"I WAS TRAINED as a computer science major. I took six or seven math classes, including linear algebra and calculus and all sorts of stuff," Justin Pando tells me over the din of a bustling coffee shop. "I was useful up until like a month ago in that area. What Dominic's been doing has gone way beyond what I can understand."

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Pando, a four-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a graduate of the Art Institute of Portland, is the lead developer at local Jumpdrive Studios, and he's talking about Dominic Mandy, the other half of the development team. Mandy, or the "math guy," was most recently modeling "metabolic networks in cells" for the University of Minnesota. (I don't know what a metabolic network is, but it sounds difficult to model.)

Beyond the brain trust of Pando and Mandy, there are just two others at Jumpdrive: Corey Warning, a one-man marketing department (and former lead singer of indie band the Graduate), and founder Brian Jamison, an accomplished entrepreneur with a history of successful startups under his belt. 

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All four men operate out of a chic Eastside office building, in a single room that might be mistaken for a utility closet were it not for the clusters of computer monitors and a giant whiteboard filled with mathematical formulas. "I'd dream of formulas at night," Pando tells me solemnly.

All of this is in the service of their flagship game, XO, which is nearing the midpoint of its development cycle. Warning describes it as "a hard sci-fi game where you command a ragtag fleet of starships against an unbeatable enemy." XO plays like you're the air traffic controller on Battlestar Galactica. You can see it for yourself tonight, as the Jumpdrive team debuts their first playable demo at OMSI After Dark.