The ACAD gamer girl
Fourth-year ACAD student Christine Howell is hoping to make herself stand out in the video gaming industry by creating her own unique game this year as a final project for the Media Arts and Digital Technology program.
The game, titled Project XIII, is based off a novel Howell started writing eight years ago when she was in junior high. She says she got the idea for her book from a reoccurring dream.
“I remember waking up and being like, ‘holy crap an entire story just happened.’ I tried to ignore it for a while, because, I mean, it’s just a dream, but then it kept coming back so I started writing it and I went from there,” says Howell.
It started out as 85 pages written in Howell’s notebook but she made the decision to turn it into a video game after starting her education at ACAD.
Howell admits that it has been quite the learning experience for her, considering she’d had very little training in video game coding prior to attending ACAD.
Similar to the popular role-playing Sims games, Project XIII strays from the path of regular action-packed shooters by taking the gamer through a series of decisions amongst a well-developed story line.
The main character Matt—never Matthew – Nabel, disappears for two years and then suddenly comes back with no memory of where he had been, as well as several unexplained scars.
Matt is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and left to pick up the pieces of his old life. On his first day back at school he meets Luna Jay, who ends up being the key to unlocking his forgotten memories. As Matt’s memories beginning coming back, he is thrown into a world of supernatural abilities, nightmarish experimentations and haunting figures.
Together with Luna, he has to figure out what happened to him during his two-year absence, or his past might destroy whatever future he has left.
“I’m hoping that [the game] is like a full-length one where you explore and you figure it out the same way you would read through a novel, except you’re actually physically playing the game,” says Howell.
Being that the game is based off of her novel, Howell says it will be very heavy in plot content, making for a long and involved experience.
Howell is a fan of the Final Fantasy game series, and wants her game to be an action-adventure role-playing game, much like them. She hopes to break free of the mundane first-person shooters and plotless games that she says are dominating the gaming market now.
“I think games should be more than just ‘here’s an objective, go for it.’ My main goal has been to make a game like a novel, and blur the lines between the two.”
Though Howell intends to have the game itself finished by spring of this year, actual production of the game won’t come until later.
Howell explains that there are many licencing issues that come with producing the game, the most problematic one for her being that all of her software is under an educational licence, and upgrading to commercial licences is fairly expensive.
After she has gotten her licensing issues resolved, Howell will still have to find a gaming company to actually mass produce and distribute the game. She hopes to be getting the game out there six months after her grad show, at the latest, if she gets picked up by a major company.
“From what I’ve heard from other people who know more about the video game industry is that I have to go through festivals and find a company who would then invest and get it out there.”
When the game finally is produced Howell hopes to have it available for all consoles so that it can be played universally.
Howell is currently participating in the government grant program GIGYYC, vying for $1,200 to help her fund her project.
To vote for Howell’s project visit www.gigyyc.com.