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Team Height Advantage
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Nick Paavo

team leader

Sean Middleditch

tech director

Jason Nollan

graphics programming

Shawn Pearce

ai programming

Game Title:
Game Description:

Subsonic is a stealth-action puzzle game set in a 60s spytech world. Players assume the role of an agent of Subsonic Incorporated, a covert mercenary contracting company that specializes in sound-based technology. Agents of Subsonic Inc. wear sound-vision goggles and have a sound gun, which can be used to create remote distractions for guards, fire shockwaves that can shatter glass, or silence their footsteps. The player’s ultimate goal is to make their way to an objective, and make it out of the area without getting captured.

What was your inspiration for making the game?

Our game was our sophomore project at DigiPen Institute of Technology. when our team was formed, we all went out for dinner and talked about what kind of game we would like to make that year. Each of us put in ideas- One wanted to do a stealth game, but thought the stealth aspect seemed to play second fiddle to combat. One thought it would be really cool to do stuff where sounds were a key component. To add to this, the idea to actually see the sounds made was put on the table. Everyone on the team had input on the idea and we’re all proud of the final product!

How is your game unique from others out there?

What makes Subsonic unique is its easy-to-learn, complicated-to-master gameplay, much like chess. It has very easy to read visual cues because its graphical style emulates a system designed to convey information (a 60s radar screen) without breaking the feel of the game.

How long did it take you to make your game?

Over the course of the fall and spring semester of our sophomore year, we worked on the core of the game. The summer was spent refining existing levels and adding the second campaign. And then, up to the entry deadline at the start of our junior year, we looked for anything we weren’t 110% satisfied with, and made it better. In the end, we are left with a really well polished experience.

What was the hardest part about making it?

One of the hardest parts of Subsonic was designing puzzles around our (at the time) constantly changing AI. We were trying out new things and gauging playtester response constantly, which resulted in us rebuilding levels, often from scratch, almost twice a month! This was made a lot easier with our awesome tool set, which had its fair share of issues along the way as well.

Any other unique or interesting facts about your game we should know about?

During playtesting, the number one complaint was that the game wasn’t long enough. Ever since its original conception, Subsonic has just hit home runs with both the students and the professors. Plain and simple, it is distilled, puzzle-solving, soundwave-throwing, silent-sneaking fun.

How did you pick the name of your game?  Did you have any others in mind?

We picked Subsonic the day that the original idea was conceived, and stuck with it since. There were times during team meetings where we’d ask ourselves “Hey, do we want to change this?” and the answer was always a resounding “Nah”. It’s the perfect blend of stealth (subtlety, subterfuge) and sound (sonic).

Questions for the Team Leader

Novi, MI


DigiPen Institute of Technology

What is your gaming background?

I got an NES controller in my hand when I was 3 and haven’t looked back since! I was raised on Nintendo, but have since broadened my horizons.

How long have you and your teammates known each other?  What’s the story behind how your team got together?

Strangely enough we didn’t know each other at all at the start of the project! We were put together by the professors because we were the four tallest people in class, and thus Team Height Advantage was born. Working together came pretty naturally.

What game or games are you playing right now?

In my downtime I enjoy a fair bit of Team Fortress 2 with my roommates and clanmates alike. (My claim to fame is being a master Spy!)

What is your favorite all-time game?

I’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 for the last two years ago for a reason- it is a shining example of excellent design, consistent visual aesthetic, phenomenal weapon balance and continued high-quality updates.

What is your least favorite all-time game?

Ugh! Super Mario Bros. 2 (Lost Levels) is the most frustrating game I’ve played by far! It’s not a bad game at all, but everything in that game exists to end Mario’s quest, I swear!

What is your best game-related story (you once broke an arm tripping and falling while playing Wii Fit, you are a two time Guitar Hero Champion, you once ran into Shigeru Miyamoto in line at a Styx concert, etc)?

The team that worked on Portal gave a postmortem at DigiPen pretty soon after its launch. I was only a freshman then but the experience stuck with me a long time. It was the first time I had ever met a game dev team.

First video game system you owned?

The good ol’ Nintendo Entertainment System was around the house before I was. I have vivid memories of getting a SNES for Christmas when I was 4, and playing Super Mario World. That was when I first wondered how games are made! It has lead me down a pretty awesome path I must say!

Current favorite system?

PC by a mile. I took up PC gaming only in recent years, but I have not regretted it in the least.

When you and your team aren’t making awesome games, what other hobbies are you involved in?

In my free time, I compose music, design game concepts, refine existing ones, and write articles on better game design. I live and breathe digital entertainment! Sean and Shawn have programming jobs as well, and I can always count on Jason to be working on some amazing graphics demo!

Jason Nollan

Shawn Pearce

Sean Middleditch

Nick Paavo