Graduation and Awards Show for the 30th class of Game Design

It’s almost Halloween, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. It’s graduation night, a night to celebrate, to look back on the year, and recognize the amazing things they have done.

The Graduation and Awards show on October 17th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a speech from myself, then the student-elected class speaker Anthony Bruno broke down some vital statistics of his past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Andrew Laing closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and stories about fog.

Each of the speakers had some deep insight into what they had just been through, and how to prepare for the coming months, but mostly it was a chance to look back on the year, and look ahead to the bright future this class has. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Anthony, Andy, Elad, Eric, Joel and Adrien, all who graduated with honours.
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Level Design, Game Programming, or Game Art?

It’s about time to choose streams now.

The time flies so fast. 4 months passed, since I have studied here.
Term 2 is going end. Term 3 with more specialized courses is coming.
To become more specialized in each game development’s field, VFS let us choose 2 major streams in term 3.
We still have other Game Design courses, but these ones allow us to go deeper in areas we are interested in.

We have to choose 2 from the following available 3 streams

1. Level Design: More level design on UDK and also game environment design in Unity. We are going to get our hands on these tools and level design tips!

   

 2. Game Programming: Advance programming in c# with more complex topics such as AI, network, etc. And a course for HTML5.

       

3. Game Art: More on 3D modelling and lighting techniques. The most artistic courses!

 

In Team management class, teacher Rick Davidson (GD02) reminded everyone about “specializing”. This course really clicks everyone’s passion and also motivates us.

He told us to think about and write down what we really want to do, and what we want to be, and MAKE THIS STICK! DO IT! GO FOR IT!

For me, I choose level design and Game Art, because they are the top two things I love to do. I have found out that I enjoy doing the assignments of both Level Design and Game Art courses.

In conclusion,

“Choose what you are passionate about”

You have to work hard on the assignments in your chosen stream. You are going to make your portfolio and go to work in these fields.

May the passion be with you! :D


Nicha Jaijadesuk is Game Design student at VFS, and a winner of the Women in Games Scholarship

Pitch & Play for the 30th Game Design Class

Every Game Design class has a special day that they look forward to, it’s called Pitch & Play. It’s the night that the whole year builds up to, it is the culmination of 8 weeks of planning and design, and 12 weeks of development.

Pitch & Play is the event where student teams show off their games, first with a formal 5-10 minute presentation, followed by a social mingler where invited industry guests have a chance to sit down and play their games, ask questions, provide feedback and get to know the students better before they graduate.

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Game Design Robot Demo for Foundation

On July 1 three instructors from the game design program visited the Foundation program to give the students an overview of the wonderful world of games that they could create if they enroll. Those instructors were Bren Lynn, Andrew Laing & Roger Mitchell.

The talk consisted of three parts; Introduction to Game Design, Creation of Art, and Empowering your Game Code.

The Introduction to Game Design.

The game demo we showed is of two types of battling robots, who are trying to destroy each other. They both have start positions or spawn points, which are locations that generate the robots at the beginning. These spawn points also allow more robots to be created from the same location.   Each robot comes with a rapid fire gun and grenade launcher.  The students will be able to alter the parameters for weapons range and fire rate, robots speed, stamina and shield abilities, as well as adjusting spawn damage range. The win state will be when the boss robot is destroyed.

To help the students understand the game demo, we gave them a copy of the basic game to use.

Rules of the Design.

The ideas for this Robot Game demo is born in design… How will the gameplay work? Do the enemies attack patterns change? Can you introduce new elements that will alter the game play? How will the win or lose conditions be satisfied? Will it all evolve? These were the types of questions that were proposed, and discussed as part of this segment.
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GD29 Pitch & Play

Dave Warfield introduces the 29th pitch and play, excited again to see what VFS students can do with 4-5 months of creative control.

VFS recently hosted the Pitch & Play event for GD 29 and we were fortunate enough to be invited in order to write this article. The games that were presented tonight were The Banishing, Draka, Sneakpunk, Infinite Spectrum, and Nuts for Gems. As members of student teams currently in pre-production on our final projects, it was really interesting and inspiring to see the final result of these five months of work.

Sean Smillie acts as master of ceremonies and gives a personal introduction for each team and their game and explains that student teams get an industry mentor.

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Flash Game Presentations : Game Design Class 31

The tradition continues with the 31st class of Game Design (GD31) hosting the Flash Game Presentations here at VFS Game Design.

Working in a small team, the students develop a Flash game over a 14-week period in Terms 2 and 3. While learning the intricacies of the Flash engine, the students write code, create art and produce audio for their games. The whole process culminates in a presentation to the entire Game Design student body, faculty and staff.

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The Game Design Summer Intensive Experience 2013

During the week of July 8 to 12, 2013, the Game Design program at Vancouver Film School, located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district, welcomed 15 brave explorers to its Game Design Summer Intensive experience. These explorers may have come from different lands and backgrounds, but they had one thing in common – a passion for creating video games. It is thanks to this passion that they found themselves enrolled in a week-long intensive experience of All Things Video Game Design.

DAY I

The students’ initiation began with a welcome from the Head of the Game Design program Dave Warfield, after which they were off to their first class of Game Theory taught by Instructor Chris Mitchell and Senior Instructor Andrew Laing. During the course of the day students became immersed in the roles of the game designer and analyzed the basic rules and mechanics of gaming.

One of the hardest things to do is to come up with an idea… and by idea, I mean a ‘good’ idea.  There is a fine art to making a game challenging yet entertaining – the motto: if a segment of the game or level is not fun to play, then it needs to be cut, no matter how much you love it. Chris and Andrew shared useful advice, suggestions, techniques and approaches on how to keep the creative process fresh and flourishing, as well where to find inspiration.

Right off the bat, students were divided into teams and asked to brainstorm unique game ideas, keeping in mind 5 essential questions:
1. What is the game?
2. What is the core mechanic?
3. What is the core challenge?
4. Why make the game?
5. Why would you enjoy making the game?

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Image Based Lighting

One of the cool things about creating art using a computer is that you have unlimited choice to alter, adapt and update a composition of an image that you are working on. When I’m working on art for a game, I often like to render the scene out to get a better view on my progress. Maya is very good at rendering scenes using its default lighting. But what if that’s not enough? Well we could create some lights of our own, maybe the 3 point light setup. That could be time consuming, and I just want to have a decent render for checking purposes.

Maya allows us to take advantage of a technique called image based lighting

Image based lighting is a rendering technique that takes advantage of High Dynamic Range images or HDRi for short. Most modern cameras and Smart Phones can now take these, which presents some interesting options for us. You can use your own panoramic HDR images taken with your smartphone, to create a dynamic background and lighting tool. Here is an example of how you can make a simple model look spectacular using HDR images for lighting.

A model of my dream car that I made, a Ford GTO.

Ford GTO in wire frame screenshot. Not a very interesting scene. Default lighting.

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Journey: A Critical Analysis

The Player Meets the Mountain

Intro

The buzz is still deafening. “Beautiful,” “evocative,” and “transcendental” are only a few of the accolades used to describe Journey, a game released by thatgamecompany mid-March of last year.[i] Since the game’s release, Journey won five BAFTA’s and six GDC awards, broke PlayStation sales records to be the “fastest-selling PSN game ever released,” and was also nominated for a Grammy.[ii]

This much attention merits a closer inspection—What exactly is Journey? Fan responses to the game, while filled with praise, typically leave the non-player in the dark: “I have just finished Journey. I can’t even describe how or why it moved me, but it’s changed my outlook of what a game can be.”[iii] The player makes no mention of graphics or party systems, topics which would seem important to discuss when speaking of a new multiplayer game. Instead, the player expresses the emotional impact he received from playing and a changed perspective of gaming.

Traditionally, emotional experiences have been reserved for the classical arts and perspective changes towards games have occurred due to technological advances. And yet, critics are still debating whether video games can be considered art and Journey brings forth no radical technological advances. So how can a game elicit an emotion response and alter gaming perceptions without new technology? This essay will delve further into this question and explore what made Journey a commercial success as well as what elements we can look forward to thatgamecompany improving upon in the future.

What is Journey?

Journey is the third installment of a three game contract between thatgamecompany and Sony Entertainment. The first two games, Fl0w and Flower also received critical acclaim and were created by Jenova Chen for the purpose of studying flow in games. Flow, as defined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a “state of being, one in which a task’s difficulty is perfectly balanced against a performer’s skill—resulting in a feeling of intense, focused attention” [iv]. These first two games illustrate this principle aptly.

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Ode to Photoshop

As students we rely on many programs that are supposed to help us conquer our everyday challenges as students, yet often times learning and mastering them is a challenge in itself. Yet with every failed attempt we learn, hopefully to create more and more interesting assets, artworks, designs. No other software taught me more about design, about creating and about learning itself than Adobe’s Photoshop.

Ode to Photoshop

Dear Photoshop,

It’s been ten years now since we ventured out on our journey together. Can you believe it? Ten years and none the wiser one might think, but you have taught me so, so, so many things. About design, about drawing, photography and life.

A decade. In game development years that is almost a lifetime (remember how game dev years are dog years?). The first version of you I encountered was 7.0 and looking back… I knew nothing. And even now I barely feel like I scratched the surface of the marvels you had to offer me. 

But what have you done?

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