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Programming and Developing and Buffaloes, Oh My!

Zach Kantack, Software Engineer on Development Team 1, participated in the Global Game Jam event at DSU last weekend. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the event, it is the world’s largest game-creating event that takes place around the world at different physical locations. At these locations, participants get 48 hours to use their creative talents to design, program, and develop video games.

Upon arriving, the participants are given a theme, with this year’s theme being “ritual.” From there, the participants have the opportunity to develop ideas for the given theme and pitch them back to the rest of the group. The rest of the group then votes whether or not they want to back you up on your idea and ergo, join your team.

Zach explained that the participants were stuffed in a room with white boards trying to think of something they could relate to the theme “ritual.” He figured people would probably resort to doing lot of demonic-type related things, but he wanted to take a different approach. Zach elaborated, “I thought of all the different children’s pet games there are out there; then I thought ‘what is the most random animal I could pick out and then make someone take care of?’”
It was this thought process that led Zach to come up with the idea of creating a Tamagotchi-type buffalo game that the player would need to get in a “routine” or “ritual” of taking care of;  which he then pitched to the rest of the group. Zach said, “There was a point where I wasn’t sure if the buffalo idea was going to make the cut. When we went around and voted, 11 people cast a ‘maybe’ to the buffalo idea; eventually, 5 people ended up joining my team though.”

After the five others had joined his team, Zach and his teammates took off for a room and began brainstorming ideas for their video game. To get the ball rolling, Zach drew a picture of the buffalo for his teammates and said, “Here’s the buffalo. Think of every possible thing you could do with it as a pet.” As a result, Zach and his group programmed the game so the player can assist the buffalo with things like practicing the guitar, running on the treadmill, and even picking up buffalo poop!  

After being awake for 48+ hours straight, Zach and his team ended up winning “best music” for their video game. Zach explained, “The judges called the music ‘addicting.’ It was completely original. I actually contacted a friend to help me with some of it. It was cool to be able to design everything for this game from scratch.”
When asked if he ever considered developing his own games, Zach explained, “I don’t actually know. It would definitely take a lot of work and a lot more than just 48 hours.”

Way to go Zach! Check out the below link to see Zach’s interview with Keloland!