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Students Redefine Retro

Company: BRCC
Product: Ink Man

A student project at the Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) in Louisiana seems to be taking the "Graphics versus Gameplay" argument to the next level.

At first glance, their game, Ink Man, appears to be something taken straight out of a kid's drawing book, and that's exactly the style these students are going for with their simple, yet challenging platformer. "We realized early on that none of us really knew how to draw, so we decided to go with a style we could actually do," said Garrett Breaux, the class' Project Manager. To which another student, Nicholas Hathaway (Programming) said, "But then we had a specific style that we had to conform to, and that became a challenge."

Keeping with the game's unique style, enemies are various forms of erasers that bounce around the screen. Your character has no attacks, and the only way to avoid them is by jumping and dodging their movements. But you have a few more tools at your disposal. The game allows the user to drag and drop a few objects onto the screen to help your character avoid the enemies and progress through the level. At the time of our demo, these objects were a wooden crate, a bomb and a trampoline (with plans of letting users draw tight-ropes in the future). But you have to work fast since these eraser-enemies will start degrading your objects as soon as they get near them.

The students seemed to have learned a lot of valuable lessons about game design already in this class. At first, they started throwing out various ideas, and even after they came across the kid's drawing pad concept, they found they were still coming up with ideas that could be cool, but not focused enough on the core mechanics of the game. At the risk of letting scope creep destroy their class project, they worked out the basics of what their game was to be and started developing that. At its heart, it is a 2D platformer like any other, but by building off of the notepad concept, they have added mechanics that really seem to make the game distinct enough to take notice.

Ink Man is being developed as a class project for BRCC's Game Design class by 10 students. The team is 9 weeks into the 16-week long project, and their goal is to have 10 levels developed and ready to show at Screen Burn as SXSW in Austin and the Independent Game Festival at GDC. And while Ink Man is currently being developed in Torque Game Builder, they hope to port it to TorqueX and add more levels and polish to the game once the semester is over.

If you want to follow the development of Ink Man and the progress these college students are making, then check out their blog, and hopefully we will see more of this game in the future.

The Ink Man Development Team:
Top Row (L to R): David Albus (Art), Jared Robertson (Art), Garrett Breaux (Project Manager), Nicholas Hathaway (Programming), Joseph Guidroz (Programming)
Bottom Row (L to R): Kirby Rose (Art), Stephen Roberie (Sound), Matthew Ellis (Art), Chris Pinion (Sound, Programming)
Not Pictured: Andrew Pinion (Level Design)

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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