With our Queen of Code programme currently live, we talk to applicant Letitia Graham about working with Crowdfunder and her game Junior Ninja.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got involved with creating games…
I’m currently a second year student at the University of Greenwich, studying Computing with Games Development. I’ve always been playing games since I was little and so it just made sense for me to drive my studies and career towards an area that I’ve always loved.
So far I’ve only really looked at making games on my own, but in the second year of study, a lot of our work is group focused; with the exception of our Games unit. This seemed like the perfect time to try out a group project, so I made a team with five of my friends that are also studying the same course as myself.
What can you tell us about your game Junior Ninja?
Junior Ninja is a 2D platformer game that we’re planning to develop for the Andriod and iOS markets. You will play as a ninja-in-training named Ned, and complete a number of levels which are actually tests of different ninja skills assigned by Ned’s Sensei.
Ned’s tasks range from simply getting to point A to B without being seen, to defeating a large number of enemies with certain constraints applied (e.g. limited number of weapons to start), or to collect a certain number of objects within a level. We have many more assignments planned for Ned, and we’re hoping to take him around the world to complete his ninja training!
Where did the idea for the game come from?
We were looking back through some of our previous work for our first year of university while we were brainstorming ideas for possible games. One of the games we were playing was a simple 2D platformer with simple geometric graphics where the player just needed to collect all the coins in a level within a certain time to continue. It sounded pretty simple, but the level design and the physics on the character controller made it surprisingly difficult!
When I made a particularly lucky landing after falling from a rotating block, one of the guys in the team mentioned something about ‘ninja skill’ and it just clicked! Once ninja’s were mentioned, we continued to bounce ideas along that theme and it just escalated from there!
What was it about 2D platformers that made you decide to go down this route?
Well most of my own work in the first year of our course was actually 3D! I had no experience with making anything 2D until a summer games jam at the university where we made a 2D point and click colouring game with Luke (one of the guys on the team for Junior Ninja). After that I was experimenting with 2D over the summer with the mind-set of making a 2D game for my university project this year, which also happens to be a platformer funnily enough.
When brainstorming ideas for Junior Ninja, we did discuss the possibility of making the game 3D, 2.5D or 2D. After some discussion over pros and cons in design and implementation and what we all had experience in, we decided it was best to stick to the 2D. We felt it might also ruin the original idea of the game if we took it away from the 2D environment, as it was already fun in its basic prototyping stage.
How did you hear about the Queen of Code programme?
I was told about it by my Games lecturers at the University! They are always encouraging us to create our own games outside of our coursework and take part in events outside of university. After hearing about it, I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity!
What was it about the programme that made you want to apply?
Well there is always the intention to start a project with your friends and create a game, but after hearing about the Queen of Code campaign and taking a minute to actually think of the benefits of taking part – it was a no brainer! It was the final motivation to get the group together and say “hey, guys this is finally happening and we’re going to see it through to the end”.
I also think that being a part of this campaign is not just important for myself as a woman within the games industry, but for any woman that wants to be a part in the computing industry in general! I want to use it as a way of celebrating women within gaming and computing, and promoting it to other women/girls who aren’t too sure about getting involved yet! I think the idea of the campaign is bigger than just the projects that are involved in it at the time.
What do you hope to achieve with the funding you receive?
Well, if we’re lucky enough to hit our target, we would like to dedicate our funding towards hiring an artist. The whole team are more technically skilled rather than artistically. So, while we’re quietly confident that we can program the mechanics and make Junior Ninja functionally sound, we’re a little worried that our artistic skill won’t quite match this. We do have a couple of team members who are better with art and design than others, however it’s agreed that we would like to have the help of an artist to help achieve our artistic vision for Junior Ninja.
What parts of the game would you ideally like to develop?
Ideally, all if it!
We have so many ideas and adventures for Ned, but we know we’ll need to break it down a bit into manageable sections; especially as we will be developing while we’re studying. Once the Crowdfunder has completed, we’ll be looking into developing the mechanics for enemies and fighting them off with Ned’s weapons (namely, the Shuriken) and developing a chapter of levels based around Ned’s training grounds.
Later on we’ll be developing this further with new locations acting as chapters that will introduce new mechanics and assignments for Ned to complete.
What are your long-term goals for Junior Ninja?
I think I pretty much covered it in the previous question, however, regardless of whether we achieve our funding target we will be creating Junior Ninja. Progress at times will be slow, due to our study commitments, but now Ned is with us and we have adventures planned for him, we went to share him and his adventures with everyone!
Visit the Crowdfunder page for Junior Ninja here.
Find out about other games funding opportunities by visiting our games page.
- Games Funding
- Crowd Funding