Computer science senior John Potz and mechanical engineering senior Christopher Dominic were the first of Cal Poly Game Development Club members to launch a video game on Steam, a game distribution service.
The game, Dice Defenders, is a tower defense game based on statistical probability.
“The general premise of a tower defense game is you have enemies that often times are going along a specific path, and you want to try to do something to stop them,” Potz said.
According to the pair, they took inspiration from classic tower defense games and combined it with the nostalgia of table-top games in order to make a unique experience.
They explained that the defining characteristic of their game was the use of a die. Potz said he used “probability as the main way to defeat enemies, as opposed to most other tower defense games [where] enemies will have a certain amount of health that you gradually just have to wear down with your tower overtime.”
“I just really like dice,” Dominic said. “I carry dice half the time, just because I enjoy them so much.”
They published the game to Steam, which has an average of 16 million online users per day, according to their website. Potz and Dominic contemplated posting it to other “indie” streaming services such as itch.io, but said they wanted to reach a larger audience.
“On the one hand, it is relatively easy to do, but at the same time, not a lot of people actually take the time and effort to actually go ahead and do all the setup work for it,” Potz said.
Potz has been apart of the Cal Poly Game Development Club for the last year and a half. They recommend the club to anyone who is interested in game creation.
“They do definitely do good work there, just through teaching and working on problems for game dev,” Dominic said. “The Cal Poly Game Development Club is definitely a good resource for anyone who is interested.”
Because they are the first to post on Steam from the club, Dominic said they were the test subjects for the club’s success.
Working together on this project proved to be both a challenging and rewarding process for the two roommates.
“I had mostly done one-man projects before, so I had mostly been working on my own, so it was definitely interesting,” Potz said. “I had to make more compromises on what direction the game took, however I think also all the extra ideas and new thoughts and different perspectives on the game definitely made the game much better than it would have otherwise.”
“As far as a project size is concerned, it’s massive and you’re going to miss so many things unless somebody’s there to keep track of it with you,” Dominic said.
Potz was largely in charge of coding, while Dominic was in charge of game design and ensuring the systems interacted properly with each other “so that it actually was enjoyable to play and to use.”
They also contracted outside help with game design and music.
“Neither of us are artists,” Potz laughed.
Cal Poly alumna Ansley Chen created a majority of the tower design and art for the game, and they reached out to other alumni when it came down to adding in sound.
Potz previously worked with Cal Poly alumnus Kevin Glass at a Game Jam with the Cal Poly Development Club and was inspired by the music he had created for the project.
“I thought of him and I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder if I can find him,’” Potz said. “So I managed to find him on Facebook.”
They were able to connect and make music for the game.
Potz said this is the first of many games to come, but for now, they “want to take a couple weeks to relax from this one, sort out any bugs if that happens.”
When asked whether or not they have any advice for aspiring game developers, Potz and Dominic said, “Just go for it.”