VFS Students show strong presence at Unite 2013

Kiley Giguere GD18 Alumni made the trip from GameHouse in Victoria for Unite

This year, Unity’s big conference, Unite 2013 was held in Vancouver. The VFS Game Design students and alumni were all over this conference. Everywhere I turned I was delighted to see past and current students learning about all the cool stuff going on with Unity right now. I checked in with some of the attendees and here are some of their highlights. This post is mainly to reflect the student experiences of those in attendance from our program.

from left: Kay Chan, Omar Chapa , Richard Harrison, Michael Cooper and Maxwell Hannaman all from game design class GD22.

It was a great chance to mingle with vendors of world class software like Photon, a multiplayer plugin available for Unity, made by Exit Games. There were also plenty of actual Unity developers in attendance chatting about their experiences with Unity. One VFS student, Wes Bassett (GD31) was not disappointed: “The Post Mortems were the most informative for me, because they shed light on the actual Process.” Read More

Level Up: I Got My Job, Now What?

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

So you’ve just graduated VFS and landed your first job in the industry.  All those late nights and hard work has finally paid off and you’re set to enjoy your first pay check doing the job you love.  Time to cruise along and work 9-5 right?

The answer to this is yes and no.  Yes, because you’ve earned it and deserve a bit of a break after an intense year of school.  But after you have settled in your job, I would say no to cruise control.  Just because you’ve finished school and earning a paycheck now, your education should not stop there.

The games industry is a very creative field and we as designers are creative.  We have to keep creating to keep our minds at ease; to have that outlet after work hours.  Not to mention the fact that technology keeps changing constantly.  New tools and techniques are continuously being developed to enable us to build our imaginary worlds quicker and more efficiently.

Unfortunately when you are in the midst of crunch in a studio environment, there may be long periods of time where you are stuck using the same tools over and over, only to find at the end of the project a whole suite of new dev tools have come out which you’ve never heard of.  You could dismiss them and keep with your old ways, or you can spend some time after work hours to do research and potentially learn the new software.

Sure this takes time and effort after work hours, but we work in an industry where studios are hiring people with skills in cutting edge technology.  This will keep you competitive in the job market when the time comes to renew that contract.

I always recommend graduates keep working on levels at home even after they have gotten their jobs.  This is a great way to keep your portfolio updated, as well as giving yourself a way to be creative building something that is personal to you.  We’ve all been there, after a day of work the last thing you want to do is sit back on the computer.  The process will take much longer when you are working full-time, but bit by bit, even an hour or two a week over the course of several months will yield something that is portfolio worthy.  Hopefully during this time you can learn some new tech along the way to help you build with the most current tools and workflows.

So don’t know how to use Zbrush? Never heard of nDo2 or dDo?  Have you used xNormal?  When was the last time you touched that level editor?  It might be time to get out of the comfort zone of 9-5 and be proactive, pick up some new skills and create your next masterpiece!

Victor Kam is a Level Design Instructor at VFS Game Design

Unite 2013

The annual conference by Unity Technologies was held August 28-30, this time in VFS Game Design’s home city. For three days, the Vancouver Convention Centre was swarmed by hundreds of Unity developers, from all over the world – four days, if you count the August 27 Training day, a bonus for those new to the technology.

Again, the Unite conference showed what a great piece of software Unity is, and will become.

The opening keynotes by CEO David Hegalson and CTO Joachim Ante described the evolving technical and philosophical direction of the company, with the expected amount of touchy feely about democratizing game development, and changing the world, both of which appear to be going according to plan.

David’s new announcements included Unity Cloud, a mobile ad service going into closed beta, and Unity Games, which sounds like an evolution of Union, Unity’s publishing platform. Joachim primarily talked about improvements to Unity’s GUI and 2D systems in version 4.3, both a long time coming, as well as some great improvements to the Mecanim animation system. No firm date on the next version, though. Understandable, given 4.2 shipped shortly before the conference.

Then, legendary game designer Richard Garriott, back from Earth orbit, gave a guest keynote that was a nostalgic stroll through his three decades of game development. The perspective made one appreciate how far game development has come, and the remarkable tool that Unity is.

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Unity Coming to Sony Consoles in 2013

Unity Technologies has recently announced that they’ve entered into a “strategic partnership” with Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), and that their free game development tool will be able to publish to Sony consoles before 2014.

This is big news for indie, hobbyist, and professional game developers alike! Game developers using Unity will soon be able to create games for the Playstation 4 and PS Vita consoles, further expanding the wide array of targets Unity can already publish to.

What is Unity?

For those unaware, Unity is a cross-platform game engine for developing 3D games. It comes with built-in scripting, scene editor, shader support, physics simulation, and all the tools one needs to create games that look and play great. Not only is the basic version free to download, at any time you can upgrade it to add support for more platforms (iOS, Android, Flash) and more special features (lighting, animation, pathfinding).
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Sony’s PS4 Announcement

PS4 Announcement

After watching a huge two-hour press conference from New York with a group of students and instructors, where Sony announced the PS4 for release this Holiday season, I decided to share a few of my thoughts on the new console (but remember, nobody has actually played it or seen the actual unit yet).

The production value behind this event was very high, even being described by some as extravagant. The call went out to a lot of well-known industry personalities, who were there to help support the cause. Sony clearly wanted to show that they had addressed development issues and that world class developers were on board with the product. We all like the idea of consoles still being relevant. It already feels a bit nostalgic, though.

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