A Thirst for Quench

A Thirst for Quench

As school starts up again for the year (my final year!) my attention has been focused upon the project of grand scale that lays before me: my capstone. The project that no teacher at Humber will let you forget from the first moment you sit down in a classroom. It is intended to be your greatest achievement before graduating, and to mark your transition into professional video game development. I’ve been dying to get started. And so much thought and care has gone into my plan — and Axon’s plan — to bring my capstone project to life as a commercial game called Quench. Quench is a top-down hex-based puzzle game in which the player controls the weather to assist herds of animals though desolate landscapes and the dark spirits of the past. The player uses earthquakes, lightning, wind, rain and simple psychology to guide their flock to safety, and eventually restore the world. Since Axon is working on this project as a whole, I find myself in the enviable position of having a team of some of the most talented people I know from a wide range of fields to bring to bear in creating Quench. Furthermore, Axon will be bringing another another Humber Game Programming student named James Zinger onto the team, and so Quench will be shared as our student work masterpiece. All told, the Axon team for Quench is comprised of 6 people: Myself (Jeff Rose) – Programmer and Technical Direction James Zinger – Programmer Tabby Rose – UI Design and Creative Direction William (Bill) Nyman – Game Design, Level Design and QA Albert Fung...
TOJam: The Sevening!

TOJam: The Sevening!

Our latest outing was TOJam: The Sevening! The 7th iteration of it’s kind, this year’s TOJam (that is “T.O. Jam”, pronounced “Toe Jam”) was a game jam that hosted an awesome 410 people, making a dizzying number of games with only one long-weekend to do it. Since it’s not a competition, there’s just a pervasive atmosphere of productivity and adrenaline and progress that really gets the blood flowing. We were all too happy to be there to ride on that wave. The three of us (Bill, Tabby, and myself, Jeff) entered into the jam with Albert Fung, our distinguished 3D artist collaborator, and a new acquaintance of ours, Marty Bernie. Marty is an incredibly talented musician and we had an great time working with him. Our team of 5 worked together really well, and I think everyone involved is itching to work together again soon. Throughout the weekend, we put together the foundation to what will be a really interesting game, which we call Quench. Since this year’s theme at TOJam was the world is not ending, we wanted to make something that really captures a feeling of life, protection and restoration; a blend of Okami and Minecraft, if you will. Quench is a game in which you play the role of a demigod charged with controlling nature. You must assist herds of animals as they trek back home, through a parched wasteland, to the safety of the Elder Tree. Only by protecting the herds on their pilgrimage will the Elder Tree have the strength to make the world green once again. Wonderful concept aside, we had to cut...
Gamercamp and nerfed turkey

Gamercamp and nerfed turkey

Gamercamp just ended and now that I’m home safe (and completely exhausted) I’m happy to report that it was a fantastic experience. Jaime and Mark ran a great show. We met a bunch of really cool fellow indie developers and artists, saw some incredibly insightful presentations, and made ourselves a paper prototype game, in collaboration with Jaime Woo and a couple of other Gamercamp volunteers, called Sandblocks. So, lots to talk about! Cheating as a Game Mechanic Firstly, I’d like to thank Andy Keenan for an enthralling presentation (and everyone in the room for the ensuing discussion) regarding Cheating as a Game Mechanic. His focus on flow maintenance in games had everyone in the room reconsidering how to design game difficulty from a totally different viewpoint. His central idea is hugely important but amazing in its simplicity: Maps, cheat codes, time rewinding, FAQs, YouTube playthroughs and wiki entries all share a common thread of being a form of meta-gaming that could be thought of as cheating, and yet many of these are embraced as viable parts of play while others are shunned as being detriments to play or “impure experiences”. But shouldn’t we, as designers, be most invested in maintaining immersion, enjoyment and flow for our players? Why not embrace these as ways to improve games and maintain flow, rather than rejecting them? Considering this subject from the player’s perspective, it becomes clear why some players cheat. They’re either bored because the game is too easy or the game is too hard and they’re frustrated with it. It’s just more engaging to cheat than that to play the game...
Launching axondigitalarts.com!

Launching axondigitalarts.com!

Hey, everyone! We are proud to finally announce the launch of axondigitalarts.com to the public! It’s not quite finished yet, but it’s looking pretty good, don’t you think? We sure hope so, anyway. I think it’s some of our best work so far. But I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. You probably don’t know us yet. Axon Digital Arts is a startup in the field of educational game development, with high hopes to bring a revolutionary synthesis of design sensibility and engaging gameplay to students of science, mathematics and critical thinking. We employ cutting edge information visualization and communication techniques to explore complex subject matter. You might think that educational games are boring. We think they’re boring too. But they really don’t have to be. And there’s plenty of reasons that they really shouldn’t be if they’re going to be effective. It’s our belief that building games with rapid, high-quality feedback, engaging gameplay, and mechanics tailored to the educational goal will fuel motivation and accelerate students’ understanding of complex subjects. We make games that make you think. We make games that go beyond forcing you to do problems, and give you the tools to visualize and think about problems. We don’t just build skill and drill into a game. We augment science and mathematics with games that are cool to play — for fun! We want players to experience flow. You know that feeling that you get when you’re so into doing a job that time just blows by and your mind is solely focused on what you’re doing? That’s flow. When players achieve flow, they’re ready to...