Game makers put to the test at GDC

Game developers and designers from around the world test games at event hosted by RIT

Game designers and developers will have the chance to show off their games and test others at the annual GDC Prototype/Playtest Night, held Feb. 28 at the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco.

Hundreds of game developers and designers from around the world come to the Prototype/Playtest Night at the Game Developers Conference hoping to have their games torn apart.

“Getting your game playtested by other game makers is another level of brutality, compared to the feedback you would get from any other player,” said Ian Schrieber, assistant professor of interactive games and media at Rochester Institute of Technology, which created the event three years ago. “But that high-quality feedback from your peers is what helps you rebuild the game 10 times better than before.”

The third annual Prototype/Playtest night at GDC will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 28, in the Market Street room of the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco.

The event, hosted by RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media (IGM), is open to anyone in the game development community who wants to bring a work-in-progress to receive feedback from peers and those who want to play games and give feedback. The event typically features more than 100 video games, board games and card games.

The Prototype/Playtest night was created in 2015 by RIT, as a way to give back to the game development community.

“GDC is well known for its parties and night life, but there wasn’t an event for people to bring their games and play,” Schrieber said. “At last year’s event, we couldn’t get an official headcount because so many people had arrived an hour early.”

The event draws working professionals from throughout the game industry—including designers from independent and indie studios—and game makers from as far as the Netherlands, Australia and Israel. Some student designers also attend to get feedback on their capstone projects.

“It’s nerve-racking to have your game tested by so many professionals,” said Rose Flynn, a game design and development graduate student at RIT. “But it’s great because they know what they are talking about—it’s not your grandma’s feedback.”

Three teams of RIT graduate students will playtest their games at the Feb. 28 event. The RIT games include:

  • Gloom Box: A music-themed puzzle-platform computer game where players follow the protagonist Muse as she explores the colorful and musical world called Opus. Muse is aided by her companion, a sentient boombox named Gloom, that enables her to play and mash-up cassette tapes that she finds scattered throughout the world. Each cassette tape contains a different genre of music, which corresponds to a unique ability. Gloom Box contrasts 1980s iconography with a millennial point of view to create an experience that can be enjoyed by players from a wide age range. The game is being created by Anthony Zalar, from Painesville, Ohio; Chengchen Yang, from China; Reuben Brenner-Adams, from Ithaca, N.Y.; Roger Smith, from Burke, Va.; and Stein Astor Fernandez, from India.
  • YAW (Yet Another World): A virtual reality experience, using an Oculus, where the world interacts with you. In this world from some other dimension, you can see colors swirling around with outer dimensional creatures flocking in the world. The game is being created by Arun Krishnakumar, Manjunath Shivanna, Shashwat Sinha and Uday Shanker Reddy Bujala, who are all from India.
  • PrincessCape: The computer game puts players in the role of Princess Elwynn. After being captured by a dragon and seeing the various attempts to rescue her fail spectacularly, she decides to take the magic items from the corpses of the adventurers who died trying to save her and find her own way out. The game is being created by J.D. Kelly, from Fallbrook, Calif., and Rose Flynn, from Southwick, Mass.

For more information or to attend the GDC Prototype/Playtest night, RSVP on Facebook.

art and design

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