Posted August 27th 2012 by Adam Grayson.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the final Capstone Presentations of the students at FIEA, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, a graduate video game design school in Orlando, Florida. Starting in their second semester, students are to come up with ideas for games that they would like to create. After various critiques throughout the first few months, the potential number of games is whittled down to about three. Students split into groups and work on these three (or so) games for the remainder of the second and third semesters. These will be their final projects. The three games below, Battle Fortress Tortoise, Penned, and Plushy Knight are the final games created by this year's hard-working FIEA students. Fortunately, FIEA recorded the entire presentation, so the videos below will show you exactly how impressive these games are.
Battle Fortress Tortoise
In Battle Fortress Tortoise, I was really impressed at how well the three genres (third-person shooter, real-time strategy, and tower defense) work together. It's very seamless, and it creates a whole different type of gameplay than each on their own would play. The massive scale of the environment and number of onscreen objects is also very impressive. The high quality of the voice acting is a nice addition as well.
Penned really took me by surprise. Before seeing these the other day, all I had known about the games were their written descriptions. "Educational" games are great to have, sure, but are they fun? No. Penned, however... this game looks fun; it's something I would actually play. I think what got to me the most about this game was that I have gained a lot of real life knowledge from non-educational video games. For example, Final Fantasy VIII taught me about Quetzalcoatl. Of course the game doesn't teach you anything about the actual god, but when the subject came up in my history classes, I was able to very easily latch on to the information about it because it was something I was familiar with in a game that I really liked. Speaking of deities, Majora's Mask totally taught me what the word "deity" means.
That's why I like Penned so much—because the team made a really fun looking, very un-educational looking action game that teaches by interactive, engaging, and fun demonstration. Had I had this game before I took the GRE, I absolutely would have used it to freshen up on my vocabulary.
Plushy Knight is just... wow. Visually astounding. I could easily see it being a retail game. The environments are gorgeous. As soon as the girl entered the dream world, I was just astounded at how good it looks. The battle effects are a very nice added touch as are the cut scenes. One of the only things that bothers me (being extremely nit-picky here) is that I think the girl and father models could have used a little more touching up, but the art style of those characters (as well as the entirety of the game) more than makes up for that. In fact, I feel the only reason that bothers me is because the rest of the game looks so amazing. Also some of the sound effects are kind of lackluster, but that's completely understandable given the attention paid to other aspects of the game.
Aside from the amazing visuals, the story is surprisingly good, especially for such a short story. It is very well-written. I really like how, at first, you don't really understand why this girl suddenly goes from standing in front of some random building (at least, I didn't notice anything of particular importance about the building in that first scene...) to entering this dream world with her adorable little teddy bear. However, as time goes on, you begin to understand the relationship between the girl and her father. You figure out that something happened to her father (is he just away, did he leave forever, did her parents get divorced, etc.). You realize that something very bad must have happened to the father, and then you finally learn what that something is. Upon that last conclusion, the game makes sense. You know why this girl left the world of reality. You know why her teddy bear needed to protect her. You know why she eventually leaves her memories and comes back to reality. And then, in a completely selfless act of kindness... she passes all of those memories, her inner strength, and her love to her father (sniff). Not surprisingly, there were few dry eyes in the audience after this presentation.
In the coming weeks, these three games will be up on FIEA's website and will be available to download and play for free. We'll let you know once that happens. In the mean time, check out some of the games of past FIEA students!
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