PROJECT NAME: Project Butterflies (Capstone/Thesis)
ROLE: Capstone Adviser
TEAM: Miracle Games (credits at the very bottom)
INSTITUTION: De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
NOTE: Click the images to enlarge.

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Whenever my students defend their thesis/capstone projects, it makes me ever so thankful that I have not returned to mainstream game development. Seriously, I have half a mind to hard sell my books just so I can afford to publish their games myself. This level of satisfaction and sense of fulfillment I get upon seeing their finished works? Never have I gotten that kind when I was in the industry. No offense to my former employers. I love them, but. You just can’t beat this feeling.

Project Butterflies

I always ask my kiddoes to make their game design documents very visual so people wouldn’t have to read walls of texts. The kind of visual GDD I’m looking for is something that can already tell panel members what the game is all about with just ONE look. So I’m not going to do much explaining in here because I will just show you snippets of what’s in their GDD.

(Side note: My boyfriend asked why the GDD has a background and I sang, “I want it that way.”
Seriously, though. I only asked for a visual GDD, but this group is known for always going the extra mile.)

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Just to give you a written summary: This is a two-player cooperative game where each player has a different level design. Meaning, what you will be seeing on your screen is not the same as your partner’s, but you will be working toward the same goal. You can see your partner as a silhouette, though. So if, for instance, you see him/her floating on your screen, it probably means that your partner’s avatar is standing on something on his/her screen.

The amount of work that went into this game is nothing short of astounding. At least for me, because I keep reminding myself that they are students. They have a full roster of characters to choose from as well as this:

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Which I think is the best part of their game. I am of the belief that it is worth it for game development companies to spend much time on research the way these students spent on theirs. Many companies are so obsessed with cost-cutting that they usually cut the most important part that should have been making their dev times shorter: TOOLS. And tool creation falls under R&D. You know, that thing that happens before you go into your pre-prod?

This group included their level editor into the game so that players might be able to create their own levels as well.

 

Miracle Games

These guys are probably some of the most hard-working students I have ever encountered. Get this: they were creating Project Butterflies WHILE doing internship in different companies. They only had about two months to develop it because of the school’s trimestral system. Beyond the required 6 meetings, they would meet up with me after all our office hours (and through Facebook).

They also happen to be brutal with each other. They’re their own worst critics. So it wasn’t any wonder that they had a smooth-sailing mid-term defense. Except for one thing: David Ramos, formerly from Ubisoft and one of the panel members, asked them to change the game’s entire look.

Me to David: “I adore you and respect you as a colleague, but I am now grabbing your Starbucks as penalty for making that next-to-impossible request.” πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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That they actually delivered it during the final defense was what made one of the other panel members, Gameloft’s Ievgen Maiboroda, ask how they went about it. The answer: these students took advantage of the fact that they were all interns and they had a habit of asking their superiors for feedback on their art. That is one classic example of not letting criticism get you down but instead letting it fuel your passion for improvement. Not many students think this way, which is why I’m very proud to have handled their Capstone project.

Also…yup! Project Butterflies is one of the three nominees for Best Capstone Project for this graduating class. They’re also the only group to get a perfect 4.0/4.0 in all of the panel members’ grading sheets.

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