Class Spotlight: What is Juicy?

When you walk around Vancouver’s Chinatown, a few descriptive words may come to mind: Beautiful, historical, colourful, dirty, old, eroded… but would the word ‘Juicy’ come to mind? It certainly does for Rupert Morris, a Visual Design Principles instructor at the Vancouver Film School Game Design program. Rupert dedicates an entire class to define what is juicy, and how students should use it to create visually interesting environments in games. Game Design class 33 was fortunate to have this class, so here is a spotlight of what took place.

Fist off, what is the Juice? Rupert describes it as, “signs of age, wear and tear in an environment. Stickiness, slime, moss, graffiti tags, back splashed mud, pigeon excrement, automotive oil, milky puddles with wet garbage, etc. Juice is the difference between a brand new bus stop and an old, filthy gross one. Juice is almost everywhere to some degree, but the older the neighbourhood, the more decades of urban decay, and the more Juice. Chinatown has loads of it, as does Gastown, due to being over 100 years old and largely unchanged. The Juice collects in corners and under hangs, streaks down from window ledges and balconies, collects at curbs and where sidewalks meet buildings.”

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Ambient Occlusion part 2

Ambient Occlusion pt 2

Ambient Occlusion (AO): Why it’s needed.

Last time we talked about Ambient Occlusion in Game Art (Part 1), let’s delve a little deeper.

When we first look at objects, for a fraction of a second, we evaluate shapes and contours, and determine the silhouette of things around us. That allows us to mentally compartmentalize things into, say, “That area is a car” and “that bunch of stuff is a tree” and so on.

Once we identify individual objects’ boundaries, we then see the inner details within the boundaries, like “That’s a car mirror” or “That’s a hubcap” and so on.

In both cases contrast is what we are seeing. Or “where one thing ends, and another begins.” Contrast defines boundaries. That’s why the pictures in this very blogpost have a black stroke, or boundary, around the text; to aid in readability. Strokes work very well for 2D elements, which is why virtually all game interface elements have them, game company logos have them, and important text like game titles have them.

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Level Up: Showcasing your UDK maps

Well it’s that time of the year, you’re done presenting on industry night and finished classes.  What a perfect time to dust off the ol’ UDK maps and start screen grabbing those hard worked on levels for your portfolio!

When it comes to in game shots, presentation and quality matters.  Surely we can go into fullscreen mode, hit PrintScreen and paste directly into Photoshop.  But let’s make the most of our game engine and get a beauty shot that captures your hard work without the loss of detail.

Here’s how we do it in UDK:

Step 1: Get into the level

Jump into your level like you normally would through the editor.

Step 2: Bring up the console

Bring up the console (press Tab).

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Competitive Gaming: A Twist

 

VFS Level Design Instructor Lanh Doan received bad news last year, due to health reasons he was going to have to take a break from teaching. Lanh was going to be spending a lot of time recovering and getting himself healthy again, and this meant a lot of quality time watching TV and Movies… more importantly it meant  he would be spending a lot of time on his computer. A lot of people (like me) would spend most of that time just playing games and connecting with friends, but Lanh wanted to continue to develop his skills, and there was no better way than competitive gaming.

This was not what most people would expect from competitive gaming, as  a Level Design expert Lanh had a different idea, enter competitions in Level Design. The Gnomon Workshop, an online training site for Artists, was running a monthly contest with a different theme, and awarding prizes to the best entries.

“I came across it when I was researching, development tools for UDK and noticed a familiar name in the industry, Alex Alvarez, an amazing 3D artist that I’d been following for a while.  He is now the founder of the site which is very popular and produces the best educational Dvd sets out there.”


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Meet Women in Games Scholarship Winners Anna Prein & Janel Jolly

Women in Games Scholarship Winners Anna Prein and Janel Jolly

It’s Week 5 of Term 1, and we thought it was about time for us to sit down and have a chat – “we” being Janel Jolly and Anna Prein, from VFS Game Design‘s Class 33. Being both recipients of the Women in Games Scholarship, we wanted to learn more about each other, and what we thought of the program. So, let’s start!

Janel Jolly : Hey Anna! I’ll go ahead and start with the first question. What attracted you to the Game Design program at the Vancouver Film School?

Anna Prein : I’ve been living in Vancouver for about 5 years now, and a former roommate actually applied for the same Women in Games Scholarship a few years back. Once I had finished having my existential crisis about doing an unrelated undergraduate degree and then committed to pursuing game design, VFS was the first school I thought of.

In the past year, I started actively going to events in the community here, like Full Indie, and I kept meeting VFS Game Design graduates who were all intensely positive about their experience and who urged me to apply. I think that was definitely the biggest push! What about you?

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Flash Game Presentations : Game Design Class 30

students presenting their Flash Game

The Flash Game Presentations have been a long-standing tradition 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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Ambient Occlusion in Game Art (part 1)

There are no lights in this image (which is of a tree)

What Is Ambient Occlusion?

Ambient occlusion creates the look of soft shadows, a very pleasing trait in computer graphics that often favor crispness and sharp precise edges over softness and subtlety. But Ambient Occlusion (AO) is not actually lighting at all, but rather a material/surface property applied to geometry!

Ambient Occlusion in Game Art Image 2

How it works

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Game Art : A History

As a game artist, I’ve worked on many games in many genre’s over the last 20 years. I started with life drawing and portraits, and went onto Computer Aided Design (CAD) and technical drawing. Then I landed in the games industry in the earlier 90’s.

There have been staggering leaps in technology, especially for the game artists who produce the wonderful visuals, environments and characters that we have come to know and love. One area in particular is 2D art.

In 1994, I was creating textures for games on a Commodore Amiga, which was at the time, a very powerful 32bit computer. It had all of 8 megabytes of memory. That was a lot !!! The real win at the time was using an art program called Deluxe Paint created by Electronic Arts.
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Power Up! Music To Game By Art Contest

PowerUp Contest Banner

Power Up! Music To Game By, is a compilation album of video game and geek-related content sourced and arranged by students in the VFS  Entertainment Business Management program. I came across the Power Up Art Contest, which had the task “Draw the two characters of our Power Up album in a videogame inspired setting”, thanks to a link Dave Warfield posted online. After learning that this competition was for a VFS project with a noble cause – supporting the Child’s Play Charity - I figured submitting a drawing would be a good way to stay connected with the school while helping out with a good cause. It was also a productive way to spend a normally lazy weekend afternoon.
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VFS Game Design Summer Intensive : Level, Story, Art

UDK First-Person Shooter

The VFS Game Design Summer Intensive covered a lot of ground over days two and three, delving into Level DesignStorytelling/Interactive Narrative and Game Art.

Day 2 introduced the students to the core of game design: constructing the environment and scripting the events of the play. Game Design Instructor and 3D Environment Artist, Victor Kam, introduced students to the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), which uses the Unreal Engine (a game engine developed by Epic Games, first used in the 1998 first-person shooter game Unreal). UDK is a free download available to the general public (for non-commercial games, although, games built using the free kit can be sold according to certain relatively minor stipulations outlined in Unreal Technology’s Licensing Terms).


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