This is Where the Story Ends! — Hostile Territory Reaches the Finish Line on a High Note!

This is my final blog post as a graduate student in the EAE program, and to say the least, our team and game have both ended on top!

This past week was our final EAE Day. We prepared our game and setup it up for its final go around as a student game. What happened next was surreal. First to play our game were industry professionals. The professionals that played our game were surprised at how well our game played and noted how much fun they were having playing it. A few people that came from WildWorks even commented that it was the best game they’ve ever played during an EAE Open House — their words, not mine. So please no hate mail lol.

Afterward the industry professionals crack at playing HT, the doors were open to the public. The game proved to be popular as it was with the industry professionals. As a result, we had lines of people playing our game — and even had several play for hours. The game was a huge hit and people regaled at the simplicity of the design, yet deep gameplay it provided. EAE Day was a resounding success for our game. People loved it! And we were so proud that our game brought so much joy to the people that played it.

Thursday brought our thesis presentation. This would be the moment that we would present our game and defend our design decisions while at the same time facing rigorous questions about the challenges we faced. Since as Lead Designer I had a large part in the presentation, I put in countless hours to ensure it was delivered well. Early that morning, we reconvene as a team in order to practice our presentation. After a couple of dry runs, we made some edits to our presentation and we were finally ready to go.

What followed was perfection. We delivered our presentation without a hitch. At the end even the faculty commented that they wished that the presentation could’ve been recorded to use for future cohorts. Afterwards, the faculty asked us questions about the game and especially how we overcame the challenges we faced last semester. We addressed them honestly and openly. We informed them that we used the challenges as a learning opportunity and thus were able to evolve our process. As many questions as they asked, as many kudos they provided for our team. They were very proud that we were able to come together in spite of our challenges and in the end created a fun multiplayer game. They even noted how they were going to use our game to demonstrate to future students how you can iterate to make a fun game without the need to make a large, overcomplicated game.

It was a sweet ending to our time in the program. Although we had our challenges, our ups and downs as a team, we were able to overcome them and produce an enjoyable game. It is all you can dream of as student game designer: to make a game that people enjoy. And it was a wonderful journey with the people on my team. They worked hard and deserved the kudos they received this semester. We started slow and had to face giants, but in the end we stuck together and were successful in finding the fun in our game.

At this point, my writing is meandering. The exhaustion of 4-years (which includes the two years I spent as a PhD student) has finally overwhelmed me. But I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. I learned a ton in my time in the program. I also believe I am a better person as a result. The challenges I faced as a producer and designer allowed me to learn how to grow as well as how to better work with people. And I also learned to never give up! We struggled last fall but never gave into it. Rather than turning on each other, we trusted the core ideas in the design and worked tirelessly until the game became something we enjoyed. Ultimately, we were able to overcome the challenges, which made it possible for us to focus on making the game better.

Well that’s a wrap. But it’s not the end. As I move forward working for Disney Interactive as an industry professional, the journey is only beginning. Although my time in the EAE is over, the memories and relationships I’ve formed will follow me for years to come. And thanks for reading.

And go download the game already!

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