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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Senior Mag 2024: Danni takes love of gaming to her major at college

Danni Deng
 Danni has been working on her PVP card game for the past 10 months.

Back in freshman year, a new game was rising in popularity across the globe: “Genshin Impact.” An action role-playing game, it had over 60 million active users at its peak in November 2022. 

One of these players was Danni Deng. She was a hard-core player, putting in around 3 hours per week, eventually inspiring her to create her own game. Next year, Danni is heading off to New York University (NYU) to study game design. She didn’t play many games before, but started in her freshman year during quarantine to cope with the boredom of being shut in all day.

“I started playing ‘Minecraft’ because I wasn’t into hardcore games and liked building houses there,” she said. “Eventually, I started playing more multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as ‘Genshin.’”

Her desire to do game design spawned from her combined love of gaming and art. Her mother was an interior designer who used to do art, so Danni started art as a kid through extracurricular classes starting at age 5. She has worked with a variety of mediums such as oil painting, digital drawing, charcoal and acrylics. Her favorite is digital because it doesn’t require any clean-up after, and her favorite traditional medium is oil paints. 

“Working at Fang Lao Shi (FLS) Arts Studio really helped me build up my foundational skills in art,” Danni said. 

Last year, Danni took AP Drawing; this year, she’s taking AP 2D Design. Between the two classes, she created many pieces to add into her art portfolio for college applications. Beyond these art pieces, getting in for his game design major required her to submit her own game. 

In the second semester of junior year, she created her own Player versus Player (PVP) card game called “Journey to the East.” In her game, one character travels throughout China seeing different cultural areas, battling different champions as they go. The game entails her favorite elements of character designs from mobile PVP games and “Genshin.”  

“I started off drafting the basic game mechanics that I think are important, including combat and damage systems as well as planning character abilities,” Danni said. “There was a lot of work in the art department as well, I had to design and illustrate each character, make a lot of the UI [user interface] elements like the background, card frames, card backs and other features like the dice rolling.”

In the beginning, she compiled some ideas onto a document, which was around one hour per week. Toward the end, nearing college applications, she started working between three to five hours weekly because of the intensive drawing needed.  

The MOBA games  inspired Danni in her PVP card game. Basically, the game works in a way where players can fire off abilities at one another. Beyond her card game, Danni has made a small video game where players move back and forth using arrow keys to catch stars in little carts as they fall from the sky. 

“After college, I think most people from NYU go to small game start-ups, but I’d like to work in big companies such as Ubi-soft before making my own game,” Danni said.

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