Press-Republican

May 19, 2013

ELCS grad develops computer game

By ALVIN REINER Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Since childhood, Colden Prime has been fascinated with the inner workings of computer gaming.

That affinity, coupled with education, creativity and perseverance, has resulted in him developing the computer game “Prime’s Quest.”

Prime graduated, as valedictorian, from Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School in 2006 and then from Hamilton College, where he majored in computer science, in 2010.

“I’ve pretty much been playing these games my entire life,” he said. “My mom got a Mac around the time I was 4, and I kind of picked up my interest from there.

“Some of my early favorites were ‘Lion King,’ ‘Doom’ and ‘StarCraft.’”

He was not just a computer geek, having played a variety of sports, including soccer and rugby.

THE IDEA

“The idea for ‘Prime’s Quest’ came to me when I woke up one morning and thought about mixing a block game with an adventure theme,” he explained.

“I then went back and forth with what setting I should use. I thought about a fantasy world but felt it was too popular and wanted something more unique, perhaps post-apocalyptic.”

The basic plot of the game is that a grandfather is kidnapped, and rescuers meet interesting characters and have humorous conversations along the way to finding him.

“Our goal is to take a serious theme but to make it entertaining for those 10 years old through adult. We want parents to approve of the game.”

NAME TURNED INTO LOGO

The process started around Christmas 2011, as Prime initially developed the game for a “hack-athon” called the Boston Festival of Indie Games, which showed off “Prime’s Quest” for the first time in front of a large audience.

The game garnered an award for Technical Experience.

“I did the basic prototype in about a week,” Prime said.

The game’s title took some brainstorming.

“We were not sure what to call the game. I sarcastically said, ‘Prime,’ and people laughed,” Prime said. “The artist needed to make a logo, so he made this awesome-looking logo with my name, and then we went through with it.”

TWEAKING

The company where he works, Intrepid Pursuits in Boston, decided to move forward and back the game.

“Overall, I did about 95 percent of the programming for the game, though about eight others collaborated. There is a lot more than just coming up with an idea. It takes a lot of testing and tweaking. Much of the mechanics were different than what we initially thought.

“Initially, we thought of a treasure hunt for the theme. Then we scrapped that idea.

“We played it and tested it and put it in front of people to see if they were having fun and understanding it. We took criticism and improved it.”

For anyone considering creating a game, Prime cautions, “It’s a lot of work and takes up a lot of time. You need to know the process and understand game development, which includes art that is both digital and 3D, as well as learning how to program. Then you have to have the ability to put the right effort towards the end result.”

DOWNLOADS

Intrepid describes “Prime’s Quest” as “a puzzle adventure game that is in the sokoban style and adds fresh and innovative mechanics, as well as a rich plot and developed storyline.

“Players navigate the initially hand-drawn landscapes and help solve complex puzzles as they follow the journey of Prime as he seeks to unravel the truth, before the truth unravels him.

“‘Prime’s Quest’ is our first in-house game, and we spent more than six months of development time and effort working on it.”

Sokoban is in the transport puzzle category of games, in which the player maneuvers geometric shapes in order to navigate through a changing maze. Players are confronted with obstacles that impede their journey.

“Prime’s Quest” may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store for 99 cents. If it does well, there may be a version compatible with Mac, PCs and other systems.

Email Alvin Reiner at:rondackrambler@yahoo.com