March 5, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson
IGF Student Showcase Finalist Pixi is a 2D arcade action game which tasks players with guiding a flock of the titular, abstract characters that must defend their stars from the evil Boxi. Players command flocks of the always amenable Pixi by drawing arrows on the background that tell the Pixi where to go.
DigiPen students Sean Chan, who has developed several titles including the IGF 2008 nominated Battleships Forever, and Lim Ee Siang, who has not worked on a game before, speak here about their freely downloadable Pixi. They describe how their game was meant to capture a very primitive form of fun, which they say attempts to help adults rediscover that child-like feeling of fiddling with toys.
Could you tell me about yourselves?
Ee Siang: Pixi was my first game project, and I didn't have any programming experience. I was interested in making games and wanted to join the game industry a long time ago, but the idea of making my hobby into an occupation drove me away from it. I was afraid that I would start hating games if it became my job. But when I started working as a intern in a non-game company, I knew immediately that it was not what I wanted. Making games and seeing people having fun with it were much more appealing.
Sean: I've been developing games on my own for some time. I'd gotten a nomination for the IGF Game Design Innovation award in 2008 for a game I did called Battleships Forever. In the year prior to developing Pixi, I'd taken on the personal challenge of creating a game in every major genre. Pixi represents my second to last genre (casual games) to cover (the only genre I haven't covered is RPG).
Why do you think your game deserves to win the Student Showcase?
Sean: It's a simple game meant to capture a very primitive form of fun. Pixi was designed as a toy to be played with first, then we made a game out of it. We, as adults, may have forgotten the simple childish joys of fiddling with little toys and Pixi attempts to rediscover that joy.
Water cooler talk: why should the average gamer play your game?
Ee Siang: Because it's fun just drawing Pixi!
What development tools did you use? How long was the development cycle?
Ee Siang: We used ProjectFun - DigiPen's entry-level game engine - and it took us about four months to develop the game.
Sean: I also prototyped the game in Game Maker first. The sound effects were made using Increpare's Bfxr.
Were there any notable advisors or external sources of help for the project?
Ee Siang: Jun Wei (our senior teaching assistant in DigiPen) helped us out with the splines used to draw the shapes before the end of each level.
Sean: Our instructors supported and helped us along the way too. Our game design instructor for the class, Simon Rozner, actually forced us to put an objective in the game (the player has to defend the stars from the Boxi), otherwise the game would be more of a free form sandbox toy like Noby Noby Boy.
What are some interesting things about your game that you haven't talked about before?
Sean: The moment I knew we had a game worth making was when I got a friend to play my prototype and she just starting drawing shapes with Pixi. That's also when it was clear to me that the game needed a sandbox mode.