CWRU students create award winning game

Owen Bell, Games and Tech Reporter

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You may have noticed the indie game The Bridge showing up on Steam. A strange fusion of gravity shifting puzzles and dimension-shifting levels, the game looks like something straight out of an MC Esher sketch. Paths intersect in impossible ways and what was just the ceiling a second ago is suddenly the ground.

At first glance, it is clearly a unique game with a personality all its own. What you might not know about the game, though, is that it is made by a couple of Case Western Reserve University graduates: Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda.

The game first started as a project in one of Taylor’s computer science classes in 2010. “I started working on the engine for the software engineering course,” he said. “That was a sort of open course where you could choose to do almost whatever you wanted and I knew I wanted to make a game so I choose to work on this.”

During that semester, Taylor met Castañeda and the team was born. Both of them had taken the Advanced Game Design course at CWRU and had mutual friends, but they had never actually met until Taylor started looking for an artist for his new game. “When I was looking for an artist and describing what I needed, he came up a lot, so we were introduced. After that, I saw his work and I knew that he was the right person for the job.”

After graduating in May of 2011, Taylor and Castañeda got serious about working on the game. Competitions were coming up and they needed to have it done in time. After several months of long days and nights cramming to get it done, the two submitted their game to Dream.Build.Play, a Microsoft indie-games competition, and IndieCade, one of the biggest independent games festivals in the world.

The Bridge came in as a finalist at both.

Taylor and Castañeda were suddenly on the independent video game scene in a very big way. The pair flew out to California for the main IndieCade event and were flooded with requests for interviews. “All of a sudden we were being interviewed by G4 and all of these other media sites.”

It was a big surprise for a couple of people who had been full time college students a few months ago. This was just a game they had been working on in their spare time. Now it was suddenly a huge deal. “I was pessimistic. Perhaps not rightfully so since, looking back, The Bridge deserves all the recognition it’s gotten…I don’t know. I was never expecting it, but it certainly deserved it. It was very motivating and very unexpected.”

Taylor and Castañeda spent the next year and a half working on the game while balancing working full time. “I was spending every single night and every single weekend on this to get it done while still having all the obligations of a full-time job. [Castañeda] was doing the same too.”

When the game was done, it was time for the gaming press to finally get their hands on it. Copies were sent out to reviewers and scores started coming in. The critics loved it. Both Destructoid and IGN gave the game a 9/10. Adam Sessler of G4 called the game “Phenomenal” and The Indie Game Magazine’s James Attard said, “I was simply flabbergasted at the complexity and simplicity they present at the same time.”

Finally, after three years of work, the game was out, and it was a success.

Taylor is now working full time as a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft and Castañeda is a graduate student at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Ariz. They are not done making games together though. “I have dozens of ideas in my head and I’m not sure which we’re going to do next. I’m certainly not going to do a three year project again. I want to make a couple one or two month projects just to clear my head and get a few more things out the door.”