Leveling Up

Leveling Up

Spokane’s Lester Bloom is living a childhood dream making video games; his first solo project PlanTechtor is out this month 

PlanTechtor is Spokane game developer Lester Bloom’s first solo project.

From gripping a Nintendo controller on the living room floor to a desk at the Seattle studios of that same video game behemoth, Lester Bloom’s dream to make games like those he loved as a kid are now coming full circle.

The 38-year-old Spokane native is about to release his first full-length solo project as an independent game developer. PlanTechtor, a virtual reality (VR) first-person shooter arrives for PC on Feb. 27. In PlanTechtor, players defend a castle from invading enemies by using creative and strategic combinations of skills and ammunition for three main weapons: a bow, a bazooka and dual-wielded pistols.

“I was always in the world of video games and creating ideas. I remember during recess in elementary school drawing maps for Mario Bros.,” Bloom recalls. “Coming out of college I had this job at Nintendo, and that was my dream come true. I was like, ‘What do I do now? I pulled it off.'”

Bloom spent roughly the next decade and a half as a developer for big-name studios including Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios and ArenaNet, the latter for which he worked on the popular online game Guild Wars 2. On top of the demanding, deadline-driven environment at those companies, Bloom also coded his own games at home.

“It’s always been a dream to move into my own stuff full time, but it takes a lot of work to get things up and running and get to that point,” he notes.

In the years since landing that dream job at Nintendo, Bloom got married and started a family. In mid-2016, he realized he needed to shift priorities from 50-plus-hour weeks at the office, and hours more each weekend on personal projects, to focus on his young family.

Bloom couldn’t quit his day job, however, until he was closer to finishing PlanTechtor, which he began coding later that year. When the game was close to completion in mid-2018, he and his wife decided to move back to Spokane, seeking a slower pace and to be nearer to family.

“I now work out of the house, and because PlanTechtor is finished, I’m only working 40 hours a week now. I haven’t done that since ever!” Bloom says. “I get to spend a lot more time with my family and I see my kids every day.”

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