New School News

E3 Shows Off Parsons’ Indie Gamers

Andy Wallace’s Hermit Crab In Space won Sony’s game jam and will be shown at E3. Photo by Golden Ruby Games.

Daniel Albuquerque and arShaan Sarang, 2013 alums of Parsons’ MFA Design and Technology program, like to play video games. Specifically, they play first-person-shooters like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 against other gamers online. Certain practices are frowned upon by some members of the online gaming world; others are universally disliked. One tactic falling into the latter category is “camping,” player slang for hiding in one spot and waiting for other players to wander past so you can kill them.

“It’s really annoying,” says Sarang. “Hated by the community. If everyone did it, the game would break.” Motivated by the gamers’ resentment of “campers,” Sarang and Albuquerque decided to dedicate their thesis project to creating a game that makes camping fun.

Named Hidden, the game created by Sarang and Albuquerque is one of two projects by Parsons students and alumni that will be presented this week at The Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 for short, the expo is open only to gaming insiders and is the most important showcase of video games in America, setting the agenda for the $10.5 billion per year industry. Developers, publishers, and hardware manufacturers go to E3 to show off what’s next in the world of electronic gaming.

MFA Design and Technology program grads Andy Wallace (’12), Nick Cinquegrani (’12), and Jane Friedhoff (’13) will also debut a game at E3: Hermit Crab in Space. Wallace works at the small, indie-game company Golden Ruby Games. In collaboration with company founder Mike Christatos, the team developed their game, a top-down space shooter that Wallace describes as “in the vein of Asteroids and Captain Forever, but where you start with a very small spaceship that you actually build up by shooting pieces off your opponent. So part of the game is dealing with this stupid ship you’ve designed.”

Hermit Crab in Space won a prestigious game design contest this spring. The competition, created to promote Sony’s latest handheld device, the Playstation Vita, challenged game designers to conceive, develop, and deliver a game in a little less than a month. “It was a very, very quick development cycle,” Wallace says with a laugh. “I’ve done a lot of game jams, but never one of this length or these prizes.” The prizes included release on Sony’s mobile gaming platform, cash, promotion of the game, and an exclusive release of the game’s trailer at E3. It is no surprise that Wallace is “planning on making Hermit Crab in Space our next big project.”

Sarang and Albuquerque submitted their game to IndieCade in November, and found out recently it was selected to be part of the organization’s showcase at E3. “I read the email saying we’d been picked about ten times and called Shaan about 20 times,” says Albuquerque. “I was on the subway with my dad and when I got out, I had a message from Dan telling me to check my email,” says Sarang. “When I read it, I started yelling. My dad was like, ‘Is there something wrong?’”

Sarang and Albuquerque hope to get enough attention at E3 to launch a Kickstarter campaign to support producing their game. They aim to expand and further develop the game, which is currently available for free download at Hermit Crab in Space will be available for purchase soon.

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