It may not be too long before the skies of Salt Lake City will be buzzing with drones delivering packages, medical supplies, performing mountain rescues or shuttling passengers. When that happens, the last thing anyone wants is an airborne version of Los Angeles traffic jams.
So a group of University of Utah students from the Entertainment Arts & Engineering’s (EAE) The GApp Lab are developing a new app much like the game “Sim City” that will help city officials determine where congested drone traffic might erupt and how they can mitigate congested skyways.
The team will be demoing their “game” on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 during the annual “EAE Launch,” when the latest crop of video games and medically-related apps created by the program’s students are unveiled to the public.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the EAE Master Games Studio, Building 72, 332 S. 1400 East, second floor.
“EAE Launch showcases the project work of our amazing student teams who have designed, built and now published their games. The students can’t wait to show their work to the public,” said EAE Director Michael Young, who is also a professor in the U’s School of Computing. “Many of the games being shown are the students’ final projects before graduation, and the innovation, design and production of all their games really shines.”
More than 25 games and medical and educational applications will be available for the public to play, including titles from graduating senior and master’s students that will be published this year.
One of the games that will be on display include “Drone Commander,” developed for the Utah Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to help officials analyze future drone traffic in Salt Lake City, a metropolitan area that many officials believe will be one of the first to grow in drone traffic.
“We’re building a simulation that allows them to test the spawn rates of drones and the speed of drones,” said Jesse Ferraro, project manager for EAE’s Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The GApp Lab). The lab is also supported by the Center for Medical Innovation and the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. “We want to see where the system breaks and where we will hit critical mass. We’ll also be testing things like when a drone loses control—when it no longer is working properly with the communications systems.”
Some of the student-developed entertainment games that will be demonstrated during “EAE Launch” include:
Hard Light Vector: A 3-D first-person action game where players traverse an alien environment and fight to protect the memories of the dead from corruption.
Hocus Potions: A social simulation game about friendship and magic. Gather and grow ingredients, brew powerful potions and help—or hinder—the local townsfolk while the player becomes a powerful witch.
Sky Shepherd: An atmospheric adventure game where the player is the lone survivor of a sky-faring tribe. Use a flute to round up a herd of mysterious creatures and explore the sky with them.
Ride.Share: A mobile augmented-reality game where the player controls a fleet of self-driving rideshare cars.
Entertainment Arts and Engineering, under the U’s College of Engineering, launched in 2007 and has quickly become one of the most highly regarded video game development programs in the nation. EAE has been ranked the No. 1 video game program in the nation for three of the last six years by the Princeton Review.
To see a list of the game demos on display during “EAE Launch” and screenshots for each, go to games.utah.edu.