UW-Stout Game Design Students Unveil 3D Video Game Prototypes

capstone projects displayed at the 2022 Stout Gaming Expo show the career-readiness of 2023 graduates

Evan Thibodeau

LEVELING UP. Seniors at UW-Stout showcased their digital game prototypes at the 2022 Stout Gaming Expo on Dec. 14. (Submitted photos)
LEVELING UP. Seniors at UW-Stout showcased their digital game prototypes at the 2022 Stout Gaming Expo on Dec. 14. (Submitted photos)

UW-Stout seniors in the Computer Science program unveiled prototype capstone projects for the Game Design and Development concentration at the 2022 Stout Gaming Expo (SGX.22). The expo, held in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center on Wednesday, Dec. 14, was a showcase of games, virtual reality, and interactive experiences developed by UW-Stout GDD students.

SGX.22 featured seven playable prototypes developed by seniors at UW-Stout. These prototypes, while incomplete, mark an important milestone in these students’ last year at the university. For the GDD concentration, students must design and develop a 3D game from concept to prototype while working in a team, modeling the approach used in the game development industry. 

Lilly Sommer is a senior at UW-Stout and one of the programmers for Divining Rods, one of the capstone projects displayed. 

“We get two semesters to work on a game with six to 10 other people, and we are at our halfway point right now with SGX,” Sommer explained. “We work the first semester largely on design and we’re told not even to get into the game engine until November-ish. Then, next semester is adding more features, fine-tuning, and cleaning everything up.” 

Trinity Beltran, producer of Reaper’s Isle, hopes that her experience in the capstone project will propel her into a future game design career. 

“I’m the producer of Reaper’s Isle, which means I came up with the original idea for our project,” Beltran said. “I’m hoping to be an environment artist, but I’d be open to being a lead on a game someday.”

Beltran credits existing media as her primary source of inspiration for Reaper’s Isle. “Some of the main inspirations include Princess Mononoke and the spectral look of its monsters as well as the movie Annihilation with its evil scientists.”

Joshua Ambrecht is a programmer for AI Gotta Go, a platformer where the objective is to beat each level as fast as possible. “Basically, the whole plot of the game is that you’re a robot who’s gained sentience, and the factory that you were built in is trying to destroy you, and you gotta go,” Armbrecht said. “The big focus of it is movement, platforming, and speed running, so we give you a lot of options for how to interact with the environment, such as a grapple.” 

Ambrecht went on to describe the difficulties of programming a game that is dependent on movement mechanics: “There are different ways to complete each level, and each way has its own completion methods. For example, there are target levels and other levels just have you get to the end.”

“One of the things we really want to do is have a network-based leaderboard so people can actually compete without having to be on the same system. That’s been our consistent stretch goal for what we want since it’s a speed running game after all,” Ambrecht said. “We want you to be able to get the world record in the game, and that’s definitely the thing we’ve set our eyes on the most.” 

More information on SGX.22 and its student projects can be found at uwstout.edu.