onipunks Studios, an independent video-game developer on the verge of shipping its first game. However, unlike traditional developers, whether indies or mainstream, Onipunks crowd-sourced with to finance its debut.

The brainchild of Beijing-born Zhou and artist Mu Fei, Onipunks began life as Zhou's graduate-school project while he was studying in Paris.

"My professor, instead of giving a final, had the class apply the use of artificial intelligence," says Zhou. "So for my project, I made a game."

Through his final project, Zhou reached out to artists back home in Beijing for help and eventually was linked to his soon-to-be artistic director Mu Fei. After the project was finished, Zhou shelved the product and went on to find work in the France-based company Ankama Games.

"Most people burn out in the industry after a few years, but for me it was a matter of months," says Zhou, who soon left to pursue computer-programming work in Canada. Meanwhile, Mu was working on his own projects back in art school, as a 3-D contractor for animation companies and commercials.

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