School and ProgramHumber College- Game Programming

Game Title:  Quench

Genre: Puzzle 

Developer: Axon Interactive 

Stage for Level Up Complete Proof-of-Concept 

Interviewees: Jeff Rose (Programmer), James Zinger (Programmer)

Quench is a game where you use weather powers – wind, rain, lightning and earthquakes – to help animals reach safety. You play as the Shepherd, who ensures that the animal tribes can survive their great migration to escape their drought-parched homeland in search of greener pastures to the East. Quench’s story is inspired in part by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, as it follows the five leaders of the animal tribes as they struggle to survive and to overcome their differences.

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: ”Geometric weather puzzles.

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: Quench’s art style is unlike most games out there. We have only spotted a small collection of games (Secrets of Raetikon by Broken Rules and perhaps Shelter by Might and Delight) that take a similar artistic approach. Our game mechanic isn’t new but we haven’t seen this style of gameplay applied to a more strategic, hex-based terrain either.

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: Our many inspirations for Quench include game titles such as Okami, From Dust and Civilization V but further media that has shaped it includes Avatar: The Last Airbender, BBC’s Planet Earth and The Lion King. Not to go unmentioned, the initial game jam theme that spawned Quench was TOJam 7’s ‘The world is not ending.’

Quench is intended to be a game about prehistory and myth. About stories told before there were words. When all we had were the stories passed down by our forefathers of the great things the heroes of our people once did, to give us strength and conscience and a sense of community. Quench’s story is told through the lens of a parable spoken by an elder about the great trials of her youth that tested their people and taught them all a lesson to remember about coming together to protect the world they cherish.

The weather powers that let the player take action in Quench are a variant of Okami’s weather powers and ink-recharging system, but tailored to a Civ V styled overhead view and hexagonal grid.

The dynamic terrain built to accommodate the flow of water was designed not just to support the weather powers the player has, but to allow Quench to take on a unique lo-fi faceted artistic style. Okami again shines through as an inspiration here, but rather than pulling on Japanese wood carving, we are drawing our style from the cave paintings of humanity’s prehistoric past and reimagining it in a distinctly geometric style. We want to keep the game natural as much as possible while also presenting a new alternative lo-fi style to compete with the overused 8-bit styles that have dominated indie games for many years.

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development? 

A: Performance has been a difficult issue for us. Our game demands that we perform computations for thousands if not tens-of-thousands of hex cells per frame. This is no big job for a PC, but so far tablet devices (our eventual target) can’t handle running Quench as it stands. We have a lot of work ahead of us to optimize Quench so that it will run comfortably on at least newer tablet models.

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A:Seeing as level up is in the past, Quench is a reasonably complete proof-of-concept now. Lots of work still needs to be done to make it into the game we imagine it can be – one that can make a name for Axon as our first published title – but we’re very proud of the work that has gone into Quench so far and how it’s turned out.

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: Humber Game Programming is a technical program that focuses on the programming and software design aspects of game development process. While we don’t focus on design, art, writing or any of the other disciplines central to game development, we spent a huge amount of time on math, physics, programming and software analysis and design.

Axon’s appearance at Level Up was a lucky break for us. At the time of submission, Quench didn’t look like much. Given Jeff and James’ backgrounds as programmers, Quench had not been given the graphical attention it deserved. In the month leading up to Level Up, we brought the whole team together (Axon consists of two fabulous artists as well as Jeff and James) and crunched to really bring up the quality of the art and level design, and boy did it pay off!

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: Don’t do what we did… Keep your scope small! Start out pushing for a prototype that shows off the essential mechanics. DO NOT let yourself get sidetracked until the prototype is done. The prototype isn’t done until people can play it and have fun – preferably without being frustrated. That means that the latter half of the work that goes into your prototype is playtesting, level design, UI, balancing, tutorials and lots of other stuff that seems like it probably comes later. That stuff is important!

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A: “Go to quenchgame.com to check on our progress and enroll to playtest for us!

We’re happy to learn more, but it has been a humbling experience to know we’re only just getting started.” 

// Office Joust Interview for Level Up Showcase 2014//

School and Program: OCAD University & U of T

Game Title:  Office Joust

Genre: Multiplayer Arena Game 

Developer: The Interns

Stage for Level Up: Fleshed-out with two game modes 

Interviewee: Caroline Vani (Artist, PR)

“Office Joust was created to be a multiplayer arena game, using online connectivity to create games that can be bigger than just four players. With a strict corporate theme, we provide players with a rolling office chair as a mount and a mop as a weapon to knock their fellow employees off their chairs. With two modes, three maps and four different powerups to discover, Office Joust is an entertaining game for the whole office.”

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: ”…Crazy corporate arena!

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: “Our game, unlike many we’ve seen, doesn’t necessarily have a storyline. Instead, the game encourages you to create your own stories by playing the game and competing with your friends. It allows competitive play and the randomness of each round to create unique stories that are based on the players’ experience.” 

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: “When we were coming up with a concept, we were aiming for a game that was, above all else, fun. We weren’t necessarily looking for a storyline, but rather something playable. When we settled on the idea of Office Joust, we wanted to take the theme of a boring corporate setting, with dreary grey walls and a suffocating work atmosphere, and wreak havoc in it. The art style aimed to be as realistic as possible while still keeping a silly streak with ragdoll physics, and the accessories in the game also follow this trend in a fully destructible environment.”

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development? 

A: “From a bug-fix standpoint, probably creating the network.”

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A:“By Level Up, we plan on having a fairly fleshed-out version of our game, with two game modes implemented that can be played. We plan on continuing development after to enlarge and fully refine our game, but for now it meets our requirements: playable, competitive and, of course, fun.”

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: Personally, the Advertising program doesn’t necessarily focus on gaming. Instead, it was my own interest that pushed me towards taking a course at OCAD that would allow me to work on a game. For the other members of my group, there was a more direct route: the other artists on the team are in the Digital Futures program, which works with game-making more directly; and the programmers were drawn to it as I was, since it’s just a popular course at U of T.

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: “Don’t procrastinate! It’s your worst enemy when it comes to game-making. No matter what aspect of the game, it’s wisest to allot more time in case something doesn’t quite work, look, or sound the way it should.

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A:“If you’d like to track our progress or ask any questions, you can visit our website, officejoust.ca”

// Dark Echoes Interview for Level Up Showcase 2014//

School and Program: Sheridan College – Post Graduate Game Level Design, and Post Graduate Game Programming

Game Title:  Dark Echoes

Genre: First-Person Horror Adventure

Developer: Knock-Knock Games

Stage for Level Up: Final Capstone Version (Demo for larger game)

Interviewees: Christie Adams (Level Design), Mike Deveau (Level Design), Logan Henderson (Level Design), Roman Vernik (Advanced Programming), Richard Zhang (Advanced Programming),  Hao Zhang (3D Animator/Modeller/Rigger/Tech Artist)

The game traps players in an underground cave system, where they gain the ability to use a form of echolocation to help them explore and interact with the environment around them. The player will also utilize rocks and luminescent mushrooms to solve puzzles and read clues to help them along the way. The ultimate goals is to try to find a way out but there are creatures known as dwellers lurking in the dark with the same skills you have and a hunger for prey. 

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: ”Echolocation, Eerie, Survival

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: The unique thing about our game is how exploration is different than traditional first person games. Because you’ve gained the ability of echolocation, stuff like clapping and throwing rocks will help you see better in the dark and also help you discern certain sound frequencies for puzzles and creatures, but you also have to be careful with how you use your ability when near Dwellers because if they can hear you, they can SEE you.

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: Most of us on the team are big fans of survival horror games such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Dead Space, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, etc. At the start of the project we had a few different ideas of what we wanted to create in terms of a horror game. We ended up combining a few ideas together and wanted to make the player feel vulnerable (hence why there are no weapons) but also wanted to empower the player by using their wits to solve puzzles and scenarios using the ability of ‘sight-through-sound’. The art style and setting went hand in hand with being in a dark space with altered perception of the environment around the player and we wanted mechanics that felt natural to the environment but special enough to let the player develop their problem solving skills over the course of the game. The Dweller was our creepy ‘monster in the dark’ creature that was influence by Gollum from Lord of the Rings, bats, and a list of other creature things that we thought would make for a scary enemy.”

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development? 

A: ”The largest issues mostly came from having to cut ideas we thought would be really cool but due to time constraints, wouldn’t be possible if we wanted to submit the final version on time.”

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A: Our game is in it’s final Capstone version (Comparable to a Demo of a full-fledged game) and that will be the version we’ll have for Level Up.

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: Sheridan’s Game Design program(s) are an excellent learning experience in wanting to join the videogame industry. Our professors were all very knowledgeable and helpful industry professionals and their encouragement to participate in Level Up make us excited to show what we can do and our desire to be part of the industry.

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: Prototype and test quickly. Fail faster! Work hard, always be ready to go back and make changes, and manage your time well.

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A:The game was a capstone project and is comparable to a polished demo version of a full-fledged game. Our team has been apart since September so we’ve yet to discuss returning to the project.

// Pisces Interview for Level Up 2014//

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School and Program: UOIT –Game Development and Entrepreneurship

Game Title:  Pisces 

Genre: Arcade Twin Stick Shooter

Developer: Any Key Entertainment 

Stage for Level UpPost-Alpha 

Interviewees: James Simpson, Shaun Rana, Kirby Taylor, Thomas Galati, and Jordan Thompson

Pisces is an arcade style twin stick shooter that is easy to pick up and play. It has fast paced gameplay and lots of pretty particle effects.

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: ”Too Many Particles “

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: Unlike most twin stick shooters, Pisces allows for movement in 3 dimensions instead of the usual 2. While it presents an extra challenge at first, players who use it well will do better at the game.

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: We created this game to be a simple arcade style game. As for inspiration we all enjoyed geometry wars and the gameplay does reflect that.” 

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development? 

A: Spelling accuracy is a serious problem.”

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A: “I’d say were about mid-alpha stage right now, and should be near the end of alpha by Level Up.”

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: Our program is focused mainly around the game development and the basic business practices to start our own company.  We pushed to have our game ready for level up because we wanted a chance to show off our work.”

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: Make sure you enjoy what you do, if you hate your game it’ll show.

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A:They can check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnyKeyEntertainment

“If you had told us as kids that we would be making games, we probably wouldn’t have believed you. The learning has been tough but it has been fun.”

Happy one year meet-versary! @AlexBedardReid @LevelUpTO #bestfriends #twins

Happy one year meet-versary! @AlexBedardReid @LevelUpTO #bestfriends #twins

gamefreaksnz:

Ubisoft releases Child of Light gameplay footage – new concept art

Ubisoft has delivered some eye-catching gameplay footage along with new concept art for their enchanting fairytale RPG, Child of Light.

View the gameplay clip here.

(via ethanolicderelict)

// Vye King Interview for Level Up Showcase 2014//

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School and Program: UOIT –Game Development and Entrepreneurship

Game Title:  Vye King

Genre: Action-Adventure Open World

Developer: Gallium Gaming

Stage for Level Up: Pre-Alpha

Interviewee: Alex Bedard-Reid (2D Artist)

“Vye King is an epic journey of survival and exploration. Your Viking clan has conquered the seas but an unexpected storm overpowers your ship. This deadly shipwreck washes you ashore the mysterious and dangerous Island of Vye and your clan is nowhere to be seen. Survive against the elements and uncover the secrets of this Island, discovering its true dangers.

Work with your friends or against them, killing creatures, surviving the day and night, scavenging for anything you can find to help you survive. Third person combat, fast paced battles against AI and other players in the 2kmX2km open world, beautiful environments brought to life through unity. Experience Vikings in a whole new light, will you survive the island of Vye.”

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: ”Open-world viking survival” 

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: “Vye King provides players with a fantasy open world game, to differentiate from the saturated market, which is flooded with FPS and post-apocalyptic themed games. Vye King provides players with multiplayer gameplay in an open world game, whether it’s cooperative or versus, we allow players to work to explore the open world and survive.”

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: “The survival game type was something we wanted to do as a group, originally the game theme was somewhere on the lines of a medieval game type, but Vikings was a game type less frequented. The survival aspect is what inspired us, allowing players the openness of an open world, where they would be tasked to live as long as possible, and explore the island. The art style, is somewhere between realistic and gritty and toony, on the darker side of the colour schemes.

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development? 

A: “Largest issue during development has been time management, since we are all full time students, it’s been hard to work on the ambitious game, as well as keep up with school work.”

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A: “Vye King is currently pre-alpha, and will technically be at the same stage for Level-Up as the time will be spent refining the features we have now are good, and that there is few bugs as possible.”

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: “UOIT’s Game Development program is programming and design based program, offering students with the opportunity to learn business and entrepreneurship, to give us the ability to create our own business once we graduate from the program. Our program offers students the ability to learn and understand the basics of game engine programming, visual programming, including shaders and opengl to provide the students with the knowledge of the functionality of game engines as a whole.”

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: “My main tip for students in Game Development currently, is to keep a small scope concentrate on something simple and fun, and build up, don’t plan large features and be stuck with only the time to make a few small ones making the game not fun.”

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A: “http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=227932561”

// Midnight Max Interview for Level Up Showcase 2014//

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School and Program: Sheridan College – BAA Animation, Post Graduate Game Level Design, and Post Graduate Game Programming

Game Title:  Midnight Max

Genre: Kid Friendly Brawler

Developer: Broken Toy Studios 

Stage for Level Up: Gold Master

Interviewees: William Blair (Designer), Shaad Boochoon (Designer), Vincent Bruni (Artist), Ian Carson (Programmer), and Dhrumit Variya(Artist)

“Midnight Max is a game about a young boy called Max who goes on an epic adventure to save his father. His father is a toy maker and created artificially intelligent toys that became self aware. They kidnapped the father and now Max must use his “Derf” gun and squeaky hammer to destroy the toys and rescue his father.

The game features different types of enemy toys as well as a boss enemy. The player collects chocolate coins that can be used to upgrade the “Derf” gun. Max’s energy is replenished by eating gumballs from gumball machines.”

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: “Magical, Adventure, Toys”

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: “Midnight Max allows the player to use toy weapons to fight off toy enemies. The protagonist of the game is an 8 year old boy.”

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: “Midnight Max takes concepts such as the movement control from Alien Swarm and combines it with our childhood toys. The game tries to bring that idea of children’s creativity, and the inspiration of toys being alive. The art style is themed as a Disney styled 3D cartoon.”

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development?

A: “One of the biggest issues we had during development was with the coordination of the team, working on a project it can be difficult to manage schedules and deadlines. Keeping features under control can be another hard part of development; cutting something from a project can hurt anyone’s mood, and it can be difficult to keep on target while trying to avoid adding new features to a project.”

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A: “The game is in the ‘Gold Master’ stage right now. This means that we completed all the deliverables that were set in the Game Design Document for the capstone. As this is the final stage the game can be in we believe that it is ready for showcasing at Level Up.”

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: “Sheridan has always been known for its Art and Animation programs, and they’ve brought that same level of quality to their Game Development programs. The courses and project work reflect what is being done in the gaming industry and they prepare us for transitioning into industry jobs very quickly. Our professors believed that the quality of our final product was good enough for entering it in the Level Up showcase.”

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: “The biggest tip for anyone working on their games is to keep the scope of the project under control. Lock down the features and ideas as early as possible and don’t get caught up on making the game “Your game”. The capstone project is a collaborative project and it’s better to have a project everyone can agree on doing than a project that only “you” want to do.”

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A: “A ‘Release Candidate’ version of the game can be found at: http://www.shaadboochoon.com/MaxBuild/MidnightMaxWebLow.html

The ‘Gold Master’ version of the game is currently not live. We may resume development of the game at a later date, but there are no plans as of yet to develop anything further than the demo. For those wishing to play the final version of the game you’ll have to be at Level Up on April 4th.”

Capstone prototyping #gameDev #puzzle

Capstone prototyping #gameDev #puzzle

So wonderful 

So wonderful 

// DLNR Interview for Level Up Showcase 2014//

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School and Program: Brock University – Interactive Arts and Science

Game Title:  DLNR

Genre: Action/Puzzler

Developer: Winter Bridge Studio 

Stage for Level Up: Beta

Interviewee: David Bernard (Lead Designer)

“Our game is a two player game set in a cyberpunk floating fortress; Antares. You play as two separate cyborg agents who were sent in to infiltrate the base to reclaim the post apocalyptic worlds remaining water supply. However, your cyborg implants are imperfect and Antares is hot; every action you take will use Coolant. When you run out of Coolant, you die. The goal is to use your special abilities (Dash, Shield, and Click) to make it to the depths of Antares unscathed. You have to compete for these resources with the other player, but maybe there could be a way for you to help each other out…”

Q: If you can describe the game in three words:

A: ”Befriend. Betray. Survive.”

Q: Is there something unique about your game, if so what is it?

A: “Definitely the dynamic between Cooperation and Competition. From the beginning we knew we wanted to build and experience where your relationship with the other player was ambiguous. We wanted to give enough motivation for both options so it would be the player’s choice to either help or hinder the other player.”

Q: What are some of the inspirations for the game?

A: “The premise was inspired by the classic mathematical game theory problem of the “Prisoners Dilemma.” In it, there is a scenario where two prisoners are presented with the option of either betraying the other prisoner or protecting them. Protecting is more beneficial for each prisoner, but only if they both protect each other. If one betrays, then the one who protects gets it way worse than the one who ratted him out. If they both betray, then both prisoners get the worse possible scenario.

In terms of Mechanics, the mechanics are loosely based off turn based strategy games or even rougelikes, but in a real time 2 player incarnation. The puzzles are a lot like what you would find in the dungeons of Zelda or Pokemon.

As for Art Style, I know the art team was inspired by Cyberpunk flavour hits like Fallout, or Deus Ex.”

Q: What has been your team’s largest issue during development?

A: “Manhours. We have one coder, Endre, part of our team from the computer science department who has been responsible for the construction of our game. He’s brilliant, but if we only had a clone of him. It’s tough for all of us to make a game like this when it’s only 1/5th of our academics concerns.”

Q: What stage is the game in right now, and where do you plan on being for Level Up?

A: “Our game is currently in a solid Alpha build with our first out of 4 levels working well. For Level Up we hope to have a complete Beta, with only tweaks, polish and bug fixes to account for.”

Q: Talk generally about your school program and what has brought your team to entering into Level Up:

A: “Our school program is Interdisciplinary and is a broad study of the topics of Interactive Arts and Science. Most of it’s students do have a “Game” minded focus so over the years the classes have been specialized to studying, discussing and developing games. However, we do have a host of other cross listed classes, which gives us a lot of different knowledge basis to learn and draw from.”

Q: Any tips for other students working on their games?

A: “A working mechanical prototype/whitebox should be your first concern. If you can make a construct of your game that isn’t anything special to look at, but is mechanically working for gameplay, then you can test, test, test and rapidly make changes before worrying about polish. Representation and art are nice to have, but if you don’t have a working interactable construct, you don’t really have much. This is to avoid the crunch on some vital parts (especially if you’re experimenting with mechanics, which we decided to try.)”

Q: How can people track your progress/ check out the game?

A: “To follow our project you can check out the recently created Facebook Page

When we have an executable build we will be posting it, along with art, screenshots and any more promotional material.”

Excited to be back @brockuniversity for the Humanities Award Breakfast! Extremely honoured to be the student speaker at today’s event. @brockuiasc #brocku

Excited to be back @brockuniversity for the Humanities Award Breakfast! Extremely honoured to be the student speaker at today’s event. @brockuiasc #brocku

Hanging out with #tophat at #techfest

Hanging out with #tophat at #techfest

Today I received my #extralife metal in the mail! #ftk #forthekids

Today I received my #extralife metal in the mail! #ftk #forthekids

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