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Interview: 2004 IGF Project Goldmaster Winners Talk

At the 2004 Independent Games Festival (part of the CMP Game Group, like Gamasutra), Cartoon Network and AOL launched the Project Goldmaster competition, a kind of gaming...
At the 2004 Independent Games Festival (part of the CMP Game Group, like Gamasutra), Cartoon Network and AOL launched the Project Goldmaster competition, a kind of gaming industry variation on Project Greenlight, and Flashbang Studios, makers of Beesly's Buzzwords, were the winners. This IGF prize allowed a lucky developer to make a Cartoon Network-sponsored PC game, and the title in question, Sealab 2021: Sweet Mayhem, based on the cult Adult Swim cartoon, has now been released in downloadable form for $9.95 through the official Adult Swim website. Through a deal with Trymedia, interested parties can experiment with the game for 20 minutes before buying it. Flashbang Studios, the winning developer, recently spoke to Gamasutra on its experience creating the game, illuminating the indie development effort that helped make it. "The game was developed in around 3.5 months," said Matthew Wegner, Development Director for Flashbang. "We had a fixed X amount of time and Y amount of dollars with which to make the game. We're all big fans of the Sealab 2021 show, too, so obviously we wanted to stretch ourselves and try to cram as much as we could in the limited amount of time we had." Wegner also explained: "All of the artwork and music for the game was produced by us in-house. For technology we developed the game using Virtools (www.virtools.com). Our team makeup included a programmer, a lead artist, an artist, an audio director, and audio contractors." Despite the limitations, Wegner was careful to avoid the quality-of-life issues plaguing the industry with excessive crunch time: "We tried to rigidly enforce development hours. I have 1,400 incremental saves of the main gameplay logic file here, so I was able to graph the time of day that each one was saved, to show at a recent IGDA talk I gave on the title." At the end of all of this, according to Wegner, the result was: "54 levels, 6 playable characters, 15 enemies, 3 bosses, over 200 lines of VO from the show's actors (it was great fun to hear the raw session files), 9 minutes of new music (all incorporate the main theme; some more subtle than others), and three minigames." Cartoon Network will again be holding the Project Goldmaster competition at the 2005 IGF Awards, this time with increased online feedback, as the creators make a higher-profile development diary documenting their game creation.

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