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The University of Southampton
Winchester School of Art

New Games to be Unveiled at Arcade 4.0

Published: 23 May 2016
SOUNDeSCAPE Screenshot
SOUNDeSCAPE Screenshot

This Friday students will have a chance to play games produced from the BA Games Design & Art programme at WSA when they are showcased at the Cube at SUSU on the Highfield campus of the University of Southampton, as part of Arcade 4.0.

The games are called SOUNDeSCAPE (created by Aaron Williams and his team) and Little Greyton (created by Bobbie Allsop and her team).  

Aaron Williams took the time to talk about his game and explain the process the students have gone through in the creation of their games.

His game is called SOUNDeSCAPE and is a combination of platform games (such as Super Meat Boy) and rhythm games (such as Crypt of the Necrodancer). This idea was used because it is not something which has really been seen in gaming so far, except for isolated examples such as some of the levels on Rayman Legends for instance.

All games, to some extent, rely on the rhythm of events of enable the player to enjoy the gameplay. SOUNDeSCAPE makes a feature of this by using the rhythms in the accompanying music to signal game events, such as the approach of the villains.

The game features a character called Eddie Fade. He is the rhythm guitarist for a band called Putrid Youth. On a long car trip he falls into a narcoleptic sleep and finds himself transported to the Quantized Continuum, a realm infested with dance music, and he needs to use his guitar and his love of heavy metal to find his way back to the real world. Partly inspired by 80s arcade games and films such as Tron, it provides an immersive backstory for the gameplay.

Aaron himself came up with the original idea and game design during Semester One, when all the second year students were charged with designing their own projects. His was then voted one of the two games to be developed by a team during Semester Two.

As well as the game design, Aaron also undertook the coding for the game, and wrote the music. He was assisted by Claudia Thomas, who designed the layouts of the levels; Jess Castle, who was responsible for character design and animation; James Pearson, the team manager and object designer; Oliver Duncanson, background artist; and Cameron Niven, who came up with the character concepts and created the cut scenes. Together they worked through the second semester to produce a complete ‘vertical slice’ of the game – a demo version containing all the types of gameplay expected to be in the full version. And it is this version of the game which will be available for play on Friday.

The game has been tested by first year students as it was produced, to ensure playability, and eight of the ten playtesters issued with the vertical slice have said they would purchase the full version.

The production of this game has been very successful and, according to Aaron, the particular strengths of the team came about because the course is embedded in an Art School, and is not just geared towards coding. “Because people have come to the course with different aims and different backgrounds, the initial set of games was hugely diverse – which probably wouldn’t have been the case on a more traditional Games Design course. And then, when we split into a team, different people were able to focus on their own areas of interest, use their own skills, and develop different aspects of the game to bring it together in the finished version.”

SOUNDeSCAPE and Little Greyton will be available to play on Friday as part of Arcade 4.0. The whole event will feature student work from both Year 1 and 2 and will include playable video game prototypes, vertical slices , board games, crazy golf and much more. Sketchbooks and Development blogs will also provide visitors with insights into the creative research process our students undertake when creating games that tackle themes such as feminism, healthcare and of course battling baddies.

You can attend Arcade 4.0 at the Cube, part of SUSU, the University of Southampton Students’ Union, at Highfield, Southampton, on Friday 27th May2016, from 12-4pm. A small buffet and drinks will be available.

More information about the event can be found here.

More information about Little Greyton and its creation can be found here.

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