Image courtesy of Studio Inkyfox

Dream game, no compromises: How a solo dev made Omno

Jimmy Thang |
January 23, 2023
To highlight some inspiring Epic MegaGrant recipients, we recently caught up with Jonas Manke, creator of the critically-acclaimed adventure game Omno, in Werther, Germany.
 

Unlike most game projects, Jonas did everything himself, leaving a long-time job as a character animator to pursue his budding passion. But what made him take the leap?

It all started with a bit of ongoing education. Working in the film and TV world, it’s hard not to bump into Unreal Engine, or hear about its benefits. So Manke decided to explore it, and start testing how animation works within the engine. While prototyping a character, he soon felt like a larger story could be told around his burgeoning protagonist and began creating a landscape for his character to inhabit. He was surprised at how easy it was to learn Unreal Engine and continued to build up his skill set through online tutorials and YouTube playlists. Day by day, he watched his iteration speed grow, so he kept pressing on.

It took about half a year before Manke felt like he had something that looked “kind of cool.” He eventually showed it to a friend, who encouraged him to show it to others. He decided to share it online and soon received hundreds of messages of support. Since its release, Omno has been praised for its beautiful visuals and wide variety of biomes. Manke credits Unreal Engine for making his game look good out of the box.
And part of the reason that game looks so good is because it stays true to Jonas’ unique vision. He even made some tough calls to maintain it.

For instance, while developing the game, he was concerned that signing with a publisher would rob him of that control. So he decided to turn offers down and produce the game himself. Fortunately, the game received an Epic MegaGrant, and the rest is history. “The MegaGrant allowed me to stick to my vision and get me the funding to enlarge the scope of the game, to add more areas, and to work more creatures in there, which eventually is what makes Omno what it is today, because there is more stuff to explore and discover,” Manke stated.
Image courtesy of Studio Inkyfox
He added, “The MegaGrant gives you the moral boost and gives you a true indicator that you are working on something that’s promising and that is worth it to pursue, and that someone is believing in you; that is a message with a really big impact.”

    Want more inspiring MegaGrants stories?

    Then check out our events page for MegaGrants Week, where we’ll be sharing other stories like this, along with exclusive livestreams, artist insights, and tips on how to make your application/project stand out to our internal MegaGrants team.
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