All work and game play

December 7, 2016

Computer Game Showcase highlights undergraduate talent.

Students love an opportunity to develop their own games. And develop they did!

During finals week, an end-of-quarter project showcase successfully demonstrated the many talents of UC Irvine’s future game designers, many of whom may even enter the fast-growing Orange County industry.

The course, Computer Game Development (CS 113/INF 125) taught by Informatics Lecturer Darren Denenberg, requires students to not only develop programming skills, but also marketing savvy. Each group assembled a full suite of marketing materials, a business plan and a professional website to complement their games.

“The students and games created this quarter were fantastic, everyone did a great job and I am really proud of each of them,” said Denenberg.

Each team took on the form of a company – complete with name, logo, structure and byline – developing its inaugural product.

“Throughout the course, I emphasize creativity in game design and development and I feel the groups really lived up to that,” said Denenberg. “Some pushed an existing genre forward, others applied a unique twist, while others created something wholly original.”

In total 21 games, created by 116 students, were successfully created from start to finish in 10 weeks.

Games influenced by current events, like Harambe on the Run inspired by the toddler who fell into the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla enclosure last May, used satire to express their creators’ feelings for the incident. In Harambe, players aim to increase their high score by helping the ill-fated gorilla avoid bullets and collect bananas.

“Our inspiration for this game came from the responses we were witnessing on social media. This game has been designed to honor the memory of Harambe and animals in captivity,” said its creators (Computer Science majors Adam Roke and Ved Kirloskar, and Informatics majors Brittany Young, Germain Ortiz and Lane Krejcik).

Other games, such as the anime-inspired, fast-paced PVP survival arena game NovaFest, took a more lighthearted approach to their design. In NovaFest, multiple players engage in battle while also avoiding such adorable hazards as PLOO (intersteller poop) and the KITTY KANNON (as the name implies, a huggable cat cannon). NovaFest was created by computer science majors Marcelo Autran, Leon Cao (CS/engineering), Brandon Cheng, Edward Duong, Jenny Tran (art minor), Hector Vega and Tim Park.

“We did a lot of brainstorming on this and knew we wanted to do a multiplayer game from the start since we play a lot of party games,” said Autran. “It was a lot of work, but also really fun.”

The students engaged in a significant amount of self-learning and problem-solving during the quarter, and it certainly shines through in their work.

“It’s very fulfilling to see them show off their achievements after overcoming hurdles both technical and otherwise,” said Denenberg.

View photos from the Fall 2016 Computer Game Development Showcase.