VFS Game Design Summer Intensive : The Fundamentals of Game Theory

Team Asgard presenting their idea

The VFS Game Design Summer Intensive kicked off on Monday (Aug 13, 2012) with Game Theory 1 and 2, taught by Instructor Chris Mitchell and Senior Instructor Andrew Laing. It started with an overview of the production pipeline, provided an outline of key developments in the relatively short history of console, online and mobile games, and focused on creative exercises related to preproduction processes.

The students came to life immediately as they were broken up into teams to brainstorm unique game ideas. They were given 5 essential questions to answer to help in the creative process. These questions and their ultimate resolution into a concise “pitch” sentence provided guidance throughout the day’s exercises, and clearly they represent the heart of the matter for Game Design in general:

  1. What is the game?
  2. What is the core mechanic?
  3. What is the core challenge?
  4. Why make the game?
  5. Why would you enjoy making the game?

(A great example of the one sentence “pitch” was provided by Chris Mitchell: “I want to make a chibi-style 2d twitch fighter with dinosaurs for weapons.”)
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Hello from Women in Games Scholarship Winner Kristina Soltvedt!

Women in Games Scholarship Winner Kristina Soltvedt banner
This is my first blog post in a while. I think the last time I had a blog I was about fifteen or so. And back then I was writing about how much I hated school, what a brat I was and how WoW was the best thing in the world. Things have changed a bit. School is pretty awesome and WoW is a faint memory. When you study game design at VFS you don’t really have time to play games. Oh the irony. I know.

Mystery Wow

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6 Essential Ingredients for an Open-World Indie Game

T-minus a week and a half! There’s a ticking clock facing Game Design students as they sprint towards Pitch & Play, their industry showcase night. One of the five games on display this round will be The Last Phoenix, an open-world aerial melee/dogfighting game, and the first open-world game developed by students in the program. To celebrate the impending launch, the Last Phoenix team has assembled their top six tips for creating an open-world game.

Make the Movement Fun

Since the player is both moving through a large world and doesn’t always know the optimal path, we needed to make sure that the actual experience of moving – in our case, flying – was fun and had a layer of depth. After all, players are going to be doing a lot of it. We decided early on we wanted to add dives, rolls, and loops to the Phoenix’s movement. This served to both avoid enemy attacks and allow the player to weave through the many pillars and arches scattered through the game world.
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Game Changing : Thriving During Game Industry Seismic Shift

Games are changing.

The landscape once dominated by behemoth AAA titles is almost gone.

Gamers have more choices. Social games and free-to-play models have transformed the game industry you thought you knew. And ballooning budgets for high-profile titles mean you need a blockbuster of Modern Warfare proportions to turn a profit.

As The Verge wrote in their July 22nd article: “Developing an AAA game is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive enterprises humans can undertake, outside of building battleships, launching space vehicles, or making movies.”

But here’s the thing. For the emerging game designer — or animator or sound editor, for that matter — none of this a bad thing. It actually means opportunity.
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2012 Women in Games Scholarship Winner : Kristina Soltvedt Wiik

2012 marks the fourth year Vancouver Film School has offered the Women in Games Scholarship, opening up more opportunities for women in Game Design, and in those four years we’ve seen an impressive roster of diverse winners. Shannon Lee, the inaugural winner, hails from Vancouver, although the prize found her in Japan; she is now at BigPark innovating with Kinect. Second-year winner Annie Dickerson is a native of Washington State, and a former elementary school teacher, and currently works for East Side Games. Larissa Baptista from Brazil was the third recipient, and was recently featured with her final project team on CBC television.

Kristin Soltvedt Wiik, winner of Women in Games Scholarship

This year’s winner, Kristina Soltvedt Wiik, hails from Norway, and arrives at VFS having worked for three years as a journalist for Gamereactor Magazine. Kristina is especially interested in the narrative possibilities of games, and has already worked as a Narrative Designer on a PC game developed in Vancouver.

Kristina says, “It is a tremendous privilege to be awarded such a coveted scholarship, and I can’t help but be excited at the possibility of realizing my dreams. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead of me, and the ensuing opportunities my year at VFS will surely offer.”

Congratulations, Kristina!

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