Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Mystery meets friendship in a “Stolen Simulation”


Portrait of Armando Salazar (20), game developer (provided by Armando Salazar)

One night in a vivid dream, Armando Salazar found himself in a society that had been struck by a mysterious disaster which had wiped out seemingly everything. Salazar was in a constant state of confusion, the main protagonist trying to make sense of his surroundings. Eventually, he came to the  startling conclusion that somehow he had created the entire mess around him. In his dream state, Salazar set off on a mission walking through the ruins to find answers with his companion Catdroid. 

This is how Salazar’s original video game, Stolen Stimulation, was born.Waking up from the dream filled Salazar with a desire to make this vision come true. Alongside his friend and fellow game developer, Riley Cooper, Salazar has been doing just that.

In this role-playing game, players can succeed alone but like in real life, it is much easier to have the help of a friend to get to the end.

You can make it through the whole game by yourself, but you might need somebody to help you out, just like in my case. The whole concept of Stolen Simulation is that friendship, in the end, really freaking matters. If it weren’t for somebody like Cooper, I wouldn’t be able to do these things and I wouldn’t be able to know what he and other people like him have gone through,” says Salazar.

This is the finalized concept art for Arm, the game’s main character. (Provided by Armando Salazar)

Salazar and Cooper’s friendship possesses a parallel to the friendship that players in the game can experience. When the main character Arm and Catdroid set off on the journey, they befriend other non-playable characters along the way. If the player, who experiences the world of Stolen Simulation through Arm’s perspective, chooses to play alongside other characters, it can result in a mutual benefit. The characters receive a boost in their mechanism and Arm is able to complete the game with someone he relies on.

Salazar and Cooper met at Fullerton College during a visual basics course and the two became friends almost instantly. Cooper, being a bit older and more experienced in the game development process, helped Salazar and gave him advice from the beginning. Initially, Salazar’s idea for the game was too complex and Cooper helped him narrow it down to something manageable to create. “He was thinking really big and really complex and I helped him start at the basics,” Cooper recalls.

Since he was a little kid living in Mexico, Salazar has been in love with video games. He began playing video games on arcade machines at his mother’s little shop and has been hooked ever since. These fond memories of playing games as a young boy have transformed into an undeniable passion for gaming as an adult. Games such as “Undertale” and Super Smash Bros.Ultimate, are amongst Salazar’s favorites and inspired him to develop a game of his very own. 

Using GameMaker Studio, a popular game development engine, Salazar created the basic design and storyline for his game. Although he has sorted out most of the main details now, Salazar admits he struggled in the beginning trying to navigate the ups and downs of GameMaker Studio. “I was really frustrated. I was starting out and I was already like, ‘oh my God, I feel so incompetent,” he says.

Some of the most helpful reassurance that Salazar remembers his friend giving him was, “Listen, people that were in your position back then that are really good now started out like this.”

Armando spends long hours at his desk, working on and improving the game. (Provided by Angela Gonzalez)

This reassurance has helped Armando ease his way into the long game development process.  He has begun to create a soundtrack for the game, aiming for more suspenseful music to accompany the mystery of the game’s plot. This music along with the blend of realistic and cartoony 2D art in the game have set the stage for Salazar’s imagination to come to life.

The dedication and attention to detail that Salazar places towards the game often results in him working up to 12 hours a week on it. He admits to the process being difficult and often draining, but his desire to feel accomplished keeps him going. Salazar’s enthusiasm and dedication towards the game have not gone unnoticed. Cooper said, “He seems like he’s very happy, actually. It’s kind of like his baby. He’s watching it grow and become a real thing and he’s getting very excited as he sees progress.”

“Money isn’t the focus here, it’s more of an accomplishment,” says Armando, “If [the game] gets far enough, I’ll be happy because I won’t feel like a burden.”