Michael Sharp is a Teesside University student who created his own game, Rebound.

What is Rebound for those who don’t know?
Rebound is a 2D game inspired by ‘Pong’ and ‘Breakout’ games from the Atari 2600 era of games, it was created for a competition that required each game to have aspects of Random or Procedural generation in the game mechanics.

The game itself consists of a ball, a ‘player’ paddle and an enemy AI paddle, each player is trying to keep the ball from passing their side, to add to the complexity the world is scattered with crates which influence various aspects of the game, such as the player/enemies score, the speed of the ball, the distribution of crates on the playing field and the art and sounds of the playing field; the player must ‘play the field’ to win against the AI player, they do that by scoring past the AI and by hitting the right crates and avoiding the wrong ones.

Do you feel randomised elements add an interesting element to a game?
Yes, definitely. By adding random elements to games (in the case of Rebound, the distribution of crates keeps changing, the appearance of the playing field also keeps changing), the game is exciting to play again and again, it presents a new and different challenge to the gamer every time.

How did you go about making the game?
I wrote the game in the C++ programming language, using a neat little library called SFML (short for Simple Fast Media Library), I’ve been programming for about 7 years now, so it was just a matter of plotting out the game mechanics, defining each ‘zone’ in the game and writing the code to put it all together.

I also needed to exercise a little bit of initiative when it came to creating the art and sound assets, the art was hand drawn by myself using a graphics tablet and the sound effects were create in a neat little tool called SFXR.

How do you feel personally about the game? Is there anything you might do a little differently next time?
I feel that given the time I had to complete the game, I did a decent job, but if I were to expand on the game further, I would have made the crate generation system less random and more procedural, it would have been really cool to generate patterns of crates around the playing field instead of just placing them randomly.

I would also be very keen on using a different set of libraries to build the game, getting the game to work on Mac, Linux and Windows was a bit of a chore, if I used a different set of libraries in perhaps another language, I may have been able to avoid building the game for each individual platform, reducing development time.

Anything you’re able to tease? Or am I approaching on dangerous secretive ground?
Well, while I am usually rather coy about my future projects, I will say that I am looking into better ways of developing games, I’m very keen on getting my games out to as many people as possible, so I’m looking into how I can deploy my next game to mobile devices as well as the PC.

As for my actual next game, I’m still mulling that over, but I am rather partial to strategy and city-building games, so I might explore that space some time soon, maybe not for my next project, but maybe the one after that!

Michael has his own blog here, Rebound can be downloaded from here.

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