Students Collaborate with Industry on "Freaky Deaky Flashback" Mobile Games

Posted on: May 8, 2013

In conjunction with the Made In Michigan film, “Freaky Deaky," a companion mobile app called “Freaky Deaky Flashback" is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. The app was developed through a unique collaborative effort between students in MSU's College of Communication Arts & Sciences (CAS) Game Design and Development Specialization, Eyde Studios located in East Lansing, Mich., and Pixo Entertainment located in Southfield, Mich.

Robert Cantrell, executive producer for both the film and the game, commented that the focus of the app complementing the film, and the film complementing the app, takes advantage of the synergies of both the growing gaming and film opportunities in Michigan. Cantrell added, “the skills and talent of the students that developed the app were as good as you will find anywhere and having them able to demonstrate their skills here in our state was a gratifying experience.”

Brian Winn, Director of the CAS Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab (GEL LAB), was the lead designer on the project. Winn worked closely with a team of eight students in the Game Design and Development Specialization and a team of professionals at Pixo Entertainment to develop the app. "This project gave the students very real-world experience working on a professional-level project, complete with the deadlines and production schedules they can expect in the industry,” said Winn.

In "Freaky Deaky Flashback," the player assumes the role of an undercover FBI Agent, Daniel Jacobs, immersed in the rebellious counter-culture of the late-1960s. The player must infiltrate a group of deviant college students whose peaceful demonstrations have turned explosive. The goal of the player is to figure out who set off a bomb during a student demonstration and apprehend the suspects before they do any more damage. 

The "Flashback" app features an explosive bomb defusal puzzle (Dynamite Dash), a high-speed chase game (Hot Pursuit), and an intense shootout game (Fully Loaded). Across the games, players can aspire to earn 48 achievements and level up across ten ranks of ability. 

The students were primarily responsible for building the three games that are part of the app. Winn emphasized that "the students definitely rose to the occasion and delivered an outstanding set of games.” 

Matthew Vorce, the lead student programmer on the project, said, “working on Flashback was different than a typical student project because I knew everything I was working on would be released to the public. This meant I had to be sure the quality of my work was to a higher standard.” 

Justin Girdard, the student team lead, added, “working for a client really changes how you go about doing things and adds new challenges to the development cycle. Aspects like deadlines and quality assurance play a much bigger role.”

"Freaky Deaky Flashback" is based on the "Freaky Deaky" book, by Detroit-native author Elmore Leonard, and motion picture, directed by Charles Matthau. In "Flashback," the player interacts with characters from the story in their youth, providing a rich backstory on the characters in "Freaky Deaky." The story in "Flashback" is told through a sequence of compelling motion comics (aka, "flashback" sequences). The app also provides details on the "Freaky Deaky" motion picture and includes a film synopsis, trailer, and character overviews.

For questions about the project or the CAS Game Design and Development Specialization at Michigan State University, contact Brian Winn at winnb@msu.edu or call 517-353-5497. 

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