Why are you studying games?
My life has always had games in it, and it was a childhood dream to get to work on them one day, before I knew how that would ever work. As I grew older and became more aware of games development, history, and culture, this dream never faded and instead became more spurred on by this bizarre, ever-changing medium. Games helped me greatly in my life, and I hope to make games that can help others too.
Describe your favorite project made by a classmate.
I have to shout out Santiago Fernández's "Palm Road". It’s a simple prototype, made in less than a week, about riding down a vaporwave road, with the one mechanic being to generate a new inspirational quote. Despite the limited constraints of the project, the aesthetic is captured perfectly, and even the slightly naive quotes concur with the nostalgic yet critical eye vaporwave casts into our neon, pastel past. https://sanfer.itch.io/palm-road
Describe your most embarrassing playtesting moment.
I have a tendency to make things a little harder than they perhaps should be, so rather any specific embarrassing moment, I would like to highlight the many times I have had to apologize to various playtesters of mine who have been stuck on single rooms or combat encounters for 5 - 10 minutes plus. Their insight was invaluable to making those sequences not completely aggravating, but I also couldn’t help but feel a little joy when one of them would mutter an obscenity under their breath upon a death. At least they were invested!
What's your secret weapon?
I've invested a lot of time into playing and understanding as many games as possible, across a wide breadth of genres and time. Not only does this make it easy for me to mix and match genre elements and break new ground, but it can be very useful to analyze a design issue by looking at how those in the past tackled it and more importantly, how those implementations were received. It’s a little like getting playtest feedback without any of the pains of development.
Describe one memorable lecture, assignment, or exercise you've had at the Game Center.
Having to narrative design Don Quixote (a book I had never read) into an Open World RPG was a challenge that was bewildering on its face, but so enjoyable to crack and get into writing. The player character would be Sancho, having to try and facilitate Don Quixote's delusions while allaying too much harm from falling on innocent bystanders (or taking advantage of the chaos created for your own gain).
How has the Game Center changed your thinking about games?
The Game Center has helped me to understand that games are a global, entirely malleable medium, as playable or inscrutable as a designer can dream so long as your presentation to the player helps them to understand. Moreover, I understand as a game designer that I am not crafting a great challenge to be bested, but laying out the breadcrumbs that a player can follow to victory while still feeling it is their own. In many ways, I've come to see games as a kindness to their players, helping them to accomplish great feats or experience extreme emotions without fear of endless failure or real loss.
What's the last great game you played and what's great about it?
Paradise Killer is an outstanding Visual Novel / Open World First Person Platformer / Free Form Detective Game where the order of finding clues and interrogating suspects is entirely up to you, and a game where turning in those clues can happen whenever you feel you have the evidence that matches your theory, even if you feel that way in the game's opening minutes. Its world is beautiful, dense, and full of lived lives and deaths, its characters are three-dimensional and compelling, and everything has the most radical name possible. One of the best games of 2020 easily.