Ready to respawn: alumni launch new game

Thursday 21 May 2020

Smash hit smartphone games like Pokemon Go, Candy Crush, Angry Birds, and Fortnite have taken the world by storm. It’s no surprise that mobile games account for 43% of smartphone use.

Two alumni from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science have followed their passion for all things gaming, and have developed their own smartphone game.

Benjamin Salgado and Artem Afanasyev met at ANU, while studying a Masters of Computing.

The pair both work full-time in computing, and are establishing start-up business Odd Vessel Games in their free time.

Ben says he’s been drawn to computers and development since he was a child, when he had the chance to play with the source code on some simple games.

“It was so exciting to be able to change a few numbers and words in text, and see interesting and flashy results on the screen. I also really enjoy the complexity, challenge and then the great sense of accomplishment when you solve a complex issue or task,” he said.

For Artem, the road to ANU was less direct. He began his career in Russia working in economics and finance. Artem enjoyed programming and automation work, so jumped at the opportunity to move to Australia to pursue a Master of Financial Management and Master of Computing at the ANU.

Both believe that studying at ANU has provided them with a strong base to start their professional and entrepreneurial careers.

“ANU taught me a great deal about working in teams and common software engineering tools and practices. It also gave me a solid computer science foundation, which now allows me to learn and understand newer technologies much easier and faster than if I didn't have this base knowledge,” said Artem.

The pair met while working together on a project during the Computer Science TechLauncher program.

TechLauncher connects ANU students with partners in industry, technology experts and entrepreneurs across the ACT. Students work with real-world clients to complete projects addressing complex problems in a variety of disciplines and industries.

Benjamin found the program particularly formative, and enjoyed working with industry partners as part of a team.

“The practice of actually having to deliver a product, and the expectations from the program itself really help you push yourself to achieve your goal. I would not be where I am today if not for some great contacts from the ANU. I am proud to be a graduate and alumni,” he said.

Ben and Artem are excited to see all their hard work pay off, with the launch of their first smartphone game Grumpy Dwarf

“The project has had plenty of ups and downs. However, each failure has come with learning and experience. After a lot of work, mistakes, and issues we were ready to release our first game into the market!” said Ben.

Artem agrees this will be a career highlight to date.

“TechLauncher helped me connect with the right people and develop a business mindset. We've been working hard on our game release, which started as a TechLauncher project, for the last three years. It will be really interesting and, hopefully satisfying, to see the final result. The next goal is to make our company self-sustainable.”

Download Grumpy Dwarf now on Apple or Google Play. You can also get in touch with Benjamin or Artem directly. 

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing