The Cluckening Wins Unity Student Project of the Year!

- Posting on behalf of team member Luca Cresciullo

 

The Cluckening is both a student project and a passion project. Our team of six worked long hours to complete it, and we are incredibly proud to have won the Unity award for Best Student Project.

When the project began, we created our group based on the vision of a market-viable game. Winning the Unity award proves to us that we were able to set out and achieve the goal that brought us all together in the first place.

The Cluckening: A game about a vengeful chicken set on a path of destruction and mayhem. Five months of blood, sweat, and tears. What brought us together was a shared love of games, and the goal to create something that people would love. And so, we got to work. We chose our target market, and we did the research. Out of many game concepts and weeks of thought and effort, and with the advice of our instructors, we settled on the strongest one. But we weren’t finished there. Now we had to build it and, as we started, we realized there were many things that didn’t work, things that didn’t make sense, or things that didn’t fit our market.

Over the months, the game evolved as we honed in on the concept that would rule them all. Soon, it was all over. We submitted our final build and won the Best Game award for our class, which felt amazing. Our class was incredibly strong with many great projects. When school ended, we went our separate ways. Some of us started companies of our own, some moved far, far away. As the Unity Awards neared and we had the chance to enter, we were excited.

Winning the award could be a sign that the goal that brought us all together had indeed been reached. When the results came out, we had won Best Student Project of 2019. Seeing our game next to all the other winners, we felt the possibilities were endless. Does The Cluckening have a future? We think so. Winning this award proves it to us. Now the only question is, what next?

Now go play our game. We hope you enjoy it. We sure do.

 

GDC Follow up 2: 10 Predictions For The Game Industry

The most stirring talk at GDC this year had to be Manveer Heir’s talk “Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia: Where Do Video Games Stand?” but that’s already very well covered by the internet in general.  Go read about it, then come back here. This article is on the future of the game industry according to GDC presenters.

It’s easy to sound smart at GDC, or in games in general. Just talk about how we got the industry to the state we are now. Through the power of hindsight you sound like a genius with just a bit of research. The really brave GDC presenters were the ones making predictions about the future.

Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat was one of the brave ones this year, making ten predictions in just an hour, including a number of questions the industry really doesn’t want to hear.

1)    Are we in a golden age?

2)    Are we in a bubble?

3)    Do valuations of game companies make sense?

4)    Who is going to win?

5)    Who is the most efficient at making games?

6)    How many people do you need to make great games?

7)    Who is going to grow?

8)    What are the risks?

9)    How do you wind down a game?

10) What is gaming’s dark side?

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GDC2014: Teaching Sportsmanship in League Of Legends

At GDC 2014 one of the most interesting talks for me was a talk by Jeff Lynn of Riot Games on encouraging sportsmanship in players. This concept isn’t new in engineering online experiences but Riot Games has an interesting twist in that Riot Games focuses on four different ‘behavior inflection points’ rather than just in-game behaviour.

 

Choosing a game mode, pre-game, in-game and post-game are all seen as points to encourage sportsmanship behaviours. If you pave the way towards good experiences before matches or after matches, you greatly increase the odds that a players’ overall experience is seen as positive.

 

The company starts from the premise that all players are inherently good, but bad contexts give rise to bad behaviours. If a player has a positive day, gets the character and role they want, then obviously they’re entering the game on a high note, coincidentally it all worked out in the players’ favour. On the other hand, if they had a bad day, can’t get the player they want, they’re having a bad experience before they start playing.

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Game Design Readings: Understanding Comics

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So I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but throughout my career I’ve been asked to chime in on a great many artistic issues. It’s a collaborative process but also an intimidating one to non-artists like myself. Clearly there is a minimum standard of artistic knowledge that should be held by anyone in game design, and clearly it needs to be presented in a clear, easy to absorb form.

 

Luckily for us, one artist/author has created just such a resource, albeit for a different industry. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a phenomenal resource for any game developer. McCloud does it by the simple expedient of writing an ever evolving comic starring himself, then constantly changing the art style and presentation to match whatever artistic concept he’s talking about. It’s a brilliant concept and goes through a stunning amount of content in a short space of time.

It’s of course centered on the art of comics but it’s done with such skill that it applies to any related artistic field, including of course games. In reading this book you learn the basics of comic grammar, but also types of transitions, iconography, how time works in presentation, how line influences communication, interplay of words, images and colour, and even the artistic process that leads to artistic creation. It’s also a delight to read, the best textbook you were never given.

Part of the work even dedicates itself to the “Are comics art?” debate and nicely enough, the arguments mirror exactly the struggle we in the game industry face when our detractors ask us to explain ourselves and prove our worth. It is, as Scott McCloud himself puts it, “A really stupid question.”

In short it’s a simple but powerful book that any game developer, comic fan or not, should take time to read. It’s a detailed look at the history, purpose and art of comics but also an important resource for any non-artist seeking to educate themselves.


Chris Mitchell teaches Pre-Production, Game Theory and Project Design at VFS

Game Design Readings : The Code Book

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Two people want to exchange a secret by mail. They do not trust the mail system, and they live too far apart to meet, how can they securely send a locked box without also mailing a key?

The answer is surprisingly straightforward. Person A mails a box secured with a padlock to person B. Person B receives the box and adds their own padlock, then mails it back to Person A. Person A takes their lock off the box and mails it back to Person B, who removes their padlock, opening the box.

I credit games with granting me many interests and hobbies. One of the strongest in particular is a love of cryptography and cryptanalysis, which was started by a game series called Ultima. The Ultima games themselves contained many of the elements that we now consider axioms of role-playing games, but which were at the time considered revolutionary: Character progression, variable party members, ethical decisions, conversation choices — things that we take for granted now were strange frontiers of gameplay for me in the summer of 1986.
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Game Design Readings : The Art of Game Design

I’m a great believer that a certain amount of wandering obsession is a valuable as a game designer. Many of the designers I know and admire have a remarkable capacity to be astounded and delighted by discovery, and are uncaring what that discovery might be. Game design detractors like to call us masters of none, but I much prefer the idea of being a student of everything. The world is large but my head is small, and I like it that way very much.

However, oddly enough, I’ve always been unsatisfied by the readings available on game design. Too often it feels like we’re playing at academics when our chosen profession is closer to a craft, uncovering through experimentation and experience. Plotted down in a textbook, game design feels too algorithmic; creating a fallacy that plugging in variables gives you enjoyable games emerging out the other end.
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