New York Mills Sophomore Releases Video Game
written by Mr. Eramo
Three years ago, Danil Donchuk had a goal -- to become a professional video game designer. Very soon, his dream will become a reality. On May 22, Danil will be releasing his own video game, “The Taller I Grow” to the Microsoft Xbox Store. Very few people reach this level in the game world, let alone a 16-year-old.
Three years ago, Danil stated that he wanted to be a videogame designer. He quickly took to writing text-based computer games in Python to learn basic concepts. Eventually, Danil moved on to making computer games with graphics using a Python library called Pygame. During this time, Danil always focused on what was happening in the code rather than on the game screen, a skill that would suit him well later on. He learned core gameplay ideas during this time that would be built upon with each and every game he made.
After creating multiple games on his own in Pygame, Danil moved to a more robust and professional game engine called Unity. Unity, which runs on C#, a computer language different from Python, had a steep learning curve but Danil was up to the task. Danil learned by doing. He wrote multiple games that highlighted different aspects of what Unity could do. After a year of working on a space exploration game in Unity, Danil was ready to shift his focus.
One weekend, Danil took part in a “game jam” in which participants had 48 hours to write a videogame from scratch given a central idea. The central idea of this game jam was “connect”. From this, “The Taller I Grow” was born. A simple six-level puzzle platform in which a character named Bip had to connect and disconnect from his surroundings to complete a level. This would eventually be expanded into a full 30 levels with new gameplay mechanics, art and overall aesthetics introduced, all coded and created by Danil himself.
However, being a videogame designer is more than just writing code, Danil has become a businessman. He has started his own game design studio, Noobles Studio, completing all the required paperwork to form a sole proprietorship. He has created his own website at nooblesstudio.com. He has been in constant communication with Microsoft in order to meet all of the requirements to get the game published on the Xbox store, various independent game publications for exposure and personally handles all marketing on various social media platforms.
Danil also worked tirelessly in the creative realm of the game ensuring that the overall theme matched his vision. He designed all of the character and level art from notepad sketches to full pixel art animations. He imagined the story’s narrative and concept and made sure players were motivated to help his character Bip complete all 30 levels. He also had input on how music and sound effects could enhance the gameplay experience.
Throughout this whole process, Danil made multiple iterations of his game, fixed bugs, took criticism, had successes and massive setbacks. All the while, his approach has been that of a professional. That’s because Danil is a professional video game designer.
Teachers always talk about wanting to see students apply their knowledge, be creative, self-motivated and most importantly drive their own knowledge forward. Danil has epitomized this over the past few years. When he gets home from school each day, he applies what he has learned and creates for Xbox. Really, to say that is an understatement. The vast majority of what Danil has applied, he has researched himself. We, his teachers, gave him a foundation, but Danil has done what only a very small percentage of people can do; he has taught himself. As a teacher, this is exactly what you hope for from a student. Danil is not stopping either, as he is already breaking ground on his second Xbox game, “Stasis Valley.”
If Danil were an athlete, this would be the equivalent to winning a national championship. If he were a singer, this would be like getting a #1 song on iTunes. This is a huge accomplishment and the start of what looks like a very promising and rewarding career in the video game industry. ”The Taller I Grow” is in the Microsoft Xbox Store for $4.99 or for free on PC through Danil’s website.