Dreaming in Digital

The founders of TimeGate Studios are a group of successful businesspeople who made their money in boring ways: biotechnology, real estate, health care, oil and gas. For fun, they played computer-gaming tournaments, but soon found the current titles on the market lacking.

Strategy games -- their favorites -- were often turn-based, which didn't allow continuous action between competitors. Real-time strategy games didn't allow much time for planning, and bogged down the campaigns in a micromanagement of troops, leaving no room for compelling story lines. So the group decided to create the game they wanted to play, one that combines the features of real time, board games, strategy and a healthy dose of the epic fantasy and character-building present in role playing. Thus, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns came into being.

They compiled a production team of artists, programmers and animators with résumés that included such geek classics as Baldur's Gate, Wing Commander and Ultima. The fledgling company's CEO, Alan Chaveleh, designed a basic story for the team to work from, about the revival of an ancient race of immortal beings who fell from power. Once they had a finished product, they shopped it around until they found a distributor.

The game is now in stores nationwide, and reviews in magazines such as PC Gamer and Computer Games have praised the Houston upstart's debut. Kohan has already attained a healthy shelf life without a price reduction, and word is spreading on the Internet as fast as a rumor about Clinton's willy.

An expansion pack is on the way; an engine for TimeGate's next generation of games is in the works; and the team is already eyeing a bigger building. So as most high-tech companies are taking a dive, it looks like a few game-loving execs may have put Swamp City on the digital gaming map.

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Dylan Otto Krider