Game Design in 17th Century Japan
“Imagine you are in 17th century Japan. You wake up in a prison and you don’t know who you are.”
– Matt Bennett ’17
Gould twelfth grader Matthew Bennett had his audience spellbound as he introduced the story line to the video game Seppuku that he and Aiden Lear ’18 created as part of their “Topics in Computer Science” class. Bennett and Lear gave a public presentation in McLaughlin’s Trustees Auditorium to Gould community members including Head of School Matt Ruby and CFO Beth McWilliams.
As part of their “Topics in Computer Science” class, the boys created a video game called Seppuku which is set in 17th century Japan. Seppuku is a top down arcade style game for which they had to learn an entirely new computer language. According to the boys, they had twelve weeks to design and build the game. They estimated that they spent 192 hours coding and planning and wrote 1832 lines of code. Matt and Aiden drew concept art for the player, for the rooms, and borrowed ideas from other games.
One fun part of the whole process was involving their friends. Aiden and Matt had many of their friends act as play testers, such as Noah Carrier ’18. Bennett said that the role of the testers was to find bugs in the program.
They grew to appreciate each other’s contributions to the project. Aiden appreciated Matt’s creativity. According to Aiden, Matt pushed the envelope from the first day of class. “Aiden is very good about getting things done. Aiden would be my tether back to the ground,” said Bennett. “Neither of them could have pulled it off on their own. Together they made a great team. They bring different strengths to the project, ” said Computer Science Department Chair Jason Chase.
According to Chase, Avery Rossow ’13, now a senior at UMaine majoring in computer science, was the genesis of the “Topics in Computer Science” class. As a senior at Gould, Rossow did an independent study on game design. “I realized we needed another level of advanced computer science. It started as an independent study and then grew into this class,” said Chase.
In developing their game, Lear and Bennett had to draw on both their math skills and historical knowledge. The boys said they used calculus to develop algorithms so that the characters could shoot in any direction rather than just the cardinal directions. Furthermore, Aiden Lear said that the idea idea for the game came from talking with friends about it. “A lot of inspiration was our knowledge of 17th century Japan. The samurais would actually carry two swords one for fighting and one for seppuku. Our historical knowledge came into play in designing this game,” said Lear.
“Doing something like this is very helpful to see all the work that goes into game design,” said Bennett. Matt noted that he is planning on majoring in computer science and minoring in game development at Grove City College. “I’ve always been interested in making my own game. I’ve always liked creating storylines.”
“I am very proud of the work they have done,” said Chase as he introduced his students.