programming

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!

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

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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).

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.)

Sun Valve

Sun Valve is an exploratory narrative game that takes place on a small Canadian island in 1892. The player plays the role of a lighthouse keeper by the name of Conrad, and all seems well until something goes wrong. Suddenly, things don’t look the same any more…

Sun Valve

Sun Valve was created using the Unreal Development Kit for the Game Design course at the IT University of Copenhagen. It was made using a team of 6 people (calling ourselves Scylla & Charybdis), and I was mainly focused on the programming side of things. I used 3 different programming languages while making the game including UnrealScript, C++ and ActionScript. I also made use of Kismet, the flowchart programming paradigm within UDK.

The game’s main idea revolves around the use of a moral dilemma, and in particular, we chose Robert Nozick’s “experience machine” thought experiment.

Some screenshots that were taken of the game while during development may be seen here.

We intend to continue working on the game by polishing the already existing bugs and tweaking the existing features, and eventually releasing it to the public. Therefore, it is still a work-in-progress.

Download the design documentation. (40 pages, PDF)

Download the usability tests documentation. (7 pages, PDF)

Download my individual reflection. (17 pages, PDF)