Indie Developer Showcase: Matthew Deline’s SHAPE ARCADE

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Any Button Gaming journalist Darren Colley recently met up with Matthew Deline, a student on our MA Indie Games & Playable Experience Design. We republish his article here.

This week we are showcasing the creator of retro tabletop arcade cabinet Shape Arcade, Matthew Deline.

m0ULgOqk_400x400Hi! My name is Matthew, and it’s very nice to meet you. I’m an aspiring independent game designer and travel blogger from California who is currently based in London. I love to travel and make cool things, and I am a passionate believer in the importance of storytelling and the power of creative expression through play.

Building on lessons learned throughout my professional and academic history, from a focus in world literature (I was named the 2009 Outstanding Graduate in English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University), to high-level Technical support for global teams at Apple in Cupertino, to my experiences filming, writing about, and sharing our world as a travel blogger with The Radical Dreamer, I’m currently studying to build transformative game experiences at one of the United Kingdom’s top universities for digital humanities with the MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design program at Goldsmiths, University of London.

My key interests of study include interactive fiction, virtual reality, physical computing, and creative coding which gives me a unique interdisciplinary skill set from using Unity, GameMaker and C# to create digital games, to Twine for exploring branching and reactive narratives, to using Processing and Open Frameworks to make tools for creating generative artwork, and the use of microcontrollers and electronics for building playable (and playful) experiences.

And with a core focus on learning fundamental game design concepts, I now have a skill set that includes rapid prototyping and iteration on paper and in Unity for a broad range of both physical and digital experiences. And I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to create with these new skills to explore the sociological and identity issues that are relative to interactive entertainment and the unique narrative and expressive qualities that the medium contains.

About The Game, Shape Arcade
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Shape Arcade is an arcade game where players compete to reach the highest score possible by using two dials to match their player’s shape to different colored shapes falling down the screen. Designed to be simple and intuitive to engage with, and challenging at higher levels of play.

Players match shapes by moving their player using the left dial, and increase or decrease the number of sides to their shape by turning the right dial. As players reach higher levels, their scores become even higher, and so do the stakes! Shapes move faster, rotate, and sway. Once they have missed three shapes in a row, the game is over.

The original concept for the game is inspired by early arcade-era games in which the goal is to reach the highest score possible. Games like Defender, Space Invaders, Asteroids, as well as more recent re-interpretations of the frenetic action in games like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Pac Man Championship Edition DX were instrumental in defining the gameplay characteristics of flow and compelling interaction and colorful and simple aesthetics that I wanted to achieve with this game.

img_27001972’s Pong was a major influence on the arcade design that uses two dials for interaction. Early versions of Shape Arcade had three dials, and a remote controller over bluetooth, but it was feedback from players that pushed me in the direction of building an arcade cabinet that is heavily influenced by this design. The actual concept for the game itself (where you are matching falling shapes) comes from a more unlikely source, the game show Nokabe, which has been described as a sort of human Tetris where players must contort their bodies into awkward positions to fit through holes in walls that are coming towards them. The natural tension of having to match a particular shape or face disaster I
found very compelling, although the falling shapes in the final version of Shape Arcade are more akin to Tetris than the game show itself

The final art style of the game (including the font) was heavily inspired by the works of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, and other members of the Bauhaus school of art that utilized geometry and everyday patterns to create incredible things.

You can find out more about Shape Arcade and its development process in Matthew’s developer blog.

We cannot wait to see what Matthew works on next and you can keep up to date with where you can play Shape Arcade by following him on Twitter or checking out his website for more of what you have seen here.


Many thanks to Darren Colley for giving us permission to post his article here. Read more of Darren’s work here.