E3 Acceptance and Process
When myself and Spencer Humphries started our joint senior project at SCAD, the first thing we did was define our goals. The only thing I put on the list was “Win the E3 College Game Competition.” During my final quarter at SCAD I got a little closer to that goal. Spencer and I had spent the previous two quarters building our virtual reality multiplayer mech combat game, Brobot Beat Down, and he had just graduated. He only had a few weeks before he moved out to Seattle so we spent what little time we had tweaking and perfecting Brobots.
The process of getting accepted isn’t particularly easy though. Each school is only allowed to submit one game on behalf of the university, and SCAD is an incredibly competitive place for game design. The first deadline was approximately two weeks before the official E3 deadline, and was only within the school. 14 games were submitted, and the next day our professors announced 3 finalists. These finalists had one week to iterate on their projects based on feedback given by professors. Our feedback was to redo our particle effects and change the way the game played in slight ways, and make it somewhat more memorable. We brought Raed AlAmoudi on board for particles, and he absolutely killed it. He pumped out dozens of amazing particles in an extremely short period of time, and between many sleepless nights for the both of us, we turned out a very different product for the next week. After much debate (it came down to a single vote) Brobots was chosen over some of the other fantastic games SCAD had to offer, and we were extremely thankful for that.
Once we were chosen by SCAD we had one more week to tweak and change the game before final submission (all this while we were all full time students, as Brobots was no longer a class project). We updated particles, animations, gameplay and some sound before making an entirely new trailer (which we got an Entelechy Award for) and sending it off to E3.
From there we had about 2 months of anxious waiting before we knew if we were going to make it to E3. We didn’t just sit and wait though. In every waking moment outside of the classroom we all worked hard updating Brobots to take it from student project to worth contender. A few of us got together and designed a new, smaller map to accommodate two to four players. We decided to booby trap the map, with many environmental hazards and traps, and it required many many new assets. Our modeler, Slater was able to pump out dozens and dozens of new models in just a few weeks, which were fully textured and absolutely gorgeous. We used his unique style to further the style of the entire game into a PBR/hand painted post apocalyptic style. Of course, new map and hazards meant new particles, and Raed again knocked out everything from falling acid to electrified floor to new bullet hit effects.
And then of course there was sound. We hadn’t brought any sound designers onto the project yet when we submitted to E3, and everything sounded very generic and tinny. We got in touch with Tom Schmidt and Parker Knowles, who graciously agreed to do our sound design under an extremely tight timeline. They ended up bringing in Dylan Hairston as well, and the trio totally reworked every aspect of our sound. They were able to create unique sounds for bullets hitting different materials, and made the sound bounce around you in 3D space. They also didn’t flinch when we said that this time around we wanted full voiceover (that voice, specifically, is animator Ian Mutchler) and helped us record something like 70 lines of dialogue and run all of it in the game appropriately.
Really, what I’m getting at here is that my team gave an absolutely tremendous effort, and fully revitalized the entirety of Brobot Beat Down in only a few weeks. Toward the end of my final quarter we got the message that we were one of only five games chosen to be on display at E3 2016, on the same expo floor as some of the greats of the gaming industry. Naturally, we were ecstatic, and continued to work on Brobots until pretty much 3 days before the expo, when we had to ship our machines to the show. It was a stressful but extremely satisfying way to end my time at SCAD.