April 11th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

GraFighters: A game that brings your drawings to life

By Nina Raja, CNN

(CNN) - When boredom struck, Eric Cleckner and David Chenell decided to get creative. They co-founded an online fighting game called graFighters, which lets users bring their own drawings to life.

Endless days of doodling during class led to the inspiration of game. Cleckner and Chenell envisioned a fighting game where they would take the characters they drew in class and plop them into a fighting game.

“So we were two broke college kids," said Cleckner. One was a designer and the other a programmer. “We got as far as we possibly could, which was about 1% done with the game."

Together they pitched the game on Kickstarter, but were unsuccessful in raising the funds they needed.

Soon after, with the help of a venture capitalist friend from Europe, they were able to bring the game to life.

The foundation of the game comes from Corneilus, a magical algorithm that scans your drawings and decides how your character is going to fight.

The game is free to play and will be based on a freemium model, in which some premium services - new characters, an ad-free version - require a small payment.

It's a business model that is taking the mobile world by storm. Here are some details from 2011 study from Flurry, an analytics firm:

“The traction of the freemium business model is undeniable and growing fast ... with games often occupying more than 75% of all top 100 grossing apps in the app store, it’s the single most dominating business model in the mobile apps industry today.”

There's talk of launching a new version of graFighters.

“This means new game mechanics, and a game that's easier to get into and more just plain more fun. This also means a new fully functional iPhone app with Android following closely after,” writes co-founder, Dave Chenell in a recent blog post. “We will be doing more blog posts in the future with much more detail on our overall development, our migration to unity3D, game mechanics, and the mobile apps.”

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Filed under: Future • Gaming • Innovation • Tech • The Next List • Video
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. David

    randy, dean–i feel you. i'm in southern mxcieo right now and i wish so bad i was in the us. right now it all just feels like a good dream. see you dudes in la soon. much love.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  2. Krysten LeeLynn Mason

    This story is great for any of my fellow artist. Dont get discouraged in your hopes of a dream of a career in are Art. Artist are the dreams of the world. A creative mind is a POWERFUL tool!

    "Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time."
    – Pablo Picasso
    Hi, my name is Krysten Mason and I would love to find out more about what you guys are doing as far as future Art or characters. As a fellow Artist I am very interested in any possible for growth with-in your company. I would LOVE tofind out what if anything someone like me can contribute to. My e-mail is sumthinicanrembr@yahoo.com but I honestly rarely check it. Im easier to contact via facebook. https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=573672564
    I dought anything will come out of writing this. But I can hope. Thanx guys, -Krys-

    April 18, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
  3. social network

    love it!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  4. zapa doodle

    Ramp it up to stupid celebs: Mel Gibson vs. Jewish guy.

    April 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • Priscilla

      Your Great Mom! Posted on I really miessd you! Don't do that to me again. You have posted some great stuff and I will continue to check your site at least a couple of times each week.

      April 30, 2012 at 1:51 am | Reply
  5. pinakibgl

    "This is what the Gaming Revolution has devolved so far...really its just showing the way how kids will grow up thinking about somethin.

    April 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  6. jesslevens

    Would be cooler if you could actually play it. It's invite only. Logging in through Facebook doesn't work.

    April 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  7. Conrad

    Wonder what these two could do if they put their minds to creating something practical? Oh, I forgot–we're in "The Entertainment Age," which followed the Information Age that was supposed to lead to Knowledge and then Wisdom by putting everything we know as a species right at our fingertips. This is what the Computer Revolution has devolved into–"having a fun experience wherever you go." Ho hum.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • Howard

      Conrad, should everything be about work? You know what they say about all work and no play, don't you? We all need an escape from time to time. Especially from bitter people.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:35 am | Reply
    • bob

      "This is what the Computer Revolution has devolved into"

      said by a guy posting on cnn forums i have to laugh

      April 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • veggiedude

      Anything that makes money is practical. If it doesn't, it will follow Darwins rule...

      April 12, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
    • Iron-icMan

      "Let's do all the things you want to do..." – Ace Ventura

      April 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
    • ran76

      I wonder what you can think up, when you're not wasting your time b***hing about what others do with theirs

      April 13, 2012 at 1:33 am | Reply
    • ?

      Have you ever tried coding anything? C++? Python? This shows that we are in the knowledge age if two broke college kids could make a great game for phones. We need progress and advancements from this technology will be used somewhere else to help people.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:24 am | Reply
  8. Pete

    It's always nice to have a venture capitalist friend from Europe.

    April 12, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Exactly what I thought too.

      I always like hearing about how startups get off the ground, but far too often the key is already knowing somebody important, or somebody important happening to spot your product by chance.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
  9. micsun

    Challenge my character, it's called: micsun's Guile

    April 12, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply
  10. wrong

    Uh...there was a game on PS2 called Magic Pengel that brought your drawings to life in a paper, scissors, rock sort of RPG. Probably back in 2005.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • Kurtis Cleckner

      Quit complaining and just play freakin' game. It's fun and free. Quit with your history lesson; go ahead and start drawing!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Reply
      • Linda Jacobs

        Yea anyway..... You I'm on that page Kurtis!

        April 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
      • Chris

        Yeah! Quit with the further education of the masses! We dont need no useless facts. Herp Derp....

        April 12, 2012 at 9:10 am |
      • Lorenzo

        Why does my _____ taste like horseradish???

        April 13, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Josefa

      Fidatevi sono screen della vorisene Wii. Questo gioco sfrutta il motore grafico di Spyborgs che (anche se non lo sa nessuno perch Spyborgs non se lo filato di striscio nessuno) tra i migliori mai fatti per Wii.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:59 am | Reply
  11. Elmusicoucr2009

    very good game the way you create, take a picture and upload it to the game and play is very smooth. I have a Galaxy Note so I can edit the pics I take... it makes the game even more addictive...

    April 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  12. doesNotMatter

    this is how the next world war should be fought.

    April 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply

      Sure thing! And while you are drawing up your "fighter," I'll be drawing a pistol from my holster.

      April 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
      • Haha

        Congratulations! That's the lamest trolling I've seen all year!

        April 12, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Mitchel

      Ken's comment broguht to mind Major League. For several years running it seemed like every time I channel surfed I would come across Major League, usually on one of the struggling superstations. And since I would always stop to watch at least a few scenes, if you add up all the partial viewings (and added them to the full viewings) I've probably seen that movie a frighteningly large number of times.

      October 24, 2012 at 6:43 am | Reply

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