Vancouver – The thirteenth graduating class from Vancouver Film School has much to be proud of. We attended their Pitch and Play Presentation last evening, and it’s evident that they all worked very hard on their projects. I liked the new format for the show, and it was nice to see so many industry people turn out to take a look at work and put some hard questions to the development teams. We participated in five pitches, each unique in its own way. The presentations were quite well done, but something we missed that had been done in the past was the availability of game demos or other promotional materials for the projects to bring back to the office for later perusal.
The first presentation of the evening was from Fully Cooked Games, who presented their project titled HighMoon Express. This game was the first of two built using the Unity Engine. HighMoon Express was described by the development team as “a tongue-in-cheek western arcade-action game. Built on the concept of a tower defense styled game, the heroes consisted of Doc, The Priest, The Showgirl and The Gunslinger. The enemies were Trolls, Ghosts, The Cubs and The Feral. The character artwork sort of reminded me of the old Scooby Doo villains (not a bad thing), and the game play required some quick thinking on the part of the gamer. Power-ups were available in the game’s shop, and each player also had its own unique special move to defeat the onslaught of enemies.
Second to present was Team Heist with their flash-based game The Perfect Job. The presentation opened with a very humorous animated cut scene showing the game’s “hero” in his jail cell being presented with a large cake by the prison guard. Our hero has been broken out of jail by the local mob boss, and now must break into buildings to steal things for the boss, in order to pay him back for breaking the hero out of jail. In order to commit these heists, our thief must avoid security guards and cameras while picking locks, cracking safes and stealing the treasures – all within a set time limit. The player has the ability to hack the camera computers and turn them off as well as use some of his funds to bribe the guards, however there are bonuses for not adding bribery to his list of offenses. Should our thieving hero be caught, a large set of prison bars close with a clang over the screen, and the player has to start the level over again.
The presentation was for the game 2012 End Prophecy which was built on the Unreal Engine. The team’s description of the game is that 2012 End Prophecy is “a single player, third person magical platformer set during the end of the Cycle of Magic – December 21 2012.
The player is presented with a series of puzzles to solve in an ancient Mayan temple, and navigation is by teleportation, which is an adaptation of the jump and double jump control. The environment art and level design were well done, but I felt that the audio work in this presentation really excelled.
Next up was Team Up, presenting their project Keep It Up, which was also created in Flash. This game is “a casual and comedic strategy game where players struggle to keep up structures.” This team had a great sense of humour, and it showed in their work. Based on the premise of construction and falling structures, our game’s hero must prevent bridges and roadways from collapsing so that dear old Granny can make it home. Unfortunately Granny tends to move quite slowly, and sometimes needs to pause for a nap. Large characters and vehicles cause erosion of the structures, but our hero and his band of builder bots work hard to keep them up. The player is given a set of construction tools to hold things together, but must still carefully plan the use of these tools and his robot crew. A good sense of timing and proper use of resources will result in successful level completion. The only thing that could have made this presentation better would have been the use of audio in the demo build. As a personal choice I also would have preferred the use of a single screen as opposed to the scrolling screen used by the developers.
The final presentation of the evening was by the largest team, Godlike Games. They built their project on the Unity Engine and titled it Tire and Brimstone. Similar in concept to Twisted Metal, “Tire and Brimstone is a third person browser based multiplayer game set in Hell. The objective of the game, aside from trying to blast your opponents’ vehicles into little pieces, is to become Satan’s Favourite, which involves winning a time-limited special power up. The soundtrack for the game is highly appopriate, and the play is very fast paced. The developers took special considerations for keeping players in the battle, and also penalized them for committing “suicide” by driving their cars off the edge of the arena to regain a vehicle with full health. The team used input from beta testers on their web site to gain feedback on the game prior to their presentation. I would have liked to have seen the team work on the problems they found when creating additional arenas, but over all I feel they did a good job on the project.
Best of luck to all the members of this grad class as they venture out into the creative world of game development.