PhD Thesis

As part of my PhD in Computing at The Open University in Milton Keynes, the United Kingdom, I worked on a thesis titled Automatic Generation of Dynamic Musical Transitions in Computer Games. I was supervised by Robin Laney and Alistair Willis.

My thesis explored the use of musical transitions in video games and how they influence the player’s experience during gameplay. One outcome of the thesis is an environment created in Unity that made use of a new transition algorithm that took player interaction into consideration. The algorithm was written in C# and made use of multiple viewpoint systems and Markov models.

A quick overview of my research project, recorded by the Open University

The video below showcases some successful transitions between different types of music in a game environment.

Links to the final dissertation and the game environment will be provided soon; watch this space!

The Landing at Ervindale

During the night, an air ship has crash landed in the middle of a pig farm situated on the outskirts of the sleepy village of Ervindale. The local guards have just begun an investigation into what happened exactly. Can the party of adventurers figure out what has happened without disturbing superstitious villagers?

The Landing at Ervindale is a one-shot adventure for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition that I wrote as part of the Dungeon Master Jam, coordinated by DrBackflip. The overall theme of this competition was to write an adventure that centred around the “arrival of an empty ship”.

Rather than wanting to write a nautical adventure, I instead interpreted the theme by using an airship manned by wizard scholars that were in the process of transporting a clutch of phase spiders. Having the phase spiders break out of their restraints meant that the ship could crash land into the village, and since phase spiders can phase in and out from the Material Plane into the Ethereal Plane, I thought this would be a perfect way to showcase how the ship could be seen as being empty.

The adventure was released as part of a compliation, and can be downloaded at the DM’s Guild here.

Tiresias

Tiresias is a puzzle/adventure game made in 48 hours at the Mediterranean Game Jam, Malta in 2015. The game was built as an audio game, meaning that it contained no graphics and players had to rely on sound in order to navigate the environment. This was done with the help of an echo-location mechanic.

Tiresias was awarded second place by popular vote at the Mediterranean Game Jam (by one point!)

The game was built in Unity and was developed by the following people:

  • Yannick Massa: game design, audio direction
  • Johnathan Harrington: writing, game design
  • Francesca Borg Taylor-East: writing
  • Simon Cutajar: programming, audio

Special thanks to the following people who provided recorded dialogue for the game:

  • Yannick Massa
  • Maxine Brimmer
  • Nathan Brimmer
  • Joseph Zammit
  • Daniel Croucher

The game is available for Windows and Mac, and can be downloaded at https://scutajar.itch.io/tiresias

Hulda

Hulda is a historically accurate point-and-click adventure game for kids that is set in the Scandinavian settlement period. Players play as Hulda, a young deaf girl who sees visions of an endless winter and an impending Ragnarok, and must travel between the lands of Midgard and Asgard in order to save her village, and the world.

In 2014, Hulda was awarded 10,000DKK by the Danish Film Institute for concept development, and was worked on by the following team to be published by Kvasir Games:

  • Kristín Guðmundsdóttir: Game Designer, Writer
  • Embla Vigfúsdóttir: Artist
  • Simon Cutajar: Programmer

Press Features

Social

Echo

Echo Logo

Echo is a video game without video. It was made at the Malta Global Game Jam 2014 by Bernard Brincat and myself.

Echo Teaser Photo

The game requires at least 2 people to play, and needs a mobile device and a laptop or tablet. One player plays as the bat; he or she is blindfolded and given a pair of headphones that are connected to a mobile device. The other player plays as the eyes; he or she is given a laptop or tablet that can send sounds to the other player, used to control his or her direction.

Echo was written in Javascript and HTML5. It involved lots of client/server socket programming, as well as the use of positional 3D audio. The server was written using node.js, while the clients were written using Phaser JS. I was in charge of the overall game concept, as well as the development of the client side, while Bernard took care of the server-side development.

Below, you can see a video of a game in progress.

Echo also happened to appear on local television! More specifically, the game is being played in the background during a spotlight on the Malta Global Game Jam (interviewing Patricia Pizer, who was the keynote speaker).

Source code and installation instructions can be seen here: https://scutajar.itch.io/echo

MSc Thesis

City of Sound - Master's Thesis

As part of my MSc degree in Games at the IT University of Copenhagen, I wrote a thesis titled Reinterpretation of Music Based on Visual Cues in a Virtual World. I was supervised by Dr. Julian Togelius and Dr. Mark J. Nelson.

My thesis explored the idea of procedurally generating music that reacted to a player’s surroundings in a 3D environment. The music generation was done by interpreting the results of 1D cellular automata. The music also changed depending on the colours on screen, as well as the speed of the player.

All the graphics in the game were made by Ioana Marin.

An in-depth explanation of the project is given in the thesis documentation.

The game may also be played by downloading and extracting the files to a folder on your computer. No installation is necessary.

Download the game.

Download the thesis documentation (75 pages).

Wanted: Igor!

Wanted: Igor! is a family friendly card game where players must build weird and wonderful creations out of body parts. It was created during the Nordic Game Jam 2013 in 48 hours with a team of 5 people.

Wanted: Igor! Product Shot
Wanted: Igor! Product Shot

Wanted: Igor! is a game based around the central theme of building monsters out of spare parts using cards. Players play as Dr. Frankenstein’s assistants and must leave as many marks on the creature as possible in order to claim all the hard work as their own. This is done by attaching the correct body parts to the appropriate torso, but as parts get exchanged in order to keep up, not everybody will have access to the proper body parts.

The game was chosen as one of the top 11 finalists in the Nordic Game Jam 2013, as well as winning Best Sellable Board Game (as can be seen from the Nordic Game Jam’s official blog, although it was then called Beast Builder). Wanted: Igor! was an official selection for the IndieCade 2014 Festival, as well as received the Dice Tower’s Seal of Approval.

The game was officially self-published by Kvasir Games in January 2014.

EDIT: Wanted: Igor! was mentioned on papskubber.dk.

Coin Knights

Coin Knights is a local multiplayer game for 4 players for the Crime City arcade machine made by Redgrim. It was created during the Exile Game Jam – Autumn 2012. The game is made in ActionScript 3 using Flixel.

Coin Knights Title Screen
Coin Knights Title Screen

The aim of the game is to pick up treasure chests that spawn randomly in the middle of the map and return them to your castle. You can carry up to 4 different chests, so sometimes it might more advantageous to pick up more chests instead of going back and forth. However, some chests contain bombs, which make you lose all the treasure you’re currently carrying. Furthermore, players can push each other around, either to push them away from treasure chests, or to push them ONTO treasure chests, potentially making them pick up a bomb. The gameplay was designed by Anchel and I, the graphics and sound were made by Anchel and the programming and music were made by me.

Coin Knights Gameplay

The game can be played here: https://scutajar.itch.io/coin-knights

Mindwreck

I recently participated in the No More Sweden 2012 game jam, which was held in Malmö, Sweden. I arrived late due to work and thus decided to make a game on my own in ActionScript 3. I initially based my idea as being a black and white shooter set in someone’s imagination, but as the game evolved, it turned into a more cyberpunk themed game.

The game’s title screen

The game is an arcade style shooter, where you control a “spaceship” and must defend yourself against oncoming enemies that usually come from the top of the screen. There are 4 different types of weapons in the game and 4 different enemies. Since this was done during a game jam, the game was made in 48 hours. I created most of the art and all of the sound and music, as well as did the programming for the game.

I believe there is still some interesting design space that can be explored in this game, so I hope to continue working on it when I find time.

Play the game! (No download or installation required.)

Florian’s

Florian’s is a 3D puzzle platformer game with no direct combat that is set in a steampunk circus world. You play as Marcel, a wooden puppet who is out to rescue his friends from the evil puppetmaster and his twisted circus. The game’s main mechanic is the transformation of Marcel, allowing the puppet to turn into different states. In our vertical slice, we have implemented 2 different states: wooden and clockwork.

The game was created by a team of 8 people using Unity for the Game Development course at ITU Copenhagen. My role in the production was as a project manager and team leader as well as the team’s sound designer and music composer.

I used SCRUM to organize the team’s performance throughout the project, with sprints lasting a week long. For music composition, I used Ableton Live as my digital audio workstation.

You may listen to or download the music from here.

The slides that I used to pitch the game in class may be downloaded from here. (PDF)

My report may be downloaded from here. (PDF)

The game will be available online soon.