Submitted By:
Team Nitronic
Watch Their Video
Game Type:
Game Platform:
Custom Engine
Kyle Holdwick

team leader

Christopher Barrett

technical director, architect

Andrew Nollan

graphics and game logic programmer

Jason Nollan

physics programmer

Andrew Kibler

game level designer

Laura Borgen

concept and texture artist

Edward Peters

concept and modeling artist

Ariel Gitomer

concept and modeling artist

Nathan Aldrich

modeling artist

Jordan Hemenway

audio and music director, composer

M.J. Quigley

music composer

Game Title:
Nitronic Rush
Game Description:

Nitronic Rush is an experimental survival driving game developed by students at DigiPen Institute of Technology. Use the car’s many abilities (including boost, wings, and jump) to avoid obstacles that the city throws at you. Prove your abilities and impress the announcer by performing tricks.

In many ways the game is a tribute to racing games of the 1990’s, but with fresh graphics and gameplay. The game includes a primary story mode as well as various other modes, such as an intense gravity-defying hardcore mode and an exploration stunt mode where you can try to get the most points before the clock runs out.

The entire game (including the advanced graphics, physics, and architecture) was developed from the ground up using C++ for the PC (Windows XP/Vista/7) platform. It was not created as a mod or using any pre-made engines such as Unity or Unreal. The graphics technology includes an advanced inferred high dynamic range lighting engine, bloom, motion blur, and particle engine all written from scratch. The physics technology includes Minkowski Portal Refinement, dynamic axis-aligned bounding box spatial partitioning, arbitary mesh collision, and a full car suspension system also coded from the ground up.

What was your inspiration for making the game?

Originally the team thought of ideas that revolved around driving a car, but nothing as specific as the survival driving that’s currently in the game. After seeing what each member of the team was passionate about, inspirations from Rush 2049, Hydro Thunder, and Trackmania were on everyone’s minds. Since the game was built from the ground up, the technical development really drove most of the design direction. Implementing new ideas and playtesting each week led the team to establish mechanics that made the game enjoyable. We let that drive us towards new tracks and game modes that showcased these new ideas, and the design grew naturally. After many months of development we knew that we had something that we enjoyed playing, and the final design came from implementing what felt fun to us.

How is your game unique from others out there?

When people first see Nitronic Rush they expect it to play like a traditional racing game, but in reality it’s all about surviving the track. Using the car’s many abilities you can drive fast, jump over obstacles, rotate the car any way you like, and even fly to avoid destruction around every corner. Nitronic Rush also employs a unique use of music, where music is generated when any of the car’s abilities are used. This helps to make each action in the game feel more visceral and engaging, as well as make the music an interactive part of the experience.

How long did it take you to make your game?

The project has lasted for 17 months, originally starting in May 2010 and shipping in November 2011. While development has slowed down a bit since release, we’ve already put out two updates and we definitely still plan on providing more updates down the road.

What was the hardest part about making it?

Since we built the game from the ground up, all of the team members found their roles challenging. The visuals were challenging since we programmed the graphics completely from scratch using only DirectX 9.0. We were also going for a style that required a lot of difficult elements such as the Tron-esque glow and the high dynamic range lighting effects. The soundscape was complex to implement since we really wanted it to feel rich and unique. There are always so many sound effects happening at once like the car, the obstacles, and the announcer so it was an interesting challenge to properly balance them all. To give the game more of a musical presence, we also implemented a system for bringing in different layers of music while boosting, jumping, flying, and to warn the player about overheating. Overall, the physics may have been the most challenging aspect. This was difficult because we were building a fast paced car game and we didn’t use any third party engines such as Havok or Bullet.

Any other unique or interesting facts about your game we should know about?

Nitronic Rush was a junior/senior year student project that was in development collaboratively alongside another student game named Solstice. Many of the programmers from both teams worked together to build a shared architecture named Superdyne which serves as the foundation of the two games. For example, Kyle Holdwick was the producer of Nitronic Rush and the creative director of Solstice, and Torcht (Jordan Hemenway) was the audio director / composer for both games and the producer of Solstice.

Two members of Team Nitronic are actually twin brothers, Andrew Nollan and Jason Nollan. Even though they worked primarily on the graphics and physics technology, their extensive experience with Blender allowed them to contribute a lot of art to the game. This includes the art for the vehicles as well as many of the buildings and roads.

The musicians on the game Torcht and The Quiggles (M.J. Quigley) also had an interesting collaborative process. For the music in story mode, Torcht composed each song and The Quiggles created extra layers that play when the player boosts, flies, jumps, or overheats.

Nitronic Rush is a completely free game and can be downloaded at

How did you pick the name of your game?  Did you have any others in mind?

While originally trying to come up with a name for our team, one of us came up with the word “Nitronic”. We all thought it was an awesome word so we figured why not name our game after it. We were trying to make a game that has some similar elements to the old Rush series, so that was when the name “Nitronic Rush” was born.

Questions for the Team Leader

Detroit, MI


DigiPen Institute of Technology

What is your gaming background?

I’ve been playing video games for my entire life and developed a strong passion for them at a very young age. After high school, I decided to leave home and go to DigiPen to learn how to develop them. I have been working on games since and it has been a blast. Over the past 4 years at DigiPen, I have developed three award winning student games, Sowlar, Solstice, and now Nitronic Rush. I hope to one day change the industry and reinvent what it means to be a video game, but that’s a topic for another time. I continually post updates on twitter about what I’m working on at the moment, and you can follow me @kyleholdwick if you’d like!

How long have you and your teammates known each other?  What’s the story behind how your team got together?

We’ve known each other for a few years now. Some of us met for the first time in our freshmen classes at DigiPen back in 2008 and some of us met during the development of this game over the past two years.

What game or games are you playing right now?

I have just finished playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Currently, I am still playing through Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and enjoying every second of that experience!

What is your favorite all-time game?

I’ll give you my top 5:

5.) Super Mario World

4.) Pokémon

3.) Kingdom Hearts

2.) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

1.) Final Fantasy VII

I know I am going to sound like a crazy fan boy here but I can honestly say that Final Fantasy VII changed my life. It really inspired me as a kid to want to make games one day. I only hope that they actually remake it someday and make it as awesome as the original.

What is your least favorite all-time game?

This is a really hard question for me actually. I would say that I don’t really have a least favorite game. I pretty much avoid the games that I think I wouldn’t like and I’ve never really been upset after playing a game. I try to enjoy them for what they are and have fun while playing them.

What is your best game-related story?

When I was in first grade, my uncle randomly picked me up early from school because he wanted to show me something at his house. When we got there, he told me that he bought a new video game console and wanted to share with me the next great thing in games. He fired up his brand new Nintendo 64 and let me play through Super Mario 64 with him. As a six year old kid, the 3D graphics mixed with the magic of Super Mario blew my mind! As soon as I got back home I wouldn’t stop talking about it with my Dad. I wanted a Nintendo 64 so bad that every time a commercial for it was playing on TV I would yell NINTENDO 64!!! Later that year, Santa got me a Nintendo 64 for a Christmas present. I’ll never forget that moment in my life, it was really impactful for me.

First video game system you owned?

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Current system you spend the most time playing?

I own all the consoles of this generation and overall I would say that I’ve enjoyed playing the Wii the most out all of them. I really enjoy the simplicity of it and I feel that the motion controls were absolutely brilliant when they first came out. I just wish there were more amazing games on it. I also have to say that I think Xbox Live and specifically the Arcade was also incredibly innovative this generation. The fact that I can play all those indie games on my Xbox is really awesome to me.

When you and your team aren’t making awesome games, what other hobbies are you involved in?

Working on classwork at DigiPen is always going on when we aren’t making games. I know some of my team members Torcht and The Quiggles are always making music. Andrew and Jason are actually quite the handymen and are seemingly always fixing up things for people. Chris enjoys using and learning about Linux and other languages on the side. I have always loved riding motocross bikes and just exploring around the different parts of my neighborhood. Some of us play hacky sack and ride bicycles together for fun. And of course, all of us love playing games as well.

Team Photos