Big gamer

Shelley Blundell

Local animator creates successful game

Credit: Beth Rankin

Dan Paladin loves video games.

In fact, he loves them so much, he helped develop one of his own.

Paladin, an animator from Parma, developed a flash-video game, Alien Hominid, for the Internet with help of friend Tom Fulp and hadn’t thought about it going any further. But later, when co-workers approached him about converting the game for console systems, he said it sounded like an exciting challenge.

Alien Hominid, the revised creation of game programmer Fulp, technical programmer Brandon LaCava, producer John Baez and art director and lead animator Paladin, was released in America in November 2004. Their company, The Behemoth, released the game for PlayStation 2 and GameCube, and the game has since sold more than 1 million copies. Paladin said the company will release the game in Europe in May.

“I got into the gaming world by keeping an online portfolio,” Paladin said. “After a few years, some online buddies of mine got me an interview at a company called Presto out in San Diego — that was the starting point.”

Paladin moved to San Diego from Cleveland and began working for Presto. When the company decided to close, he started working for another gaming company, Gratuitous Games.

Paladin met Baez and LaCava at Gratuitous Games, and when Baez heard about Alien Hominid, Baez pitched the idea to Paladin about converting it into a console system game.

“I’d just never seen a game like this before,” Baez said. “We did it because we were young and naive but also because everyone was doing the same thing for console systems, and it was boring.”

The game’s story line is relatively simple. An alien gets shot down by the FBI while he is flying over earth, and the game follows his quest to recover his UFO, which was confiscated by the FBI when it crashed.

While Baez described the conversion process as one of the toughest things he’s ever done, he also said it has been one of the most rewarding.

“We’ve received about 15 awards and lots of nominations,” he said.

“The most rewarding was the nomination for New Studio of the Year by the Developer Choice Awards — it’s like the Oscars of the gaming world. It’s peer-to-peer recognition, and that’s the biggest compliment.”

Paladin said the awards the company won at the Independent Games Festival were the high point for him. The Behemoth walked away with the awards for Innovation in Visual Art, Technical Excellence and the Audience Award.

For more information or reviews of Alien Hominid, visit

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].