In this Creator Conversation, I speak with Oklahoma City game developer, James Simpson from GoldFire Studios, about their first two video games, CasinoRPG and Exocraft.

How do you describe yourself and what you do at GoldFire Studios?

I do a little bit of everything, but at the end of the day, I’m a game developer that likes to think about business itself as a game. My primary role is technically running the business, but a large chunk of my time is also spent programming, designing, handling support issues, writing, marketing and any other little task that might float my way. 

What can gamers expect when they play CasinoRPG or Exocraft?

They can expect a social/community experience unlike anything they will find on other games. From day one, our focus with GoldFire Studios has been to build amazing communities within and around our games. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into crafting the games to enable our communities to come alive and expand beyond the pixels on the screen. We’ve seen countless stories of new friendships, relationships, group trips and everything in between built through these games.

Who would you recommend CasinoRPG to play and the same for Exocraft?

From its name, you might assume that CasinoRPG is just a game for those that like to visit the casino. This is true to an extent, but there is so much more to it than that. At its core, CasinoRPG is really a business simulation that allows you to collaboratively build the entire city with everyone else in the world while also weaving a storyline through the city streets and back alleys.

On the other hand, Exocraft is much more of an arcade-type experience, but with a more relaxed vibe to it. We’ve often heard from players that they like to kick back and explore the open world as they wind down for the day, which I think is a great way to describe the unique experience that it offers.

What got you interested in making games?

I started developing games when I was in middle school just for fun. I found that I was more interested in trying to figure out how a game worked rather than actually beating the game, so I started tinkering around with programming, graphic design, writing, etc. I instantly fell in love with the whole process of being able to dream something up and then see it come to life on the screen.

What was the greatest challenge you overcame in developing each game?

The challenges with each game were quite different. CasinoRPG was our first major development and it turned out to be a much larger game than we had a budget for. We had to find creative ways of getting to the finish line before running out of cash. With Exocraft, we had already established ourselves with CasinoRPG, which presented challenges in scope. When you aren’t worrying as much about budget, you tend to let your imagination go wild, and a simple game can grow in size and scope rather quickly if you aren’t careful.

What inspired these games?

All of our games have been inspired by the desire to combine different genres in unexpected ways. The idea with CasinoRPG was to create an entire virtual world around casino games to give more meaning to the free-to-play gambling. What we ended up with was a combination of tycoon, city-building, role-playing and casino games.

With Exocraft, we were excited by the trend of simple IO games like AgarIO and SlitherIO, but we felt the genre could be pushed further and made into a true massively multiplayer game. We ended up combining several different sci-fi game ideas each of us had come up with to land on what became Exocraft.

Where are some great places to go to Oklahoma for fun?

Our offices are in downtown OKC for a reason! The revitalization has made this an exciting place to be, whether for work or fun. In fact, everyone on our local team lives right within the area, which is easily walkable to great parks, restaurants, coffee shops, watersport activities and of course Thunder games. If you want to get to get out of the city, my favorite spot is Beavers Bend State Park, which might be one of the most beautiful locations in the state.

Anything else you want to say or let people know?

There are more exciting things going on in the games/tech community in Oklahoma than you might know. While we are still one of only a handful of game development studios in the state, the region is primed to take the next step as the number of indie/hobbyists has exploded in recent years along with the support of great programs at the various universities. We’ve been proud to be a small part of that growth as we’ve been organizing the monthly Oklahoma Game Developers meetup in downtown OKC since 2013.

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Dennis Spielman

I'm Dennis Spielman, the Producer of Uncovering Oklahoma, which I started in 2009 as a way to show that Oklahoma isn't boring. As for about myself, I’m a creative person that writes imaginative stories. I also run The Show Starts Now Studios, which is my umbrella organization for all of my shows I create. Come join me on Patreon as I create content that adds adventure and wonder to peoples' lives. More about my stories and projects are at