Anyway: Zenith Horizon

So now I’m going to finally write about Zenith Horizon. The short version: it’s a little disappointing, but not bad overall.

At the presentation, we got a glimpse of the game in action, so I had some idea of what to expect. What actually comes on the disk is a little underwhelming, however. I’m not bashing the game itself, but there are a couple problems I have with it:

No installer. This isn’t too big a problem, since you can actually run the game straight off of the CD, old-school style. The executable is named “beyondBetaGold1.2.exe” which was confusing for a few seconds, but since it’s the only thing to run, it’s obvious that it should be double-clicked.

No instructions. WASD controls aren’t hard to figure out if you play FPS games, but half the audience at the presentation were relatives of the designers, and you can’t rely on “common gamer knowledge” if most of your customers don’t even play casual games. At the very least, I expect free games to come with a Readme.txt.

The game itself is about what you’d expect from student work: an old-school side-scrolling shmup with an interesting twist on old themes (buying power-ups instead of obtaining them randomly or in a predetermined fashion), with above-average graphics, and surprisingly tight controls (they definitely got that part right).

The presentation was much the same as the previous semester’s, with one team showing off their finished game, and another team showing their work-in-progress. The other game (the work-in-progress) was ZPAC, a first-person 3D platforming game which is mostly about running and jumping. It looks pretty neat, with the first level being a factory of some sort and the last level being extremely reminiscent of the Xen levels from Half Life 1.

Instead of the auditorium in the art building, the relatively smaller auditorium in the CIM building was used. Although few non-relatives showed, the room was still packed, and I hope next time they go back to the art building. (Actually “they” will involve me next time, so perhaps I should say “we”.)

Prizes were raffled, behind-the-scenes stuff was demonstrated, pretzels and custom-labeled energy drinks were consumed, and generally a good time was had by all. I’m looking forward to the next GD presentation, especially since I’ll be in one of the teams next time!

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