Brock University students had a next-level experience at a recent provincial game showcase, bringing home the gold from the Toronto event.
With their game Mousu, fourth-year GAME students beat out about 100 teams from across Ontario to win first place in the People’s Choice category at the 2023 Level Up Student Showcase.
“I think we all worked well together, especially in the last few weeks,” said Travis Duddy, producer and audio lead for Mousu. “It was everybody coming together, paying attention to the details and we managed to pull it off. Our presence there, our merch, bringing people in, talking to people and really engaging with them, is what ultimately helped us win.”
Mousu features a team of adorable roving mice, the last warriors of Mousu, who must defeat the enemy forces of Rubenwald to retake Micedom. Players conduct raids and collect loot to upgrade their weaponry until they do final battle with the rat boss, a scene that creative producer Simon Cummings was particularly proud of.
“I would have to say our boss fight at the end, I think that’s what won people over. It’s really well done. It’s really interesting,” he said. “Our boss has a lot of different moves, so it’s very flashy and entertaining and it looks good on screen.”
The team found the Level Up showcase to be a valuable learning experience as they engaged with the public, industry professionals and peers from other institutions.
“It was awesome that we had a chance to network, get to talk with a whole bunch of people who regularly we wouldn’t have gotten to meet,” said Adam Julien, art lead for Mousu. “Just to have the experience as a team and get to spend all that time together was really awesome.”
The students have been invited to show their game at Anime North in Toronto from May 26 to 28.
The GAME program is a joint venture between Brock University and Niagara College, with students completing courses at both institutions.
Fourth-year teams from Brock presented games at Level Up including Forage Friendzy, a multiplayer prey and predator game featuring woodland animals; the multiplayer cartoon-styled beat ’em up game Techbrawlogy: Into the Robo Drome, and Mousu.
Games by third-year students in courses at Niagara College included second place People’s Choice winner Calico Cat-Fe, a feline-themed co-operative game, with users playing as cat barista or servers attempting to serve café customers and earn points. The team received an honourable mention for Artistic Achievement. The game, created by Evan Sawatsky, Mohammed Qamar, Dominic Momich, Marcus Werner, Alex Fischer, Max Moverley and Thomas Karanicolas, is available to play on itch.io.
Fourth-year Interactive Arts and Science students were also on hand to showcase their virtual reality (VR) experience, H.O.M.E. in VR (Hall of Mental Health Experiences), that allowed users to experience aspects of mental health disorders.
“It’s been so great to show people finally what we’ve been working on for so long,” said Madeleine Kwan, the team’s producer.
“I think the best part of Level Up has been just seeing how much this project means to people, hearing people talk about their own experiences with mental illness and mental health and being able to see that they’re feeling heard and recognized through this project.”
Learning VR was a new experience for all the students, who worked collaboratively to bring the idea to fruition. Students researched mental health disorders, considered ethical implications of their project, designed, built and tested all the VR elements of the experience and developed marketing materials.
This was the first year Level Up has been held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. One of the largest iterations yet, the showcase saw about 600 students from 10 schools present and close to 1,000 public tickets sold.