The third-year Bachelor of Game Design students who fuel OddBird Studio entered the 2016 fall term at Sheridan in the same whirlwind manner that has characterized much of their past year as indie developers. They spent the first week of September in Seattle, showcasing their debut game Arrow Heads at PAX West – one of the two largest gaming events in North America. Instead of returning to full-time jobs as game designers like other exhibitors featured in the ‘PAX Rising’ section, the OddBird Studio team caught a red-eye flight to Toronto to make a 10 a.m. class.
It was during a Sheridan Game Mechanics course that an early prototype of Arrow Heads was constructed. Joshua Cappelli and Zack Wolfe challenged themselves to translate the arc of an arrow, shot from a bow, in digital game-play. With fellow designers Shae Humphries, Brendan Muir, Cody Romphf and Benjamin Scott, they spent tens of hours a week over the next few months developing that mechanic into what would become Arrow Heads. The full-fledged game is described by Romphf as “battle-royale archery” with single-hit elimination that makes it “fast-paced, zany and hectic.”
The team’s first, large-scale showcase of Arrow Heads was last April at Level Up in Toronto, a platform for Ontario college and university teams to share their work with the public. “There were 80 teams from 16 institutions so it’s a great opportunity to see what other students are working on,” says Romphf. “Then you see a Ubisoft or Big Viking Games judge in your booth and things suddenly become really nerve-wracking.” To the surprise of the team, they were awarded the top honour in two of the four categories including Overall Game Design and Artistic Achievement. One of the prizes was a sit-down meeting at Ubisoft’s offices with 10 lead designers for a critique of Arrow Heads.