Toronto Film School’s latest Video Game Showcase was about much more than just unveiling the capstone projects this term’s graduating students poured months of hard work and dedication into.
The hourlong virtual event also doubled as an opportunity for everyone involved in the pair of exciting new student-created games – Shift and Jailhouse Rock – to reflect on the personal growth they witnessed in both themselves and their classmates along the way.
“Right from the very start, our group was phenomenal, and getting to see them grow over the last 18 months has been amazing,” said Athena De Rainville, a Video Game Design & Animation student who acted as Art Lead on Shift.
“To see where they all started, where they are now and how amazingly talented everyone is – it was really inspiring, and honestly one of the only things that helped me get through this whole process.”
For De Rainville’s classmates in both in the Video Game Design & Development and Video Game Design & Animation programs, the first steps in that process towards the completion of their capstone games began back in the third term of their 18-month programs.
The journey they’ve been on since then was, for many, an admittedly long and arduous – albeit ultimately satisfying – grind, as they worked to bring their collective visions for Shift and Jailhouse Rock to fruition.
“I liked seeing a lot of the motivation that came out of people,” said Gareth Algar, Design Lead and Programmer on Jailhouse Rock.
“There were times where we’d be a little stagnant and it’d be hard to get back to the grind, but for me, getting back to that motivation, that was one of the most rewarding things.”
The concept behind Jailhouse Rock centers around the lead character of Dustin – an undercover security specialist who is tasked with testing the quality of the prison security from the inside out.
Players are tasked with taking control of Dustin as he explores the prison’s central hallway and nine rooms – including a cellblock, kitchen, cafeteria, shower, laundry, common room, admin, office, maintenance room, and yard – in search of disguises and throwable distractions to help him evade capture by the patrolling prison guards.
“Being a security specialist, Dustin is equipped with the knowledge to hack into the very system the prison holds, such as the versatile security cameras…” Algar explained.
“Only his wits and the items he finds will help him escape. Can you escape and reveal how underperforming the prison is, or will it keep you locked inside?”
The Plot Hole Games team behind Jailhouse Rock:
Alexander Fletcher – Programming Lead
Sillina Sarieddine – Art Lead and Animator
Weiran Huang – Environment Artist
Alexandros Kiriakidis – Environment Artist
Alex Lupke – Audio Engineer
Greg Mallin – Programmer
David Walker – Character Artist
Set in the beautifully neon-abundant metropolis of Rapid City, Shift is a driving game that sees players step into the shoes of Corey – a driver for the new Chow Now delivery service.
“In 10-minute shifts, the players must race to deliver as many orders as possible, taking care to strategize the best route and dodge obstacles to ensure customers are happy to tip…” explained Mikhail Evonic, the game’s Programmer.
“Learn the city, find the quickest routes, and be careful to avoid obstacles and other drivers on the road, who will bump and crash into you. But don’t worry, you got this. Just buckle up and shift into gear.”
Calling the game “near and dear” to everyone on the Studio 421 team, Evonic said the initial concept behind Shift a wholly collaborative effort.
“By the time it made itself to the pitch, it was already a flushed-out idea with a lot of enthusiasm driving it forward. Once the idea was set, we drove head-first into making the vision a reality,” he said, lauding everyone’s efforts in making the game a streamlined experience.
“Despite the challenges of remote working, our communication and shared passion helped us bring this together and maintain a constant vision, resulting in a production that we are all extremely passionate about. We’re thankful to everyone who had a hand in making this game a reality.”
The Studio 421 team behind Shift:
Alex Lupke – Design Lead and Audio Engineer
Athena De Rainville – Art Lead
Sunny Patel – Programing Lead
Spencer Capes – Environment Artist
Ajaay Chandrakumar – Programmer
Luodan (Carrie) Duan – Environment Artist
Mikhail Evonic – Programmer
Alexandros Kiriakidis – Environment Artist
Xiofeng (Kara) Li – Character Artist
Raghu Vikas Reddy Yadavalli – Vehicle and Environment Artist
Click here to access the game builds for Toronto Film School’s most recent capstone projects – including Jailhouse Rock and Shift.