Tech Developer Wins at Independent Game Festival
From an early age, Daniel Carr knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up.
“When I was in elementary school and was asked, ‘What do you want to be when you're older?’ my answer was a game developer," he said.
In his final semester at Tech before graduating with a B.S. in computer science, Carr won the Best Student Game award at the Independent Game Festival (IGF) in San Francisco for his adventure game, Slider.
He began studying game development in high school, leading him to eventually enter a game jam –– a competition that tasks participants with creating a game from scratch in a short time. Though he didn't find immediate success in his first contest, Carr kept going.
The game, a PC title in which players solve puzzles and rearrange maps to help reconnect humanity, emerged from a competition in November 2021. The game received positive feedback after the jam, and while Carr felt like there was more to be done, he nearly let the project fall by the wayside.
"I remember along the way, there was a lot of doubt in me," he recalled. "I asked myself, ‘Should I carry this through all the way?’ I remember someone telling me that you have to trust yourself at the start of the vision you set out on because while you're working through it, you'll doubt yourself a lot. And, I just did that and kept working on it."
Carr looked to the Tech community for help and pitched the game to the Georgia Tech Video Game Development Club (VGDev) in January 2022. Work on the game continued over the next two semesters, and they submitted Slider to IGF, which receives over 600 entries, later that year. Carr and the team didn't expect a response, but to their surprise, in early January, they were named one of six finalists in the student category.
Over spring break, Carr and six other VGDev members went to San Francisco for the conference. Carr still didn’t believe that winning was a possibility, so when Slider was announced during the award ceremony, he was genuinely shocked. He took the stage and reflected on the hard work that went into the game's development by nearly 30 individuals over the years.
While winning was a highlight of the trip, Carr found himself similarly enthralled with the universal language of gaming.
"One of the coolest things was seeing how much of an international community there is around game development –– there were all sorts of games from European countries, Latin America, and all over the world. Everyone is making games."
A playable demo of Slider is available on Steam, and Carr plans to leave the link active through development in the hopes of expanding the game's reach. As someone who grew up on PC gaming, he knows the platform is accessible to a vast audience. Despite the recent accolades, he explains that the game is not a finished product, but taking his own advice, he plans to trust his vision and keep working on it.
With one degree in hand, Carr is now interning with Amazon and will return to Tech in the fall to get his master's degree in computational intelligence. He plans to keep game development as a hobby for the time being but admits that he’ll never close the door on pursuing it as a career in the future.
Daniel Carr accepts the Best Student Game award at the Independent Game Festival. (Submitted photo)