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Capstone Project Creates Spark of Hope Among Video Game Students

The Bright Side game poster

For many, brainstorming a concept for a video game during the height of a worldwide pandemic could culminate in some pretty dark and dreary game ideas.

Not so for Toronto Film School’s Class of Fall 2022 Video Game Design & Animation and Video Game Design & Development students, who were tasked with doing just that a little shy of a year ago. Far from the shoot ’em up concept you might expect, what Qirat Shahzad pitched instead was a virtual love fest called The Bright Side.


“The initial pitch was made during a really tough time in our lives. The pandemic really moved a lot of things around for us, and it was hard during that time to find any positive or good to look forward to,” said Shahzad, who first conceived the game and acted as its Creative Director.

“Everything was looking really dark and dull at the time, but this capstone game gave me the opportunity to make something happy and something memorable for everyone who was going to be working on it – and playing it.”

Billed as a classic 2.5D puzzle platforming game, The Bright Side takes place inside the corrupted heart of a man named Priam, whose journey to climb the ladder of success has infused negativity into his heart. Players take on the role of Sparkboy, whose mission is to fight off the Gloomies and restore love back into Priam’s heart.

Image of The Bright Side character, Priam

As a “symbol of kindness and a spark of hope,” Shahzad said Sparkboy was designed to resemble an innocent child whose main motivation is to spread nothing but love – a mindset she and the Messy Pixels Studio team behind the game hope will rub off on players.

“Spreading love is the thing Sparkboy knows how to do best. As we get older, I think that part of us tends to fade away – but after playing the game, I hope that each and every player of The Bright Side reawakens that little inner child and just becomes nicer to the world around them,” Shahzad said during the game’s virtual unveiling showcase.

“In most games, you’re supposed to kill your enemies to keep moving forward in the game. It’s a bit different in The Bright Side, where, instead of killing your enemies, you have to comfort them and make them a better version of themselves,” she added.

“This idea was perfect for me and my team, especially as the world got more stressful around us. The Bright Side felt like the perfect escape for us.”

The Bright Side is available for download here: https://messypixelstudio.itch.io/the-bright-side

Screen capture of some of the student creators of The Bright Side, taken during their virtual showcase.

The Messy Pixels Studio team behind The Bright Side is:

Paige Adamczyk – Artist, Technical Artist

Jurell Barrett – Artist

Jordan Besito – Artist

Eric Derlukewich – Artist

Joe Dove – Producer, Animator, Game Designer

Oscar Ezquivel – Artist, Animator

Skylar Geraci – Artist, Lead Animator

Nour Haddad – Artist

Justin Ho Shue – Artist

Josiah Inkster – Environmental Artist

Nathanial Mentis – Head Programmer

Gary Nemis – Technical Lead, Lead Game Designer

Cuong Nguyen – Artist

Qirat Shahzad – Creative Director, Game Designer

Avneesh Singh – Programmer Art

Yiling Sun – Artist

Jesse Thornton – Particle Effects

Marika Toth – Lead Artist, Sound Designer and Composer


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