Full Sail Master's Students Contribute to Development of 'Raji: An Ancient Epic'

With the help of instructor Dr. Shawn Stafford, a team of students led UX research on the upcoming Unreal Developer Grant recipient.

Full Sail Master's Students Contribute to Development of 'Raji: An Ancient Epic' - Hero image

Recently, students in the Game Design master's program led a series of UX research tests for Raji: An Ancient Epic, an independent video game and recipient of the Unreal Developers Grant.

Developed by Nodding Heads Games, the action-adventure title transports its players to ancient India in an epic story of a brave young heroine chosen by the gods to defend humanity. A small studio, Nodding Head didn't have the means in-house to test the game and more specifically, its user experience.

Dr. Shawn Stafford – whose network within the industry helped to bring the project to Full Sail – knew it would be a good fit for his students, many of whom were international students from India.

"It teaches people about India and some of the gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion, while also giving players a really fun and engaging storyline that has a female heroine," he says. "And I said, ‘This seems like the perfect fit for us.'"

The course director oversaw a team of 20 graduate students who led the UX research for the game by conducting a study assessing the game's intuitiveness and any usability issues that would prevent people from wanting to play it.

"We were able to come in and really help out the team," says Dr. Stafford "And we are excited because the product was already so good. If you could take a good product and make it great, or help them make it great, I mean you need an entire team to do that [but] we were able to achieve that."

Dr, Stafford believes there is a great benefit for students in working with smaller developers saying, "I usually find the smaller the company, the hungrier they are to get to the truth. And it's a more natural fit for the students to run those projects because they're hungry as well."

"It ended up with the students walking the developers through a really beautiful one-hour presentation on what [study] participants experienced," he says. "Showing them videos of gameplay…so they could get a direct connection to what those participants were feeling."

Full Sail students and Dr. Stafford have been included in the game's credits for their work on Raji, something that has only reinforced Dr. Stafford's belief in the power of Full Sail's hands-on approach to education.

"Actually doing the project, not just learning about it in a textbook, gets the students self-motivated to achieve."

Raji: An Ancient Epic is available on the Nintendo Switch and coming soon to PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.