Senior project highlight: Students create fantasy video game

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Through the game they created for their senior project called Heroes of Aetheria, seniors Jake Barbieri, Rob Kilgore, Spencer Kutney, Justin Lagree, and Noah Vogler bring gamers onto a big island where they can travel from their house to a ship while fighting off ghosts along the way.

Their fantasy game was made in Unreal Engine 4, a complete suite of game development tools made by game developers for game developers.

“When we went into it, we thought it was going to be easy,” Barbieri said. “Then we got into it and realized how hard it was actually going to be.”

The group of friends put upwards to 80 hours into this project working on it during B period every day since the beginning of the school year. The week it was due they thought they might not finish it in time, so they had to put in a lot of extra time inside and outside of school.

Over the course of two days, all the boys worked over 30 extra hours on the game.  Some worked together at Kilgore’s house while other skyped in.

“But Robbie was there the entire 30 hours while the rest of us ‘subbed’ in and out over the two days,” Barbieri said. “Even though there wasn’t any physical exercise involved, it became just exhausting.We were all melting in our seats after those two days. ”

Everything they created in the game was created by using a software blender, an open source 3D content-creation program.

“Not only did we have to make the game, but we had to learn all the software that we had to use to make the game,” Kutney said.

Everything you see in the game from the land walked upon to the ghosts fight were completely created by them. Each person had their own role when working on the project. Rob Kilgore programmed almost everything, Jake Barbieri made the world itself, Spencer Kutney made the textures for the world, Noah Volger made the models for the world, and Justin Lagree assisted in multiple roles.

“That was some real teamwork at the end, Barbieri.  “There would be times when we needed one person to do something, and I’d think ‘Where are they?’ and then they’d suddenly show up. Everyone definitely did their part in the end.”

Barbieri said most of the project was complete by trial and error.

“We learned almost everything from online tutorials,”Barbieri said. “Some that worked, and some that didn’t.”

Although the group doesn’t plan on doing anything with the game besides turning it in for a pass/ fail grade, a few of the boys will be taking all they’ve learned plan on majoring in Computer Science next fall. Barbieri will be attending NHTI, Kilgore and Kutney will be attending UMass Amherst, and Lagree will be attending UMass Lowell for Computer Science.

[Doing the senior project] gave us an opportunity to teach ourselves,” Kutney said, “as opposed to the high school experience of being taught.  In college you’re more on your own, which I’m looking forward to.”

The following are screenshots of the video game Heroes of Aetheria, seniors Jake Barbieri, Rob Kilgore, Spencer Kutney, Justin Lagree, and Noah Vogler created for their senior project.

Take a peak into the program they used to create the virtual world of Aetheria.

-Photos courtesy of Jake Barbieri.610734

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