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For the upcoming year I will be working as an engineer for an Augmented Reality rhythm game called Beatcaster! It is one of seven games picked to be developed in the USC Advanced Games Project (AGP) through the School of Cinematic Arts for the entire year. Most seniors studying Computer Science (Games) choose to work on one of these projects to fulfill their capstone requirement.

But I decided I didn’t want to wait until my senior year to join in. Through SCA’s Directed Research class, I’m able to get credit and work on a capstone project my sophomore year(I still have to do it again senior year). By the end of the year, we’ll have a polished game that will be featured as an AGP at the USC Games Expo and potentially expanded as a concert installation for concerts or festivals.

Out of the 20 person team, I am a gameplay programmer and one of 6 dedicated engineers on the team. Currently, I am part of a small team of artists, designers and engineers that is dedicated to rapid gameplay prototyping. We quickly iterate on different ideas so the team can quickly decide on what does and doesn’t work. One of the coolest features I’ve worked on by myself is developing a system to measure how “on beat” the player’s actions are. I then integrated this system into the entire game.

I joined late last semester because it was a project that merged my passions for VR/AR and music. Growing up, I loved rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rockband, so being an engineer on a large scale rhythm game in Augmented Reality is something I knew I had to be a part of.

It’s also been super exciting to work with a team of very different people who all want to see the same project come to life. The entire team is very close from the time we’ve spent together working and hanging out outside. Before the semester started, most of the team went to Lake Arrowhead to spend a few days bonding, hanging out, and making our game. We got an Airnbnb in the mountains and took the time to get to know each other before jumping into such a large project.

I’m super excited to see this project develop into the vision that the team have for the game. Nothing I’ve worked on in the past has been close the size of our game. I’m really excited to see what new things I learn when it comes to developing and polishing a whole game, programming, and working with a large team. It will be a lot of work, but to see a project this cool come together into an awesome experience will be worth it.

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Zachary Flores

Zachary Flores

MAJOR: Computer Science (games) YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: San Antonio, Texas PRONOUNS: he/him/his