Fargo - Pair a mythical treasure with a heavily armed pirate and what do you get?

Answer: a successful video game.

At least that’s what game designer Cassidy Schnase, known as C.J., is shooting for with “Cursed Gold,” the working title of a video game he is developing for the Wii U game console.

Schnase is co-founder of Fargo-based Wicked Soul Studios, a video game start-up he put together with a friend, Glenn Wade, who has since left the enterprise to pursue a military career.

Wicked Soul Studios is now comprised of a small team that includes Schnase and a few others, including an artist and a music composer.

Wicked Soul is one of about five game design firms in the area, but Schnase said it is the first to be invited to design a game for a major concern like Nintendo.

Still, there’s no guarantee that “Cursed Gold,” once fully developed, will be picked by Nintendo for use with its Wii U gaming console.

“It’s all on us,” Schnase said, adding that if Nintendo concludes “Cursed Gold” meets its standards for a video game, the payoff would come once Nintendo allows the game to be sold via its online store,

“That’s where the money would start to flow,” said Schnase, who for now hones the game’s design by day while moonlighting nights and weekends at his parents’ towing company, Border City Services, which provides towing for the Fargo Police Department.

Schnase, 26, said the days get long, but Wicked Soul Studios is worth the effort. After all, he’s pursuing the career he’s been dreaming of for as long as he can remember.

His career goals began taking shape in middle school when a counselor asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he answered, “Game designer.”

After graduating from Fargo North High in 2007, Schnase considered attending an area college for a degree that would let him work in the computer hardware field.

Instead, he discovered the University of Advancing Technology, a school based in Tempe, Ariz., that offered online courses.

After 4½ years, Schnase received a bachelor’s degree in video game design and is now putting those skills to use on “Cursed Gold,” which follows the adventures of a pirate armed with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other.

Schnase said the game’s design is similar in style to the graphics used in Super Nintendo, a game system he fell in love with as a youngster.

“It’s interesting because it’s an in-demand art style,” he said. The game is at an exciting point in development because he can start to see the action playing out on the screen, he said.

Schnase said in a month or two he hopes to have a demo version of the game ready that people can play and provide feedback on what they liked or didn’t like about it.

To secure the funds necessary to complete the game, Schnase plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in April, where he will reach out to the public to help him raise a fundraising goal of between $10,000 and $20,000.

He also plans to submit the game to Steam Greenlight, a system by which the gaming community helps select games to receive assistance from Steam, a digital distribution system for video games.

Schnase said he would like to see his game take off, but he’s keeping his expectations under control.

“It could be huge, or it could be really small,” he said.

If the game does catch on, he said, “We could develop tenfold, easily.”

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