Date of Award

August 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Digital Production Arts

Committee Member

Eric K Patterson

Committee Member

Insun Kwon

Committee Member

David Donar


Knight of Drones is a hybrid twin-stick top-down shooter and side-scrolling platformer that aims to bring vintage gameplay to a contemporary game engine. A single swatch of the top-down game mode and a pair of levels from the side-scrolling game mode will be presented beginning with the player characters and player pawn assets and then extending to the level design and game design assets.

The game deals with the fallout effects of climate change and serves as a cautionary tale against pollution and weaponized AI. This message will appear primarily in the game's atmosphere, literally in the background in some cases, as the settings and places visited by the player will be constructed of level assets that relate to these concepts. Instead of standard platformer levels (the ice level, the lava level, the jungle level), Knight of Drones features levels such as an oil slick ocean level, an abandoned copper smelter level, or a plastic dump level.

While not blind to the irony of using silicon processing power to warn about the negative effects of consumer waste on the environment, there exists an undervalued opportunity to build game worlds that promote social causes. By creating a setting that engages the player through environmental instability, and by using familiar, approachable vintage mechanics, it may be possible to celebrate the history of gaming and offer the player thoughtful moral questions without diluting the core gameplay mechanics or taking agency away from the player.

Hybridity of game mode is used in Knight of Drones to change up the gameplay speed and style as it affords the player more than one viewpoint or character token to control. Additional hybridity of genre should offer the players something innovative in aesthetics. Viewed from the Mechanics Design Aesthetics (MDA) framework, the goal of Knight of Drones is to offer old-school gameplay in a strange new setting that makes the player consider humanity's long-term effects on the planet.



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