Stream Status



« The New Challenger: Fighting Game Development With Iron Galaxy Studios' Dave Lang »

Dave Lang. Source: Windows Phone Central

Japanese developer and publisher Capcom commissioned projects to be developed outside their main production studios. Chicago-based group Iron Galaxy Studios became part of the plan and would later serve something more: they were going to work on Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition.

"Street Fighter is actually a Capcom U.S. owned franchise I believe, so when they decided to do that game the U.S. team got to pick who would be working on it," said Iron Galaxy CEO Dave Lang. "[Iron Galaxy] had a great relationship with Capcom, and they were confident our technical proficiency would be most valuable on that project."

This effort by Lang and Iron Galaxy would establish their ground as one of the prominent developers within the worldwide fighting game industry and community.


WCW: Backstage Assault, one of Lang's early projects.The Chicago-native's developing experiences began during the sixth grade where he was able to toy around with a Commodore 64, TRS-80 and Apple IIe computers. "All the games I made at that time were text adventures, and they were all pretty awful, but it was a great way to learn how to be self-sufficient for making games," Lang said. Later life for the future CEO would follow with making specific tools and programs in high school to sending "resumes to every U.S. game developer I could find" after graduating from college.

Lang ended up in Utah working for Sculptured Software (later Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City), followed by Kodiak Interactive, and finally Microsoft Game Studios. His tenure in the state earned him work for games such as Amped 2, WCW Backstage Assault and Space Jam. Lang would return to Chicago where he then worked on Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Blitz: The League and NBA Ballers for Midway. Before the bankruptcy and liquidation of Midway's assets in 2009, Lang left the company to establish Iron Galaxy Studios in 2008.


One of IG's major traits is to help optimize games for various platforms. Past records include working on Bionic Commando and the PlayStation 3 port of Dark Void; both being Capcom games. Their next major involvement with Capcom at the time was to revive a classic fighting game relic, the aforementioned 3rd Strike.

Even if the studio didn't work on a fighter, Iron Galaxy featured "a lot of people with lots of fighting game experience in the studio, albeit none on Capcom games up to that point," Lang said. While Iron Galaxy had established manpower, there was something still lingering that Lang and the team had to deal with in order to accomplish the daunting task.

"The biggest difficulty [...] is just figuring out what to focus your time and attention on," Lang mentioned. "All of those games have rabid fanbases, and all have strong feelings for what should/shouldn't be included in a re-release." Lang referred to the situation with 3rd Strike Online Edition as "a classic 'ten pounds of stuff in a five pound bag' problem."

Lang followed up by saying "the budget required to get everything everyone wanted would have made the project unprofitable, and it would have been canceled."

While marketed as "arcade perfect," 3rd Strike Online Edition was developed using the PlayStation 2 port as a base and then adding the nuances in the actual CPS-III arcade setup afterward to create a similar output. Lang mentioned that developing "from arcade probably would have been much, much more difficult."

Screenshot of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Iron Galaxy's first fighting game project with Capcom."The decision basically came down to 'should we spend our time re-porting this assembly code (from arcade board) to C or wrapping cool features around the game that’s been done before' and I still think that’s a pretty easy choice," Lang recalled.

The release of 3rd Strike Online Edition met with positive responses from both critics and players. The latter group though noticed some problems and provided feedback to help patch these errors. While the first two patches helped resolve some setbacks such as crashes and online play bugs, it wasn't enough due to some excused issues, cosmetic and core game, still lingering. The combination of Marvel vs. Capcom Origins' improvements in the GGPO netcode as well as the constant feedback for 3rd Strike Online Edition would help in aiding the development of the third patch, albeit compromises from business setbacks considered.

"Capcom wanted to do an update too, but didn’t have the budget for it so we worked out a deal: Iron Galaxy would develop the patch on our own time and money, and Capcom would bear the costs of QA and Submission," Lang said. "It took much longer than we wanted, too long if I’m being honest, but it was the best we could do under the circumstances.

Capcom didn't end their collaboration with Iron Galaxy on 3rd Strike as both continued to update older versions of Darkstalkers (Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3) and Marvel vs. Capcom (Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom).

"For Marvel and Darkstalkers it just came down to Capcom thinking we did a good job on 3rd Strike and wanting us to replicate that performance for their other titles," Lang said. "Those were all tons of fun to work on."

As of this piece, Capcom and Iron Galaxy's trinity of classic fighting games are now available. The Chicago developer though still has something in queue with help from a man commonly known as Keits.


Capcom's Derek Neal, producer behind the aforementioned trinity, introduced Lang to Adam "Keits" Heart, the man behind One True Game Studios and former contributing writer for Shoryuken. Keits was interested in getting into the game development industry and became a part of Iron Galaxy to work on MVCO and DSR. At this time, Keits and the rest of One True Game was also working on an early build of Divekick, the two button fighter centralized on the mechanic the game's named after.

"I didn’t think too much of it at first, it sounded so gimmicky, but then at UFGT I got to play it… and instantly fell in love with the game," Lang recollected his time at Chicago's Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament 8 in May 2012.

Keits and One True Game continued development of Divekick before initiating a Kickstarter fund to help put Divekick on PC. A day away from its intended fund deadline, the $30,000 goal was reached but was also cancelled.

"I pulled Keits aside and basically said 'Dude, what are you going to do with $30,000? That money won't even pay for QA,' which I personally thought was funny as hell considering everyone on the internet was acting like 30k was a king’s ransom," Lang said. "Eventually we worked out a deal everyone was happy with, and we brought our development resources to bear on the 'new' Divekick."

In collaboration with One True Game Studios, Iron Galaxy is currently helping out on Divekick's development.This cooperative development would show after new content for Divekick was revealed including implementation of GGPO and additional characters such as caricatures of Community Effort Orlando's Alex Jebailey and Mad Catz's community manager Mark "Markman" Julio. The core mechanic of jumping and divekicking through the use of two buttons respectively will stay intact.

Planned for release on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PC, players will likely be playing with different controller setups including regular arcade sticks and possibly two button controllers similar to that found in official Divekick events. Lang laid out an initial plan to cater as much setups as possible.

"The game will boot up in 'normal' mode, you can use the d-pad/stick to navigate menus, like a regular game," Lang said. "If you press and hold any two buttons for a few seconds the game will enter 'two button' mode, and at that point everything in the game will be navigable with just the two buttons you held down."

Iron Galaxy and One True Game will be planning on providing post-release support. While balance patches will be expected, Lang said that "anything beyond that depends on how the game does in the marketplace."

Beyond the main fighting game outlets, the buzz behind this fighter has garnered strong interest from general gaming networks and players; to some who never touched or even cared about fighting games. "If this game can show non-fighting game people what's so great about the genre, maybe Divekick can play some small part in growing the community," Lang greatly expressed.

This year's Evolution Fighting Game Championship will feature Divekick as a side tournament where the top players are eligible for the $5,000 bonus pot on top of the overall normal registration pot.


Beyond Divekick, Dave Lang and the rest of Iron Galaxy Studios are currently working on non-fighting game products planned for announcement in the future. Even with the team shifting over to other genres, Lang experience with fighting games and the vocal community taught him the communication between a developer and the fans.

"I think most fans don't feel like companies listen to them, and because of this they tend to be a bit agro when they raise issues on Twitter/forums/etc," he expressed. "Once they realize someone is indeed listening and taking their concerns to heart, they almost immediately get super positive and involved in the discussion."

"Sometimes it can be hard to get through that first barrier and convince people you hear them, but ultimately it’s always worth trying."

You can find Iron Galaxy Studios' on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow Dave Lang directly or contact him directly.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
Member Account Required
You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.