The player becomes the designer

The player becomes the designer

Jeremiah ‘Jez’ Walter grew up playing video games, and after moving to Hobart to chase a career as a web developer, he now finds himself on the other side of the screen.

Jez first began tinkering with small, simple apps at home on the couch with some of his friends. A small group would get together for the weekend, come up with an idea and essentially write the entire program in a weekend before uploading it to a small games website called Itch.

“I’d always wanted to work with games, but when I graduated there were no jobs in games going around,” he said.

“So for awhile it was just work on weekends and when we could, pulling apps together and uploading them.”

After doing this for some time the group decided they would develop an entire game, built from the ground up using an engine called Unity. From there, Myriad Games Studios was born, and the early makings of their debut title Where the Snow Settles were put into motion.

The group got to work, developing a narrative, setting and characters before getting to work on the back end. Jez’s background in web development was a huge help, as he cracked straight in to coding the back end.

“There is quite a lot involved with building a game from the ground up, quite a lot more than we thought actually,” he laughed.

Jez worked on a lot of the game’s dialogue, as well as the xbox and steam configuration. He also helped with a bit of level and game design.

As it all came together Jez says the he felt quite proud of their little project.

“After a year we thought this is pretty fun, we’re getting good at this,” he said

“Where the Snow Settles is sort of the dream game we’d always wanted to play,” he said.

As the game came together the group began to work on a highly polished demo to debut at PAX, Australia’s premier video game convention, in Melbourne in 2018.

“PAX was awesome,” he said.

“I’ve been going to PAX for years, so to go along as a developer was a really different experience.

“We definitely got a lot of interest.”

Jez describes the game as a short, narrative experience, similar to an interactive movie.

“It’s a coming of age story,” he said.

“It’s about a young girl stuck in a desolate world that’s kind of deteriorating and she’s not confident enough to journey out and find out what’s going on.”

“It’s a linear dialogue driven game, it’s adventure style in that you go and explore the world.”

The team spent four years developing the game, with each of the developers working full time jobs around working on the game after knocking off and on weekends.

Jez says that he is glad the game is ready to release, with finding the time getting harder and harder as the project grew larger.

“With the whole team working six days a week, its hard to maintain that level of motivation the whole way through,” he said.

“We’ve all gone through incredible periods of change in that time.”

While developing the game itself was fun, the group has struggled with the pre-release aspect of the project.

“Everyone is working on stuff they’ve never done before, so its quite stressful,”

“Thankfully we had no financial pressure because we were all working other jobs.”

Where the Snow Settles goes to full release on Steam and Xbox on July 23 and will likely be the last release from the studio, now that many of the developers have found positions in the industry.

“For now we’re going to sit back, three of us work full time in games out of the five of us and the other two are fairly happy in their day jobs,” he said.

“We’re all kind of getting our games fix at work.”