ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Digital Entertainment and Design students at Abilene Christian University (ACU) are developing video games as soon as they set foot on campus.
Now, their games have been published on Steam, one of the world’s largest online gaming platforms, for the public to play and rate.
Jared Wright, an ACU sophomore, said his first gaming experience came when he was just 9 years old when his brothers gave him a hand-me-down Gameboy Color with a Pokemon game.
He has been playing video games ever since, falling in love with the immersive stories, which piqued his interest about turning it into a career.
Wright created the game “Melo,” where you are playing as a marshmallow trying to save his family from fire monsters.
His classmate Ben Briggs also grew up playing video games, and said it was the friendships he made playing Halo on the Xbox that got him hooked.
“It was naturally what I went to,” Briggs said. “Hang out and play video games.”
Briggs said he made his college choice based on what he did in his free time, which was play video games.
He is the creator of “Wave Player,” a game reminiscent of the arcade game “Joust,” where the goal is to defeat flies and blob monsters with a bow and arrow.
Both Briggs and Wright found themselves at ACU learning to program, code, and design characters as soon as they set foot on campus.
“I had no idea what I was getting in to,” Briggs said.
Rich Tanner, who taught their introductory class, helped walk them through designing their games over the course of the fall semester.
“Juggling all of the pieces and how things fit together is very doable,” Tanner said. “The tools we use and the engines we teach make it very manageable, but it is still a very monumental task.”
The students are tasked with designing and developing their games within three months, and the best games will be published online.
Tanner said he is amazed by how well the students adapt and fine-tune their skills over the course of the semester.
He said it is an impressive feat for them to go from no prior experience to a fully developed, multi-level game.
“It’s one semester, it’s very ambitious,” Tanner said. “Without the help of tutors and YouTube, it may not be possible to do it in a semester.”
Both Wright and Briggs said their games are only the first stepping stone in their game design careers, and both want to pursue making a popular, faith-based game in the future.
“They [players] can step into a little piece of this world you put together, and that is deeply gratifying,” Wright said.
Tanner said that ACU is partnered with Unity, one of the largest game design engines in the world, and that gives their students the opportunity to use professional software early in their careers.
Abilene Christian also ranks in the top 30 in the nation in game design, according to the Princeton Review.