Role: Level designer, sound designer, gameplay designer, artist
Solanum Solstice is a real-time strategy game designed with XNA Game Studio for the Xbox 360 and PC platform, as part of the CS 4455 course (Video Game Design) taught by Maribeth Gandy in Summer 2007. The goal of the course was to teach students the basics of game design, the game development process and to design a game on a particular platform. We worked mainly with Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio in the C# programming language, with tutorials and assignments given through the semester as well as lectures on game design principles.
The main project of the semester was to design a game in the XNA Game Studio. Our team consisted of four students, with two programmers and two artists including myself. Early on in our brainstorming sessions, we discovered that our team had a mutual fondness for zombie fiction after a lengthy discussion about zombie games, movies, books and such. There was a great deal of further discussion before our team settled on a design goal, with the title ‘Solanum Solstice’ being based on the ‘Solanum’ virus that creates zombies according to Max Brooks’ fictional ‘Zombie Survival Guide’.
Whereas other teams had decided to use 3D graphics that XNA was capable of creating, our team came to a consensus that we wanted to focus on the depth and complexity of the gameplay instead of graphics. Therefore, Solanum Solstice was created as a 2D real-time strategy game that revolves around the player recruiting units, gathering resources and fighting through a city in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Soon after the idea too shape, our team extensively play tested a paper prototype of the game with students around the GA Tech campus. We soon found that the mechanics were simple enough for casual RTS players to understand and win the prototype game, but we simplified and refined certain rules until we came up with something that would be suitable for beginners and experts alike in the final product.
The artwork for the game was created mostly in Photoshop and a pixel art editor, since the game was made with sprite art instead of 3D graphics. In addition to the art, I also worked a great deal on the audio design, recording and editing sound effects like zombie moans, gunshots, sounds that accompany player actions and so forth. Solanum Solstice turned out as a completely playable and winnable game by the time the project was due, and a release version was uploaded to the Codeplex website after the semester was over.
The main Codeplex page where the game itself,system requirements and development materials can be found here: