Origins: Part II – University Life

During their time at university a lot changed for our four, not-so-young-anymore, fellows, they weren’t all living in Coventry for a start! This, obviously, created some new difficulties for the budding games development company. No longer could they rely on meeting up on a weekly basis, or at least not without a hell of a lot of travelling… and, at this point, none of them could drive. The short term future was understandably, a lot less productive, from a Psync perspective, than previous years had been, but all was not lost. Summer holidays were spent making early versions of Zip n’ West, some to an advanced stage, and the long term plan was definitely still in sight. Each part of the Psync machine (well, at least half of it) was hard at work setting things in motion that would one day produce a completed game.

The year is now 2005 and the only one of the four who hasn’t left Coventry is Jim. He’s now in the final year of his degree course and has been given the daunting task of producing a fifteen thousand word dissertation alongside a completed project. He’s had a bit of a slow start to University life (zero programming knowledge, remember), but now he’s got the hang of it, he’s doing alright for himself. Viz, by this time, had already made his degree course look something akin to a play school lesson and walked away with not only a first class degree with honours, but also a couple of awards, just to rub it in. John had spent the intervening years blazing his way through his degree course and somehow still found time to have a crack at games development along the way. As for Richard? Well, he’d discovered that University wasn’t for him and had moved on to other things.

Now at this point, Jim’s in a bit of a pickle; that dissertation isn’t going to write itself. The only upside is, he’s been told it can be on anything he likes, so long as it’s in the realm of computing, and he can use anything (and I stress anything) at his disposal. In fact one particular lecturer, who shall remain anonymous, actually pointed out to a crowded lecture theatre that, “If your Dad works with a supercomputer, then use that supercomputer!”. Well, unfortunately for Jim, his Dad worked in a car factory and they definitely didn’t have any supercomputers there… but what he did have, now that they had all come back, was a budding games development company in his kitchen, so he decided to use that for his final project instead.

Now, this may on face value seem like a rather obvious and easy choice to make, but it’s worth pointing out that Psync had never actually produced a completed project, and putting your future in the hands of Psync Int. was a little bit risky to say the least. A meeting was quickly arranged and it was decided that, for better or worse, they were going to have a crack at it. Obviously, Jim would have to do the bulk of the work himself (it was his project after all), but the others agreed to help out where they could, without it getting to a stage where such help could be called ‘cheating’ (such a nasty word).

The idea was simple, they would produce a 2D educational game aimed at school children. Rather than including a complicated game engine, levels would essentially be made up of a series of on screen questions that the user would need to answer correctly in order to progress. True to the emerging style of this particular group of developers, the idea changed overnight to incorporate a fully 3D environment with real world physics, included at least one playable platform level, and was designed to be at least twice as big as anything they could feasibly achieve in the allowed time frame. Yes, that night, Dome XIII was born.

This was a new age for Psync Interactive, the machine began to wurr like never before. Over the next six months, productivity grew and grew to a point where sleep was sometimes forgone altogether. The most infamous of these occasions resulting in a mammoth 42 hour shift! An experience that would live long in the memories of those involved.

During the summer of 2006, the first deadline ever faced by Psync reared it’s ugly head and the project would be submitted. Did it work? Not exactly… a lack of sleep doesn’t really promote accuracy or quality assurance, but it wasn’t a million miles off. In fact, thanks to an early decision to half the amount of levels in the game, and a greater emphasis on FMV sequences, it was virtually on the money.

A few months later, the results were announced and Jim had bagged himself 85% on his dissertation. Coupled with some fine performances in the other six modules he completed that year, he’d managed to achieve a first class degree and the highest mark by a student on a computing course that year. It was Psync’s first completed computer game and it was a notable success.

This brings us to another key stage in the life of Psync Interactive, it’s time our heroes left the sanctuary of education and faced the big wide world alone, or perhaps not quite as alone as they thought they would…

See you for part three next week.


    “resulting in a mammoth 42 hour shift! An experience that would live long in the memories of those involved.”

    I still vividly remember that white horse that was trotting behind me in the kitchen while I listened to Viz’s play list on loop, true rock and roll!

  • Why do you always visualize me as an animal when you’re really tired?

  • hahaha I believe it goes something like… “old McDonald had a farm E I E I O and on that far…” you get the idea.

  • Ahh… suddenly it’s oh so clear :-)

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