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Animator engaging imaginations

Mean Greens arrived on the scene in December, Park Rapids resident Jamie Krautkremer putting the soldiers into motion. (Submitted Photo)

Jamie Krautkremer sends soldiers into fierce combat – jumping, shooting and rolling toward victory.

Humans straddling dinosaurs, ramble across the horizon of a mysterious island on a survival quest...

“I’ve been busy,” the video game animator said of putting characters in motion for the recently-released Mean Greens, digitizing green and tan army men in “fierce warfare” – the Bathtub Bash, Barnyard Ball and Fish Tank Frenzy, to name a few.

“I bring them to life, and make them move.

“Now it’s full time,” he said of his profession that began as a hobby, propelled by a megaton imagination.

“The morning commute is great,” he said of his jaunt from bedroom to computer, “with an occasional layover in the bathroom.”

Mean Greens is the second of action-adventure survival video games produced through Virtual Basement, a game development company based in New Hampshire.

The Park Rapids alum is a member of a 10-person development team, none of whom he’s yet met face to face. They hail from far ports - Australia, Portugal and Los Angeles among them.

“We’re 100 percent independent,” Krautkremer said. Some games, he pointed out, have 300 to 400 contributing “engineers.”

Ark - Survival Evolved was one of the biggest games of 2015, he said of the game filled with dinos and dodos and other prehistoric creatures on the island of Ark.

Krautkremer was the mastermind behind the animation of the 70-plus dinosaurs, 2.5 million games sold for the computer, a million-plus on Xbox last year.

The team determines what needs to be made, he explained, modelers creating 3-D replicas of characters.

“I make them move,” he said of the characters lumbering, leaping and paddling across the screen.

“I bring it to life,” he said of building the sequences. Then he works with programmers, “to make

sure everything triggers when it it’s supposed to. We have to constantly be looking ahead, at what we want them to be able to do,” he said of the development of characters.

“It snowballs from there,” he said.

Mean Green came out on PCs Dec. 8, and will soon be available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Cost is $10.

The game’s evolution spanned a year and a half, “and we’re still adding content.”

“You play as one of the army men,” Krautkremer explained, “fighting back and forth.”

There are 10 levels and 10 modes, with three more on the way.

Goals range from capturing a flag to melting ice encapsulating a frozen dinosaur, he said.

“It’s pretty crazy,” the self-taught animator said, and gaining an audience. A recent showing of the Mean Greens at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Boston had a waiting line 40 minutes long.

While Mean Green is engineered for adults, it’s very kid friendly, he said. His nephew has it on the top of his wish list.

Although his audience is international, Krautkremer enjoys interaction with local games. He was invited to Career Day in Laporte where he found a “super excited” group of kids, anxious to hear about gaming as a career. “I would love to inspire them.”

Head to themeangreens. com to watch the video and find a link to buy the game, soon to be available for Macs and Linux.

“2015 was a big year for us, and we have more projects down the line,” he said of his Virtual Basement team.

“This shows you don’t have to live in LA to do this.”