Thomas Sampson

Steel Minions

I was recently involved in developing a PSP game for one of the modules on my course. I was assigned the role of producer and programmer, working alongside two other programmers and two artists. We all brainstormed ideas for a potential game and in the end, my platform/puzzle based game concept BounceBack was chosen to be taken forward into production. The game concept was pitched to a representative from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) who provided us with some excellent feedback prior to the games development. SCEE suggested that we should take BounceBack beyond the scope of the module, and aim to publish it on the Playstation Store as a PSP Minis title. At the time this seemed a very ambitious goal, however we did it, BounceBack is now available for download on the Playstation Store!

My Roles

When the game entered development we had no existing technology/tools other than the PSP SDK and documentation. I began work on a C++ game engine library to allow for rendering, simple physics and 2D collision detection, transformations, sfx/music, input handling, GUI elements and particle systems. In addition to maintaining and developing this engine (Which later became the Steel Engine) I was also responsible for configuring the asset build pipeline and wrote a number of asset compilers/conditioners to ensure the build process was as simple and flexible as possible. Alongside the engine I also wrote over 20 samples which demonstrated usage of features exposed by the engine, primarily to support a separate team of students working on a different PSP game project.

I was also responsible for writing a GUI level designer (using C#/WinForms) which allowed the level designers to quickly produce complex levels for the game. This GUI tool was also responsible for converting all art assets to work with the PSP pipeline. The other two programmers used my library to program the main game as I worked to meet any requests and fixes they required. As producer I was also responsible for solving any disputes and conflicts in the team and making sure that all milestones were met on time. I was also heavily involved in the Sony QA submission process and testing schedules.