The spotlight shines brightest on their final projects - complete games that small teams of Game Design students create as the centrepieces of their portfolios - but before they go all-out in those last two terms, they've already experienced a full development cycle by creating a Flash game, from initial concept and gameplay to art and sound.
It's a process that's resulted in dozens of standout student Flash games, and that list definitely includes Tideturner, a fast-paced sidescroller that has players controlling water levels to guide a jetski-riding character past marine obstacles and through hapless civilians.
Tideturner was a hit at the VFS booth at this year's PAX in Seattle, and this fall the team sold it to MaxGames for a modest sum. So, for Nick Yonge, Darryl Spratt, Luis Melgar, and Jack Nilssen, Tideturnerwasn't just a great hands-on development experience - it was a firsthand introduction to the business of indie games.
We had the chance to talk to Nick about the game's genesis and the experience of its development and sale.
How did Tideturner come about initially?
Nick: In our first meeting, we had to create a high concept, and though some of our initial ideas were pretty different from Tideturner, we all liked the idea of a fast-paced game where the character is always moving. After we decided to try our hand at programming a water physics system, we eventually narrowed our design down to what Tideturneris now.
Even though the game was sold to MaxGames, you still have the rights to the Tideturner IP. Any sequel plans?
Nick: Yes and no. After graduation, all members of our team have gone our separate ways to try and fulfill our own agendas. However, we're still all in contact, and the idea of Tideturner 2 is pretty amusing to us. We're not sure when development might be, but it's pretty likely that the game will see a second iteration.
Has this experience - both the game's development and the sale to MaxGames given you any new insight into the market for casual games? Something you know now that you didn't know before?
Nick: Quite a bit. We all learned a lot from the Flash course, both in dealing with the Flash engine and designing a video game - in our year at Game Design, the Flash project is the first "full" game experience we create from start to finish.
As far as the game's sale is concerned, I handled most of the negotiations with MaxGames and other potential buyers and relayed that information to the team. The experience was invaluable, especially learning how exactly the bidding process through FlashGameLicense.com - the site used to sell Tideturner- operates. I'm now an indie Flash developer, and the knowledge I got from that experience was great.
Plus, student life is tough, and a couple extra bucks is a nice bonus!
Play Tideturner at MaxGames.com
Play more Flash games created by VFS Game Design students
Want to see what else Tideturner's creators have done, and what they're up to now? Visit their websites:Nick Yonge, Darryl Spratt, Luis P. Melgar, Jack Nilssen