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An Interview With The Team...

How are you feeling post-X48?
Alice: I am really pleased with the outcome, as me and Debs hadn't done anything like this before and we had only met the boys that Friday morning, so I'm pretty chuffed with how it all turned out.
Paul: Feeling pretty good now I've had some sleep! The event was a lot of fun and a real challenge but that made the lack of sleep worth it.

Was it worth the slog?
Paul: Absolutely! It was worth every second of broken code, sprites being in the wrong place by themselves and even completely blank screens! It was such a good event to be a part of.
Deborah: Definitely, the experience gained was well worth the 'slog' many times over.

What did you all gain from the experience, and what do you hope will come from it?
Paul: I gained a greater sense of open mindedness in that you have to go into an event like this with a completely open mind and no expectations of what type of game you are going to make. That way the best ideas can come together however strange or insane they might be.

I hope that on the whole that the Newport team having a great deal of success from the event will inspire other students from the university to think about entering events like these and maybe we will get more success in the future as a university.

On a personal level I hope that people download, play and enjoy the demo that we made and hopefully my involvement in the programming of the game shows my abilities as a programmer.

Alice: I learnt that you need to keep a steady balance of art and technical. The game wouldn't have worked so well without the visual treatment or without the hard work the boys put in to achieve an interesting way of playing the game. The scale could easily have tipped one way or the other but definite compromise and prioritising was needed to achieve what we wanted in the short space of time. As I want to go in to producing this was especially interesting from my perspective.

Deborah: Working with 3 people I have never worked with before was interesting, and worked well in this case. It's always good learning how to get on with new people when producing work, and it's harder to do so under such tight time constraints, when stress levels are really high. I also managed to talk to some really lovely people from various games companies, which was one of the most valuable things to me.
I hope that this competition, and being in the top 3 winning teams, shows future employers that I can deal with working in teams, I can work on my own without much assistance, and I can produce artwork quickly to produce a game in such a short time!

Where are you at with your degrees/courses, and what specific areas are you doing? How has X48 contributed to your studies and career aspirations?
Alice: I am in my last year and will be graduating this summer and am interested in entering the industry as an entry-level producer. X48 allowed me to further develop skills as a producer as that was the main role I took in our team. I also met lots of really friendly people with lots of useful advice.

Currently I am in my final year of the Games Development and Artificial Intelligence course at the University of Wales, Newport with the remainder of my time now being focused on my final project/dissertation which I am working on as part of a small development team. We are creating a multiplayer combat flight game using XNA where two players team up to form a Pilot - Co-Pilot team for a single plane against other pairs. On this project I am currently responsible for game play and network coding while integrating code and art assets from other members of the team.
X48 allowed me to continue to use the skills I have built up with XNA in a totally different environment to the one at university and helped me to find out just how much I do know and remember under pressure.
Hopefully the X48 game I was a part of will show, in part, that I have the potential to be a successful programmer of games and the experience of making it has inspired me even more to work towards getting a job coding games.

Deborah: I am in my final year of Computer Games Design [CGD] at Newport. It is a design based course, unlike our sister programming course from the other Newport campus. We do 3D modelling, animation, art and design, using programmes such as Flash, Photoshop, After Effects and Maya.
I personally focus on 2D and concept art, using traditional art methods, Photoshop and my trusty Wacom. Currently I have teamed up with someone from a different course at my uni to make 4 flash games. This is my website, the games will be up here as soon as they are finished in May. www.debbiestephens.co.uk :)
X48 has contributed to my career aspirations by giving me some contacts who I can talk to about what I need to get into the industry.

What did you learn from X48?
Paul: As well as learning that Red Bull is my friend, I have seen that sometimes the ideas you least expect can turn out to make the best parts of games. I would not have thought at 2am on the Saturday morning that trying to stop wind from blowing seeds off the screen could amount to much of a game, but I was wrong and now probably every game I'm a part of will have a wind meter in the corner!

Would you do it again?
Paul: Absolutely! This is the second event like this that I have taken part in with the Global Game Jam earlier this year being the first and even without the sleep it is so worth it. Being able to turn up and develop ideas with likeminded people for a few days and having the potential to make any part of that idea a reality is very rewarding.
Alice: Yes, in spite of all the hard work and the lack of sleep it was really good fun. I thought it was brilliantly organised and there was a really good atmosphere around the place. Although next time I would like to be warned in advance about all the cameras so I could bring more make-up with me!

What was the thinking behind the type of game you made, and why did you pick the target audience?
Alice: We wanted to create a game that had abstract control. In Bellis Perennis you are something more than an avatar…you are a theory. It is pure puzzle and strategy. We felt that on an educational level this was more beneficial as you are not learning by being told information but you are a part of the information. You have to understand the way the balance of an ecosystem works to win the game, which is the lesson itself.

Paul: I guess the main focus from a game play perspective was to make the demo as easy to play as possible but at the same time, make the player the one that sets the challenge. The game mechanic works in such a way that the player can do as little or as much playing as they want. There is the potential to just let the game go about its business with no input to see what happens and at the same time, that same level could be played with the upmost intent to never have a seed get lost or a flower die. Because of this i think the target audience can really be anyone that has a mouse attached to the PC as the challenges come from trying to match your previous scores, beat a friends score or end up with a crazy looking garden at the end.

Deborah: We wanted to make a game that was visually pleasing as well as technically good. We wanted to move away from the obvious, or cliché, and be noticed for this. it worked :) It had to be a game which was easy enough for anyone to play, which is why there is only one button to click. It's also quite experimental. It's interesting to see what happens when you just leave the game to play by itself with no interference.

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