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  • Student Postmortem: percussONE

    [04.16.09]
    - Justin C. Moore and Joshua Hernandez
  •  percussONE is a simple puzzle game where players arrange similar game pieces in lines of 3 or more to clear them and score points, but the game offers an incredible multiplayer experience. A cross between arcade classic Klax and puzzle favorite Tetris Attack with a dash of multi-player madness inspired by Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

    Up to four players operate on the same field of game pieces so high levels of unified cooperation and intense competition are possible in the same game.

    Players start out competing for pieces, points and territory. However, if too many pieces populate the board it will overflow and the game is over. So when the going gets tough, players are compelled to cooperate to stay alive - they might even score more points through effective cooperation. Topped off with gorgeous visual art and an incredible soundtrack, percussONE offers a fantastic game experience for a wide range of gamers.

    percussONE is an evolution of FlippySwitch conceived by Justin C. Moore, a game design student at Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, IL. A software prototype was developed over spring break around March 2008.

    Justin showed it to a handful of classmates, of which one -- Joshua Hernandez a focus production for video games student -- was particularly interested and wanted to work with me to improve it by focusing on the art and sound of the game. It was not until about August that the duo started developing the game, but great progress was made that summer and the team ultimately submitted it to Microsoft's Dream Build Play game development competition near the end of September.

    Unfortunately percussONE was not a finalist in this competition, but from it a team was born - now called Metamoorephosis. After a couple of weeks of additional refinement and playtesting, percussONE was submitted to the Independent Games Festival in November -- Flashpoint Academy's first official IGF entry.

    Undiscouraged by not becoming finalists yet again, the team soldiered on, refining the game even further, and is now published on Xbox Live Community Games as well as being a part of the second place winning team of the Chicago Global Game Jam in February of 2009.

    You can visit the game's official site here, or  its Community Games product page here.

    What Went Right

    1. We had a toy. Justin's prototype for FlippySwitch introduced a fun and clever mechanic that allowed players who did not know how to play the game to have fun manipulating the player piece to make impromptu music. Even though this element was changed during production into something more traditional to arcade play, the toy gave the game a jump start on the fun factor.

    2. Iteration looping was maximized thanks to our prototype. In game development the strongest products go through as many iterations as possible before they are released. Justin had developed the FlippySwitch concept many months in advance of this process. This prototype allowed us to enter the iterative loop as colleagues immediately.

    By the Dream Build Play deadline percussONE had undergone more than 10 informal production loops with several play tests in between. By IGF the game had undergone another 4 iterative loops with a final sprint the week before publishing to Xbox Live Community Games that included a full user tutorial and lowered the barrier to entry to the game.


    3. Platform Visual Studio to XNA connectivity allowed us to immediately test out and iterate code with ease on the target platform. Direct display on the XBOX 360 allowed us to review changes and builds easily and quickly.

    4. Networking Joshua's previous experience with SectionZ.com, an electronic music community he started in 1997, resulted in an abundance of eager musical artists to assist us in our cause. Eventually we settled on highlighting Robert Clouth, an up-and-coming electronic artist from London. However, four other artists (Jacob Talkington, Juan Usquiano, Lars Hansem, Finn Kverno) had musical appearances.

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