Pipeworks Studio, as mid-sized work-for-hire game company, often had multiple projects running at a time and, since schedules rarely align seamlessly, there was frequent downtime for individuals between projects. Because of this, I was able to contribute to several projects for a month or two each. Here I list the most prominent and the connection they share in my personal growth, as well as changes at Pipeworks and the games industry.
First was “Dancing with the Stars: Keep Dancing” a social dancing browser game based on the popular reality competition show, developed by Pipeworks and released in North America on April 30th, 2012. With the rise of social/mobile games and the fall of licensed titles on consoles/handhelds, Pipeworks began shifting gears, focusing on a “games as a service” model. This meant developing technology and talent to make, support and maintain connected, persistent online games. DWTS was the first big push into this area. It also represented our first project in Unity, rather than our internally developed engine. With a greater focus on web and mobile going forward, the flexibly and platform independence of this 3rd party engine was indicative of this shift.
My part on this project was rather small, doing UI for character customization and missions early in development, when design and interface elements changed frequently and a clear vision had yet to crystallize. The opportunity to learn Unity and C# was highly valuable, but with how volatile the design was, I would be surprised if any of my work remained in the final project.
The next project I want to mention was an internally developed prototype for mobile, utilizing Vuforia Augmented Reality technology in Unity to bring elements to life inside the app. The goal for this project was ambitious, seeking to combine AR, GPS awareness and location specific content in a way that would exceed the capabilities of Pokemon GO. For spring of 2012, this was gutsy. As far a I know, the project never got off the ground, but my AR powered prototype became a highlight of corporate demonstrations and helped drive business for the studio.
The last project for this post was AXE-MAN, a mobile puzzle game developed by ImaginEngine, a sister studio of Pipeworks, and released for iOS/Android in June 2012 as part of an advertisement campaign for AXE Body Spray. Unlike DWTS, where I helped early in development, here I was brought on for late bug-fixing and maintenance around the launch. This was my biggest mobile project and let me dip my toes into the native languages of Java and Objective-C. This was also yet another Unity project with an online component, this time being leaderboards associated with a sweepstakes; continuing the “games as service” thread that will also be present in a big way in the next project.