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University of Utah video game school publishes first title

Published May 31, 2012 10:03 am

Tech • Master's program in design creates a character in a pinball machine.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The first graduating class of the University of Utah's video game master's program has already published its first game, an action title about a robot caught in a futuristic pinball machine.

"Robot Pinball Escape" was the group's master's thesis and is available for free download at www.robotpinballescape.com">http://www.robotpinballescape.com and Desura, the online game publisher, at www.desura.com">http://www.desura.com. The game is available only for Windows computers.

"It is a valuable experience when a group of students from different backgrounds and disciplines can see a thesis project through to completion, including a commercial launch," the game's producer, Kurt Coppersmith, said in a statement.

In the third-person-perspective game, the player controls "Tilt," a transforming robot inside a gigantic pinball machine who must find his way out with his rocket ship. The game is designed to be played like a pinball machine, as well as a 3D "platforming" game similar to "Mario Bros."

"I imagined the inside [of a pinball machine] just being crazy," said 26-year-old U. graduate student Eugenia Hernandez, who came up with the idea for "Robot Pinball Escape." "I thought of something large-scale and being inside it, like 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.' "

Ten graduate students from the U.'s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program (EAE) spent two semesters working on the game. Another eight graduate students from the same class were developing a first-person survival-horror game called "Erie." That game has not yet been published.

The two-year EAE master's program was ranked sixth in the nation last year for master's programs in video game design, according to an annual report by The Princeton Review, but has since slipped out of the top 10. The U.'s undergraduate program was ranked third in the nation in the newest survey.

vince@sltrib.com

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