JPCatholic Seniors’ “Shepherd of Light” Game to Be Released on Steam
By James Powers | June 13, 2019
JPCatholic’s graduating class of video game development students have nearly finished production of their capstone project, Shepherd of Light, which is a puzzle adventure game slated for an early September release on Steam and various other online platforms.
Loosely based on the parable of the Good Shepherd, Shepherd of Light is a resource-based puzzle game set in a fantasy world and modeled in part after the style of games such as Pikmin and Ori and the Blind Forest. The game takes place in a shadowy world where sheep are a precious resource, as they hold the light upon which this world depends. The player takes on the role of a shepherd who collects sheep with various magical properties and strategically uses them to progress through levels and avoid wolves.
The concept for the game originated in a series of weekly coffee meetings among game design students last year. This year’s senior class agreed to use the concept as the launching point for their shared thesis project, and it is currently on track to become the first playable video game thesis project at JPCatholic to be published online.
Production began in February 2019 with James Jacobus and Matthew Grimm creating “top-downs”, which are handwritten diagrams laying out the basic pieces and mechanics of the game. Meanwhile, Adriana DeCarlo worked with her art department team to develop a consistent visual style as they created concept art for characters, props, and environments. The team then started modelling 3d assets of these elements using Autodesk Maya, to eventually be used in Unreal Engine 4 where the game levels come to life.
Shepherd of Light is currently in the Alpha stage of development, during which all assets are compiled together in a sort of rough draft in Unreal. The full game is functional, and the team has enlisted fellow students as QA Testers to help them identify bugs. Soon, the project will move into Beta stage; the finalized artwork will be implemented, the functionality streamlined, and the game will be ready for release.
The production team consists of:
- Dominic Aglialoro (programming, music)
- Adriana DeCarlo (art direction)
- Sarah Galbraith (concept art, modeling/texturing)
- Phillip Gregg (modeling/texturing)
- Matthew Grimm (level building)
- James Jacobus (project management, lead design)
- Marie Lilles (texturing, additional art)
- Austin Matte (animation)
- David Sawczyn (animation)
In addition, film students Derek Knoeferl, Joshua Shepardson, Rich Smith and JP Huckins are assisting with aspects such as script and sound design. Multiple gaming seniors noted that the extensive level of collaboration on the project has been one of its greatest benefits in terms of both resume-building and personal growth.
“Having a team project you’ve already done can be a good step in the door to a career with a game company - they want to know if you’re able to work well in a team,” says Grimm.
“It’s been a really valuable experience, learning how to delegate and how to be a little more hands-off,” adds DeCarlo.
The final product itself will also be very valuable for the graduates as they enter the job market. Along with being released online and submitted to game design competitions, Shepherd of Light will be an invaluable part of the students’ portfolios and give concrete proof of their experience to industry professionals.
Actually having a finished, playable product upon graduation isn’t necessarily common for game development students, Jacobus points out. “If we can actually get a release and show that we shipped a game, it increases all of our value, a lot.”