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Making it Mobile

November 22, 2021

After the successful production of the game 3 O’clock Horror, Gabe Simao is converting the existing system designed for a keyboard and mouse to a touchscreen interface for mobile devices. He is a Game Design and Computer Science major from Brazil.

This is part of his Student Research Initiative (SRI) grant to complete the conversion to a mobile game.

“The completion of this process will allow for a direct comparison of user engagement on both platforms,” Simao wrote in his grant application. “This data will also provide insight into the performance of the game on each of the platforms.”

The game 3 O’clock Horror was created through a game design class. Simao, who had the initial idea for 3 O’clock Horror, led a team of students to produce the game over the course of the 2020-21 school year. Each member of the team had a specialty area such as programming, level design, artwork, and narrative, but students were able to gain experience with everything.

Simao’s idea for 3 O’clock Horror came from a video game called Faith. “It’s a dark, horror, minimalistic style that I really liked,” he said.

The team also took inspiration from games Resident Evil and Outlast. In addition to game style, the narrative part of the game was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, a cosmic horror writer from the early 1900s.

What results is a game that begins in the dark of night with a foreboding wind and snow. The player must gain entrance to the mansion, where they will continue their journey to solve the mystery of what happened. Depending on how players solve the puzzles they can end up with three different endings.

Throughout the school year, the students were able to workshop the game and have people test play to provide feedback. They took that feedback and worked to create a better game. “That’s the one thing that drives us to success,” Simao said.

After workshopping and completing the game, the students took the opportunity to place their game on the gaming platform STEAM. It costs $100 to add a game to STEAM, a team member agreed to pay the fee.

Last spring, Simao completed the documentation and uploading of the game to the platform. It went live on June 19, 2021. Since then, there have been several thousand downloads of the game.

This fall, he submitted the game to the Independent Games Festival (IGF) on behalf of the team to compete in the Best Student Game category. In January, they will find out if their game made it to the list of nominees.

 In the meantime, Simao will continue working with his professors on the creation of the mobile game version.

“There are some differences between the PC and mobile platforms, so there’s code that must be modified or rewritten,” said Erik Pederson, Assistant Professor of Game Design. “There’s a good amount of work to be done, it’s not a simple port.”

Simao will spend time figuring out what from the computer game works in a mobile version and adapting the gameplay as needed. Touch and scrolling will be integral parts of the mobile version.

“Having the ability to say that he’s developed the product for the PC environment, then rebuilt it for the mobile market is a huge bonus for him as he nears graduation,” Pederson said.

Simao hopes this will expand the game’s audience. “I’m hoping for more downloads than we got in the computer version.”

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