What: Independent game, student project
Where: University of Applied Sciences in Salzburg, Austria
When: Fall Semester 2010/11
In late 2010 I had been looking for a suitable game project to accompany the master thesis I was writing at that time. As luck would have it, a good former colleague of mine offered me to participate in the game project Sidelives, which was being developed by students of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences.The team was composed of several enthusiastic artists, authors and programmers but, luckily for me, no one with former practical experience in game design. For that purpose I joined the production team as a supporting Game Designer.
My first task was to quickly pen a treatment of the core game mechanics as a guideline for the artists and the programmers, after which I developed the early areas for the game, complete with tasks and objectives for the player.
The documents were written in close co-operation with my colleague, and I was frequently meeting with artists, programmers, the writer and the project manager in order to devise game mechanics and game environments and tasks that would suit their vision as well as being technically viable. At the heart of the project was a firm vision based on a mood and a visual theme, with less focus on gameplay, so I had to compromise in a few instances. Fortunately, there were other instances where the team was open to my suggestions, even if that would at times alter their original concept.
The game is set in a dark futuristic city, with a distinct graphical style. Disaster strikes, and the player is relentlessly pursued by a dark matter that is spreading all over the city. The player cannot stop the dark matter, he can only delay it or lure it away by employing either “positive” or “negative” types of energy while he tries to escape. Eventually, he learns that the cities ruling caste has something to do with the outbreak of this disaster.
The production team for this project was considerably bigger than in the smaller semester projects I had worked on at the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences, which made this a very interesting experience.