Students develop game application out of capstone project

Two Linfield seniors created a game application for Google’s Android smart phone. The game is the first in a series that their new company plans to produce.

Robert Ferrese and Clayton Martin designed “Pirates vs. Ninjas,” which came out in a free beta version on Feb. 16 .

“Pirates vs. Ninjas” is produced by Martin and Ferrese’s company, Black Sparks Studio.

The free, full version of the game — which includes more options than the beta version — became available for download on Feb. 23. The 99-cent version with expanded levels will hit the market on March 2.

Martin said “Pirates vs. Ninjas” is a tower defense game, which is a style of game that requires players to defend their own bases while attacking the opposing team’s fortresses.

Players choose to play as pirates or ninjas before selecting a difficulty level, Martin said.

The complete version will feature 50 levels in its initial stages, but Martin said that he and Ferrese plan to expand the game to 100 levels.

Martin said they began creating “Pirates vs. Ninjas” as Ferrese’s senior capstone project for his computer science major.

Martin said that Ferrese was in charge of writing the code for the application, while Martin was involved in business and marketing aspects of the process, such as finding an artist and testers, managing the design and publicizing the game.

He said that 10 students tested the application before its release. One tester was senior Samuel Shryock.

Shryock said he helped adjust various aspects of the application, such as changing the damage level of certain powers and testing for difficulty.

Martin said the game has been downloaded 3,000 times since the game’s launch date.

“It’s been successful so far,” Martin said. “The amount of money we’ve invested in the project is so small that even if we only make a thousand sales, we’d still be making a profit.”

Ferrese and Martin plan to continue producing applications through the company after graduation this spring, Martin said.

Shryock said he will work with Black Sparks Studio next year doing more coding and game production work.

“We don’t know how much it’s going to take off, but it has potential to go places and I kind of want to be there when it does,” he said.

Shryock said that he doesn’t anticipate it being a full-time job at first but that everyone is interested in seeing how far the company will progress.

“It’s been a fun experience,” Martin said. “It’s almost like having the American dream without the same amount of work. You get to be a programmer on par with someone working at Apple except without the years of experience.”

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<em>Joanna Peterson, Culture editor</em>

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