In the run-up to the 2006 Independent Games Festival,
which is held at Game Developers Conference 2006 in San Jose from March
20-24, 2006, Gamasutra is showcasing a number of the IGF finalists in
different categories. As part of a series of Gamasutra
Education-exclusive articles, we profile the 2006 IGF Student Showcase
winners by interviewing them about their award-winning titles, which
will be playable at the IGF Pavilion at GDC this March.
second interviewee for this feature is the Level 11 Games team from the
Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand, who successfully won one
of the places in the Student Middleware Category with their RenderWare
graphics engine powered title Goliath, described as follows in the students' entry form:
is a team-based vehicle action game. The player takes on the role of
one of 16 human or AI controlled vehicles known as the Road Warriors
defending a world under siege from an enormous and seemingly
indestructible tank known as the Goliath."
Level 11's impressive-looking Goliath
Gamasutra chatted to the Goliath team about their background, the concept behind their game, and their plans for the future, as follows:
GS: What's the concept behind your IGF Student Showcase winning game, and give us an outline of the team that's behind it?
First and foremost we wanted to make a game that we would enjoy
playing. We all enjoyed multiplayer games and decided it would be good
to do a game where single player missions could be played cooperatively
by more than just one or 2 people. The other key concept we decided on
for Goliath was many small vehicles fighting one large enemy
with greatly superior firepower. This was inspired by a tabletop game
called Ogre by Steve Jackson. We decided to go with a post apocalyptic
setting, pitting a team of Road Warriors against the Goliath battle
The development team consisted of five artists and seven programmers
some of whom shared dual responsibilities helping manage the project.
- Stephen Harris
- Rob Haines
- Cameron Hart [Lead]
- Robert Green
- Stephen Harris
- Phillip Mayes
- Darius Molloy
- Stephen McIntyre
- Daniel Silk
- Rob Haines [Lead]
- Nikolai Gregory
- Xian Guan
- Karl Lodge
- Gordon Smith
We were also lucky to have many high calibre industry experts as tutors
so special mention goes to Robert Daly, Richard Hicks, Will Vale &
Todd Gantzler who were involved during the development of Goliath.
Thanks also to the many others who taught and supported us during our
GS: Tell us a little bit about the school and school program which were behind
the game's genesis? Was this part of a course or final project? What kind of
degree program did it count towards?
Goliath was developed for the final project for the 2004/2005 Graduate Diploma of Game Development at Media Design School .
Media Design School , located in Auckland , New Zealand , is a private
tertiary institute specialising in undergraduate and graduate
qualifications in 3D animation, 3D visualisation, visual effects,
graphic design, digital media, creative advertising, and creative
technologies as well as game development.
The Graduate Diploma of Game Development is a 64 week program with
specialisations in Game Art or Game Programming. It is the first time a
course of its kind has been taught in New Zealand.
GS: How long did development on the game take and what tools did you use to create it?
development time was a bit over 6 months in total. We spent the first
month in pre-production - that is coming up with a game design and
technical design documents and a production schedule. We spent the next
five months producing the game.
We used a number of game development middleware products to create Goliath,
allowing us to focus on our game rather than the underlying technology.
We chose RenderWare Graphics, ODE, FMOD, RakNet and Lua middleware
Our development environment for programming was Visual Studio .Net 2003.
The artists used Photoshop, Maya, Flash and some custom built tools for level editing and particle effects.
GS: What was the all-time best and all-time worst moment that you encountered
during the game's creation?
were a lot of good moments seeing things working in the game for the
first time. However the most fun would have to be the team multiplayer
games of Goliath towards the end of the project. We also noticed that it can be fun to just ignore Goliath and play death match while the world collapses around you.
The worst moment was realising it probably would have been a good idea
to test multiplayer earlier. The first time we tried with more than
about 4 players the network lag broke physics and all the land based
vehicles suddenly started floating gently off into space. This happened
far too close to the final deadline for our liking.
Do you (yet) have any success stories or positive experience based on
showing the student game to people in the game industry (praise,
actually getting a job in the biz, etc)?
The final project of our course was marked by an industry panel and was graded very highly. We took Goliath
to the Australian Game Developers Conference where we received a lot of
positive feedback from conference attendees. We've also received a
great response to the game through our website.
Several members of the team now have jobs working for local game developers in New Zealand and Australia .
What are the most important things that student games should be showing
off, in terms of both getting high marks in your courses and impressing
Our most important goal was producing something very polished. To
achieve this we decided to focus on creating a single playable level
that demonstrated the key features of our game design rather than
attempting to build an entire game.
During the pre-production phase of the project we came up with a very
tightly scoped design document and production schedule. Any feature
that wasn't core to our game design's key concepts was not included in
the demo. Once we finalised our design and started production we didn't
allow any unnecessary changes to the design. We had a running joke
during the project forbidding anyone from starting a sentence “Wouldn't
it be cool if...”
The key is deciding early on what makes your game different and focus on that.
GS: Have you tried any of the other Student Showcase finalists? If so, which
ones did you especially appreciate, and why?
After looking through the other games one favourite that stood out was Narbacular Drop. The game play seemed fun and truly mind bending.
GS: Name one thing that people probably don't know about your game.
While only a limited amount of gameplay was ever made, a full game of
10+ levels was designed which also had a lot of other cool features.
However due to time constraints we had to slim down our vision of the
final game. As many of us are looking for opportunities to complete the
game we cannot reveal Goliath’s final fate.
GS: Have you any other messages for your fellow Student Showcase winners?
Congratulations on all your hard work. We have first hand experience on
how much effort can go into making a game up to standard for this
competition. We hope you all had as much fun doing it as we did. Best
of luck in your future endeavours.