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We’re thrilled to announce that DigiPen’s 2017 submission to the E3 College Game Competition, the 3D platformer Guardian of the Gears by student team Studio 76, has been selected as one of five finalists. The competition takes place annually at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

Though 3D platformers have seen a return to popularity recently, Guardian of the Gears stands out from the crowd with its laser focus on interactive moving environments. The player guides the Guardian — a cute, robotic hero — through two ever-shifting levels and a final boss fight, hopping between moving gears and solving challenging-yet-intuitive puzzles.

Just as the name of the game suggests, the use of gears plays a big role in the game’s mechanics, as the way that the level itself moves is often more crucial to progress than the way that the player does. As far as player-controlled mechanics go, it’s pretty much limited to jumping, whacking switches with your Guardian’s wrench tool, and moving battery blocks from plug to plug. The blocks serve as something of a on/off switch mechanic for the game, albeit with a slightly more innovative twist to it.

Because of that heavy focus on the mechanics of the environment, the team really wanted to make sure the look and feel of it was polished, says Kaden Nugent, the game’s technical producer.

“Our environment artist spent a lot of time making sure the gears turn in a way that makes logical sense,” he says. “There are hinges on the environment. It’s a very small, minute detail, but the hinges and the gears actually interact together to make the environment move. It’s not like these are just floating pieces.”

That attention to detail might be what set Guardian of the Gears apart and made it DigiPen’s choice for the E3 College Game Competition submission.

Now that their game been selected as a finalist, DigiPen will be assisting the team with travel and accommodations for E3. Kaden, recently hired to the Minecraft team at Microsoft, said he and most members of the team will be able to make it to L.A. to attend the event.

“My boss was excited for me,” he says, noting that it wasn’t too difficult to explain the importance of the event to his new team. “They all care about E3 as well. It’s a big deal for all of the games industry.”

Win or lose, Kaden says, he’s mostly just excited to be a part of the event.

“No matter what, it’ll be cool to have people play it,” he says. “We’ll have a booth at E3 and people will be able to come up and play it. I think that’s the best part, just watching new people play.”

This year’s E3 event takes place June 13-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This marks the third year in a row that a DigiPen student team has been named a finalist in the E3 College Game Competition. In addition to last year’s nominated game, Somnus, DigiPen students won the competition in 2015 with the game RumbleTV.