Daily iPad App: Band Together represents some excellent student work
I first got to meet Dave Taylor last week at WWDC -- he's one of the original members of id software, and is responsible in part for classic games like Quake, Doom, and Wolfenstein 3D. These days, he's still working as a game producer, but has also taken on the role of teacher.
Last night, I visited Jim Henson Studios here in Los Angeles, and saw Dave speak for a few minutes about a class he taught last year in San Francisco, in which he tasked students with producing a game a week, in order to get used to the often rapid development cycle in game production today. You can see all of their work over on the school's website -- some of those games are nuts, and some of them are really beautiful, but they all show just how hard these students worked to learn the art and craft of game design and production.
After the class finished last year, Dave says he decided to use his job as game producer to try and publish an actual game with a few of the students, and while they had hoped to be done with the game last summer, it's just this week finally arrived on the App Store. Band Together is the title of the app, and it's sort of a 2D, real-time strategy title, in the same vein as Lemmings. By swiping across the screen, you control a set of little creatures, trying to navigate them past various deadly obstacles.
The excellent art has been coordinated by a Blizzard veteran that Taylor connected up with the students, and the gameplay is simultaneously meditative and frenetic, as you drag the little Bandies around the screen with your finger. Whether or not you succeed, you're automatically skipped to the next level of the game, so even casual players can just delight in playing around (while more hardcore players will want to go back and clean up every level perfectly). Band Together offers some really well-made, original fun -- it's a perfect start for these students, and it's yet another example that the iOS platform can be home to some really amazing indie and student work.
Band Together is out now for the iPad. The full game, published by Backflip Studios (and kudos to them for supporting student work like this), is $4.99.
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