The Team

Defiance Game Studio is an indie effort by LordYabo in Toronto, Canada:

Thomas Henshell — Game Design, Programming

LordYabo, aka Thomas, is a self taught programmer who worked in business software for 15 years in predominately C++ and C#. The last 8 years were in mobile. But secretly, at night, when no one was watching, Thomas was building bits of game engines, add ons to games (like SimCity 4 Auto Saver). Thomas enjoys all types of games: Sports, FPS, Simulators, RPGs, Strategy, Business Management, Puzzle, Action, MMO, be they Mainstream or Indie, whether on Mobile, Console, or PC. He also enjoys table top gaming, such as Euro boardgames, Magic the Gathering, Space Hulk, Warhammer Fantasy, Flames of War, and GMing D&D campaigns. He was very excited to get his PS4 on launch day only to find out there are no good launch titles, so it is a giant over priced netflix watcher.  Thomas uses C# and Unity to create games.


Here in no particular order are the people on the Archmage Rises “team bus”:

Rogier van de Beek – Primary 2D Artist

Almost every piece of artwork you’ve seen of Archmage comes from Rogier’s hand.  I trolled Deviant Art for months and tried several artists before I found what I like to call “The Dutch Master.”  Based in the Netherlands, Rogier has worked as a game artist on many titles from World War II to fantasy to Sci-Fi, but his favorite setting is fantasy. I’m impressed that he did card art for the World of Warcraft trading card game. You can see his impressive portfolio on Deviant Art.

Nic Biondi – Game Mechanics & Coding

Nic is an indie game dev at Soulareus who is currently working on Hard Lander a competitive physics-based four-player game. Nic is all about iterative development and game mechanics.  He is helping to ensure that each subsystem of Archmage Rises is fun on its own and fits within the whole.  When I need help with unity or coding, Nic is my “go to” guy.

Luis Levy and Jeannie Novak – PR & Marketing

If you’ve heard of Archmage Rises it’s because of Luis and Jeannie  :-)  They are the principals at Novy PR, a firm they started in 2011 to focus on indie developers. Luis has worked in the game industry as a QA tester (Quake 4Call of Duty 3) and wrote two books with Jeannie (who is the lead author and series editor of the Game Development Essentials textbook series). Together, they have helped countless PC and mobile games get exposure through their numerous press contacts.

Andrew Hoogheem – Story & Dialogue

Andrew has worked in the publishing industry for 10+ years, has a masters in English, is currently pursuing a PhD, and is a full-time professor teaching creative writing at Blackhawk College in Ohio. Andrew is not a gamer. This concerned him. He has read The Lord of the Rings, but not much other fantasy fiction. This also concerned him. He’s never written for the video game medium before.  Thisreally concerned him.  I think these are all assets, not deficits.  Most video game writing is pretty terrible. There are tropes and cliché cheese a plenty.  I think bringing in an outsider, an expert in proper literature, is exactly what this project needs. I sent Andrew an excerpt from the beginning of Planescape: Torment. Once he read it, he immediately saw that video games can be a compelling written medium, and immediately signed on. You can see his LinkedIn profile.

James Maranetette – Sound & Music

James is a talented musician, composer, and effects artist.  We worked on some previous projects together.  He went to Full Sail for game music composition. We’re going for a soundtrack that reimagines the genre and turns heads—like the Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP soundtrack.  He is also excited about all the interesting sound effects he can make for the magic and ambiance in the game.  He lives in Portland, Oregon. You can listen to his tracks here.

Darryl Spratt – Graphic Design

Darryl is a fellow Canadian who went to school for graphic and game design. He has worked in the game industry and focuses on design and UI. I worked with Darryl before on a few projects and I’ve always been impressed with his work.  Darryl made the Archmage logo . . . twice. :-)   I was super happy with the first one, but the consensus was that it wasn’t “hardcore” enough.  So he outdid himself making a second one.  You can see his portfolio here.



  1. Matt August 8, 2014 3:33 pm  Reply

    I read your post on gamasutra today, and wanted to congratulate you on putting as much out there as you did about the inner and personal-workings of your ventures.
    I wish you well in your efforts in the PC space. I find myself worrying about the issues from mobile moving into that space (crowding, curation, race to the bottom, etc), but it’s still the better option… for now.

    I got started with games at a young age, in a similar manner to you, though I am a few years older. I made the career leap into gamedev from writing business software almost 20 years ago and just recently left it for complex reasons (though my career there was probably a good bit better than average.)

    Best of luck,

  2. Eugen Udrea August 8, 2014 7:03 pm  Reply

    Hello Thomas, just read the article on Gamasutra (Why I’ve Said Goodbye to Mobile in Favor of PC) and I wanted to let you know your experience is full of learning aspects and heart. I, like most Indie developers, have been in similar situations, when you get down to the bottom, it can only go up from there on.
    Just wanted to say Hi in hopes that your game will succeed in the way you imagine. Keep at it, you’re on the right path!
    If we can help you in anyway, let us know!

  3. nick August 8, 2014 9:26 pm  Reply

    can’t find an email address anywhere on this site… seems silly to say in public but just wanted to let you know you speleed sid meier’s name wrong on the front page of the archmage site.

  4. Branden W. August 10, 2014 3:24 pm  Reply

    I just finished reading your write-up on Gamasutra and felt compelled to contact you. Compelled, because a lot of our situations are the same.

    I’m a designer that has spent a lot of time designing for pen and paper RPGs (2nd, 3.5, Pathfinder) and about 3 years ago I decided to devote my time to the biggest passion in my life (besides my beautiful family), game development.

    So here I am, I have no contacts, I knew nothing of the mechanics behind developing a game for the PC, but I have one thing that has got me through learning everything from art and sound assets (blender, audacity), programming (C++, C#, unityscript), and an IDE (Unity3d), passion. So much of it that I’ll go as far as learning everything myself, and on my own, just to ensure that I can do this thing that both of us love so much.

    But that’s my problem. I’m taking on the monumental task of learning EVERYTHING myself because I have no capital, no contacts, and no friends that are interested in game development. I’ve been so discouraged this last week, that I’ve thought about giving up and taking the day-job that I know my beautiful wife would love me to get.

    So yeah, reading your story brought tears to my eyes. Not only because it’s a sad tale with an uplifting “ending”, but because it was like reading my own story in some regards. I’ve had the same thoughts about designing educational-fun games for my two boys, I come from the same design background (pen and paper), I have that same passion that your emitted in your article, and I’m in what feels like a hopeless situation.

    But it’s inspiring to see someone else that is in somewhat the same situation (even if you’re years ahead of me in experience and progress), so I wanted to say thank you. Thank you very much for the inspiration and thank you for sharing your story. Take care and good luck, Thomas. I really hope your project is a success. However you want to quantify it.

  5. Matthew Fisher August 24, 2014 3:18 pm  Reply

    Hello there,

    I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your article on Gamasutra regarding your ups and downs on your venture into gaming. It’s good to see how important God and family are to you. Being a married man with a child on the way who has had great struggles in the past it resonated with me greatly. I just want to speak encouraging words and I pray you’ll and your family be blessed exceedingly over the coming months and years.

    I would also like to offer my help if you would like it. Myself I’m an adamant gamer. I did some QE for Bioware in the past working on The Old Republic. Like you I grew up in gaming, I was hooked in the 80′s and have spend a great deal of time working on games and doing Alpha work for fun. Now I’m sure you have a bunch of people offer this type of help all the time. But I did feel pressed to give you assistance if I can.

    I’ll make sure to follow you and your gaming in the years to come.

    Take Care,


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