[Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy Master's student A.J. Walker reflects on the development of Pitch Jumper, a student-created rhythm game for iOS and Android.]
I’m a grad student at the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), the University of Central Florida’s graduate game-development program. At FIEA, we go through a rather unique process to determine which games become our capstone projects. Every designer is required to pitch a game, and through extreme scrutiny and rounds of voting, our final capstone projects are determined.
This process creates quite a lot of healthy competition among students and ensures that only the most unique and promising concepts become reality. When a programmer, Alicia Cano, pitched a concept called “Pitch Jumper” it immediately generated excitement among FIEA students. The game, with its ambitious mechanics, unique style, and streamlined distribution plan, was able to unite a team of students that wholeheartedly believed in its potential.
Pitch Jumper is a 2.5D platformer for iOS and Android devices. The interesting part of Pitch Jumper is the fact that it can take any song from players’ music libraries and create a unique level. Side scrolling games often utilize music as a major feature and selling point, but too often are players forced to play along to the developers’ music.
The primary motivation for creating Pitch Jumper was to provide a new type of game experience that can fit to literally any type of music or sound file. It proved to be a difficult task, but we are proud to have a game that can accept even the strangest, longest pieces of audio. Anything from audio books to death metal can be entered into the Pitch Jumper algorithm and create a new type of level for players to platform through.
In Pitch Jumper players have full control of the character in an auto-scrolling platformer world. The primary goal is to collect as many golden notes as possible before the end of the song. There are a variety of special notes that boost your score and multiplier, but if you touch something dangerous or get crushed, that multiplier will reset. The note score at the end of the song is uploaded to our server so players can see how they rank. Playing well will unlock additional level themes, and high scores can be compared player to player for endless competition.
Throughout the 7-month development cycle we experienced a unique set of challenges and had our fair share of mistakes but we emerged with a complete game and plenty lessons learned. Above all, we learned that speeding up iteration time and maintaining clear team communication would be the keys to success.