Students morph talents into computer game

Students from different disciplines show the real-world teamwork it takes to create virtual worlds.

By Brian Murphy on April 25, 2013

The trailer for "Morph," Game of the Year winner at the fifth annual UAlberta game development awards.

(Edmonton) A computer game that challenges players to get an astronaut and his downed spacecraft off an uncharted planet was the big winner at the fifth annual University of Alberta game development awards.

The game, titled Morph, put together by six students in the U of A’s Computing Science 250 course, won Game of the Year honours.

The winning students, who go by the name Team Platypus, are a multidisciplinary group representing the U of A’s art and design, engineering, and computing science departments.

Team member Cindy Chen, an industrial design student, says the multidisciplinary makeup of the team is what the real world of designing a virtual world is all about.

“I helped conceive the overall look of the game—the planet, the astronaut’s spacecraft, everything the player sees,” said Chen. 

Computing Science 250 runs two semester-long courses a year. Prospective game developers and designers are chosen from faculties across the university. Next fall, CMPUT 250 will be part of the U of A’s multi-course certificate program in computer game development.

Chen says having team members from different backgrounds who respect one another’s input is key to successful game design.

BioWare, the Edmonton-based gaming giant founded by U of A alumni Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, provides the platform from its multi-award-winning game Neverwinter Nights for the CMPUT 250 design competition.