AIE Alumni game, Ascending Inferno, funded by Screen Australia

Oppolyon Studios, which has six AIE Alumni and an AIE Trainer, has been awarded funding from Screen Australia for their upcoming game "Ascending Inferno." This rage-inducing precision platform game blends voxel and pixel art together to reimagine Dante's Inferno. In it, you follow the journey of Dani, and the soul of her deceased brother, Vincent.

Introduced last October, Screen Australia announced over $1.6 million in support of 12 games through the Games Production Fund, and 15 games through the Emerging Gamemaker's Fund. These grants and support from the Federal Government exemplify a commitment to nurturing homegrown talent and portray an exciting and healthy future for the Australian game development industry.  

 The sibling duo must work together if they wish to progress through Dante's nine layers of Inferno, with the ultimate goal of ASCENDING INFERNO.   

The game’s inspiration stemmed from the team competing in several game jams, time-limited events where developers craft a game from start to finish. With the team sharing a passion for similar style games, they ultimately decided upon Ascending Inferno to be their inaugural project, as it paired well with the current landscape of the online streamer and content creating gaming community.   

Scroll further down for an interview with Oppolyon Co-Founder and AIE Game Design Trainer Isaac Iozzi. 

What inspired the creation of the game?  

When we first started Oppolyon, we weren't quite sure what we wanted to make. There was a bit of a debate around what we should do for our first game, but we eventually settled on the idea of doing a Game Jam every weekend for a whole month. Each weekend had a different prompt, with the first prompt being Platformer, 2nd was Horror, third was Roguelike and fourth was RTS.  

Ascending Inferno started off from that first game jam, when we finished them all we circled around and thought it was the best fit as all of us really like Foddian games and speedrunners.  We also watch a lot of content creators who normally play these types of games as well!  


How long has the team worked on the project? 

Originally, we planned for production to last us about 8 months. However, at around the 6th month mark one of our artists pitched a drastically new direction for our art style. This change in direction would mean a complete overall of the existing progress. We discussed the obvious scope creep and what this overhaul would mean for the project, and we all ended up agreeing with this new direction since this was more of a passion project then a set-in stone thing. We've now total been working on Ascending Inferno for about 1 year and 8 months.  


What was the team’s biggest challenge? 

100% was going from originally a 4-person team (the original 4 co-founders) to a team of over 10. This change meant that things like our project management and documentation had to be rock solid, for us to make progress.  

For reference we ended up going from having no dedicated artist with just me and my partner doing art on the side to a full art team of 5 plus!! This also was one of our biggest blessings as we ended up working with an even larger team of people who share our crazy vision for our silly little ball game.  


What was your favourite part of the journey? 

Ahh this is a tricky one as there are so many ups and downs that naturally come with game dev. If I had to narrow it down, I'd say just after we showcased at PAX in 2023. Being in Canberra is great, but since the community is small it meant that we didn't get much playtesting or validation for if there was an audience for this game and if people enjoyed it or not.  

When we showcased at PAX, we were super nervous about the reception we would get but we were absolutely blown away by the love and support that people showed. At this point we'd worked on the game for over a year, and this was the first time we were doing a proper games showcase. So, seeing crowds of people around our booth waiting to play (to the point where we had to move people on because they were blocking the walkway) was an amazing feeling.  

We set up a speedrun board for the showcase, and people were playing the demo, going home to practice, and coming back the next day to try and get a place on the board. Seeing that level of dedication was awesome! 


Any additional comments? 

I want to say thank you kindly to Screen Australia for the support with this grant! This grant enables us to fully realize the vision we have for Ascending Inferno.  

The team as well for all the craziness we've gone through to get here. And to AIE and GamePlus for the invaluable connections I’ve gained through being in the space.  


We’re proud and excited to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Oppolyon Studios for their remarkable achievement.

AIE would also love to congratulate all the Australian game developers that received funding through the Screen Australia Games Production Fund and Emerging Gamemaker's Fund. We take immense pride in the exceptional talents of our staff and alumni, many of whom have contributed to the teams that secured funding. We eagerly await the release of your games! 


Game credits:  

Co-founders: Isaac Iozzi, Rebecca Haller-Trost, Ben Anderson and Bas Anderson
3D artists: Martin Daniel Widdowson, Ricky-Lee Huddson-Stephens and Lachlan Smith
2D artists: Chris Ottey and Fauzi Raisyuli
Community manager: Div Randev
Composer: Dan Poole 

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