'He would be very proud': Edmonton developer's videogame completed after death

For Kaelyn Boyes, there was no question of what had to be done when her husband died three weeks shy of his 33rd birthday.

'I saw he was very passionate about the project and I always believed in the game'

The Low Road, a gritty spy adventure game set in 1976, was released by XGen Studios last week. (XGen Studios)

For Kaelyn Boyes, there was no question of what had to be done when her husband died three weeks shy of his 33rd birthday.

The spy-comedy video game he had been toiling over for months had to be completed.

Boyes didn't want to see her husband's legacy remain incomplete.

'It wasn't really a question for me'

"I saw he was very passionate about the project and I always believed in the game," Boyes said in a Tuesday interview about The Low Road with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It wasn't really a question for me. It was just, how can we do this?"

Skye Boyes died suddenly on Oct. 12, 2015, in a Vancouver hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest.

He was the founder and CEO of XGen Studios, an independent game-development company based in Edmonton.

He launched the company with a couple of friends in 2001, at age 19.

The company went on to create such titles as Stick RPG, Super Motherload and Defend Your Castle, and earn a dedicated cult following around the world.

At one point, Skye was offered $8 million for the company. Unwilling to hand over control, he turned the offer down.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Skye was inspired by his father's career as a programmer, and started writing computer code as a child.

He later studied computer sciences at the University of Alberta before dropping out to focus on XGen full time.

'It was such a struggle' 

Skye was designing the new game with XGen art director Scott Carmichael when he died, but it was years away from being completed. After his death, the studio and the unfinished project were left to his wife.

The pair had met at an Edmonton punk show in 2004, and married four years later. They travelled the world, and shared a passion for music and the outdoors. 

"He was quiet, but yet very likeable, a very charming guy," Boyes said of her late husband. "He was brilliant, to be honest. But a modest brilliant.

"It was such a struggle with the loss of him."

Though she had no experience as a developer, Boyes stepped in right away, knowing she had to finish the project in her husband's honour.
The late Skye Boyes was the founder and president of Edmonton indie game development company XGen Studios. (Facebook)

She put her interior design degree on hold, immersed herself in game design and began managing production behind the scenes at XGen studios.

Involved in the administrative side of the business for years, her knowledge of the technical aspects were slim.

The XGen team carried on with Boyes at the helm. Though her late husband made a small fortune, he never stopped mentoring and empowering others in the industry.

She hopes to carry on that legacy. 

"I just took leadership of the team, making sure they had all the resources they needed," she said. "I think it supported the team to know that I was supporting them and we were going to keep this going. We just trusted each other."

The Low Road was released on July 26 and is earning critical acclaim.

The game is a "quirky" point-and-click graphic adventure that follows "a team of corporate spies dedicated to the protection (and appropriation) of game-changing industry secrets."

Set in 1976, it follows the misadventures of rookie spy Noomi Kovacs as she navigates the gritty world of corporate espionage.

Boyes describes it as a dark comedy with a "choose-your-own-adventure" style format.  

Skye's death left Boyes and her colleagues at the studio emotionally shattered. Delivering on his vision for The Low Road has given them a newfound sense of direction, she said.

"Skye was definitely always a leader at XGen, and a visionary," Boyes said. "So as a team, I think it's incredibly uplifting that we were able to do it. I know I feel that way.

"He was definitely a leader that was always enabling people, so I don't think he would be too surprised that the team had done it. But I think he would be incredibly proud."