By Thomas Gillen
Four graduate students in the digital game design and development program developed a game called Side Slider, released in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store on Dec. 12. The game was developed by a team made up by Eric Guadara, Ryan Cantar, Gerard Gilmartin and Felicia Cheng Zhang.
Side Slider encompassed an entire semester’s work in a class called “The Games Industry,” taught by Ramiro Corbetta, an assistant professor of digital game design and development. “The Games Industry is a graduate class that tasks students to create, release, and make money on a game or else fail,” Guadara, a second year graduate student in the program, said. While both teams in the class were not required to create games specifically made for iTunes, they felt it would be easier than developing games for a Mac or PC due to the longer development process.
Going through the entire process from inception to release of a game is very important, according to Andrew Wallace, an assistant professor of digital game design and development. “While learning how to create a game is vital, students need to leave Post with some understanding of how to market and release a game as well, which is the purpose of that class,” he said.
The Side Slider game was initially “just a game about tapping certain-sided shapes within a time limit,” Guadara said. “We wanted something that was simple, that we could make, and we also wanted to have thumping beats as a backdrop.” But, Professor Corbetta suggested that the game was too simple and that the students add another layer to it. “Sliding was the next most popular input we could think of, so then we had the slide to subtract mechanic. Eventually, we intertwined them and got the basis of what is released today,” Guadara explained.
Guadara has created 14 other digital games, including Beginner’s Guide to Chanting, and Pelt ‘Em, which he created during the Global Game Jam in 2016 and 2017. He has also created several board and card games in the game program at Post, including Highlandia, a hex-based tactical board game. “I worked with professor Winn Rea in the art/sculpture department to 3D print the pieces to the game,” he said.
Guadara likes that the digital game design and development program has a strong focus on creating games. The Side Slider game went through 10 versions before going through Apple’s certification process to be sold on the iTunes app store, “We tested eight versions of the Android game from Nov. 21 through Dec. 5, when the game went public,” Guadara said.
The easiest part of Side Slider’s development cycle for Guadara was creating the game’s 25-minute soundtrack, even though it took around 20 hours to complete. While making the soundtrack might have been fun for Guadara, creating the tutorial was a completely different experience.
“There was a full month span where I would ‘fix’ the tutorial, come to class with it, and watch as people had no clue how to play the game. I’d then get a long list of pointers from Professor Corbetta and add them, only to find that once implemented, they weren’t as effective as we thought they’d be.” Guadara and his classmates also found releasing the game on iTunes difficult. Due to Apple’s high standards for developers, Side Slider could only be released once it was completely free of glitches.
The experience of creating the game was “incredibly valuable” for Guadara. “It means so much in this industry to see a project from beginning to end. The last 10 percent of the work was so, so difficult, but the whole Side Slider team was great to work with, so we got through it. I’m very proud of what we created and the fact that we created it,” he added.
Side Slider is available to download for free on the iTunes app store and the Google Play store. While the reviews have been great, the game has not made a lot of money because it has not reached $100 in ad revenue, Guadara said. “I learned a lot throughout the development of Side Slider. The biggest lesson might have been the fact that marketing is hard and that promoting a mobile game requires a lot of money being put down in order to be successful.”