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A game developed by students at the University of California Santa Cruz has been released to the Nintendo Switch

Three years ago, a group of UC Santa Cruz students designed Computer Games, Arts, Games, and Playable Media (AGPM) collaborating on their first graduation project to design a fun and engaging game. None of the 10 students at the time believed that the Squish game they had developed would eventually be picked up by a major publisher and released on the Nintendo Switch platform.

Squish is a fast-paced competitive multiplayer game featuring skelegoos – ghoul-like characters – who must escape from a collapsed underground crypt. The game starts with the characters partying so hard that the ceiling starts to fall. In order to escape without being crushed, players must navigate the skelegoos around different obstacles and take advantage of the environment to their advantage.

“The thing we kept saying during our three-quarter stints was that this game belongs on the Switch. It was our dream to get it on the Switch and it’s now happening in a month,” said Fernando Zamora, Squish Producer of Music and Audio (Porter ’19, AGPM). .

Level 0: Game Design Visualization

The Computer Game Design BS and AGPM BA programs require students to complete a three-quarter capstone project. Engineering and AGPM students work in teams to design and produce a new game. The first quarter focuses on game brainstorming and prototyping followed by two quarters of production and fine-tuning.

During the first quarter, the Squish team decided on a frightening aesthetic, design and name for the main characters of the game – skelegoos. The development of prototypes and ideas began with cartoon models before being transferred to computer production.

Team members refer to Squish as a mix between Tetris and Super Smash Bros. The original game format was inspired by the community level within the Little Big Planet puzzle platform video game series.

“I find that a lot of games are inspired by what game developers grew up playing. You can see that in the design and aesthetics of Squish,” said Reed Squish (Merrill ’19, computer game design), Squish art designer and media relations director. It’s fun and can involve multiple players.”

By the end of the third quarter, Squish was selected as a finalist for the E3 College Game Competition. Athene Yip (Rachel Carson ’19, AGPM), president and product environmental design for Squish, stated that the Southern California Summer Games Conference “helped put us on the publishers’ radar and was a major springboard for our game.”

Level 1 and beyond: from competition to publication

After speaking with the Warner Brothers at the E3 competition, Team Squish was referred to major game publisher PM Studios. By summer 2020, the team, now reduced to five female graduates with the other five leaving to pursue other career opportunities, signed a contract with PM Studios.

With the help of PM Studios’ expertise, the team was able to improve game production, add a multiplayer format, and enhance the user experience with new designs and music.

“I love to joke and say that this was the longest homework I’ve ever been assigned. It all helped build experience,” Zamora said. “I’m excited to continue building on this and making this the best match we can do.”

Squish was first introduced to game fans in August 2021 at PlayNYC, a small conference geared toward indie games. Within a month, they were showing their game at the popular PAXWest gaming convention on the West Coast.

“With a few major players not attending the event due to COVID concerns, it gave us a chance to shine. We had people who came back a few times to tell us how much they liked the game and wanted to play it again,” Yip explained.

By the April 2022 PAXEast gaming conference, Squish had built a fan base, and players who attended previous conferences were excited to try the game again – an indication of Squish’s growing popularity.

It was the most recent and in many ways memorable conference for the small Squish team. It provided a moment to reflect on three years of hard work and a way to celebrate while looking forward to the game’s upcoming release to the Nintendo Switch and Steam.

“When I go back to the beginning, I felt like this was a great game idea and I really enjoyed being amongst my teammates,” Zamora said. “None of us thought this would go on and become something more.”

With the upcoming digital and physical release of Squish, members of the alumni team have thought through the game development process, beginning with their time at UC Santa Cruz. Yip, Zamora, and Scriven mentioned that despite being a small team, they were able to use that to their advantage during the entire production process. It allowed them to collaborate closely with each other, generating new ideas for content and how to improve the user experience.

“Being able to see a project through to completion like this has brought so many lessons and experiences that have been invaluable to our growth and development,” Reed said.

Despite facing the challenge of lack of industry experience, the Squish team quickly demonstrated its potential and succeeded in finding opportunities for continued growth. They are now on their way to becoming seasoned competitors in the gaming industry.

Squish is available for pre-order. visit Squish موقع for more information. The other two members of the Squish team are Coulter Petnic, the designer and lead gameplay programmer, and Jessie Aniguid, the gameplay programmer, designer, and artist.

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