May 19, 2011

For IMD Students, Success is “Semi-Automatic”

SCA games featured at the first annual UCLA Event

iPad games are the bane of most student’s productivity but, for students of the Interactive Media Division at the School of Cinematic Arts, designing games for the iPad is serious academic work. On May 19th, IMD students Sam Farmer and Asher Vollmer’s game Semi-Automatic was showcased at UCLA’s First Annual Intramural Game Carnival.

The Start Screen for Semi-Automatic

Semi-Automatic is the product of a truly collaborative effort between Asher Vollmer, myself and several close friends,” said Farmer. “Asher and I came up with the idea of making a robot simulation game on the iPad last summer and we got really excited about using the iPad's touchscreen for a two-player blast. We brainstormed the idea with each other almost daily and we tested the concept with several paper prototypes and board game variants to investigate exactly what could be fun about controlling a complicated, yet powerful robot.”

Semi-Automatic was produced as part of the pair’s CTIN 489 coursework which was conducted in the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, in various apartments and even at the campus Starbucks.

“While we were totally immersed in the game-making process, Asher and I received a lot of helpful feedback and guidance from colleagues in the Interactive Media graduate program, game design faculty like Jeremy Gibson, and the other students in our undergraduate program,” continued Farmer. “When they playtested Semi-Automatic, their reactions showed us which parts were fun and which parts were boring or frustrating. It's much easier to identify and cut features that don't work when you can see where people get bogged down. What we aim for is a game that makes the player quickly hit the replay button. Our current version of Semi-Automatic is getting that sort of reaction now, so we're pretty happy we went through all the developmental steps to get here.”

“We are truly grateful for all of the help and support we've received from our friends and families as we've made Semi-Automatic and now we are honored to be in UCLA's showcase.”

The UCLA Intramural Game Fair included work from USC, UCLA and UCI. It featured demos, playable games and lectures from gaming industry professionals.

Plans for the public release of Semi-Automatic are currently in the works.