How much do you love your classes, peers, and teachers? For Audio Production student Sarah Baradhi and recent Audio Production graduate Michael Barbagallo, their passion for Collarts took a creative turn and materialised into their very own video game.
Composing the entire soundtrack for her final project, Sarah’s idea to submit a video game was a task that both Michael and her classmates helped her accomplish from the ground up. Leaning on Michael’s knack and knowledge in coding and the external creative flair of Kircy Jong for character designs, Sarah’s final project—lovingly titled Collarts: The Video Game—is soon to be released on May 8th for the world to play.
Ahead of the game going live and with an entire game and soundtrack under their belts, we caught up with Sarah and Michael about the creative process behind the game and why they decided Collarts would be the location of their incredible project.
Hi Sarah and Michael, thanks so much for chatting with me! First of all, tell me about the project. What inspired you to create a video game about Collarts?
Sarah: Whenever I’ve had the opportunity in my Audio Production course, I have chosen to compose my own music due to my passion for the appropriation of music in media and composition. For my final project, I decided to compose 20 minutes of music in a soundtrack format. This soundtrack would mean nothing without a story, location or concept. This is where the idea of creating a video game—a challenge that Michael and I have always wanted to take on—came to mind, as this gives a foundation and purpose to the soundtrack.
“I love the excitement, support and love from everyone at Collarts and feel that creating a game that is personal to all of my colleagues gives the game itself far more purpose. The game entirely influenced my musical choices, genre and the pieces written, as this was the objective of creating the game.”
Why did you decide to set your game in Collarts and how has this influenced your music and its production?
Sarah: The idea to base the game at Collarts was suggested by Collarts student, Callum Kelly. I was talking to him about creating a game for my assignment. “You should make a Collarts game!” He exclaimed jokingly. Little did he know that I would take this idea very seriously. I abandoned my initial idea to create a very personal story, and decided to bet everything on the Collarts game idea. This has been a successful decision so far. I love the excitement, support and love from everyone at Collarts and feel that creating a game that is personal to all of my colleagues gives the game itself far more purpose. The game entirely influenced my musical choices, genre and the pieces written, as this was the objective of creating the game. The Collarts: The Game soundtrack is heavily influenced by games such as the Pokemon, Undertale, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda franchises.
Michael: Once we shifted our focus onto Collarts, I was able to use some of the original art assets from Sarah’s game but a lot of new assets had to be made for Collarts: The Game. I bought a Wacom Tablet and started to learn photoshop. I also enlisted the help of Kircy Jong who made the amazing teacher character sprite sheets and Jackson Hawkins who helped with additional artwork such as in-game posters, menu and title screen images.
You’ve both been sharing this project across Collarts student channels and everyone absolutely loves it. What’s been the most challenging about designing a game about Collarts and who is your favourite character?
Sarah: The entire journey has been incredibly challenging. Both Michael and I are audio engineers. As a team, we’re incredibly creative when it comes to music, sound design, story, level design and character dialogue. Our love for games gives us an understanding of how a game’s story needs to develop. We brought all of our combined skills into this project to try and make it as amazing as possible. It has been, and still continues to be, an amazing journey and I don’t regret the workload for a second! The most rewarding aspect of the game has been the confirmation that anything can be done if you work hard enough, and the excitement of everyone at Collarts. My favorite character is B.E.E.P.S, the player’s guide. He is funny, quirky and helpful.
Michael: The most challenging thing for me has definitely been implementing new systems in the game as I’ve only had 6-7 months experience in programming. Starting in September, it took three months to put the map and artwork of Collarts together, I then started coding in early January. We also wanted the teachers to look immediately recognisable, so getting Kircy Jong’s external help for character design was greatly appreciated. My favourite character in the game is Matthew, the player’s rival. A fictional character designed to constantly challenge the player which drives the main story. We were inspired by Gary from Pokemon.
“Collarts has been an amazing journey for me. The support and encouragement that I have received from staff and students alike is rare and unlike any other community that I have been a part of. I was never discouraged whenever I would share crazy ideas.”
Creating this project has definitely flexed a few creative muscles. Do you feel Collarts has supported you in your creative endeavours and how does being around other passionate people encourage you?
Sarah: Collarts has been an amazing journey for me. The support and encouragement that I have received from staff and students alike is rare and unlike any other community that I have been a part of. I was never discouraged whenever I would share crazy ideas. Collarts is a place where you grow and become the person you want to be. Our self-directed classes are focused around encouraging and assisting your peers. We’re all in it together and every student feels the same way. My love for Collarts is evident in the fact that I decided to create an entire video game about it!
Michael: Absolutely, incredibly supportive! I love working with other passionate people at Collarts, bouncing ideas and thinking of what the next cool thing could be to implement into the game.
“My favorite part about Collarts has been learning from people who have worked in high professional roles in the industries they teach. I now feel confident in pursuing my career as I possess the skills and knowledge to operate and understand every aspect of audio. This is exactly what I was looking for when I first attended Collarts.”
With the video game reaching its conclusion, what are you hoping people will take away from the video game upon playing it? Do you think your care, consideration and passion will translate on screen?
Michael: I hope so! I feel the game has a lot to offer for all types of people. There are some inside-jokes for Collarts students and classic RPG elements for non-Collarts students to enjoy. I hope that whenever a player comes across something in the game that relates to something they might see at Collarts, it’ll bring a smile to their face!
Sarah: With any project that is shared amongst a large community, there will always be negative and positive opinions. People may dislike the game, but its purpose was never about people liking or hating it. Making a game is art. It’s very complicated art. It’s a medium that contains every aspect of art all in one location. Visual art, music, sound and telling a story. All of this is then combined with the aspect of interactivity. If a picture tells a thousand words, then a video game tells billions and the words are different every time! All I hope is that people take out, even a tiny piece of enjoyment from running around the place we’ve all shared and have come to love.
That’s so sweet. What has been the best part about studying at Collarts and what advice would you give to those wanting to cross different mediums?
Sarah: My favorite part about Collarts has been learning from people who have worked in high professional roles in the industries they teach. The teachers give us the tips and tricks that you could only learn from over 10 years in the industry. I now feel confident in pursuing my career as I possess the skills and knowledge to operate and understand every aspect of audio. This is exactly what I was looking for when I first attended Collarts. The Audio Production course discusses audio for all mediums. I went into Collarts wanting to further my music composition career, but came out with a love and passion for all mediums related to post-production. I now would happily work in ADR, TV, film, video games, advertisements focusing on composition, post production audio and sound design. The advice I would give is don’t limit yourself because of the limitations of your skills! Your skills can always be improved.
Michael: The best part about studying at Collarts would definitely be working with other passionate people. It’s great to see how projects evolve and how much better they become when you have the feedback of others. As for crossing to a different medium, in my case, I was inspired by Toby Fox, the creator of the video game, Undertale. He is a solo developer—minus a few outsourced art pieces—and uses the Game Maker engine. After doing a bit of research, I found RPG Maker MV which is comparable to Game Maker and began learning how to use it. My advice would be to find something you’re inspired by, research how it was made and start learning the tools required to create it.
Want to play the game? Follow Collarts: The Game on Facebook for updates. The game will be available to play on the 8th of May. Watch the trailer below and keep updated on our social media. If Audio Production excites you, check out our courses here. Applications for 2018 are now open!