The problem with most video games, at least those of the simulator variety, is they still lack photorealism. Five Harvard graduates--Chris Colosi, 24; Brad Kittenbrink, 25; Eric Tulla, 25; Palmer Truelson, 25; and Asi Lang, 25--have developed a technology that finally puts the proper haze on the video-game sunrise.
While in school, the five Ivy Leaguers originally set out to create a fun, easy-to-play game for their forthcoming summer. Instead, they wound up creating Waltham, Massachusetts-based Windward Mark Interactive in 2003. The company provides a technology called WindLight, which the quintet developed while working on their game. WindLight produces lifelike worlds through patent-pending rendering algorithms, allowing developers to use pre-existing models and textures while adding clouds, dust, shadows and lighting.
The five didn't get to this point, however, without going through the usual startup grind. While developing their game during the summer of 2001, Lang and the gang rented a two-bedroom apartment near Harvard--one room served as the office and the other bunked five dreamers. "We gained more valuable knowledge during that summer than we have during any other period," says Lang.
After two years spent perfecting the technology, they decided they should show the video-game world what they had done. So during finals week in 2003, they packed their bags and flew from Boston to Los Angeles for the granddaddy of all video-game conventions, E3. "We left the show with several enormously valuable partnerships in the industry, scores of important contacts and an affirmed sense of the direction we wanted to take our company after graduation," says Lang.
The company now has 10 employees and is continuing work on its yet-to-be-released video game. It's also in talks with some of the world's largest military defense companies that want to use WindLight and other custom solutions for simulators. The company projects sales to reach $500,000 in 2006.