India Yarborough|Topeka Capital-Journal
For Tyler Jaggers, a video game developer from California's San Francisco Bay Area, moving to Topeka late last year allowed him to make serious progress on a new game he recently released to the public.
Jaggers is one of ahandful of individuals who hastaken advantageof the amended Choose Topeka relocation initiative since early September, which is when it wasupdatedto allow remote workers to apply.
Topeka and Shawnee County's Joint Economic Development Organization voted Sept. 9to allow a portion of the funds previously allocated for Choose Topeka to be usedto bring remote workers to the area. And according to Barbara Stapleton, vice president of business retention and talent initiatives for the Greater Topeka Partnership, five individuals doing remote work have moved to the capital city with help from the updated program.
Stapleton said that brings the total number of Choose Topeka applicants who have already made the move to about 30.
Those five remote workers, she said, came from elsewhere in Kansas and from California, Missouri, Texas and Washington.
The worker from California, of course, was Jaggers, who on Dec. 15 released his secondindie video game his first fromTopeka under the publisher name"Overidon Omnimedia."
Jaggers said last year he began considering moving away from his previous home, as the cost of living in Californiahad become too expensive.
And as he searched online for U.S. cities with good amenities and reasonable housing costs, he stumbled upon Topeka and the Choose Topeka initiative.
"Topeka seemed to have a good blend of access to internet, access to freeways. There's a commercial area, Wanamaker Road. There's lots of stuff going on," he said. "With COVID and everything, what's really the difference between a big city if you have internet?"
He began getting serious about his search around the time theChoose Topeka program was amended to include remote workers, and by October he had packed up his things and was headed for Kansas.
A couple months later, Jaggers had made significant progress on his work, a new indie video game called "Kontrol Flow," and was preparing to release it to gamers worldwide via the gaming platform Steam.
According to Jaggers, the low cost of living in Topeka andhis new home here, which he considers an incrediblevalue, have given him more freedom. Because he isn't worrying as often about how manygames he might have to produce to financially sustain himself as he looks to become a full-time video game developer, he is able to flex his creativity and pursue his passion on his own terms.
"The value you get is massive," Jaggers said while talking about his new house."And that's the exciting part moving every day closer and closer toward freedom, financial freedom because you can just be creative and release stuff and then you see money coming in."
Jaggers said he has been inspired by some of his surroundings in Topeka and was able to finish up the last bit of "Kontrol Flow" fairly quickly after moving.
"Kontrol Flow," he said, has been in the making for about four years. It isa retro-inspired pixel art puzzle game in which gamers must repair energy systems in a fictional town by problem solving and mending generator connectionsusing interactive fuses.
"The purpose is you're having to basically connect the dots but with energy, and make sure that the energy can get to the other side," Jaggers said. "It starts out very simple, but it gets more complex and requires that the person uses some logic and maybe a little bit of planning in order to plan a successful route."
Jaggers said "Kontrol Flow" is designed for casual gamersthat want to be challenged. "Kontrol Flow" is designed to build critical-thinking skills, he added, and it rewards gamers for recognizing the real-world scientific knowledge that inspired certain aspects of the game.
"It's almost like a very casual introduction to electronics in a sci-fi setting," he said.
Jaggers saidinitial feedback he has gotten from gamers indicates "Kontrol Flow"is more challenging than his first video game, "Double Memory," which was released in 2017.
"Which is what I was hoping for," he added.
According to Jaggers, "Kontrol Flow," since being released last month,has already brought in about a third of the total revenue he saw from "Double Memory," which has been on Steam for more than three years. "Kontrol Flow" can be bought and downloaded for about $7.
"This is major for me," he said.
Much like creating music or acting,Jaggersconsidersvideo game developmenta type of art form.
"Game development, especially indie game development, I think is the perfect sweet spot of creativity and engineering," he said.
Andultimately, he added, revenue from "Kontrol Flow" is less important to him than whether people are having fun while playing.
Jaggers said he has already gotten started on his next video game, and he hopes to produce at least a couple more titles while remaining in Topeka. The next one, he said, may be more of an action game. Regardless,he strives to be intentional whendesigning each piece of the puzzle.
"Making a game for me doesn't usually happen faster than a year. I don't want to rush it," Jaggers said. "I want to make it so all the art makes sense in the context of every other piece. ... Every tile, every pixel was designed with intention. I'm going to do that for every single title moving forward."
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