Lucas Torti ’23 made his first game in 2014 and now he’s pursuing his dream of being a full-time indie game developer.
Through Chapman’s game development programming minor, he gained the skills and knowledge to create his own prize-winning game, Kittens With Cannons.
The program is a combination of Fowler School of Engineering and Dodge College of Film and Media Arts courses. The curriculum was designed with the help of industry professionals from companies such as Blizzard, Sony, inXile and Obsidian.
Professors within the program such as Derek Prate come with industry experience as well. Prate previously worked at an educational games studio, designing and building multi-platform games for JumpStart, DreamWorks and the NFL.
“Derek Prate is a really big part of the game dev program and he introduced me to Unity, which is what I use to create my games,” says Torti.
Unity is a game engine developed by Unity Technologies, used by developers worldwide for multi-platform game creation.
Torti mentioned other courses within the game development program helped him understand the workflow within game production. “Professor Kara Mendez taught a course for art in video games. She gave a very broad overview of how art is integrated into games,” he said. “It helped me understand all of the different responsibilities, roles and professions that people have from the production side.”
In Kittens With Cannons, players are in a showdown of cats versus robots. It’s a computer game that supports keyboard or controller use, and can be played solo or with friends online. In just a few words,Torti describes the game as “cool, fun and frantic,” comparing it to Enter the Gungeon– which is a gunfight dungeon crawler game. The 2D animation and roguelike play-style influences are apparent in Kittens With Cannons.
In 2022, Kittens With Cannons debuted at the IEEE GameSIG Showcase, where it won the grand prize.
“One of my favorite parts of the experience was seeing all of the cool games by students from other schools,” Torti said. “And to win first place felt amazing.”
IEEE GameSIG is a special interest group (SIG) of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the world’s largest technical society, with over 430,000 members worldwide. The GameSIG Intercollegiate Game Showcase is one of the pioneers of collegiate video game competitions. Torti entered in the previous year and took what he learned to prepare for his winning showcase.
“Knowing what I had to look forward to, I was inspired to keep going,” he said.
Torti fondly looks back on the tools and experience he gained while attending Chapman, saying, “Before I came to Chapman I didn’t know how to use Unity. Gaining that knowledge and how to refine it has been hugely instrumental.”
Making friends within the game development programming minor is essential for collaboration and networking. The friends he made were also impactful on his overall college experience.
“There are a lot of cool people at Chapman and making connections has been really valuable,” says Torti of his experience building a community within the program.
Torti would like to stay independent and continue paving his own way in the gaming industry.
“My main goal right now is to get Kittens With Cannons published. There’s a lot of vibrancy in the indie game scene and I love it,” he said.
Kittens With Cannons will launch a Kickstarter campaign in October 2023 with the opportunity to pre-purchase at a discount. Until the launch of the full game in 2024, gamers are able to play a demo at kittenswithcannons.com.