January 20, 2016 Student Spotlight: Holiseum
Robert Canciello
Robert Canciello

“For almost four years I had tried to understand how code worked, but it never fully clicked, and that frustrated me beyond measure.”

Tell us about your experience in the course. What was your experience making games or trying to learn to make them beforehand? How did the course help you? What was your favorite part?

My time in the Unity course was well spent, and fundamental to my current path toward game development. Prior to the course, I had worked on a few games in school or in the Global Game Jam, and I had a few ideas I tinkered on with friends, but they never really went anywhere. The main questions I faced prior to taking the course were: how do I finally wrap my head around code, what does the overall process of game development look like, and how can I find anyone at the same level of skill as me with whom I can work on games. For almost four years I had tried to understand how code worked, but it never fully clicked, and that frustrated me beyond measure.

I was relieved to find out that we’d actually be learning how to code the first day in class, and Kurt’s calm reassurance that we would learn it if we stuck with it put me at ease. I don’t know how he did it, but Kurt made code relatable, and broke down each line of text by explaining exactly what it did and how it related to what was going on in the game environment. This was exactly the type of instruction I’ve always needed when learning how to code. I was challenged to innovate within my design and my code, and that made me research and experiment with different parts of C#.

I was also introduced to the seductive magic of the Unity Store. My favorite part of the course was being able to have creative freedom while working on our projects for class. It was amazing to see how Kurt would assign one particular project, and everyone would come back with something completely unique and original (even if a bit broken). I tried to make the most out of the class, so I made sure I sat next to different people every day to pick their brain on their games and how they did what they were showing. I learned from so many different perspectives, and it really opened up my mind to what was possible in design. This paid off in the long run, as I’m now friends with several of them, and we’re continuing to work on outside projects together a couple of times a week.

Tell us about your game. What’s its name (if there is one yet)? What are the basic mechanics? Is anyone working on it with you? What will the end product be like? When do you envision it being released?

My game is called Holiseum. It’s a local multiplayer asymmetrical arena game. One person plays an arena master, given control over all the hazards and obstacles in an arena space. The other players are combatants, trying to avoid the onslaught of the arena master while simultaneously competing for points against each other.

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Provided any combatant survives, the one with the highest score at the end of the round will win. If one player kills another player, the arena master will grow stronger, so players will ultimately have to balance between working together for survival and backstabbing each other for a chance at personal victory.

HoliseumGif_ClusterDeath

“Though we weren’t powerful programmers, we were able to feed off of each other’s ideas and exchange feedback.”

I’m currently working on the game with my friend Jose Zambrano, who was a fellow Unity class member. We began working on the project together immediately after the class ended, as we wanted to do a collaborative project that would allow us to work on something completely our own. Though we weren’t powerful programmers, we were able to feed off of each other’s ideas and exchange feedback. After two relatively successful demos of the game, we’ve finally onboarded Mike Nesta onto the project, another member from our Unity class, but someone whose skill with programming logic and data structures far exceeds our own. And last but not least, after just finishing up a successful Global Game Jam, we’re also taking Hessvacio Hassan into the fold as a junior programmer and level designer

Ultimately, we hope for the game to be released on Steam or some online PC platform, so that players can play it and give us their feedback. We hope we can then continue to develop it iteratively over time while working on other projects. We want it to be a game that people can play during a party or with a small group of friends, and have a loud, competitive good time with. We also want to add additional arenas, characters, and thematic skins that can be unlocked over time. We’re hoping to expand the game into a modular 8 player experience sometime down the road, but we’ll have to see if that ultimately makes sense mechanically..

Check out our upcoming 8 week Unity course here