A friendship forged over years combined with hundreds of hours of programming and testing a video game, resulted in designing a video game that would win first place at Skills USA state game design competition. Seniors Noah Hills and Michael Hill talk about the video game Frog Flip as well as their long lasting friendship. They have known each other a long time and said especially since their last names come after one another in any line in roll call. Michael Hill programmed the video game and Noah Hills, Nate Eubanks, and Ja’Davion Murphy helped test and work out the music. It was a game creation that began in November 2020 when Frog Flip was born.
“The frog is bored with his day job and wants to spice up his life by going to outer space. He hops on lily pads and tries to not fall to the bottom of the screen. The game doesn’t end as long as you survive even when the frog reaches outer space,” Michael said.
“The player can attribute. The frog can have different hats and looks. The game has player customization,” said Michael who loves game design and started creating games on a DS in middle school.
This was Noah’s first time in the game design realm. He was used to 3D design in robotics and even loves creating on 3D printers.
The competition was different this year because of COVID. The students found out on a live stream that they scored first in the sate among thirteen districts.
“I jumped out of my chair and gave fist bumps,” said Michael.
Noah wasn’t in the room when they found out they won state but Animation teacher Tracie Miller shuttled him into the classroom. Noah said it was pretty cool. Three games from each state will get to go to nationals starting June 2.
“Skills USA Nationals will begin June 2 through 10. Our project must be submitted by June 7. The event will be livestreamed, unfortunately. It normally would have be in Atlanta, which is kind of disappointing because that would have been fun,” said Michael.
Both students said it was a privilege to work with Animation teacher Tracie Miller. Michael describes Ms. Miller as “overly positive, she stays after school, brings snacks, is the team mom”.
The judges were very impressed with the game. The lack of feedback made Michael nervous that he could have done more, but then he realized the lack of feedback was because the game was outstanding.
“One of the feedback comments we received was to add a colorblind mode. One of the judges was color blind,” said Noah.
Apparently 20% of men are color blind and this piece of advice got the team thinking about how to make that an option for the game. Now there is a color blind option on the menu.
“The best part is seeing the game work,” said Noah.
“I find it fun – it’s like magic almost,” said Michael.
Both students graduated Friday night. Noah Hillis will be attending Texas A&M majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Michael Hill will attend Stephen F. Austin State University majoring in Computer Science.
Good luck to these young men as they compete at Nationals!
Photos By: ANDY ADAMS/Lufkin ISD