LevelUP TO Preview - Interview with Alessandro Profenna

I recently met with Alessandro Profenna, a Ryerson Unversity student pursuing a BSc in Computer Science.  He will be participating in LevelUP TO this year, and we talked a bit about his work and his game, COLHEX, that he will showcase.

TGD: Thank you for meeting with me here.  Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Alessandro Profenna:  I’m a third year student at Ryerson University pursuing a BSc in Computer Science.  I’ve enjoyed math and art since I was a young child, with an initial interest in studying Architecture. After a year in the program, I discovered LevelUP online, which is what made me want to switch to Computer Science.  I love art and design, and some of my favourite game series are Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy.  The gameplay in these titles is flashy and beautiful. For example, the visuals of shooting a spell make it more satisfying to play.

TGD:  Wow, so LevelUP inspired you to switch programs?

A.P:  Yes, it definitely helped with my decision. I knew that a degree in Computer Science would give me the skills necessary to pursue game programming and design. Architecture and game development actually have a lot in common.  They are very similar in the design process, keeping a strong emphasis not only on engineering and functionality, but also on aesthetics.

TGD: You have a few games that you’ve made.  You already have a game available on iOS, Infinity Wheel, and you participated in LevelUP TO last year with SHATTERFALL.

A.P:  Yes, I started making iOS games and learned SpriteKit. Through this I created Infinity Wheel, and released it in November 2015.  In the game, your press and hold the screen to move the wheel faster and guide the ball through the obstacles.

TGD: How was your experience at LevelUP last year?  Where did you get the idea for SHATTERFALL?

A.P: I came up with it in the shower (laughs).  It was inspired by one of the mini games in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards.  SHATTERFALL is a multiplayer game where you shoot shockwaves through the floor and try to make your opponents fall.  I worked on it with a friend, Dennis Plotnik.  I learned Unity while making this game.  It was very well received at LevelUP.  The event is great because you get hundreds, if not thousands of people testing your game and giving great feedback.

TGD:  What are you most excited to show about COLHEX?

A.P:  There are real time aspects to this game. You’re not confined to the software of the game; your physical environment is part of it too.  When you’re playing, another player’s hand can get in the way and how your hand is placed will affect your outcome.  Also, I find that that seeing a quick pulse expand on screen from the tip of your finger is extremely satisfying.

TGD:  You’re in third year now at Ryerson University in Computer Science.  Where do you see yourself in the future?

A.P:  It’s a journey finding where you want to put your energy and focus.  Computer Science is a large industry, I thought about app development, about artificial intelligence.  I like making games and making them look good.  I would love to work in the gaming industry.  For now, I plan on focusing on learning more about graphics, Unity, and C++.

TGD: Thanks again for meeting.  Best of luck!

You can check out the trailer for COLHEX below.