Founder, CEO of 17-BIT, Lead Designer, Artist, Animator, Director, Producer
Jake Kazdak is the Swiss Army Knife of 17-BIT, and in addition to being the CEO of 17-BIT, he is the creator, director and lead designer of Skulls of the Shogun. Not only did Jake design a good portion of the levels, but he created the final art for all of them. In fact, Jake also did most of the art and animation throughout the game, and created all the characters.
After doing very realistic, dark sci-fi concept art for a few years, Jake wanted to really do something totally different, smaller, and work on something very cartoony and goofy, and get back to his roots as an animator and character designer.
Before founding 17-BIT (previously Haunted Temple Studios), Since 1996, Jake has been a Texture Artist, Modeler, Animator, Rigger, Level Designer, Production Designer, Concept Artist and Art Director in the games industry in Seattle, Tokyo and Los Angeles.
Games Jake has shipped include Spider: The Videogame, Twisted Edge Snowboarding, World Rally Championship, Space Channel 5, Space Channel 5 part 2, Rez, Astroboy, Boom Blox, Command and Conquer 4, Blacklight: Tango Down
Favorite games/series include Advance Wars series, Zelda series, Pixeljunk series, Shining Force series, and Plants vs. Zombies
Lead Programmer, Designer
Borut built the core of the engine & tools used in the game (on top of XNA). He’s responsible for the AI, user interface, and all the networking code. He designed a number of campaign maps and in general is the guy that makes sure all the gameplay systems play nice together.
Before working with 17-Bit, Borut worked at Radical, Sony Online, and EA, as well as his own startup White Knuckle Games back in 2001. After leaving EA in 2009, Borut formed his own company, Plush Apocalypse Productions and eventually decided to partner with Jake and 17-BIT in order to make Skulls of the Shogun.
In addition, he’s written about game programming, design, and business, in books like the Game Programming Gems series, Secrets of the Game Business, and industry websites like Gamasutra. He also taught technical game design at the Vancouver Film School.
Games Borut has shipped include Scarface: The World is Yours, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
Favorite games/series: Toejam & Earl, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Zelda, Advance Wars
Designer, Programmer, Writer
Ben Vance is a designer, programmer, and writer on Skulls of the Shogun. In addition to building tech, gameplay, and optimizing, he designed visual effects, in-game feedback, and campaign maps. He also designed and scripted most of the campaign cut-scenes and tutorials.
Ben was itching to work with a small team on something unique when he saw a grid-less Skulls prototype and Jake’s early character designs, inspiring him to join Skulls of the Shogun and help infuse turn-based strategy with arcade, action, and adventure vibes. As a (sometimes) impatient gamer, Ben believed that Skulls could bring a truly inclusive genre to new players with sharp style, tongue-in-cheek attitude, and quick pace.
Skulls of the Shogun’s completion marks Ben’s 10th year of industry work, which includes traveling to studios to help with both small-scale and AAA titles, as well as programming and protoyping at Electronic Arts.
Ben has shipped Medal of Honor: Airborne and developed tech and gameplay for multiple unseen projects, including Doug Church and Steven Spielberg’s “LMNO”.
Favorite games: 720º, Galaga, Ico, Quest for Glory, Space Funeral, Spelunky, Windosil, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker