So I’m late in getting to this, but last week we pitched thesis games and this week we’re prototyping them. Let me catch you up on what I’ve done so far this semester.
Over the break I thought constantly about what game I was going to pitch as a thesis game idea (after I got through Christmas and New Year’s). I didn’t know how we’d be picking thesis games or thesis teams, but I knew in any case we would need a solid game idea, so I did all I could think of to find the best idea possible. I played games I could find in any form, anywhere, anytime. If I couldn’t play a game, I tried to learn about it by watching videos and reading descriptions. I looked especially at IndieCade and IGF, as I knew we’d be targeting such venues for recognition with our thesis games.
As I looked all over, I made a list of common traits of winning student IGF games. I also did some soul-searching and made a list of my own personal all-time favorite games, and then went one further and wrote a list of my all-time favorite aspects of games. I was looking for ingredients for a great thesis pitch.
By the time school started again, I had three ideas I felt good about that I was going to pitch in whatever form we ended up needing to pitch thesis ideas:
1. Cardboard RPG – Tearaway meets Minecraft as you traverse a cardboard world, harvesting cardboard from your enemies to build fortresses, customize your character, and create weapons.
2. Alone at Home – Turn-based procedural survival game where you play as a kid left alone at home fighting off supernatural creatures entering your home. Each turn you move to a room and can either collect from that room or set up a trap, then the creatures all move. Don’t die. Kill things cleverly.
3. KaleidEscape- The main mechanic is rotating a kaleidoscope to alter the game world so the character can escape.
The problem of level design for idea 3 really got me thinking, so I ended up paper-prototyping a very basic level:
I did that one just to get the message across of the idea, but then I wanted to make an actually challenging level, so I made another paper prototype of that one:
Then I started to think of all the possibilities of that kind of level design-other shapes, intersecting shapes, 3D, etc. I started making some PowerPoint slides for a pitch.
When working on the PowerPoints, Roger and Bob came over and looked at it and Roger said, “What if you added augmented reality?” Essentially, he suggested we use a coin to control the different circles.
I took that idea and thought about it over the weekend before we had to pitch on Tuesday. I took the augmented-reality thing and ran with it and started thinking of level designs where you had to use an object as a controller. I was especially excited by the idea of shadow puppets because I haven’t seen a game made with shadow puppets and hands are the one object you can count on your players having with them when and wherever they play the game. Then, in thinking about shadows I thought about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and the interaction between the real world and a “shadow” of the real world inside the game’s virtual reality. That all came together and became Cave of Shadows, the game I ended up pitching.
People liked the pitch for Cave of Shadows and those who liked it came together. We are now a team of 4 engineers, 2 tech artists, an artist, and me working to make a prototype over the next 3 weeks to show to an industry panel and possibly get picked to become a full thesis game.
Here we go!