HAL x PLAYISM: Collaborating with the future

Playism has been collaborating with game design school HAL to publish student games for everyone to play. On July 13th, we visited HAL Osaka and played their prototypes for the first time.

DSC_0087.JPG We’re always looking for new up-and-comers in the gaming space to represent. Indie games are going through an interesting growth period at the moment, and a lot of the most exciting game creators are younger than you might think.

That’s why Playism recently partnered up with HAL, the premier Japanese game design school. As part of the collaboration, HAL students would split into groups, and each team would develop a game in a short amount of time. Playism staff, along with Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, One Way Heroics’ Smoking Wolf, and NIGORO’s Takumi Naramura would help along the way, visiting the students at specific points in concept and development, offering advice on how to improve.

The end goal is to choose the games that show real promise, and publish them on Playism for everyone to enjoy.

We first met the students at the initial concept stage. Each team presented their ideas in design doc form, highlighting the concept behind the game and what made it unique. Initial presentations showed a lot of promise, but some seemed incredibly ambitious.

DSC_0014.JPG Considering the limited time they would have to develop these ideas into working prototypes, it was going to be interesting to see whether or not these talented young men and women could make good on their impressive design presentations.

This past Friday was a big step, as eight weeks later, we arrived at HAL Osaka to check out working prototypes for the games they presented. The talent pool at HAL is a diverse one, and games of all types were on display, from action to puzzle to RPG.

Some of our standout favorites included Ninjustice (where a comic book inspired Ninja character fights alien invaders all over the world), Missing Move (a sprite-based stealth game with guards that can go invisible), and Zipper Summoner (an RTS that has players waging war on a patchwork quilt and unzipping portals to unleash monsters).

While a few of the games sported amazing visuals and surprising art, there were quite a few games that showed that game design will always trump graphical prowess. Some of the best
games playable either used borrowed assets for the prototype phase, or were still visually rudimentary.

DSC_0236.JPG Seeing these games go from concept to implementation in such a short time has been exciting, and it’s definitely been a great learning experience for these students. All of the students were eager to get feedback on their games, and I was particularly floored that they took all of it in stride, and remained positive.

I can’t wait to see where these games go from here, and I’m especially interested to see the titles that need a little work in the future. Many of them show amazing potential.

Playism’s collaboration with HAL is going to be an ongoing effort, and it's one that I'm most honored to be a part of. These young men and women are extremely talented and ambitious, and I feel as if I've learned just as much about the potential of the next generation of game developers as they have learned about game development itself.

(Thanks to Nobuki Yasuda from Game Spark for providing these fantastic photos)

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