Game Center MFA Students Bring Playstation Game Jam Success to GDC!

A month has flown by since the Team Snakesss Crumble project was picked as a finalist entry for the Playstation Mobile Game Jam at Indiecade East 2013. In that time, amidst numerous academic deadlines for classes at ITP, NYU Poly and the Game Center, the four person team has managed to stay focused on crumbling their way to excellence. After several iterations, the game’s central mechanic has more or less remained intact or, depending on how you look it, precariously fragile. Players pilot a rectangular avatar composed of many smaller pieces that are sheared off and crumbled into space as they move through a series of narrowing obstacles. What has changed more than anything is the level design, which now now includes a surprising twist not seen at the Indiecade event. A good bit of thought and effort has also gone into balancing sub-goals and scaling of the game’s difficulty over time. All of this has opened some new pathways for us to consider how this project will expand in the future.

Writing at the beginning of our final push we thought now might be a good time to introduce the team and their respective roles. Ilya Zarembsky is our programming guru and local curmudgeon, bringing us all down to earth while making our dreams into reality by forging ahead with the PSM SDK. Stephen Clark is responsible for Crumble’s art direction as well as sharing in the level design and audio production roles. Team troubadour, Zeke Virant was essential in designing the game’s original mechanic and has continued to refine this concept and the accompanying level design through rigorous playtesting at the Game Center’s Playtest Fridays, a weekly public playtest at the Game Center’s Game Library. As Crumble’s product manager, Maxim Kolbowski-Frampton has constantly pushed the team to tackle the project’s weakest points, helping to synthesize diverging designs as well as generating audio and art assets for the current prototype.

It’s a little early for a post-mortem but we’ve already learned a lot from the early stages of working on this game. One major challenge has involved becoming more familiar with the SDK. Learning how to manage collisions, garbage collection and splitting up art assets into composite parts has allowed us to dramatically reduce the overall file size and greatly improve the game’s memory load. Because of its extended format, this gamejam has also been a great exercise in following through on an idea. In the end, we had to limit our rehashing of game design concepts in order to focus on the central logic of player experience and, so doing, prioritize those aspects of Crumble that could be improved in the timeframe allowed. We feel incredibly lucky to have been among such tough competition and hope that our final prototype shows our ability to expand this game into a beautiful multi-layered experience, with a broad appeal.

If you’d like play Crumble and meet Team Snakesss at GDC, they will be at the Sony booth and at the Game Center Meet up.

Sony Booth

Wednesday: 12PM – 2

Thursday: 4PM – 6

Friday: 11:30AM – 12

Game Center Meet up (And the Tabletop Game Longue)

Tuesday: 12:30PM – 1:30

Friday: 12:30PM -1:30

More information about the Game Center at GDC here