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AIE team 'The Grey Room' receives honorable mention at IGF for game 'Flying Fish'

AIE team 'The Grey Room' receives honorable mention at IGF for game 'Flying Fish'

AIE team 'The Grey Room' receives honorable mention at IGF for game 'Flying Fish'

04-Feb-2014

Recently a group of AIE graduates (team name 'The Grey Room') received an honorable mention at the 16th Annual Independent Games Festival for their game 'Flying Fish'.
I caught up with Lead Programmer Greg Power who studied the Advanced Diploma of Professional Game Development, to catch up on what this means for him personally and his teammates. 


First and foremost, congratulations! Could you please tell us a little more about yourself, and the amazing individuals who worked on this project? 

I (Greg Power) was design lead, and programmed the fish's movement and general game play.

Ian Ulpiano was our lead programmer, and general problem solver and implementer. Andrew Fenn created our awesome water tech.  Josh Leo was our graphics programmer - he made a Unity-based visual shader editor from scratch. Asmir Mulahalilovic was our animator, and made general level and environment assets. Jake Newlands was our concept artist, and also made most of our level assets. Justin Kirkwood was our character artist. I've been dreaming about his god whale for months now. Alex Ramsey was our environment artist and level designer. And lastly - Shannon Goldsmith was our technical artist, developing shaders, lighting effects and made the wings for the fish.


What was the initial idea/concept for Flying Fish and what does Flying Fish mean to you on a personal level?

Throughout 2012 - 2013, I had a hankering for non-combat flying games. I love the physicality of virtual flight, but most games that feature flight have you shooting down either the Japanese Empire or the Galactic Empire. With this desire for flying adventures in the back of my head, the 'flying fish' idea came to me over time pretty organically.

I made an quick prototype with the basic 'dive, jump and glide' mechanic, and early conversations between Ian, Andrew and myself fleshed out the direction we would take. A quirky and somewhat naive game with lots of atmosphere. We've described it as Ecco the Dolphin wearing a Mario Wing Cap. We were super inspired by That Game Company, so we attempted to make more of an 'experience', however clichéd that might sound.

For me, Flying Fish is a proof of concept. We struggled to create a platforming adventure game that was fun to play without combat. It was incredibly hard at times, and the game lacked fun for most of the development, but we kept digging and prototyping new ideas. I feel the game's success is a vindication. With hard work and a good idea, something great is just waiting to be found.


What did you study at AIE, and how has your study helped you in your career to date? 


I was a programming student, starting in the 2012 mid-year class and immediately the teachers far exceeded my expectations. Aaron Cox, Matt Dodd and Jamie Stewart were all outstanding programming teachers, willing to help, give advice, and push me to improve, do more, and do better. During the development of Flying Fish, Sam Mummery - a 2nd year art teacher - was integral to the success of the game, and the whole team learned a lot about game design from him.

Before studying at AIE I couldn't code, and now, two years later, I've made an internationally recognized game and got a job as junior programmer. Life is good - thanks AIE, you bunch of legends.



What is on the horizon for yourself and your team? Future projects perhaps? 


For the most part we've gone our separate ways. We were such a large team, that continuing on together was never a realistic option (although I've heard that the folks who made Octodad are an eight-strong team that formed right out of school).

Ian and Alex have formed a two-man indie team - they've been prototyping some fantastic ideas, so I'm expecting they'll make waves later this year, watch out for them at iFEST 2014.

A few other members of the team are also working in the industry, Josh was recruited by Twiitch, and Justin has been busy with freelance work.


On a personal note, what does this mention at the IGF mean to yourself and your team?

Most importantly it means a heightened level of confidence I suppose, IGF used to seem unattainable - now we know we've got what it takes. For those in our team going the indie route, I imagine it will also help them get noticed by the press.




Is there any advice you would give to future teams, looking to get their game noticed?

 1. Make something different. If a game exists that does what you're trying to do, don't do it. Do something else. Don't do what Johnny Don't does.
 2. Don't treat it like an assignment. Treat it as if it's your only chance to break into the industry. You will live or die based on this game.
 3. Expect your game to win awards, and put in as much overtime as possible to get it to that point. If you're not staying back late most days, and not working on it over the weekend, then it won't be nearly as good as it could be.
 4. Also, don't get complacent by comparing your game to other students' games - the world (not your classroom) is your competition, and it is fierce.
 5. You are the next Phil Fish. Go make your Fez.

 

For more on Greg Power visit his website, and to download and follow the game Flying Fish click here.