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In Focus | Aaron Hibberd of Hibby Games

In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition for the people, businesses and organizations that help make our city great. The team at KelownaNow.com is passionate about this community and the people that make it amazing. We want to show our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues that we notice them and the fabulous things that they do.

What is your name?
Aaron Hibberd

Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
I'm from Summerland, but I moved here in 2006 to work at Club Penguin.

Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My buddy Andrew because I can only really bond with someone over a good video game. We can sit there and play Uncharted for 12 hours straight and both have a good time because we're truly appreciating how amazing and beautiful the game is.

If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
At this moment nowhere, I'm pretty content where I am, but Nintendo is working on a theme park with Universal in Japan. In the future, once they have a little "Hyrule Land" set up I'd love to go there and wander Hyrule Field because that would be a dream come true.

What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
I think the Naked Cafe is pretty cool because it's good clean vegan food, and they're a small new business so I wish them well.

What is your favourite activity?
Zoning out, stuffing my face with food, and playing a good, deep, immersive, single player game, like an Elder Scrolls.

If you had to choose: pizza, tacos, or burgers?
Vegetarian pizza, because Ninja Turtles, and I'm not a fan of eating animals.

What is a hidden gem you enjoy in the Okanagan?
Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, I really enjoy listening to a good audiobook and hiking way out there. It's nice to be alone in nature, I've come across all kinds of wildlife. I've accidentally walked dangerously close to a group of sleeping moose, starting them up, apparently, they could have trampled me to death, but they didn't and it was awesome.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I don't know why I did this, but without any thought, I swallowed a garlic clove like a pill. It got stuck in my throat. I couldn't cough it up, so I tried jumping up and down for a while. That didn't work and I kept throwing up, so I couldn't drive. I rang my landlord's doorbell. The hot daughter answered the door. She gave me a ride to the hospital in her perfect luxury car, while I repeatedly threw up into a grocery bag right in front of her. I would say I threw up about 50 times. This was our first conversation, after throwing up I tried to make jokes but they kept getting cut off by throwing up again. As soon as we got to the hospital, I immediately coughed it up and we drove back. When I left Disney they made me a goodbye card and it has a picture of garlic on the back of it, haha those bastards.

What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
When Disney bought Club Penguin and I got to be there to come along for the ride. That whole experience. I was able to be in the same room as some really impressive people, like Bob Gurr who designed things like the Monorail, and the Jurassic Park T-Rex. Artists who have worked on big movies. We were almost bought by companies other than Disney, so before that, some other big guys came through. Katzenberg, the CEO of Dreamworks, looked at my game (Catchin Waves), gave me a pat on the shoulder and said "good job," this blew my mind. Then I got to make games for Club Penguin that were officially themed Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar etc. Some kids got a tour of the studio and I let them play a prototype game (Puffle Launch) that I was working on, it blew their minds. That was all really inspiring.

Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
When we went to the mall and bought a Nintendo 64, and I held that box in my arms.

Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
Right now I'm sponsoring the development of the Atomic Game Engine. I think what they're doing has great potential and it's open source. It's good for the indie dev community to have an open source option so they don't have to pay any license fees or royalties on their work, and anyone can access the code to fix bugs in the engine. On YouTube, I've made several easy to follow Unity Tutorials for people, especially students, who want to learn how to make games. This is valuable free info that I wished I had in school. What I would like to do is build my own game studio and provide jobs to the local community in Kelowna. No outsourcing. Good well-paid jobs, making games with solid quality gameplay.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Gamify everything.

What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
Hiking.

Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
I live alone in a quiet area, so I can just chill at home.

Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
This town needs more doctors. Family doctors for everyone! That virtual walk-in clinic is a great idea, though. Also, the bus drivers need to be armed with shotguns (joking), there are some really horrible crazy people that harass them, I've seen it first hand, it's ridiculous. Maybe a police officer could be disguised and sitting in a different random bus each day, just waiting to make an arrest. Cameras are good, but that's not enough for these maniacs, there needs to be serious consequences, we need to send a message.

If you were granted one wish for work or in life, what would it be?
Hibby Games would have its own fancy building downtown, with multiple teams developing games that rival Naughty Dog.

Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I once bought 4,000 bitcoins for like $500 by wrapping cash in a newspaper, and mailing it to some guy called "Bitcoin Morpheus". His address was different every time, and even his emails had weird encrypted looking addresses so he could never be tracked. He came through each time, it worked and I would have been a millionaire, but I was dumb and held them on a wallet website, they were stolen when the website disappeared during the first Bitcoin Bubble. I tried again in the next Bitcoin Bubble when it got easier with online exchanges to buy and sell on. I sold and made enough after taxes to quit my job and cover living expenses for two years. I'm crazy.

What is the name of your business/organization?
Hibby Games

What does your business do?
We're using Unity to develop games for desktop and mobile. Our first release, FunCar Kit, was not actually a game, but an Asset Kit for indie developers. It was made in partnership with Redhead Robot and released in 2015 on the Unity Asset Store. We made all the code to easily put together a car and drive it around with tun-able handling and physics. The developer can use included vehicles, or attach their own custom car model, tweak some settings to determine how it handles and start driving right away without having to write code. It's a starting point for building a racing game. We also have some great music in there composed by Chris Hendricks. The idea was to both sell the FunCar Kit and use it ourselves as the foundation for a kart racer. It was chosen by Unity as a Staff Pick and promoted, so that's pretty cool. We're still working on the Kart Racer. We're also working in partnership with Nick Pfeifer on Star Prix, which will be his IP. We go way back, he's a Game Designer that I made my first successful Flash game with before I started at Club Penguin. This will be a free to play racing game on mobile. You can see a theme here, more racing! In the early prototype stage, we've got a game where you're bouncing on "birbs" the concept art was made by Rachel Eady. Another prototype is about a crazy goldfish name Knifey that is a jerk and throws knives at everyone. The Knifey concept art was made by Cale Atkinson. I think those are going to be hilarious.

How do people connect with you through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
My YouTube Channel: AaronHibberd3D
On Facebook: Hibby Games. Indie devs that are learning Unity can share their work here.
My Instagram: bitcoinhibby
My Twitter: @bitcoinhibby

Where can people find your business online?
HibbyGames.com

Why did you get into/start this business?
I love video games. I love making games. I love them. I climbed the corporate ladder and hit the ceiling for making games inside a company, the only way to move up higher was to do things I hate like public speaking, and not actually focused on creating games. I also demanded more money and ran out of things to learn. There was nowhere to grow, and no bigger money to make, that was as high as I can get as an employee. So that was good for my 20s, but I thought about how I really want, or should spend my 30s. In 10 years I could either be in the exact same place, which is a nice safe dream job at Disney, or I can jump off a freaking cliff right now and start my own company. I might lose that dream job, fail, and have nothing, but maybe I can hustle around that damn ceiling. As the boss, there's no ceiling, no set salary, if I release a hit game the rewards have enormous potential. I also love seeing the art that people make, and I hate seeing it stifled by suits, so I want to hire people and grant them creative freedom to make the amazing things that would never be "approved" by the higher ups in most companies
For some reason, people always gave me the nickname Hibby, and whenever I made a challenging game, people would say things like "of course it's hard, it's a Hibby game!. So that's why I went with the name Hibby Games.

What is the goal of your business?
To be the greatest game developer in the world.

What has been your biggest struggle either in work or life?
I'm a socially awkward introverted nerd, with ADD, and I have mini anxiety attacks before talking on the phone.

If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I used to want to redo things in my past, but honestly who wants to live through all that nonsense again, no thanks, I'll leave things as they are, I'm pretty content with how things are going right now.

Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
To support the local businesses and people that I share Kelowna with, and local food is going to be fresher, healthier, and create less pollution by being delivered shorter distances.

Give someone that you think deserves it a shout out and explain why!
Mike Czuboka of Ignite Design, he made the Hibby Games logo and I LOVE it! I also have the sickest business cards ever thanks to him. He took me through a really well thought out design process and it was just a great experience.

My nomination for the In Focus spotlight is:
Jacob Cinkant of Gigatross Games, they've put some games up on Steam and it would be interesting to hear about that.

Other information you would like to share:
I want to say I have great respect for Shigeru Miyamoto for making Mario, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, Zelda etc, but I also look up to Lance Priebe, the creative guy behind Club Penguin and Hyper Hippo. When I met him it was at a Flash User Group, and they made us introduce ourselves, he was right before me. He said he's making a Flash game, I said I was in school and wanted to make Flash games, then someone was like "So you want to be him!" and they laughed. It's interesting that not much has changed, he has the Hyper Hippo Game studio now, and I want to make a game studio, I just think that's pretty funny
If you are or want to be an entrepreneur, I recommend looking up Evan Carmichael on YouTube, he has a playlist called Top 10 Rules for Success. It's really motivating, I watch some of that every morning for breakfast.

We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kelowna.


 
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