The Calm Before

Denius-Sams Gaming Academy students release first game

Murals give insight into the origin of weapons in the game
and history of the world on the island.

The Denius-Sams Gaming Academy, the gaming leadership academy in the Moody College of Communication, has released its first video game, “The Calm Before,” created by the inaugural class of students under the guidance of industry veterans.

“The Calm Before” can be downloaded here for free.

The game is a first-person, action adventure featuring platforming, puzzle-solving, light combat and multiple paths to victory. Inspired by games including “The Legends of Zelda” and “Deus Ex,” players attempt to turn back the looming storm by battling beasts, solving ancient puzzles and calling upon timeless rituals.

The Denius-Sams Gaming Academy is an intensive, nine-month game development program focusing on leadership and production. Students in the academy learn the unique challenges that face video game studios by working to create their own game, with each student serving as creative director, producer or discipline lead during the production process.

“Nine months ago, 20 strangers — talented programmers, artists and designers — got together to participate in the grand experiment that is the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy,” said Warren Spector, director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. “They spent nine months learning about leadership and management in the classroom and putting these lessons to use in a professional game development environment. The result is ‘The Calm Before,’ a game made and led by those 20 people, no longer strangers but a team of future leaders of the game business.”


Richard Garriott visited a SXSW event to play a version of "The Calm Before."

Spector (M.A., Radio-Television-Film ’80) is a 30-year veteran of the video game industry and has worked on more than 20 production teams as designer, director and producer. He is best known for his work on the “Ultima,” “System Shock,” “Deus Ex” and “Disney Epic Mickey” game series.

The Denius-Sams Gaming Academy also recruited as instructors gaming veterans Joshua Howard, gaming industry speaker, guest lecturer and consultant; and David (D.S.) Cohen, who has written over 400 published articles on gaming history and industry.

“Thanks to this academy and the immense wisdom passed down to us from Warren, Joshua and David, we have been taught to think like executives and consider the big picture within a development cycle, regardless of the position we currently hold,” said Graciela Ruiz participant in the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. “Leadership is not a title - everyone can lead from any position — and that’s what a production team strives to achieve.”


Artists transisted gameplay images by evolving 2D
concepts to 3D assets.

The academy hosted a release party for “The Calm Before” Friday, May 1, 2015, for students and the public to play the game and meet the game creators.

The Denius-Sams Gaming Academy is currently accepting applications for the 2015-16 academic year. Participating students receive a tuition waiver and a $10,000 stipend to assist with fees and housing expenses.

The Denius-Sams advisory council includes numerous industry notables, such as Stephanie Barish, founder of IndieCade; Starr Long, executive producer Portalarium; Erik Bethke, CEO of Bee Caves Games; Greg LoPiccolo, CCO of Harmonix Music Systems; David Bettner, founder or Curious Science and co-creator of “Words With Friends;” among others.

The Denius-Sams Gaming Academy was made possible by contributions from the Cain Foundation and Paul and Susan Sams.

Contacts: Warren Spector, 512-471-5159; Lauren Phillips, 512-471-2182.

Marc Speir
Senior Content Producer