March 5, 2018 Student Spotlight: Four Squids
Lara Helm

Four Squids is a team that formed during the 11th cycle of Learn Unity in 8 Weeks NYC and is composed of Lara Helm, Jene Wallace, and Sarah Llewelyn.

1. Tell us about your experience in the course.

Jene: What really got me interested in learning the programming side of things was the work I’m doing at Nickelodeon, where we create interactive segments for existing shows. I love the process of figuring out what the interaction will be and the technical requirements involved. Prior to this course, I’d done a few online Unreal tutorials, but I kept avoiding Unity because it required scripting, which seemed daunting for someone with no background in it. The course helped get me over that fear. My favorite thing about the course is that it’s in-person. It makes such a huge difference to be able to meet up with people from the class and work/solve problems together.

Sarah: I had tried to follow a few Unity tutorials months prior to the class, but I struggled to pay attention to the video format. By contrast, I was excited to show up to the Playcrafting course on Unity. Rob and Jose were experienced, effective teachers, always available for help. My favorite part was watching my scripts animate a 2D spaceship.

Lara: Back when people were still playing games on flip phones, I took a college class on programming games in Java ME; I learned about sprite collision and not much else. More recently, I tried some online Unity tutorials, but having most of the available guides in video format only made it difficult to absorb and synthesize the material. Having in-person teachers who could adjust the pace and answer questions as needed in the Playcrafting class was far more conducive to my learning. This class also kept me accountable for my progress, and the limited time frame of the class and the final project had me working and learning at a faster pace than I would have done on my own. My favorite part of the course was finding out how easy it was to create games in a 3D environment. I had written off 3D games as too big and too difficult before I started the class, and at the end of the class my team decided to make our final project a 3D game.

2. Tell us about your game.

We created a game for class and for GameJam 2018 called “Possession.” You possess different animals in order to solve environmental puzzles. Our team “Four Squids” consists of 2 programmers (Lara Helm and Sarah Llewelyn) and 1 artist (Jene Wallace). There’s an underlying story, which we still need to develop, which explains that you are a witch, who has been wounded and the only way to get help is to transfer yourself between other living creatures till you’re able to find someone to come back for you.

We had people playtest it at the Global Game Jam, as well as at Playcrafting’s open house during our final class, and demoed it at the WinterPlay expo. Not sure what’s in store after that, but we may try to make other levels or move onto a new game idea. Go team!

Quick Questions

1. How did you get into games?

Jene: Besides growing up with them, my real obsession started when my first boss introduced me to Everquest. I became hopelessly addicted to MMOs after that.

Sarah: I grew up in a family of geeks. Even my grandma played Heretic on DOS.

Lara: I was raised on DOS games: I learned to solve puzzles in Lemmings and Crates, I found out games could be funny in Space Quest IV, and Doom LAN parties with my dad and brother were a nightly thing.

2. You’re part of the first manned mission to Mars! You’ll be gone for 5 years and can only bring 3 games to play alone or with your 3 fellow astronauts. What are they?

Jene: World of Warcraft, Borderlands 2, Polytopia

Sarah: FTL, Team Fortress 2, Don’t Starve Together

Lara: We ❤ Katamari, DDR, The Sims (any)

3. What would be your dream game to build?

Jene: VR MMO

Sarah: A dungeon crawler with monster friends

4. What do you love best about the game community in NYC?

Jene: Very supportive

Sarah: Welcoming and creative

Lara: The enthusiasm.

5. Choose 5 words to describe your experience making games so far.

Jene: Exciting, challenging, rewarding, educational, fun

Lara: satisfying, intense, creative, surprising, collaborative