Breakaway is a serious game funded by the United Nations Population Fund. Breakaway is a game with the goal of ending violence against women. My role on the project was originally to prototype the mechanics, but I later became the lead programmer.  The game is being developed in Flash using Action Script 3 (AS3).  The team size changed over time, ranging from about 10 to 45 members.

The target audience of Breakaway is boys ages 10-14 globally, which presented some fun challenges. The goal of the game was to change the behavior of boys around the world before violent behavior developed.  We worked with experts on behavior change through media, the Population Media Center (PMC). when I joined the project, Breakaway was starting pre-production after a long research phase. When I joined the project I worked with two other programmers over a summer as well as a small design, art, and QA team. My role on the project for that summer was to prototype the mechanics for the game. We had the prototypes ready in time to test use them at a focus test at the local middle school, which I helped to conduct.  After finishing these prototypes I started making way on the actual game architecture.  I used the knowledge that I had learned in school as well as books that I had read on my own.  My goal was to make the code base as orthogonal as possible.  I wanted to make sure that the programming team could work on the codebase together without stepping on each other’s toes.  I also knew that the mechanics were still in flux, so making sure they could be cut or modified without effecting the rest of the codebase was important.  The next milestone didn’t require any programming so I became a Flash animator for a short time. I had never animated in Flash before so I had to pick it up as I went. I created part of a demo video that we were presenting to the UN.

When the fall semester of my junior year came we went into the production phase of Breakaway and I was given the role of lead programmer. The project grew in size to over 40 people.  I had eight programmers under me.  Most of my time that semester was spent managing the tasks the other programmers were doing and going to meetings. I worked very closely with the lead designer to ensure that what we were doing matched their design and I communicated any questions the programming team had. This was also the semester that I implemented the Agile methodology. I set up three week long sprints and held agile style meetings.  The sprints allowed the programming team to get into a rhythm.  Each week had a purpose and the rest of the devlopment team knew when they could expect the next demo build. I also implemented code reviews as part of this improved programming process. Until this time no other project at the EMC had done this. At the end of the semester, I went with a small team of students from the project to St. Lucia where we did some more focus testing over the course of a week.

I then went to Montreal for the next eight months. During this time the game released the first two of five episodes to be played online. When I returned, I joined the team again at the start of my senior year as the lead programmer. By then most of the features had been implemented and it was primarily bug fixes that the team was working on. I worked the lead QA to come up with a testing pipeline where we could test the game quickly and efficiently so we could update the game.  The programming team had shrunk down to three, so I was able to work directly with the codebase again.  I placed priorities on the bugs reported by the QA team and delegated the work.  My focus was to get rid of bug that were obvious to the player such as any UI bugs.

The game can be found at