GD35 Pitch and Play

This August saw the departure of another excellent batch of design students in the form of GD35. The variety and polish of their final projects was truly astounding, and they got a chance to show off all their great work at another Vancouver Film School Pitch and Play. VFS alumni and industry professionals packed into the TV Studio at the Game Design campus one warm evening to see what these students had put together, and the students did not disappoint. Here’s a quick glimpse into the awesome games that were demonstrated for us on stage:

THE EXHIBIT

Something wicked this way comes…oh, wait, it’s a charmingly spooky 2.5D mobile platformer. Dylan Rueter, Kris Kamaruddin, and Ryan White developed The Exhibit, demonstrating how a small team can create a focused product through creative use of design limitations. Players control a marionette as he runs and leaps through a hellish landscape while avoiding enemies, collecting souls, and activating switches that change the player’s path through the level. The team overcame typical mobile stumbling blocks like controlling a character’s movement on a touch screen, and even did their research on how the game could effectively monetize with advertising and progress unlocking. And they smartly used every bit of content they created—Ryan described how an enemy AI that was slated to be included in the game was scrapped due to time constraints, but because its model was already finished they placed it in the backgrounds to create a more fleshed out, fully-realized environment.

They even challenged us to collect all 100 souls in the game. If you’re up to the challenge, you can download The Exhibit here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/the-exhibit/

ECLIPSE

In space no one can hear you scream, but they’ll definitely notice the incredible pyrotechnics as your spaceship explodes. This vibrant third person strategic space shooter was developed by another three person team: Steven Urbani, Dillon Richard, and James Beasley. Eclipse boasts an impressive variety of ways to blow up enemy spaceships—the developers recalled an early build in which players controlled the game with 13 keys, most of them for weapons. They were able to narrow that down to 8, but kept the game’s complexity and strategy intact through some smart implementation of systems like auto-targeting. They also nailed the importance of silhouettes, because you don’t want to waste valuable time wondering what kind of ship you’re up against (though it limits the player’s ability to make “that’s no moon…” jokes).

Ready for an epic spaceship dogfight? You can download Eclipse here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/eclipse/

KINETIC
Jump! Dash! Hit him! No, him! BOOM! Some games are easy to get excited about just by watching them, and Kinetic has this down. This 3rd person action adventure game’s invitingly colorful sci-fi visuals suck you in and its smart twist on resources keep you stuck to the screen. Thomas Pierce, Enrique Eduardo Klein Garcia Godos, Charles Adams, Jake Osborne, and Thomas Kochanzyk developed a fun, frantic game where resources dropped by enemies aren’t just a commodity to be grabbed after the room is cleared. If an enemy picks up the kinetic energy that another vanquished enemy dropped, they’ll suddenly get upgraded to a bigger, badder version of themselves that is going to cause you a lot more trouble.

So don’t let your enemies get the one up on you! Pick up your kinetic energy, and Kinetic, here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/kinetic/

FORGOTTEN
Developed by Emiliano Guerrero Solis, Emilio Pelaez, Laszlo Pollak, Travis Smith, and James Watson, Forgotten is—forgive me for saying—hard to forget. In this 3rd person action adventure players solve puzzles and battle enemies by rewinding time for individual objects. Rocks in your path? No problem, just rewind them to a time when they were still attached to the cave ceiling. Missed the bad guy when you threw your knife? Just rewind its time—you can hit the guy while it’s on its way back to you. Creative art and programming even lets the player watch as ancient artifacts de-age from decrepit and rusty to shiny and new in seconds. To top it all off they’ve got some great voice acting to really help set the tone and sell the story.

You won’t be able to rewind that coffee you spilled all over your pants this morning, but give Forgotten a try here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/forgotten/

LUCIDITY
Lucidity’s dark, psychedelic, 3rd person twitch puzzle platforming is one of those dreams you don’t want to wake up from. Blake Vetter, Cam Hickey, Dustin Williamson, Matt Holland, and Jamie Thompson delivered an intriguing game with a mysterious story to match. Players have to wend their way through complicated jumping puzzles, timing their actions with the help of a well-executed slowdown mechanic. They’ll need to plan their path carefully, though—the world they have to traverse is split into two mirrored sections they’ll be jumping between through carefully situated portals. If the idea is messing with your brain, it’s probably because the mechanics are so tightly tied to the unique narrative they’ve crafted for the game.

But don’t let me spoil the story for you, you can download Lucidity here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/lucidity/

CARRION
Dystopian futures are so 3014, or at least this one sure looks like it. Between the high-tech, foreboding cityscape and sleek, neon-laced character models this pseudo turn-based tactical RPG does dystopia right. When Asaf Kazachinsky, Ethan Maddix, Marlon Franz, Kris Lee, and Aleah Martin were asked about their art influences, the team surprised us by noting deep sea aquatic life forms as a major inspiration—that bioluminescence can be seen throughout their design and used to incredible effect. Beyond being just a stunning game to look at, the team-based strategy gameplay was quite the challenge. To get the best of the AI, players will have to use their ability to slow down the battle and time their various abilities carefully.

Don’t believe me? Test out your strategic chops by downloading Carrion here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/carrion/

THE PARTY
After some great presentations (and some even more impressive quick thinking in response to difficult questions) everyone moved upstairs for a drink and a chance to get their hands on these games themselves. This is where the students are at their best: talking one on one about the game they’ve been working on for the past several months. They know all the ins and outs, they know what they’re proud of and what they want to improve on, and they know they’ve made something that will stand out when they’re looking for work in the industry. Congratulations to Game Design Class 35, and best of luck!


Nicholas Romeo is a Game Design student at VFS