RHS students to participate in Microsoft’s ‘Hunt the Wumpus’ game design contest

Growing up in the shadows of Microsoft, Nintendo and DigiPen Institute of Technology, it's no wonder that many Redmond High School students have connections and aspirations related to creating video games.

Members of the Interrobang Interactive video game design team include Redmond High School students

Growing up in the shadows of Microsoft, Nintendo and DigiPen Institute of Technology, it’s no wonder that many Redmond High School students have connections and aspirations related to creating video games.

Several teams from RHS will take part in Microsoft’s annual “Hunt the Wumpus” high school game design contest, coming up on June 2.

RHS science teacher Paul Osborne remarked, “Each year Microsoft works with some of the Advanced Placement Computer Science classes at area high schools. Students are divided into project teams. The goal of each team is to implement a specification for ‘Hunt the Wumpus’ using Microsoft programming languages and tools. Microsoft also provides one technical consultant to each team.”

Students then gather at Microsoft to show off their work, which is judged on criteria such as creative interface and quality of play, Osborne said.

“The students benefit from experiencing genuine product development, using professional tools and by being guided by real software engineers,” he noted.

At RHS, the opportunity to participate in the competition is extended to the whole student population. Some are in computer science classes and earn academic credit for their participation. Others form “extension” teams which meet on their own time and can include students who aren’t taking computer science.

One such team calls itself Interrobang Interactive. Two members, Tyler Menezes and Adam Ryman, are in the AP Computer Science class and were also part of a team that won a User Experience award at last year’s “Hunt the Wumpus” contest. Others on the team have also done the competition before and/or know one another from robotics competitions. Still another portion of Interrobang Interactive consists of visual and performing artists providing video/audio content and voice talent.

Menezes explained that “Hunt the Wumpus” was an “old-school” video game. In Interrobang Interactive’s version, for which Menezes wrote the script, the Wumpus is a super-virus and players have to go back in time to stop the Wumpus.

“The original was very hexagonal, very mathematical,” said Ryman.

Paul Cretu added, “It was a memory and logic game.”

This version, said Ryman, will be a 2D platform where you can change everything around you.

Also different from other “Hunt the Wumpus” teams is that Interrobang Interactive is jobbing out specialized skills such as voiceovers to RHS drama students, rather than having the programmers do it themselves. In the real world of high-quality gaming, that’s the way it works.

The students from Interrobang Interative are highly motivated by the success stories coming out of DigiPen. Those college students who’ve produced award-winning games have been swiftly hired by professional game companies such as Valve.

These RHS students would like to follow in their footsteps and are putting in extra time and effort to make their game worthy of professional recognition. They said it’s not uncommon for them to meet right after school and work on their game until 9 p.m.

“The most motivation is for exposure to the real work environment,” said Preetum Nakkiran.

That goes for both the programmers on the game team and the artists.

Voice actor Keith Roper said he once voiced a movie and found it somewhat easier than acting on stage because “you just read lines, but there was no blocking.”

Yet drama students Amelia Samson and Dalton Broback said they found the voiceovers challenging in a different way. “You also have body language to communicate on stage,” Samson pointed out. Broback agreed, “Here, you’re expressing yourself only through your voice.”

At the competition on June 2, the Interrobang Interactive team will present their game to five or six judges who work at Microsoft.

They said everyone who enters the contest gets a certificate and $40 to spend at the Microsoft store. Winners also get trophies. But these students are mostly invested in this endeavor “for the satisfaction of knowing we won and have a professional product,” said Pramod “Jamocha” Chavali.

They’re also making a documentary about their creative process.

Learn more about Interrobang Interactive at http://www.interrobanginteractive.com

More in Life

Dora Gyarmati. Photo by Nityia Photography
Three simple rules for the holiday

A monthly column about mindfulness.

Redmond Lights will take place Dec. 7 and 8. Photo courtesy of city of Redmond Facebook
Redmond Lights will have new additions this year

The parks and recreation department shared a preview of the festival with city council.

NAMI volunteer Jesse Levine, director Michele Meaker, and volunteer Cole Swanson after their End the Silence presentation. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
NAMI Eastside: Ending the stigma of mental health

NAMI Eastside offers advocacy, education, and support to those affected by mental illness.

For veterans, there’s no better cause to push than helping other vets

Jim Curtis and Mark Gorman are two of many veteran advocates on the Eastside.

Fairwinds-Redmond to honor veterans

WWII veterans Morten Joslin and Nick Nichols share their stories.

Alejandro, 6, and Elizabeth, 8, Camacho from Woodinville with their sugar skulls at the Día de los Muertos event on Nov. 2 at the Centro Cultural Mexicano in Redmond. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Redmond celebrates Día de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead event celebrates the lives of departed loved ones.

From left: National Merit Scholarship semifinalists Rita Luk, Lauren Shen, Nelson Sun and commended students Andrew Hom and Matthew Jensen. Courtesy photo of Bear Creek School
Three Bear Creek School students named National Merit semifinalists

Two more students were recognized as national commended students.

The team that created Vitality, the first-prize winning app. Courtesy photo
DelBene hosts annual app-a-thon for local students

Students from Redmond place in competition.

Staying fit through the holidays

It is possible to train yourself to exercise as part of who you are.

In 1967 Nokomis Club of Redmond sponsored a tea at the local branch of the King County Library system to commemorate National Library Week. Photo courtesy of Redmond Historical Society Facebook
110 years of community investment

The Nokomis club celebrates their 110th Anniversary.

Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s Reaching Out luncheon Oct. 21. From left: Queen Latifah, luncheon chairs Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie, and Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas. Madison Miller/staff photo
Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s annual fundraiser

Hopelink raised about $1.15 million at the annual fundraiser.

Green Redmond Day is on Oct. 26. Photo courtesy of Alex Christians
Plant trees to celebrate Green Redmond Day

Planting events will take place at numerous park sites on Oct. 26.