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Inside the IGF Student Competition: Minor Battle

In a new series, sister site GameCareerGuide talks to student developers who have submitted games to this year’s IGF. Andre Clark, of the University of Southern C
In a new series, sister site GameCareerGuide talks to student developers who have submitted games to this year’s Independent Games Festival. Andre Clark, of the University of Southern California, is one such developer, whose game Minor Battle is played across 14 screens. Minor Battle is a 2D multiplayer game that requires players to actively engage in physical play and movement in order to complete team-based objectives in the virtual space. The gameplay incorporates multiple game modes, each with a varying degree of intense, action-driven combat. The game creates an immersive playground experience, and examines social behavior in a competitive and cooperative gaming environment. Players venture into a room in which they are surrounded by the game world and are immersed in virtual gameplay. The goal is for players to intrinsically bond their presence within the physical space with the presence of their avatar in the virtual space through physical motion and real-world communication. The design focus is creating systems where distinct natural behaviors emerge from each player. Says Andre Clark, the team’s lead designer and lead engineer: "The first ideas for Minor Battle came from a class assignment. We were asked to make a panorama that would stretch across 14 projector screens in USC’s Zemeckis Media Lab. I thought it would be fun to hand-draw this panorama as a battle between two stick figure armies. "After seeing this image engulf the room’s screens, I instantly wondered how it would feel to control one of these characters while all of my friends are controlling the others. But that wasn’t enough. I also wanted to find out what it would feel like to play this game with multiple players across multiple screens in the same room. From here, the core ideas behind Minor Battle were born." He says the game was initially intended to be a personal project to be completed in his free time. "However, during this time I was also required to lock down a thesis topic for my graduate program," Clark adds. "After seeing some potential for this project through small prototypes, I decided to pursue Minor Battle as my thesis.” One of Clark’s primary interests is watching what kinds of social interactions occur between real people in the real world space as the game is played. "I’ve found that players tend to communicate more to both their teammates and their opponents during the process of moving around the multiple screens, both physically and verbally," he says. "After playing the game, you may not remember the names of the other players, but you will remember moments you shared with those other players," Clark says. "These moments can vary from being shoulder-to-shoulder with someone as you both try to complete an objective, to having another player attempt to use his or her body to block you from one of the screens to gain an advantage." To read more about Minor Battle, including details about its development, see the extended interview with Clark on GameCareerGuide.com.

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