Logo: University of Southern California

Space Pirates and Vanishing Points

USC Students exhibit their creations at the USC Games Demo Day and the GamePipe Laboratory Fall Showcase
by: Katie McKissick
December 09, 2014 —
 Concept art for "Vanishing Point"

After her only friend Daisy disappears, Rose enlists the help of three doctors at the Meadow Hills Hospital to track her down. To help her, the doctors construct a special bracelet that allow Rose to take control of her neurological illness and physically manifest it in the world in different ways. Rose discovers that the doctors are helping her to control what was once her disability and turn it into powers in ways she has never imagined.

This was the premise of “Vanishing Point,” one of the games on exhibition at the USC Games Demo Day on Wednesday, Dec. 10. This collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts and the Viterbi School of Engineering Department of Computer Science helped make USC the No. 1 ranked game design school in North America in 2014 by The Princeton Review. USC Games hosted two events unveiling student-designed games.

“Every year, we are leveling up the USC Games program, and this year is especially exciting. We have such a range of games - in virtual reality, two screen experiences, mobile and more. I’m so proud of this year’s cohort because they are really stretching themselves and innovating in the field,” said Tracy Fullerton, Director of USC Games, chair of the School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media and Games Division and director of the USC Game Innovation Lab.

The GamePipe Laboratory Fall Showcase, also held at the same day, celebrated GamePipe's tenth anniversary and featured over a dozen games.

“Over 1,500 computer science students have graduated from our program and gone on to make games played by over 880 million players. These alumni have helped built games that have made over $45 billion in revenue over the last ten years. It is doubtful that there is another academic games CS program that has had this size of an impact on the game industry,” said Mike Zyda, USC GamePipe Laboratory director and computer science professor of engineering practice. “At the USC GamePipe Laboratory Showcase event, you will likely meet the game developers that will help build the games played by the Next Billion Players.”

One of the many games at the Fall Showcase was “Toward the Stars,” a cooperative action game where players take control of a spaceship and experience the wonder and perils of space. From space pirates hijacking the ship to accidental kitchen fires, players must band together to make it through the chaos in one piece.

Concept art for "Toward the Stars," a game in development in the USC GamePipe Laboratory

Also among the impressive fall lineup of games at USC was “ElemenTerra,” from USC Games, a virtual reality world-building game in which the user, fully immersed, must restore life on a small planet; “King Basil and the Quest for the Crown of Spudly Awesomeness,” from USC Games, a humorous iPad strategy game about a king's quest to get a final hole punched on his stamp card, a feat that will earn him free tater nuggets for life; “Apophis,” from GamePipe, an adventure game about a bounty hunter who finds himself bound to mysterious weapons that grant him the power to manipulate the life force and breathe life into the dead or take life from the living; and “Flick Chess,” from GamePipe, a multiplayer strategy game inspired by the sophistication of traditional chess combined with new entertaining elements.

See more games, including videos and concept art, by visiting games.usc.edu and gamepipe.usc.edu.

Apophis 580
Concept art for "Apophis," a game in development in the USC GamePipe Laboratory