Game Design Summer Intensive: Flash Games & Graduation!

Starting Screen for Pogo Man Flash Bounce Game

The Game Design Summer Intensive finished up on Friday (Aug 17, 2012) with a full day dedicated to creating a Flash Game. The day was split into two parts, with the first part providing a quick hands-on tutorial in Flash, using a Bounce Game Template that each student customized to their own (sometimes hilarious) specifications. (View the Flash Bounce Game Template) Senior Instructor Jacob Tran, Instructor Chevy Johnston and Teaching Assistants Crystal Lau (Game Audio) and Benjamin Stern were all on hand to guide the students through the process.

Instructors helping with flash class

The overall concept and introduction was presented by Jacob Tran, providing some historical background and a discussion about the value of creating Flash Games in the larger context of game development for the Game Design Program. It’s a great tool for prototyping, and it became apparent that the entire process throughout the day served as a mini-model of the full program year. It’s a perfect way to understand how all the separate elements of the full program necessarily depend upon each other to make a great and successful game.

Game Design Instructor Chevy Johnston

After Chevy walked the class through some basics in creating a character, a name for the game, with a start and end game screen, and the elements of the Bounce strategy for each game, Crystal then took over the Audio Design aspect. Sound is a very critical aspect to all game development, and one that is ignored to the peril of any game’s success. It can make the difference between a game that is boring and typical or exciting and unpredictable — great Audio Design can add dimension to the sense of space, create feelings of suspense and engagement, and can pull you into the game world environment and the lives of the characters. Done wrong, it can be very irritating, done right, it can mean a lot fun and excitement.

Game Audio TA Crystal Lau

Two Students from the Game Design Summer Intensive

The class first found some copyright free music to use, and collected some sound effects, which they then converted from MP3 to WAVE audio format. Then Crystal gave them a quick primer in ProTools MP 9, where they were shown how to enter music and sound effects on the timeline and balance it all into a proper mix. Then all of the separate audio elements were exported from ProTools and imported back into Flash. They were then showed how to use Action Script to plot the sound events and music as background or to communicate a loss, win or error, any sort of action or movement, and to express a character’s personality. Once the class had all of these fundamentals down, they started having fun personalizing their games.

Georgia and her character design

Students in the Sound Booth to record some voice audio

Game Design is obviously reliant on collaboration, and this means that teams need to develop good professional and personal relationships with one another. The camaraderie amongst the Summer Intensive students was apparent from the first exercises on day one, and it’s was fostered throughout the week in their tutorials, lectures and exercises for Level Design, Interactive Narrative, Game Art, Programming (taught by Senior Instructor Peter Walsh) and Unity Coding (taught by Instructor Bren Lynne). Each workshop was hands on, and in each instance, students went around to one another’s terminals to see what one another was working on. During the second part of the Flash Game day, there was lots of laughing and even groans as students became players who were challenged as well as entertained by the games (sometimes by their own games, as one student announced with a frustrated pride: “I can’t even beat my own game!”).

Class Gathered Around Game (with Crystal Lau & Michael Boyce)

OMG You're So Dead Flash Bounce Game

After the class was finished, the week was done, and Game Design Summer Intensive students were ready to receive their diplomas. Andrew Laing had a small “graduation” ceremony for them and VFS Photographer Arcelia Ocaña took this great class photo:

Game Design Summer Intensive Class Photo

Congratulations to the students, and thanks to the great work by the VFS Game Design Instructors and Teaching Assistants!