MA Games Design Lecturer launches PS4 game ‘Still Time’
Centring on time travel and temporal physics, ‘Still Time’ users learn to cultivate powers to control the flow of time through the character whilst solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles. The player has the ability to rewind time, letting them revisit the past and to interact with copies of themselves from previous timelines. This allows users to solve puzzles that would otherwise be impossible as a single player.
Dr David King, Course Leader for MA Games Design at LCC, said: “Having practicing games designers teach students on the MA Games Design course at LCC is an invaluable resource to our students. They learn the very latest trends from people actively making and releasing games today on some of the world’s biggest platforms… Practicing designers help provide a broader understanding of the environment outside of university education as well as specific work-based practices – from the quirks of dealing with other companies to the unique perspective of how it can feel to be part of the industry. Our students really appreciate that kind of insight.”
We reached out to Alan to find out more about the game and his tips for students…
Hi Alan, congratulations on launching your latest game. What was the process of creating ‘Still Time’?
The journey to make ‘Still Time’ started in 2012, with a Flash prototype that I was showcasing to events. After getting some attention, I had the chance to pitch it to Sony. They really liked both the concept and the aesthetic, and that’s how the game ended up on PS4 and PSVita.
What other games have you been involved in producing?
Before ‘Still Time’, I have been working on a game called ‘0RBITALIS’, about gravity and orbital mechanics. I am currently working on ‘Pikuniku’, a game developed by the indie studio Sectordub – it’s an absurd puzzle-exploration game like no other.
Was it difficult to create a game relaying a concept of time travel and temporal physics?
Making a game about time travel was definitely more challenging than I expected. Players are not used to thinking about time as a resource they can manipulate.
The very concept of time travel has inspired countless of games, books and movies. Yet, finding a good story about time travel is exceptionally hard. What annoys me the most, as a scientist, is seeing inconsistencies on how time travel is portrayed in the media. This is why I wanted to make a game in which players could experience time travel directly, and to really appreciate how complex it actually is.
What has been the most challenging part in the journey of its creation?
When you develop a game for PC, there is often a lot of freedom. This is definitely not the case when working on a console. As an independent developer, going through the certification process required to release a game on PS4 or PSVita can be quite intimidating.
What do you feel has been the most rewarding aspect?
I have been working on ‘Still Time’ for a few years. When a project gets that big, it’s easy to feel lost. I have seen so many colleagues dropping projects that were in development for too long. I am really happy that, despite having had a rather troubled development, I didn’t give up.
What advice would you give to prospective students of your course hoping to follow your footsteps?
A myth that keeps resurfacing every now and then in this industry is that in order to be a successful developer, you have to give up everything else. There are so many stories online about developers who sacrificed their personal life and even their health to pursue their dreams.
“This industry is changing so rapidly that the tools we are using today might be completely deprecated in 5 years.” – Alan Zucconi
I strongly believe that overexposing young developers to that narrative is very dangerous. It promotes the idea that if you are not successful, it is because you did not work hard enough. The biggest piece of advice I can give to my students is… don’t fall into that trap. Make a good game, but never forget that your loved ones, health and well-being come first.
And why do you feel it is important for students to be taught by lecturers that are active industry professionals?
When I started studying Computer Science for the first time, I remember my teacher saying that once you start this career, you cannot stop studying. This was true 15 years ago, and it is still true today.
This industry is changing so rapidly that the tools we are using today might be completely deprecated in 5 years. I think having lecturers who have been working in their field for a long time is essential, as they have not only skills and experience, but also a deep understanding of how things really work in the industry.
Still Time is available to buy through the Playstation Store. You can also watch the trailer for Sectordub’s forthcoming game Pikuniku, which Alan is collaborating on.
Words by Jyoti Mann