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GCG: IGF Student Finalists Discuss Organic Design Process

Florian Faller and Adrian Stutz built the 2D game Feist, an IGF Student and Main Competition finalist, and a new interview with the duo on sister site Game
Florian Faller and Adrian Stutz, two recent graduates of Zurich University of the Arts, built Feist, a simple yet stylistic 2D game that has been named a finalist in this year’s Independent Games Festival Student Competition -- as well as in the Main Competition for Visual Arts. A new interview with the duo on GameCareerGuide explores their concept of developing organically rather than toward a predefined design. In October 2008, Faller and Stutz entered their game into the Unity Awards and won Best Overall Game and Best Visual Design. According to the developers, Feist doesn't try to engage the player on a hunt for points or goals, but rather provides an immersive world to explore, to interact with, and to linger in. When pressed to talk about their design process or asked what elements of game development they focused on most -- controls, artistic style, play testing -- the two confessed that their process did not involve a lengthy game design document or rigid schedule. Rather, they say they started with only a rough idea and formed it along the way: Feist started out as our final thesis for our bachelor degrees at the Zurich University of the Arts. We decided to form a team in January 2008 with only a very vague idea of what kind of game we wanted to make. We then fleshed out a concept of how we wanted to make the game, rather than what the game should end up being. We wanted to be flexible in the process and to be led by experimentation. We ended up creating a lot of groundwork that wasn't exposed when we turned the game in for the thesis, but we were able to work on that afterward. … [W]e didn't start out with a fixed idea of the game we wanted to make. We did a lot of experimenting, and Feist gradually emerged out of that process. Our interest focused on dynamic gameplay and the visuals, but we didn't have a special area that we singled out. Rather, we made an early prototype and then worked on it, considering all aspects at the same time.” The developers also explained how a large part of the game mechanic relies on the player being given the AI code: “Because we wanted to be flexible during development, large parts of the mechanics are very adaptable and allow integration of further elements. The biggest part of that is probably the AI that is fully physics-driven and autonomous. The player also inherits a lot of the AI code and therefore is also much more part of the game mechanics than in other games. This allows us to create additional characters and objects that interact dynamically with minimal work.” The full interview is available on GameCareerGuide.com, Gamasutra’s sister site for educational issues related to games and game development.

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