Success Principle #1 For Getting Paid To Make Games

There is nothing wrong with floating through life. You know, drifting wherever the wind takes you.

It can be fun and relaxing and free of tough decisions or responsibilities.

BUT… if this is how you are approaching your Video Game career, you will likely land in a puddle or get haplessly stuck against a tree, or perhaps snapped into the jaws of a hungry dog who mistook you for a squirrel. “Squirrel!”

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Gamers can read! This week: Traitor’s Blade

Are you salivating while you wait for season 4 of Game of Thrones? Well I have just the thing to tide you over until that GoT itch can be scratched. It’s called a book! You remember those! And interestingly enough, I just learned that Game of Thrones is actually based on a series of them. The tome I am reviewing today is called Traitor’s Blade.

Traitor’s Blade is high fantasy that follows the exploits of swordsman Falcio val Mond. The setting is a medieval world named Tristia which is divided into several duchies. Tristia is a very well thought out land and contains many factions and history of its own. And if you enjoy a lot of action, witty writing and great storytelling you are sure to enjoy Traitor’s Blade.

The opening sequence makes it very clear that this story is not for children but rather adult fans of fantasy. And no quarter is afforded to the reader when it comes to the depictions of violence contained within. The combat sequences are very well detailed and part of that description is going to include the unpleasant end result for one duelist every time.

Busy author Sebastien de Castell was kind enough to answer a few questions in between his book signings and other interviews.

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3D Pipeline Process: Tips & Tricks

Often-times students ask me what the process is of creating art and getting it in-game. The plethora of tools available for artists to use these days means that there is really no one true answer to that question. Through research of my own and working closely with others, I’ve continually iterated and built on my own workflow and pipeline process to a point at which I’m happy with the results. Below I’ll be sharing with you a quick overview of the process that I use in creating art.

Concept Creation:

Whether you work in Zbrush or in Maya, the early block out stage is extremely important. At this stage in the game art-creation is all about working fast and agile to suss out the overall theme and tone of the character or art-piece.


Through time and continually building up your model you will eventually have a high resolution mesh you are happy with. This process can be time consuming and consists of continually adding-to and taking away from the design and concept of your project. Having good reference separates good art from great art at this stage.

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Goodbye Dragons, Hello Horsey

As we turn the ancient zodiac wheel, we leave the Year of the Dragon and enter the Year of the Horse. To close the door on a fantastic celestial year, we offer one final dragon themed game by GD32 student Brandon Crawford titled, Highlights: Fight phoenixes atop the Great Wall of China in an iridescent landscape.

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The Arcade is taking a holiday

With the holiday season now here, the Arcade will be taking a break for a couple of weeks, and we will start posting new articles again in 2014.

A Very Merry Christmas
A Krazy Kwanzaa
A Happy Hanukah
A Wacky Winter Solstice
A Bountiful Boxing Day
And all the best for the New Year

However you celebrate this winter, we wish you happiness, and health, and a safe holiday season.

Minimalism and Curiosity in A Dark Room

A Dark Room came to me right after last month’s Full Indie, where I discussed with a few people about why I don’t play many text games. As an artist, I am deeply invested in visuals and find it difficult to get into games with poor graphic styles or games that are text-only — not to mention that despite being an average writer myself, I’m harsh on other people’s writing. Well, that was silly. It seems like I was playing all the wrong text games.

The only visuals you’ll find in A Dark Room are very minimal ASCII, in what I assume is a later part of the game. Or is it only the beginning? The appeal of this game lies very much in how much it doesn’t tell you.

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Level Up: Planning the Vista

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

When planning any level out, we usually think of pacing out our gameplay moments and intensity over time.  While both are vital, we can also do the same by pacing our scenery.

What I mean by this is creating visual contrast in the space outside of the gameplay area, so let’s focus on creating the vista point in our level and see what we can do to maximize it’s impact.  Keep in mind, any time you do the same thing over and over it will lose its effectiveness over time.  So we have to create this contrast, or in this case, a narrow space going to a vista back to a narrow space.

Uncharted is great example of this, here we see Drake standing admiring the view which is quite breathtaking to look at.  For the most part of the level you are traversing in a forest with no clear sightlines, and then as you turn the corner you get treated to this great shot of the world only to return back within the trees.

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Has it been a year already?!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. It seemed like only yesterday I started out at VFS. I know this is a common statement for all students that go to VFS. The year seems to go by just like that. And now we’re somehow at the end of the year. Pitch and Play is behind us, and all that remains is Grad Night which amazingly is tonight.

It’s been such a long year of writing long documents, coming up with new ideas for game pitches, late nights cursing myself for pressing ctrl+S in UDK and hunting down people that might have stolen my Nutella (it turned up in my backpack, but I still have no idea how it got there, I swear). And now we’re hours away from Grad Night. I’m not getting sappy here (yes, I am) but I’ve loved this year. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times I’ve hated my ideas, doubted my talent and questioned if I even have it in me to be here, but getting to the finish line proves to me that this really is what I want to do.

The Horroring came to a happy end, and Pitch and Play went so well for us and the entire class as a whole. We were all very nervous about the presentations but luckily they all went smoothly – without a hitch even. I’m so incredibly happy and proud; Yeah, who am I kidding I’m totally getting sappy.

I want to thank my entire class for being such an amazing gang of people. We all came together from different backgrounds and cultures and somehow now, it seems like we’ve known each other forever. I know I would not have gotten through the year without the support and help of all of these amazing people. I want to thank them once again for every late night spent at school, every pat on the shoulder before a presentation and all of the amazing moments we shared at the Game Design Campus.

What can I say, this is a special year. For anyone thinking about doing Game Design; it’s the ride of a lifetime and truly an amazing opportunity to learn and fail, and then learn from that again. To all future Game Designers: Work hard, be creative, learn that it’s totally okay to fail and then pick yourself up and try again. It’s an amazing industry and I’m really excited for the future.

This is me signing out. A final thank you to all the instructors and mentors for helping all of us become game designers fit for the industry. None of us could have done it without your amazing guidance. Thank you again.



Kristina Soltvedt Wiik graduates and joins the VFS Game Design Alumni today, she was our 2012 Women in Games Scholarship winner

Her final project The Horroring, can be played by CLICKING HERE

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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Mythology 101

As a Game Designer interested in how stories can be told as part of a game experience,  I have researched a lot into the foundations of stories and how they have influenced games and movies over the years. One of the foundations of that, is those that believe there are only so many stories to tell. 1

  1. Quest
  2. Adventure
  3. Pursuit
  4. Rescue
  5. Escape
  6. Revenge
  7. The Riddle
  8. Rivalry
  9. Underdog
  10. Temptation
  11. Metamorphosis
  12. Transformation
  13. Maturation
  14. Love
  15. Forbidden Love
  16. Sacrifice
  17. Discovery
  18. Wretched Excess
  19. Ascension
  20. Descension

I found the idea that there is only 20 plots, to be interesting and it makes for a fun game when watching a movie or reading a book to see which plot they have chosen. When it comes to Interactive adventures and fantasy though, the bigger influence is not the story that is told, but the source of the story. With TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time we are seeing a great resurgence in the classic Fairy Tales and Fables from days gone by. The area that most fascinates me is Mythology, those stories that reach way back to the roots of storytelling, those stories that were passed down generation to generation.

We have all heard stories of Sasquatch and Unicorns, however once you start digging, you start to realize that many of the characters and creatures of today’s games and movies go back centuries. Over the coming episodes of this series, I am going to take a look at some of the common and uncommon mythological beings and creatures that harken back to cultures based all around the world.

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