ATEC students showcase video game at Dreamhack Dallas event

A team of ATEC undergraduate students developed and showcased their game, “Soul Horizons,” a grid-based action game that was created during game lab at UTD. The game was playtested and critiqued by consumers, industry professionals and video game design professors. Photo Courtesy of Jacqueline Nguyen


Team received feedback for “Soul Horizons” from consumers, playtesters 

A team of UTD undergraduates showcased their game at the annual DreamHack event in Dallas.

DreamHack is a Swedish production company that hosts video gaming tournaments and conventions. The DreamHack Dallas event took place on May 31 to June 2 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson convention center.

ATEC production and design senior Jacqueline Nguyen was the lead producer of the game “Soul Horizons.” Nguyen said the 13-member team has worked tirelessly to make the game a reality.

“‘Soul Horizons’ was first thought up and worked on two semesters ago after being pitched for game lab,” Nguyen said. “Every semester, students put together a pitch and they pitch in front of usually around three or four game staff professors.”

The game was pitched by arts and technology seniors Brandon Blakemore and Enrique Rodriguez, who serve as creative director and lead programmer of the game, respectively.

“Soul Horizons” is a grid-based, action roguelike game, Nguyen said. Rogue games are characterized by randomly generated levels and permanent death. 

“Overall, the game was inspired by the ‘Mega Man Battle Network’ series,” Nguyen said. “You’re basically playing as this character named Kana. She has grey hair, a really cool outfit/armor, and as you play the game you just move up and down, left to right, dodging enemy attacks on the other side,” 

She said the development of “Soul Horizons” occurred in phases to streamline the creative process.

“If you’ve ever had a game design class, you do your milestones. They’re called alpha, beta and then the third one is called gold, or release,” Nguyen said. “From the beginning to alpha, (you) are adding new features in the game. From alpha to beta you are not implementing any more new features but you are polishing all the features that you have already.”

The game lab team was notified after the spring semester that they had made it into DreamHack and would be able to showcase their game.

“It was awesome. Not only did we get in, we got to showcase the game on the busiest day, which is Saturday, from noon to 7 p.m.,” Nguyen said. “All they wanted in exchange was for us to volunteer a little bit. I feel extremely blessed and very happy that they liked the game.”

Nguyen said DreamHack was also a great opportunity for the team to receive feedback on the game. Industry professionals, video game design professors and gamers were able to playtest the game and critique the overall gameplay.

“Typically, we try to set up a Q-and-A quizlet or something like a feedback form that people can fill out,” she said. “A majority of consumers and playtesters, if they’re not professional playtesters, sit down and give feedback verbally instead of taking the time to fill it out, so we just had notebooks out and ready to go.”

“Soul Horizons” is not yet available to the general public. The team is continuing to make improvements on the game and fine tuning any issues, Nguyen said.

“Right now we’ve done a lot of changes, but the overall gameplay will be the same. Parts of it will be more streamlined so that basically from here on out, we’re trying to make it so that every choice or every change we make is an important one,” she said. “Moving forward, we’d like to be as efficient and clean as we can be.”


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