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  • Postmortem: CMU ETC's Trino

    - Trino Team
  •  Trino began as a graduate student-pitched project in Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. The goal was to create a simple and addictive game in 14 weeks ready to be certified by Microsoft for Xbox Live's XNA Community Games. At the end of our first semester we had a six level vertical slice of game play.

    Over the course of the summer we made small improvements, like optimization and adding a boss, to prepare it for Dream Build Play 2008 and Independent Games Festival (IGF).

    Trino made it into the top 20 finalists of Dream Build Play 2008 and began to receive media coverage from GameSpot, IGN, Gamasutra, and Official Xbox Magazine (OXM). Seeing a lot of potential with Trino, the team reunited in Redwood Shores in early 2009 and spent another 14 weeks to develop Trino's prototype into a full game for release on Xbox Live Community Games Marketplace, where you can try or buy it now.

    In Trino, players control a little blue alien whose main power is trapping enemies with triangles while evading over 20 different enemy types across more than 40 levels in three chapters. As players progress through the game they'll have chances to evolve and gain new powers. Trino's unique triangle trapping mechanic and level system has earned it a place in the puzzle game and shooter genres.

    For the full game experience, check out Trino on Xbox Live Community Games.

    What Went Right

     1. Frequent Playtesting

    From day one, we knew that playtesting is one of the most essential parts of game development. We playtested often, and received feedback when we needed it and when we didn't.

    This really helped to shape Trino's game design over the entire 15 months of development. Since we were working in residence at Electronic Arts (EA) Redwood Shores, there was opportunity for members from different EA teams like Dead Space, The Sims, and Godfather to stop by and give us feedback.

    We also playtested with our classmates, friends and families -- as many as non-gamers and casual gamers we could get. After a while, we began to notice how much this crowd loved the simplicity of Trino. This feedback allowed us to have the confidence to widen our target audience to be "everyone" instead of targeting mainly the hardcore gamers, which was our original intended audience at the beginning of the project.


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