Who knew cool things for video games would be coming out of my hometown? Melvin Kwan, originally a Calgarian who now attends the Vancouver Film School, was the winner of the ESAC’s (Entertainment Software Association of Canada) Student Video Game Competition with their game, Zeta Busters.
Melvin originally attended the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, and got offered to work in a 48-hour game session, wherein a team makes a game in 48 hours or less to correspond with a given theme. “The Game Jam was an eye-opening experience.” says Kwan, who then switched to a Game Design education at the Vancouver Film School. It was through that program that Melvin snatched the role of Artist for Zeta Busters.
During production days, the artist would check e-mails, meet with the other three on the production team to discuss their daily duties, and check deadlines. Melvin would then get started on drawing the character animations, working on the sprites for the user interface, or experimenting with Unity to create particle effects or adjust the implemented art. (That’s right, they used Unity as their game engine). Then, at the end of the day, they would relax with some good ol’ Smash Bros. What a team!
Now, as for the game, Zeta Busters is a 2.5D isometric card-based tactics game where the player takes control of four heroes that use special disks to activate super attacks. Facing the titular robotic army, users must take these four heroes and defend the city of Vantropolis from the evil Dr. Bellbotula and his robot army of Zetas. Pretty crazy, right? But it won them the award and has brought Melvin some international fame.
Kwan and his team are now just working on taking the IP address for the game and making it into their own, since the game that won the contest was the team’s final project, so it technically belongs to VFS. The intellectual property is still theirs, though, so they’re making their own game.
For those wanting a career in game design Kwan gave We Got This Covered this advice:
“Understand the limits of your teams, what can be accomplished within a reasonable time, and don’t be afraid to cut features and scope in order to release your game. There are tons of people who work on projects for WAY too long because they want their first or second or third project to be absolutely complete and 100% what they had in mind before they put it out. In the time it takes them to do that, they could make three or four times as many games and learn ten times as much about the craft of making games.”
Melvin is honing is programming skills back at VFS and is working on another prototype game that is still in the works. If you want to keep updated on Zeta Busters, be sure to check out the designer’s official Twitter feed (@protomelvin).