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Making Games & Having Fun!

After consulting with one of my three game project instructors about ways to get energized this semester, I have decided to focus only on doing what I want (focusing on what my instructor calls, "IWants"). I do not mean this in a traditionally selfish way, exactly; rather, I am going to make a point of only taking on projects and commitments that make me feel happy and about which I am enthusiastic. This seems like such a basic concept, but I am astounded by all of the things that I (and many people around me) do simply to please others, lest I offend or disappoint. However, by remaining committed to those projects out of politeness, I would both miss out/pass up on more desirable opportunities AND/OR likely produce mediocre work because of my lukewarm enthusiasm.

The fact that time and energy are finite can be a very difficult concept for me. I often want to manage and control and participate in more things than most humans can possibly handle. Of course, this hurts everyone involved. As such, I plan to slightly rework my activities and projects for the semester, but the following is a sampling of my current work:

First, I am working as lead designer on two game teams at DigiPen. It’s quite exciting, as they are significantly different and offer me a chance to have total creative control over the experience and over running diverse design teams.

My undergrad team, Emergent Science, is making a 2-D adventure platformer with a fantasy aesthetic called Robot Pirate Island. In the game, the player is a robot pirate captain searching for the lost pieces of his treasure map. The player progresses through three levels: land to ship, battle against another ship, and exploration of a deserted island to find the lost treasure. The team is small but tight-knit: 3 programmers, 1 game designer, and 1 sound designer. We have been working on this game since last semester, but we changed our concept recently because we were itching for a new, more exciting direction. Thankfully, our custom-made engine is more than capable of supporting our new concept, so now we are moving forward with increasing velocity.

Here are a few interesting bits that we plan to include in the final project:

- player ability: shoot lasers from his peg leg to attack robotic enemies

- player ability: shoot hook hand as grappling hook to reach higher platforms

- sea shanties: custom-made music by our sound designer and myself (we each sing and I play the violin)

While I am attached to my design and am great friends with the people involved, I am in the process of taking on a more secondary role with Emergent Science in order to focus on lead design work for my other team, Team Salt.

Team Salt is a graduate-level game team that is making a 3-D top-down turn-based strategy game in which the player is fighting for control of a resource that has caused wars throughout the centuries: salt. The working title for this game at this time is Salt Wars. Work on this game just started to ramp up since Prototype, and we have a lot of momentum moving towards First Playable in a few weeks. The game map that I created is now in engine, as are: our talented programmers’ AI and our talented artists’ latest 2D assets and one 3-D model for the combat units. We’re all very excited to be involved and intend to have a passing grade by spring break rather than by the end of the semester, leaving us plenty of time to polish and inject the game with as much fun as possible.

That’s what it’s about this semester – good work, happy work, and fun work.

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