WolverineSoft Studio: Quest and Multiply

Nikhil Ghosh, College of Engineering

Collaborators: WolverineSoft Student Organization Members from LSA, CoE, UMSI, Taubman, Stamps, SMTD

Faculty Advisor: Austin Yarger, CoE

Project Quest and Project Multiply are WolverineSoft Studio’s semester-long game development projects. Project Multiply is a case study of Wargroove, a tactics-style game with an isometric camera. Project Quest is our first try making a narrative-driven game, it is going to be an RPG based off of games like Deltarune and Franken.

Each project is being made by a multidisciplinary team of 40 students (we have a total of around 80 students across both projects), which includes artists, programmers, designers, composers, producers, writers, and marketers. They are collaborating to build a 30-minute game using Unity. At the end of the semester, the projects will be released on itch.io and Steam, and will be shown off at the EECS 494 student showcase and at IGDA (International Game Developers Association).

Games are, inherently, interdisciplinary. The best games out there are not known for only one of their technical implementation, aesthetic, or music score, but an amalgamation of all those things and more. The WolverineSoft Studio is well structured to take advantage of this. We have developed interdisciplinary processes through years of iteration, and they have kept our projects running smoothly.

Art has a large presence in the final product. At the beginning, Art takes ownership over the theme (the game’s setting, player character, and enemies). Once art determines the theme, they work together with programmers, designers, and musicians to make sure that their art assets are aesthetically pleasing, but also compatible with the game engine and fits with the overall narrative (a collaborative effort between art, design, and audio). Their high quality final art gives our project a unique sense of polish, enabling our members to use the game as an impressive portfolio piece.

Once membership has been determined, each department has a series of onboarding activities curated to get them familiar with a large, multidisciplinary team. We then launch into the first of three development cycles, each one about three weeks. Each cycle involves building and iterating on the content in our game.

Finally, we have a polish period, where students get to iterate on their assets. Our project ends officially when we submit to the EECS 494 + EMU Student Showcase at the end of the semester. However, after the project’s end, we submit to different marketplaces, such as Steam and itch.io, and to other showcases, such as IGDA.

The primary impact of the WolverineSoft Studio is the portfolio piece and relevant experience that the project provides. The University of Michigan has game development courses, such as EECS 494 and EECS 498 – Extended Reality; however, they are restricted to upper level computer science majors.

Our project enables anyone to gain portfolio-ready experience in game development. Students use the game they create to show recruiters their ability to work on teams, take leadership, and create a polished product. Alumni have used their experience to get hired by many gaming and technology companies, and recruiters from the games industry come to Michigan regularly as a result of the studio.

Although these projects require a lot of overhead, our leadership has the experience and commitment to manage it. All new leadership gets a set of onboarding materials, which includes a set of confluence documents guiding them on their tasks. Our leadership works with industry advisors, who give us advice on the direction and state of the game.

We constantly use feedback from our members, which include feedback forms and discussions, to iterate on our organization. In summary, although we have much to learn, we actively work every day to make game development a possibility for all U-M students. Increased funding would allow us to pursue further resources to improve our ability to manage the studio and provide development tools and an overall satisfying experience for our studio members!