Morrisette’s Adventure in Game Development

“I enjoy the idea that it’s not released because it’s finished, it’s released because time’s up.”

Morrissette+began+to+get+serious+about+vidieo+game+design+with+Pledge+Quest+2%3A+Noodle+Shop+of+Horrors

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Morrissette began to get serious about vidieo game design with Pledge Quest 2: Noodle Shop of Horrors

Marshall University Professor Jason Morrissette spends his time on campus transitioning from the chalkboard to the keyboard to write and develop independent video games in his spare time.

Morrissette began developing video games when he made a small game to create awareness for a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign. The creators of the PC game “Space Quest” created a campaign in 2012 for “Two Guys SpaceVenture,” and Morrissette wanted to create a way to convince others to fund the project.

“The creators of Space Quest – this game that I’d loved for so long and maintained this website about – were kick starting a new game that they were going to collaborate on,” Morrissette said. “So I thought, ‘What better way to raise awareness for this Kickstarter than to create my own short game that would be about a character who is donating money to this Kickstarter?’”

Morrissette said he and a partner worked on the game around the clock for three days and finished it. The game was released as the point-and-click adventure “Pledge Quest” and became a hit among supporters of the “Two Guys SpaceVenture” funding campaign.

“Pledge Quest 2: Noodle Shop of Horrors” has a more elaborate story than simply donating money to a campaign. It involves an evil, time travelling cat and the player’s quest to stop the cat from altering history. The sequel was a more demanding project and took several months to complete. It released near the end of 2012.

Morrissette said working on “Pledge Quest 2” hooked him on game design. He is currently collaborating with other developers to create three different games.  One project will be entered in an upcoming Game Jam contest where development teams are given two weeks to create a functioning game. Judges will then award teams for best graphics, best writing and other categories.

The project for the Game Jam contest is titled “Late Last Night.”

The story involves a woman who goes out on the town, drinks too much alcohol, loses important personal items like her keys or cell phone and must retrieve them.

Developers will have two weeks near the end of April to finish the games. Morrissette said he enjoys the challenge of a limited timeframe.

“The challenge of [developing a game] in two weeks was really appealing to me,” Morrissette said. “The first game I ever did with my collaborator took three days, and I loved that. I enjoy the idea that it’s not released because it’s finished, it’s released because time’s up. It’s a great pressure to try to work creatively under.”

Morrissette said he is not afraid of poking fun at his Appalachian background, and he is creating a zombie game involving hillbillies called “Holler.”

He said the game involves a rural community transformed into zombies when toxic chemicals are dumped into a water supply.

His third work in progress, currently titled “Bad Cop,” will pay homage to the ‘80s “Police Quest” adventure games but involves a corrupt police officer. The anti-hero story will allow the player to steal money and perform other actions unbecoming of an officer of the law.

Morrissette said he knew he wanted to create point-and-click adventure video games around the age of 10.

“I love the genre in particular,” Morrissette said. “I loved graphic adventure games where the whole idea is to have a narrative that unfolds, but in order to advance that narrative, puzzles must be solved along the way. I began playing these games when I was 9 or 10, and I was fascinated by them. I enjoyed deconstructing the logic of these puzzles.”

Morrissette said he doesn’t believe he could leave teaching to develop games professionally. He said using games as an educational tool is something he plans to do in the future.

Patrick Breeden can be contacted at [email protected]