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Creating the award-winning ‘Minutes to Midnight’

The creativity and entrepreneurship of CAMD students was strongly represented at RISE:2014, the university’s annual exposition of research, innovation, and scholarship. CAMD/CCIS seniors Chris Germano, Duncan MacLeod, and Justin Yang won the “Computer and Information Sciences Award” for “Minutes to Midnight,” a video game they originally developed for a capstone project and have continued to work on independently. (You may remember “Minutes to Midnight” from Chris and Duncan’s presentation at interACTIONS in Fall 2013) We asked the team a few questions about their project and what they’re working on next.

Names

Chris Germano, Duncan MacLeod, Justin Yang

Program

5th year Computer Science and Game Design students graduating in May 2014

About the Project

Minutes to Midnight is a point and click adventure game that combines classic gaming mechanics with modern gaming approaches towards storytelling and player immersion. The original story has the player as the president of a developed nation understanding an unidentified explosion and international conflicts to make an informed, appropriate retaliation. One unique characteristic of the game is that there is no winning or losing, but an appropriately critical/laudatory “epilogue” based on the accuracy of the player’s decisions and how informed they were when making them (the core promotion of responsibility and culpability). The game is built on a scaleable story generation system that can be used as a tool outside of the video game industry which was key to its success at RISE. Because we are able to create complex stories and characters with unique dialog and personalities, anyone could go into our system to create a unique, realistic, exciting scenario (or accurately recreate something from real life).

Next Steps for the Project

First, we’re going to plan on how we approach future development. Do we want to move forward as a game, or a dynamic platform that can be used in other industries? Secondly, we are planning to essentially rewrite our existing system in a new environment, as the original game is based on a framework that’s no longer supported. Finally, we’re going to work on not only making or character and story creation system more sophisticated, but also a lot more user friendly. That way someone with no gaming or tech background could go in a create their own content for other to play.

Next Steps for the Team

Duncan: I plan on applying to some jobs in the area. In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on projects and see how they evolve.

Justin: Some places have contacted me but I haven’t decided what I’m doing yet.

Chris: I’m continuing to work on existing and planned games for public release. If possible, I’d love to start my own studio or just independently work on games professionally. I have had some people interested in hiring me outside of the game industry but I feel like it’s too early to already take a detour on my professional goals. I can’t say where I’ll be six, twelve, or twenty four months from now, but all I can say is it’ll be an adventure.