By Evan Cardin
For aspiring video game designers, the Indie Game Challenge is one of the holy grails of their field.
Sponsored by GameStop, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science and the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, the contest showcases up-and-coming videogame design talent from around the world.
Nate Chmielinski, junior computer science major, has entered the competition this year along with former College student Richard Gebbia, who transferred from the College and now attends the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash.
The pair hopes to have a shot at the $100,000 grand prize that the contest offers.
According to Chmielinski, the two have been working on the game since two summers ago and submitted the finished game this October. Both Gebbia and Chmielinski are interested in pursuing video game design as a future career.
Gebbia explained that making the game was also a personal goal for the two, and that they “used the contest as a deadline so we didn’t get lazy.”
The grand prize winner not only receives money but a chance to have their game published by a major company, according to indiegamechallenge.com.
Other prizes include skill awards in art, game play and technical skill.
Anyone who enters the contest is eligible to win a $50,000 graduate school scholarship to the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, the website explained.
The game that Chmielinski and Gebbia designed together to submit for the contest is a computer game called “Belle.”
Chmielinski described their creation as an “atmospheric adventure puzzle game,” in which you play a psychic detective protagonist called in to investigate the murder of a woman.
The suspect of the murder is clearly guilty but his motives are unknown. As the detective it is the player’s job to enter the criminal’s mind and unlock the memory of the murder.
“Most games entered emphasize unique game play ideas. Ours focuses on the entire experience instead of just different ways to play the game,” Chmielinski said. “We want the player to experience the craziness in this guy’s mind by experiencing the puzzles.”
Every two puzzles that are solved unlock a new memory. The memories begin with the killer’s early life and progress until the player unlocks the final memory — the memory of the murder, Chmielinski explained.
Chmielinski emphasized his game’s use of back story and mystery as what sets it apart from other entries.
Chmielinski and Gebbi entered their video game submission into the Indie Game Challenge’s non-professional category.
The contest’s finalists will be announced on Jan. 17, 2011 and then the final grand prize winner will be announced on Feb. 12, 2011.