BY DAVID SALITURO
If you ever wanted to wield a bow and arrow and compete against your friends, a group of Sheridan College students has the game for you.
OddBird Studio is a company formed in 2016 by six Sheridan Game Design students. Their first game, Arrow Heads, was released in September.
Brendan Muir, marketing director and 3D artist for OddBird, says that coming up with the game was a team effort.
“Developing the game was all part-time, a lot of evenings,” he says. “Every other week or so we would do weekend sprints. So we would work on it for an entire weekend and put in a good 20 to 30 hours throughout the weekend to get it done.”
Arrow Heads is a multiplayer archery game where up to four players control a bird armed with a bow. The goal is to hit your opponents enough times that you are the last bird standing.
Muir says that the idea came from fellow developer Zack Wolfe’s love of archery. “We wanted to make a game based around archery, that was kind of a core premise,” he says. “We wanted something unique, in terms of a shooting mechanic. The whole core game is based around the fact that you can manipulate your shot based on this very simple art design.”
Throughout development the students received strong feedback from their instructors. One of their teachers, Jeff Pidsadny, came up with the key feature of flopping. “This allows a player who has been killed to still move around and stun another player,” Muir says. “When he played the game he felt that you needed something to do even after you are dead.”
“The OddBirds team is an excellent example of students applying their learning experiences at Sheridan with a practical application,” Pidsadny says. “As a professor, it is rewarding to see students use the principles and skills developed within their curriculum to activities outside the classroom and be successful. Testing their game, listening to feedback, observing their audiences and taking appropriate action toward their product allowed the team to design their game and not just simply make it.”
The game has received positive reviews. It was originally developed for the Level Up: Student Showcase in 2016, where it ended up winning Best Overall Game and Best Artistic Achievement. It also won first place in the Entertainment Software Association of Canada student competition, and was a semi-finalist at the Adobe Design Achievement Awards.
“Throughout development we got a lot of positive feedback,” Muir says. “Whenever we get a controller into someone’s hands they really fall in love with it. Everyone instantly loves the art style, which we are proud of.”
Muir has wanted to get into game design since high school.
“I fell in love with 3D art,” he says, “and I always wanted to get into games, the art side, the production side of it. So that is what led me to Sheridan.”
The game allows players to compete against friends or online. Muir says the only problem the game has faced is attracting people to play online. “The only negative feedback we have received is just our online. The online community isn’t as strong as we like so it makes it a little harder to find people to play.”
The OddBird developers are currently working on their capstone project for their final year at Sheridan. “We are hoping to bring a project that we make in our capstone to market when we graduate and continue the development plan and build on what we learned here with that game,” Muir says.
Arrow Heads is currently available for purchase on Steam for $16.99. OddBird hopes to release the game on Xbox and PlayStation by the spring.