MOBA-land here we come!

Before I came to VFS I was working as an architect. I have always loved creating and design and I see programming as another form of making, and like architecture it shapes our world in meaningful ways.

Therefore, for me, the progression to programming has been a very logical one. There are the same management issues, maintainability issues, good practice, incorporating new technologies and human factors. What is different and I find incredibly fulfilling is that I no longer have to rely on a 3rd party construction team to realize the design, I can now built it myself.

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This Was Our Year: Two Scholarship Winners at Game Design

In August 2013, Vancouver Film School opened an international contest for full and partial scholarships. We both participated and won full tuition for the Game Design program. You can check out the videos here: Sandra’s and Dani’s. Since then we’ve been through a long road, and we’d like to share our story with you.

Dani
Hi, My name is Dani Kogan, I would like to introduce to you Sandra Gersenowies. Sandra is an amazing character artist from Mexico and a passionate game developer, she is highly driven and will not rest till she is the best at what she does. When I met Sandra, my first impression was that she seemed very angry, but I soon learned that it was just her default expression. Once you manage to get past her defenses she is an awesome person to talk to and a good friend.

Sandra
I will not lie, at first Dani Kogan seemed like a very shady character. Maybe it was the messy long hair or the weird Russian accent (although he is from Israel), but soon enough I realized that he was extremely knowledgeable about audio, with a great work ethic, and an almost enviable passion for videogames. Given our personalities it seemed almost impossible that we would be able to cross more than a few words without killing each other, but we ended up having a good friendship which led to us working together in a great final project, but we’ll get to that later.

This is My Year Scholarship

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GD36 Pitch and Play

Another term at VFS and another graduating class of game designers hit the stage at the GD36 Pitch & Play event. Four teams of aspiring game designers showcased their games in front of VFS Game Design Staff and industry professionals on October 2ndand were later joined on the production floor as folks played their completed games and built new connections in the games industry.

Game Design department head Dave Warfield opened the night by addressing the audience before passing on the torch to emcee Rick Davidson, who used his charm and wit to engage spectators in the studio and those watching the online stream. Without further ado, here are the four amazing projects that were presented by our freshly baked game designers!

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GD35 Pitch and Play

This August saw the departure of another excellent batch of design students in the form of GD35. The variety and polish of their final projects was truly astounding, and they got a chance to show off all their great work at another Vancouver Film School Pitch and Play. VFS alumni and industry professionals packed into the TV Studio at the Game Design campus one warm evening to see what these students had put together, and the students did not disappoint. Here’s a quick glimpse into the awesome games that were demonstrated for us on stage:

THE EXHIBIT

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GD34 Graduation & Awards Show

Summer is finally here, 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 June 27th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a congratulatory speech from the Head of Game Design Dave Warfield, then the student-elected class speaker Daniel Garma took us back through a timeline of  this past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Calder Archinuk closed the speeches with an overview of the 34 iterations of his grad speech.

 

 

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 Guerric, Nicha, Jeremy, Rafe, Jakobsen, Spencer, and Jaymee, all who graduated with honours.

 
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Post-Mortem: Misorderly [VFS Student Project]

GD34_Misorderly_AB

Introduction

It’s difficult to explain anything that went right with our project without first explaining everything that went wrong. So for this post-mortem, I’ll be examining the major obstacles we faced in creating the casual action runner that is Misorderly – and what it took to overcome them. I should mention that all points raised here relate to soft skills – design, project management – so if you’re looking for a technical post-mortem, this isn’t it.

Problem 1: Mixed Vision

Misorderly wasn’t our first idea. Originally, our favourite concept was a god game where tiny people wandered around a rubik’s cube planet and each square was a different land form that evolved depending on the other land forms it touched. But at the time, the teachers felt it was more of a toy, than an actual game, so we shelved that idea.

All the other ideas we came up with, only most, and not all of the team loved. And at VFS (Vancouver Film School), you’re encouraged to only go forth with an idea for your final project if everybody loves it. So if I were to go back even further, I’d offer the notion that something that was done incorrectly in our class was team forming. Each person on our team had such different player preferences. To the extent where one of our teaching assistants, Brant Stutheit, suggested that we do an activity where we write down our top 5 favourite games and see which ones we had in common. It took us until our top 20 games to eventually reach consensus – Bioware’s Dragon Age series. We then explored what it was about the series that we enjoyed, and we realized we all liked playing as mages. This was the beginning of Misorderly.

We decided to make a game centered on being a mage. So we brainstormed what we each enjoyed about playing as a mage – healing, buffs, spells, support – and we deduced our mage would need a party. But given the scope of 5 months and 5 relatively inexperienced students – how could we manage to capture the essence of the RPGs we loved?

Suggestions were made for things we thought would make our lives easier in production, such as a side-scrolling camera to reduce environment art assets needed. Or a cartoony art style over hyperrealism, to invest in creating more characters versus polishing a fewer number. Or restricted, grid-based movement, to simplify combat. But not everyone was ecstatic about these changes in direction.

Everything I’ve mentioned thus far formed the basis for the mixed vision we had for the majority of production. We were so concerned with placating everybody’s wants that we A) wasted a lot of time in pre-production changing our game concept and B) ended up with a “swamp water” game concept that had too broad of a target audience (not that we were able to accurate pin point what our genre or expected player experience was for the longest time).

Menu Screen

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Lucidity


Calling all gamers!

We started this journey back in August 2013, and what a year it’s been so far!
GD35 is currently in term five and alpha is fast approaching. I am Jamie Thompson, and I am fortunate to be a part of team Lucidity along with Blake Vetter, Cam Hickey, Dustin Williamson and Matt Holland.  Last term we formed our group and started the pre-production phase filled with meetings, brainstorming sessions and a lot of trial and error.  Since coming up with Lucidity it’s been nothing but onward and upward!

Lucidity is a third person 3D twitch puzzle platformer for PC.  Player’s traverse through the mind of coma patient, Gracie Wylde, who is undergoing unconscious hypnosis.  Players are able to mirror jump between two worlds while interacting with their environments as they explore the five stages of grief inside Gracie’s subconscious.  The player can run, jump and wall run/jump.  Through actions of fast paced platforming and light puzzle solving, the mind can be fully explored and a final state of reality can be decided.

 

Production started early last month. Although we have learned so much since starting back in August, I feel as though the real nitty gritty nature of game development truly started being learned in May.  Entering the unknown has been overwhelming at times, but for the most part this has been a very exciting experience.  It has been amazing to see our ideas come to life on the screen.

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Easter Eggs and Candy

With the cold and frosty winter behind us, it’s time to break out our bunny ears and get in the Easter spirit! It looks like the Easter bunny came early this year, delivering a basket full of candy goodness that is sure to satisfy your sweet-tooth. Below are some sugary pieces we were generous enough to share:

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GD33 Pitch and Play

Dave Warfield opens the night

 

It was a full house on Thursday, April 3rd for the Pitch and Play event at the VFS Game Design campus. Every seat was filled as game developers from various companies filed into the presentation studio. The nerves of this term’s graduating class were buzzing as each team lined up to present their final project, but all of the long hours and dedication they put into practicing their presentations and polishing their games definitely paid off. Each team came in and went out with a bang, leaving all who attended very impressed with the projects.


James Beasely, Dustin Williamson, Emiliano Guerrero, and Ethan Maddix present Run or Roast

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Graduation & Awards show for the 32nd class of Game Design

The Olympics are over, 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 February 27th 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 Rony Miller spoke from the hip about his classmates past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Jonathan Falkowski closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and stories about this crazy batch of students.

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 Miles, Melissa, Sebastian, Gui, and Karthik, all who graduated with honours.
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