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UOIT Game Development Student captures major prize at provincial showcase

Screen shot of RETROID 3D, a hand gesture-controlled video game developed by fourth-year Game Development and Entrepreneurship student Mirza Beig.
Screen shot of RETROID 3D, a hand gesture-controlled video game developed by fourth-year Game Development and Entrepreneurship student Mirza Beig.

Making a game that can stand out among 80 others is no easy task, but University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) student Mirza Beig did just that when he took home the prize for Best Technical Achievement for his game, RETROID 3D, at this year's Level Up Student Games Showcase.

The fourth-year Game Development and Entrepreneurship student from the Faculty of Business and Information Technology (FBIT) was among more than 600 of Ontario's top game development students demonstrating their talents at the 2014 Level Up Showcase. The event, held April 4 at the Design Exchange in downtown Toronto, Ontario, connected 17 post-secondary institutions with industry leaders, providing a forum for students to culminate the academic year.

"Ideally, I'd like to be working in the video games industry, on the types of games that have inspired me so much over the years," said Beig. "I felt winning was one small step in the right direction. In the future there's a lot more I'd like to accomplish."

Beig said so far, his game has just passed the one-month mark for total development time. The initial prototype was developed in a few days, and that's when the core mechanics were implemented. The remainder of the time was spent polishing, balancing and adding features. The game is still in active development, but Beig has been balancing several different projects.

RETROID 3D is based on a very simple concept: users choose any song they like from their computer using the song-selection and preview menu, and then the fun begins. Players must steer their ships to collect boxes that match the colour of their ship, and destroy everything else. Sound easy? To add to the complexity of the game, the ship changes colour at set intervals. The goal is to earn as many points as possible before the song ends.

Players can control their ships using a keyboard and mouse, a controller or hand gestures with the help of the Leap Motion Sensor, an option Beig installed the day before Level Up. The obstacles, steering sensitivity and speed of the game are all set by the music the user selects at the start.

"The game's premise was inspired by a very old Flash game I remembered, called Digimon: Quest to Save the Net," said Beig. "In that game you would spin your character around the screen, collecting certain objects while avoiding obstacles, and you could shoot. Additional inspiration was derived from AudioSurf, which I really admired from a musical/gameplay perspective."

Beig said a lot of RETROID's art style is reminiscent of the Gummi Ships from Kingdom Hearts, as well as the Death Star environment from Star Wars. "Many of the techniques I use to ramp up the visuals I learned from simply analyzing Kingdom Hearts and how they made their beautiful environments come to life."

Beig credits his success to Dr. Andrew Hogue, Assistant Professor, FBIT and Level Up Organizing team member, and Dr. Lennart Nacke, Assistant Professor, FBIT, thanking them for their support and all they've taught him over the years.

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