Thursday, May 23, 2013

A new video game takes flight at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy’s Avarice release event

The fully functioning, multi-level game is the work of Flashpoint's students.

It’s a world driven by greed and governed by ruthless CEOs with dollar-shaped holes where their hearts should be.

No, this isn’t the Occupy playbook — it’s Avarice, a video game created by students at Chicago’s Tribeca Flashpoint Academy.

Building a fully functional multi-level video game might not be a classic college assignment, but Flashpoint isn’t a classic college. Founded by serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman, the digital media arts school has students cut their teeth on the sort of work they’ll encounter as professionals.

Last Thursday, Avarice debuted to a crowd of students, teachers, and Chicago techies. Alan Reck, the Flashpoint professor who crafted Avarice’s initial design, led the audience through game’s virtual world. Players assume the role of a corporation’s hired mercenary, build a combat craft, and fly increasingly dangerous missions.

For more than a year, Flashpoint students have been developing Avarice in collaboration with Reck and his Chicago-based gaming company, ZoopTEK Studios. Reck thought up Avarice’s basic plot and the game’s weaponry, while students built each level’s narrative and designed the world, filling in everything from the texture of cacti to the colors of the ships.

The event allowed attendees to play the game to a live score provided by Miguel Kertsman, the composer of Avarice’s soundtrack, and Chicago-based drummer Ernie Adams. The musicians improvised to suit the game’s action, while audience members battled to the death in Avarice’s world.

The program has results: Steam, the leading producer of PC gaming technology, is releasing Avarice over the summer. Kertsman’s soundtrack will be released in tandem with the game.

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