On April 6th, the GD44 and PG08 classes brought their final projects to members of Vancouver’s game industry. The program hosted over a hundred members to present their projects as well as give the opportunity to play the games as well. This allows both students and industry members to chat one-on-one. It was an electric night and some of the students were walking out that evening with interview and job opportunities.
Dan Sochan, an instructor at VFS opened the night with humour. Each game was given a witty and warm opening, and one-by-one teams came up to present. When asked the staff’s favourite part of the process, one replied with “How well the games came together. The students moved from being terrified to coming up after their presentations ecstatic celebrating their success.” Before the teams presented we also had the opportunity to chat with industry members who were excited to see what new things the students came up with and meet the students behind the games. “It is impressive seeing the quality of work that students achieve in such a short period of time,” said one excited industry member. There is much for industry members to keep coming back to, from variety to such a large feat in a compressed amount of time.
The students themselves explained they were filled with nerves, but when it came down to it they all stole the show on stage. All the hard work paid off and was worth it for the teams. “It was fun to watch them be pitched,” said instructor Mike Hayes, “The coolest part of the evening is seeing students appreciating their games, and recognizing their achievements.” Soon after the presentations were done, guests were invited up for food and drink and a chance to play. Below are the games that were pitched.
The Games of Pitch and Play
Spot: Alex opened the night with his Augmented Reality app, Spot. He built it entirely by himself for others to use. It gives people who use it the ability to find nearby events and navigate to them with ease. It has many side features like profile customization and access to email, LinkedIn, and more, to allow for easy networking with the people who host the events you attend. Perhaps the most intuitive feature is the map feature, which shows events near you on a Google Maps-style layout, right on your device, giving users the spatial awareness of how connected their city really is. Additionally, through the use of Bluetooth beacon devices, 3D models, signifying locations or event content can be viewed via augmented reality in real space using your device’s camera; it’s pretty slick! Despite Alex choosing to create a non-game based project, it was incredibly well received as he spent the night introducing people to his app, who were as impressed as they were interested.
Paragons of the Prism: This team created a fun couch co-op game with personality bursting from the seams. The goal of the game was to bounce projectiles into the enemy team’s goal post thus destroying their orb. The team presented well, and had a lot of fun on stage with their game. The team mentioned that some inspirations for the game included favorites like Pong and even Dodgeball; these inspirations shined through with their playful and chaotic gameplay.
Kuroma: The team created a race track with interesting hazards and jumps to create a unique racing experience. They handled everything from rubber banding players who had fallen behind to creating a networked experience for up to six players. The art style was realistic meeting retro, to make a visual target that was refreshing and original Their UI complimented the game’s overall visual style.
Scope: This game is a single-player sniper game set in a post-apocalyptic world. The game boasts a clean UI with unique enemies. Their presentation was led by their enthusiasm which also reflected the theme they created in the world of Scope. The environment was refreshing and the gameplay was as unique twist on sniper games where players control the bullets.
4 of Us: Two game genres came together to make 4 of Us. It was a unique cross between one RTS player fighting against four 3rd person shooter players. The team led with showing off the RTS in presentation as well as having a fellow student also demo the game at the same time. The team was on stage with high energy and enthusiasm for their final game.
The Lighting Guy: There is no game quite like the Lighting Guy. Your mission is to play as, you guessed it, the lighting guy at a local theatre. During pre-production in Term 4 teams are tasked to create four ideas, three promising, and one throwaway. This game was originally that, but it came together as something fun and unique in production. Voice actors who collaborated had fun saying garbled voice lines and laughing through it all. This game had a well-executed theme and passionate team that came together to make a great game.
Bijou & Big: This single-player puzzle game thrived in a living world in which you could use two robots to interact with anything. Lifting trees, punching enemies, the world was full of things to do and puzzles to solve. You went on the adventure with two robots with unique personalities. The team worked together to create a living world that players were eager to hop into to play as Bijou and Big.
It’s About Time: This team came in with an enthusiastic intro to their game. It is in a world where the player had to manipulate time and the environment to succeed and survive. Playing as sibling robots stuck out of time led to a game filled with time puns and interesting encounters to have. There is much gameplay to be found and fun interactions to have in wonderfully crafted world.
On the Floor
As a Game Design student at VFS, Pitch and Play night becomes something mythological, a monumental event that gives us an opportunity to make a splash with people from the industry. We have been through a number of Pitch and Play nights at the school for classes ahead of ours, and the Production Floor during these nights was always deemed strictly “Off Limits!!” An opportunity to get a sneak peek on this formerly sacred ground was a fantastic opportunity to see what goes on during the most important evening of the year for us. We were able to get some great insight and reactions from both the proud teams presenting their games, and the industry professionals who attended.
If Pitch and Play night on the production floor can be summed up in one word, it’s “Electric!” Over a hundred people crammed in with the teams for drinks, game playing and networking. The excitement in the air was palpable! People were lining up to play the games, and lots of introductions were being made to individuals from every team; just being in the room was exciting! Not only that but such a sense of pride be found. These were students we knew who worked tirelessly day in and out, who were all learning how to make a game with one another. What they were left with at the end of the night were products that impressed members at the industry level.
In the Future
At the end of the day so much was to be taken away: we got priceless advice on being on the floor ourselves, not to mention how to treasure our time going into production.
Some of the best advice we got were from the instructors who run the program.
“It’s all about the team. Games are a collaboration.” We really want to focus on treasuring our time with the team. Whether that is the Project Manager making us pancakes or playing Rock Band together as Game Design students do, in the rare moments we have time. Writing and keeping up a journal with the journey so far has helped the team capture funny stories and remember the great times. This goes straight into instructor Glenn Hamilton’s advice, “Take pictures, it is such a short amount of time and you want to look back on those times.” Team pictures have already went into the game as Easter Eggs and as a sign of happy we are to be working on the project.
Several GD44’s I’ve talked to since graduation have all echoed this sentiment, saying that the time will just fly by, and to make sure to enjoy every second. I’d extend this to the entire program in general – at the time of writing, we’ve been at VFS for almost 9 months, and it’s been a crazy blur of late nights, great friends, and lots of pizza. Terms 1-4 have flown by.
Although we have only been on the floor for a few short weeks, we already are starting to get a real sense of appreciation for all the hard work our predecessors put into their games. Before undertaking a project of this size, there are a lot of components of this kind of monumental task that one may take for granted, down to just knowing how to efficiently add custom art assets into a game for other people to use, or making sure that a bullet fired from a gun goes where the player is looking. Each day is full of opportunities to learn, and since we’re still early in our stint on the production floor, it’s inspiring to think about how many of these little tricks and techniques the GD44’s picked up on their journey making the awesome games we saw on Pitch and Play Night.
The game industry is so unique in that it allows you to have a level of teamwork seldom seen elsewhere; it is hard not to love what I do every single day. We are both excited to reach Pitch and Play and what it holds for the future of all game design students.