Score tied. Match point.
I run along the side of a wall past a defender and shoot my grappling hook to swing around another. My team yells in excitement as I carry the ball closer and closer to the goal hoop. All I have to do is throw the ball in and my team will have bragging rights for weeks amongst the playtesters of Skyshot.
Bounding across platforms, I reach the goal hoop at the top of the tallest structure in the arena and see the last defender running towards me. I only have two options: shoot the ball at a bad angle or run away. I’m paralyzed with my options and the pressure. In less than a few seconds of reaching the top of the pillar and going along the flowchart of my options, the defender steals the ball from me and leaves me in the dust.
A NEW ADDITION TO eSPORTS
An FPS game without guns or death, Skyshot offers a new definition for the common phrase used in gaming culture: First Person Sports game. USC Games student, Eu-Ann Liu is the game director of Skyshot, currently being developed as an Advanced Game Project (AGP).
“As a dedicated FPS [game] fan, since I was a child,” says Eu-Ann, “my biggest enjoyment in FPS games is the whole experience that you’re kinda there and you’re living it. It’s very in the moment. I feel like players who resonate with FPS shooters can transition into [Skyshot] really easily.”
Set in a futuristically designed arena, Skyshot players score points by shooting a ball through a hoop and outmaneuver opponents by using grappling hooks and superhuman agility to run along walls.
“I want to deliver a FPS/sports experience which hasn’t really been done before,” says Eu-Ann. “All the sports games that you play are third person like Super Mario Strikers or FIFA — but what if we make a FPS/sports game and make that a competitive eSport?”
The first person perspective, parkour mechanics, unique sport concept and grappling hook allows players to make incredibly skillful plays by stringing a long different mechanics to score. Skyshot’s unique mechanics can’t be replicated in real life, of course, so the game utilizes the medium of video games to deliver an experience that can’t be received anywhere else.
The game started as a small side project among friends. Back then, the game was more of like a toy or sandbox game. Only the parkour and grappling hook mechanics were implemented, there wasn’t any objective besides to just move around.
However, Eu-Ann saw something more in the mechanics and that further developing their idea would mean creating something truly unique and worthwhile.
Today, Skyshot is still a project among friends.
“I’ve never been in a community that’s so welcoming, so open, and so collaborative,” says Eu-Ann. “Everyone here is passionate. Everyone here share similar interests, and if you don’t there’s always a space for you.”
Because Skyshot is a multiplayer game, it adds a whole other layer of complexity to creating the game. Although USC Games isn’t a stranger to the creation of multiplayer games, the Skyshot team must overcome hurdles that not many other AGPs experience.
AN ARTIST’S CONFIDENCE
Even though students have a team to fall back on, it isn’t unnatural for them to feel over critical of themselves — especially when creating games, where students are asked to frequently exhibit their talents to public scrutiny.
“I think for me as an artist, it’s not caring what other people think,” says Eu-Ann. “Of course the opinions of others do matter in this world, but you have to be honest with yourself. [Balance] out yourself versus what other people think. Manage that stress by just saying, ‘I think my game is good.’ And for me, in this moment, that’s what matters most.
“Learn to be in an environment where you’re gonna be challenged and continuously tested. You’re gonna fail, obviously, but at the end of the day you’re going to learn way more than you ever thought you would.”
The Skyshot team still have many problems and obstacles to overcome before they finish creating Skyshot. Yet, despite its early stage, Skyshot is a wonderfully engaging game. Stressing about problems never fixes them, and Skyshot is a great example of a team unafraid to dive into new grounds and create something incredible.