Pitch and Play: A GD53’s Experience

When Chris Mitchell invited me to the Pitch and Play event, I was both surprised and excited. As a student at VFS, I always envisioned the event to be a somewhat intimidating platform to show members of the games industry the projects we spend many months developing. To my surprise, though the event did provide an opportunity to present each team’s project, the presentations on stage focused largely on the many diverse and skilled students themselves. I found myself as equally enthralled by the games on the projector as I did the stories of my fellow VFS students, who like myself have sacrificed countless hours and dedicated much of their lives to their desire to be apart of the games industry.

Now I may be biased as a fellow student, but the focus and care given to presenting not just the end product of their efforts, but also the person who worked hard to make the games on screen speaks volumes. VFS is a challenging experience, and some like myself come with very little related skills or experience. It can be intimidating, overwhelming and intense, but it also is incredibly rewarding for those that wish to be in this industry. Like all forms of education, what you get out of the experience is partially based on what you give. Every game I saw on stage spoke to the fact the VFS grads presenting their games gave a lot, and can be summed up in one word: inspiring.

During the pitch and play event eight teams presented their games to a crowd of professionals in the industry. A moderator asked each student their role on the project, their future industry goals, and then a unique question. The first game to be presented was Monster Crash, a local versus multiplayer game where the player played a giant banana or a samurai with a TV head fighting it out over a city. The game reminded me of a PS2 era classic from my childhood called War of the Monsters, and was made by a team of only three people which was very impressive. It was charming, and had a fun arcade feel.

Following Monster Crash was Kitsune. The game was visually stunning, utilizing beautiful particle effects and postprocessing to make the stylized art shine. It was also quite ambitious, with four “Mythical Beasts” in levels themed on the four seasons. As an aspiring artist, I especially found it impressive when I discovered the team was made entirely by programming student’s, whom I will never underestimate in the future after seeing this project.

 

Monsieur Monet was presented after Kitsune. The game was a 3rd person stealth game, with a variety of challenges as the character tried to make their way to steal the Mona Lisa. Equipped with a taser and your wits the game seemed challenging and ambitious. My favorite effect from the game was the excellent and satisfying electricity particle that appeared when using it on poor unsuspecting guards.

 

The next game was Nova, an online fighting game for up to six players. The game was incredibly impressive given the fact it was made in Unreal. Fast paced and an artistic challenge due to the nature of fighting game systems, I was impressed by the team’s dedication and willingness to challenge themselves with an atypical game engine choice.

 

After Nova came Hover Ball, a futuristic network cooperative sports game. Players select from several different characters (my favorite one being the panda), and then face off on hoverboards to try and score goals with a ball that exploded after a certain amount of time. A unique take on a sports game, its neon world was quite stunning.

Leaving the world of neon lights behind the next project presented was Crystal Cannon, a 3D isometric co-op fantasy shooter. Tasked with protecting a crystal cannon and transporting it to a location, the game had ambitious scope. The six-person team was also the first in VFS to get access to Houdini, which allowed them to experiment with a variety of tools for special effects and particle systems. One of the characters attacks creates a rippling barrage of purple magical explosions in a cone, and this effect was by far my favorite effect from any of the games presented.

 

The last game of the evening was The Cluckening, a visually stunning but overall simple game about the odyssey of a chicken looking to destroy the evil humans and their city. As an aspiring character artist, the chicken’s animations and form absolutely amazed me.  When the chicken transformed into a hulk like super chicken both the audience and I were even more excited. When it was revealed they had had to make many changes to their original game idea after preproduction, the dedication of the group became very apparent.

 

With The Cluckening completed the crowd began to move out to the game stations to grab food and play the games themselves. As I made my way out I found myself excited, and wanting to do more for my own project. I was inspired and impressed, and not just by the industry quality chicken transformation I had just seen. VFS accepts a diverse set of students from all sorts of backgrounds. Not everyone is an artist with many years of experience, not everyone has experience coding, but everyone who stood on that stage had passion and dedication. They had the tools to make a game, and everyone became better equipped to enter the industry afterwards. In some ways it was terrifying to compare myself to people who had created all of these unique and interesting projects, but it also was exhilarating. I have no art background, I have a very small amount of coding experience, but the pitch and play event showed me just how much you can do if you have dedication and passion. There is always room to grow and learn, but passion is what is key, and it was the student’s passion that Pitch and Play was truly presenting to the industry.

GD45 Pitch and Play Review

A large countdown displays the time; stark red digits against a black LED. It’s 5:45 pm on the evening of Pitch and Play. Chiptune beats blast from speakers as the audience ambles through the doors to find their seats. Stark white perforated walls and mo-cap paraphernalia line the periphery of the room, which moreover than anything else, resembles Ground Control at NASA. The air in the room is electric. And hot. The Mimic Motion Capture Studio is exceptionally warm when filled to the brim with the bustling activity of Vancouver’s many game developers. Standing room only, here.

Many kind, familiar faces fill the room. A general zeitgeist of positivity crackles throughout the crowd. Michael Hayes, seasoned industry veteran and eminent life of all parties, regales lively travel tales of game development in Brazil.

Historically Pitch and Play events have been held at the Game Design Campus on East Pender, but this year VFS tried something novel by hosting the event at our animation campus. This new venue allowed VFS to utilize the new motion capture studio to present the evening. This change in location added a level of uncertainty to the event, as it was the first time VFS has hosted such an important event somewhere other than the Pender Campus. Despite the gargantuan task of transporting computers, monitors, and networking equipment, there were no noticeable failures or issues. Everyone that I spoke to said they appreciated the change of pace, and that the bigger location offered easier access to many games.

6:00 pm rolls around, and Christopher Mitchell approaches the stage. He opens the evening with a heartfelt address that comments upon the recent change of venue and the continual upscaling of VFS’s Game Design program. He is both succinct and thoughtful in his execution.

After introductions by VFS faculty, the stage was commandeered by none other than Electric Playground’s Victor Lucas. Victor has been a part of the Vancouver video game scene for the last 20 years and has never run out of games to review. As a recent addition to the VFS Board of Advisors, Victor was the perfect person to host the highly important event: Pitch and Play. His history in journalism shone as he moderated each team and their game demonstrations.

Without further ado, the main act of the evening. Come with us on a journey as we attempt to transcribe the ‘pitch’ portion of Pitch and Play. Here are the GD45’s games, which they have spent the last four months refining:

        

Porcelain is a multiplayer game that pits two to four players against each other for domination of an ever-changing, nightmarish dreamscape. Each player controls a porcelain doll, and the primary means of travel in this floating world is through the use of each porcelain doll’s magical grappling hook. Players may shoot their grappling hook at any part of the map, and use it to hurl themselves to the next area. The objective in the game is to land on a specific platform and defend it from enemies until you capture it. After this, the next section of the shattered, floating world will be unlocked. Visually, Porcelain offers a delightfully unsettling theme, akin to a Tim Burton film. The grappling and swinging mechanics are hefty, interesting, and make playing Porcelain a satisfying experience.

            

Composure is a narrative focused point and click adventure. Players assume the role of Michelle, a woman overcoming a recently ended, abusive relationship. For a game with a setting as emotionally sensitive as this, it manages to intrigue players by slowly revealing the trajectory of their relationship from start to finish, via memories. Visually, the game possesses a subdued minimalistic style. This dash of visual spice helps lend a dreamlike quality to the story, which strengthens the player’s connection to the narrative at hand. Composure is a daring, bold choice for a student project.

 

The team behind Mach X has delivered a stylish death race combined with competitive team play. Their game blends high paced racing with turret based warfare; each vehicle is crewed by one driver and one gunner, who must cooperate to reach the finish line before their competitors. These futuristic tracks twist, turn, and loop eccentrically, providing a hectic backdrop to this high speed, pulse-pounding rally. Crisp visuals, extensive network programming, and smooth gameplay make this game one of the most polished racing experiences to ever be crafted from within VFS.

 

Hexastella is a 3rd person hack and slash boss fight featuring sleek combat. Players control G64, an assassin class robot equipped with a futuristic laser sword who is tasked with defeating the squidlike alien, Xenandros. Players begin the game by entering an arena covered in hexagonal tiles, which is where this title derives its namesake (we assume that the other half of the portmanteau comes from its stellar setting). Once players enter the arena, they must face Xenandros and its minions while using the floor-hex tile bonuses to their advantage. Hexastella sets out to make the player feel cool with its feedback-laden, hack n’ slash combat. Only with your help can G64 sever the gelatinous grips of Xenandros upon our world!

 

Compound is a four player, team based, first person shooter that pits 3 human soldiers against a savage, alien creature. The player who controls the monster stalks each of the soldiers, easily picking them off if they stray too far from the group. This scientific compound gone horribly awry exists on a hostile, ice ridden planet. Only if the soldiers are able to use their unique abilities in harmony will they stand a chance of vanquishing the alien. Compound’s booth was exceptionally busy for the entire evening of Pitch and Play, with multiple patrons returning for second and third sessions. Believe the hype regarding Compound, as this asymmetrical shooter is a tour de force.

 

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the evening, Double W came out of nowhere, with an engaging 90’s retrowave aesthetic and refreshing gameplay. It is a stealth based platformer that doesn’t rely on broodiness to sell its theme. Kaleidoscopic enemies and unorthodox puzzles make this game highly memorable while adding to the computer-simulation aesthetic. Double W feels like an IP that you’ve experienced before, but is quite unlike anything you remember.

 

UnincrediBall is a 3 versus 3 sports brawl arena game that pits two teams against each other in a soccer-like field. Players control reject superheroes who compete to hit a giant soccer ball into an equally large goal. Each of the six unique reject superheroes is equipped with multiple unique abilities and must work with their teammates to secure domination of the pitch. Benefitting from a cartoon-like art style, UnincrediBall takes a lighthearted approach to both sports games and the superhero genre. Being one of the most polished games on the floor, this game is sure to wow gamers and industry executives alike with its style and incrediball execution.

 

Post presentations, patrons proceeded to the upstairs plaza of the 100 Cordova Campus, where plenty of people partook in the poignant playing portion of Pitch and Play, pointedly proclaimed a panoply of proper prosperity, as opposed to a proverbial pageant of pure pandemonium.
In plain prose: it was perfectly pleasant.

During the ‘play’ portion of Pitch and Play, Victor took several students and teachers aside for mini interviews; asking about the event, the games, and most importantly the students. Everyone recognized the hard work that each student put into their games. It was clear that perseverance and determination on the part of the students mattered just as much as the results. The footage of the event and the interviews was edited together and highlighted on Victor’s show “Electric Playground.”

Aside from the copious quantities of free alcohol (of which we were unable to imbibe, as student writers covering the event) and troughfuls of carrots and hummus, the upstairs plaza also hosted each of the projects’ booths, including the booths of the individual/duo projects of the GD45’s, as described below:

Sandstorm is a single player, first person, base defence game produced in Unity which takes place in a vast, apocalyptic desert inhabited by Sand Goblins. In this unforgiving land, the only weapons at the player’s disposal are the grains of sand itself, an ammunition used to pepper foes into submission. The UI is especially interesting, as it shows the specific grains of sand which are accumulated and then fired at the inhospitable goblins. Blake went to great lengths to include modifiable sand-terrain which allows players to create varieties of environmental traps in the ensuing battle between Man and Sand Goblin. Only through strategic use of these unconventional weapons will players survive the Sandstorm!

 

In the Cave is a four-player free-for-all racing game created in Unity, where players compete to be the first caveman to reach the top of a treacherous mountaintop. Though very little of the game takes place inside of a cave, the game showcases a strong aesthetic with its dynamic camera and well-crafted toon shader. Players collect multitudes of powerups, such as comically oversized hams, which allow them to meddle with and disrupt their opponents during the race. Wuttipat provided a humorous anecdote that the original inspiration for In the Cave was spawned from a lunch-trip where he jogged to Caveman Cafe, the nearby paleo restaurant whose mascot is a small, bearded neanderthal. After the experiences you shall witness on your quest to the mountain’s peak, will any of your fellow cavemen believe your adventurous allegories when you go back In the Cave?

 

Caladan is an online, two-player, first person, gladiatorial melee game. Players hack, slash, and block their way to victory. Chock full of beautiful environments, the snowy battlefield that is dyed red throughout the course of a fight is truly an asset to behold. A great deal of thought, time, and effort went into Caladan’s usage of Unreal’s Inverse Kinematics system– which is thoroughly on display in the core combat loop. The game takes advantage of a unique sword input, and allows players to experience the inherent challenges of wielding a hefty blade. Caladan is an ambitious project that takes the concept of chivalristic battles to Unreal places.

 

A 3rd person, on-rails, eagle arcade-experience built in Unity, Feather is a game where an eagle must race against the setting sun. Jacc took great care when including the Tsuut’ina language within the game, and his respect for his ancestry shows in the simple, elegant narrative that unfolds throughout the course of Feather. To craft a game by oneself is no easy feat, and Feather is a singularly focused labor of enthusiasm. The crisp, minimalistic visuals combined with a compelling monologue offers an emotional experience that transcends mere bits and bytes.

 

The GD45’s Pitch and Play was a thorough success. Many fantastic games and the hard-working developers that crafted them were on display. Both Devan and I feel grateful for the opportunity to partake in this evening dedicated to the 45’s. The lense that we view this evening through, though highly subjective, is undoubtedly one of positivity. And we hope that you, dear reader, have the opportunity to come and visit a Pitch and Play in person, sometime in the near future.

Pitch and Play – The Road Ahead


Presentations

On April 6th, the GD44 and PG08 classes brought their final projects to members of Vancouver’s game industry. The program hosted over a hundred members to present their projects as well as give the opportunity to play the games as well. This allows both students and industry members to chat one-on-one. It was an electric night and some of the students were walking out that evening with interview and job opportunities.

 

Dan Sochan, an instructor at VFS opened the night with humour. Each game was given a witty and warm opening, and one-by-one teams came up to present. When asked the staff’s favourite part of the process, one replied with “How well the games came together. The students moved from being terrified to coming up after their presentations ecstatic celebrating their success.” Before the teams presented we also had the opportunity to chat with industry members who were excited to see what new things the students came up with and meet the students behind the games. “It is impressive seeing the quality of work that students achieve in such a short period of time,” said one excited industry member. There is much for industry members to keep coming back to, from variety to such a large feat in a compressed amount of time.

The students themselves explained they were filled with nerves, but when it came down to it they all stole the show on stage. All the hard work paid off and was worth it for the teams. “It was fun to watch them be pitched,” said instructor Mike Hayes, “The coolest part of the evening is seeing students appreciating their games, and recognizing their achievements.” Soon after the presentations were done, guests were invited up for food and drink and a chance to play. Below are the games that were pitched.

 

The Games of Pitch and Play

SpotAlex opened the night with his Augmented Reality app, Spot. He built it entirely by himself for others to use.  It gives people who use it the ability to find nearby events and navigate to them with ease. It has many side features like profile customization and access to email, LinkedIn, and more, to allow for easy networking with the people who host the events you attend. Perhaps the most intuitive feature is the map feature, which shows events near you on a Google Maps-style layout, right on your device, giving users the spatial awareness of how connected their city really is. Additionally, through the use of Bluetooth beacon devices, 3D models, signifying locations or event content can be viewed via augmented reality in real space using your device’s camera; it’s pretty slick! Despite Alex choosing to create a non-game based project, it was incredibly well received as he spent the night introducing people to his app, who were as impressed as they were interested.

 

Paragons of the Prism: This team created a fun couch co-op game with personality bursting from the seams. The goal of the game was to bounce projectiles into the enemy team’s goal post thus destroying their orb. The team presented well, and had a lot of fun on stage with their game. The team mentioned that some inspirations for the game included favorites like Pong and even Dodgeball; these inspirations shined through with their playful and chaotic gameplay.

 

Kuroma: The team created a race track with interesting hazards and jumps to create a unique racing experience. They handled everything from rubber banding players who had fallen behind to creating a networked experience for up to six players. The art style was realistic meeting retro, to make a visual target that was refreshing and original Their UI complimented the game’s overall visual style.

 

Scope: This game is a single-player sniper game set in a post-apocalyptic world. The game boasts a clean UI with unique enemies. Their presentation was led by their enthusiasm which also reflected the theme they created in the world of Scope. The environment was refreshing and the gameplay was as unique twist on sniper games where players control the bullets.

 

4 of Us: Two game genres came together to make 4 of Us. It was a unique cross between one RTS player fighting against four 3rd person shooter players. The team led with showing off the RTS in presentation as well as having a fellow student also demo the game at the same time. The team was on stage with high energy and enthusiasm for their final game.

 

The Lighting Guy: There is no game quite like the Lighting Guy. Your mission is to play as, you guessed it, the lighting guy at a local theatre. During pre-production in Term 4 teams are tasked to create four ideas, three promising, and one throwaway. This game was originally that, but it came together as something fun and unique in production. Voice actors who collaborated had fun saying garbled voice lines and laughing through it all. This game had a well-executed theme and passionate team that came together to make a great game.

 


Bijou & Big: This single-player puzzle game thrived in a living world in which you could use two robots to interact with anything. Lifting trees, punching enemies, the world was full of things to do and puzzles to solve. You went on the adventure with two robots with unique personalities. The team worked together to create a living world that players were eager to hop into to play as Bijou and Big.

 


It’s About Time: This team came in with an enthusiastic intro to their game. It is in a world where the player had to manipulate time and the environment to succeed and survive. Playing as sibling robots stuck out of time led to a game filled with time puns and interesting encounters to have. There is much gameplay to be found and fun interactions to have in wonderfully crafted world.

 

On the Floor

As a Game Design student at VFS, Pitch and Play night becomes something mythological, a monumental event that gives us an opportunity to make a splash with people from the industry. We have been through a number of Pitch and Play nights at the school for classes ahead of ours, and the Production Floor during these nights was always deemed strictly “Off Limits!!” An opportunity to get a sneak peek on this formerly sacred ground was a fantastic opportunity to see what goes on during the most important evening of the year for us. We were able to get some great insight and reactions from both the proud teams presenting their games, and the industry professionals who attended.

 

If Pitch and Play night on the production floor can be summed up in one word, it’s “Electric!” Over a hundred people crammed in with the teams for drinks, game playing and networking. The excitement in the air was palpable! People were lining up to play the games, and lots of introductions were being made to individuals from every team; just being in the room was exciting! Not only that but such a sense of pride be found. These were students we knew who worked tirelessly day in and out, who were all learning how to make a game with one another. What they were left with at the end of the night were products that impressed members at the industry level.

 

In the Future

At the end of the day so much was to be taken away: we got priceless advice on being on the floor ourselves, not to mention how to treasure our time going into production.

 

Some of the best advice we got were from the instructors who run the program.

“It’s all about the team. Games are a collaboration.” We really want to focus on treasuring our time with the team. Whether that is the Project Manager making us pancakes or playing Rock Band together as Game Design students do, in the rare moments we have time. Writing and keeping up a journal with the journey so far has helped the team capture funny stories and remember the great times.  This goes straight into instructor Glenn Hamilton’s advice, “Take pictures, it is such a short amount of time and you want to look back on those times.” Team pictures have already went into the game as Easter Eggs and as a sign of happy we are to be working on the project.

 

Several GD44’s I’ve talked to since graduation have all echoed this sentiment, saying that the time will just fly by, and to make sure to enjoy every second. I’d extend this to the entire program in general – at the time of writing, we’ve been at VFS for almost 9 months, and it’s been a crazy blur of late nights, great friends, and lots of pizza. Terms 1-4 have flown by.

 

Although we have only been on the floor for a few short weeks, we already are starting to get a real sense of appreciation for all the hard work our predecessors put into their games. Before undertaking a project of this size, there are a lot of components of this kind of monumental task that one may take for granted, down to just knowing how to efficiently add custom art assets into a game for other people to use, or making sure that a bullet fired from a gun goes where the player is looking. Each day is full of opportunities to learn, and since we’re still early in our stint on the production floor, it’s inspiring to think about how many of these little tricks and techniques the GD44’s picked up on their journey making the awesome games we saw on Pitch and Play Night.

 

The game industry is so unique in that it allows you to have a level of teamwork seldom seen elsewhere; it is hard not to love what I do every single day. We are both excited to reach Pitch and Play and what it holds for the future of all game design students.

 

Pocket Gamer Connects Vancouver Victoria Day deal!

Pocket Gamer Connects, the leading mobile games show in the western world is bringing its unique combination of inspirational speakers, grade A networking, and a vibrant expo to the gorgeous city of Vancouver this summer and we’d love you to join us!

Queen Victoria didn’t do things by halves. And neither do we. So in honour of Victoria Day this coming Monday we’re reducing all of our core tickets to PG Connects Vancouver conference on June 28-29.

Just don’t hang about, because this unique offer is both a time- and allocation-limited affair (come May 29th – or sooner if we run out – and it’s all over).

As with every PG Connects show, Vancouver will unite a cross-section of the entire mobile games ecosystem – from independent developers through media, tool makers, and monetisation experts up to the triple-A publishers and investors. We’ll look to span the globe too, with delegates from Asia, North America, Europe and the hottest emerging markets, as well as from across Canada.

There’ll be seven conference tracks to explore, covering everything from global publishing trends and how indies can survive and thrive to fund raising, monetisation and acquisition techniques, practical development workshops, and future-gazing. We’ll also cover VR extensively and be adding a dedicated ‘Made in Vancouver’ track to celebrate the creativity and talent in the BC area.

Previous shows have featured the biggest names from the leading publishers, including Supercell, King, Disney, Rovio, DeNA, Kabam, Glu, Seriously, Gree, and Square through to indie legends like Mike Bithell, Vlambeer, Fireproof, Ustwo, Etermax and countless others.

Ultimately, of course, the most value is in getting business done and we have multiple ways to facilitate networking including a free meeting tool for planning in advance, three dedicated pitch sessions (20/20 SpeedMatch for developers looking for publishers, Big Indie Pitch for upcoming devs to meet media, plus a dedicated investor event), a lively expo area, plus after-hours networking events including the legendary PG party.

Benefits for students

  • Learn about the business realities of mobile development and how the industry works
  • Pick up practical techniques and strategies for developing mobile games
  • Chance to get close to industry professionals and meet people who could potentially offer jobs/future partnership opportunities
  • Insight into how the industry works through talks and the report that is published with each ticket
  • Meet the media (lots of journalists in attendance + video interviews on site)
  • Opportunity to potential pitch (Very Big Indie Pitch)
  • Entrance to a high-level event with one very low-priced ticket

Those seven tracks in full

  • Indie Futures – A dedicated track for indie developers and how they can survive and thrive in the modern mobile ecosystem.
  • East Meets West: Global Mobile Gaming – Exploring the hottest regions, biggest trends, and best opportunities for mobile game publishers today including a focus on eSports and the latest from Asia.
  • Future Visions: VR & Beyond – A dedicated track looking at VR (not exclusively mobile) and emerging technologies that will affect the industry.
  • Monetise, Retain, Acquire – The latest tips, trends, and techniques in UA and monetisation.
  • Mobile Games University – A dedicated track full of practical tips and workshops on everything from creating great ideas to running liveops.
  • Show Me the Money – Exploring the different sources and approaches of raising funds, from angels and publisher partnerships to government funding and VCs.
  • Made in Vancouver – A dedicated track celebrating the best of Vancouver and British Columbia.

Networking & other key features

  • Pitch & Match – Free business matching meeting system for all attendees.
  • PGC App – Free app to get updates and connect with other delegates on the fly.
  • Big Indie Pitch – Indie developers pitch media and selected experts for prizes and feedback on their upcoming games.
  • 20/20 SpeedMatch – 20 publishers, 20 developers, 2 hours, 1 room. 20 Guaranteed meetings for all selected participants.
  • Expo Area – Discover games, technologies, services and more.
  • I Love Indie Showcase – Up-and-coming indies show off their games in the dedicated expo area.
  • PG Party – Let your hair down, get your dancing shoes on, and your business cards out in our relaxed, always-popular after-hours event.

Initial Speakers include:

  • Ville Heijari – CMO Rovio
  • Phil Hickey – Seriously
  • Chris Akhavan – Glu
  • Peter Qumsieh – Bandai Namco Studios
  • Kent Wakeford – Kabam
  • David Phan – Relic Entertainment / Sega
  • Nicholas Pezarro – Pocket Gems
  • Jikhan Jung – Colopl
  • Chris Petrovic – Kabam
  • Stuart Duncan – IceJam
  • Shum Singh – Agnitio Capital
  • Devin Radford – Fox
  • Macy Mills – CAA / Hitcents

Plus representatives from EA, Hothead Games, Unity, GameSparks, Roadhouse, Magmix, Eastside Games, Iugo and many more!

VFS SUMMER INTENSIVE – THE GAME DESIGN EXPERIENCE

Whether soaking in some rays on the beach or hiking up mountain trails, summertime in Vancouver allows people to enjoy all the natural beauty the city has to offer.  Summertime in Vancouver also marks the time for Vancouver Film School to host its Summer Intensives – and we did just that.

From July 21 to 25, 2014, the Game Design program opened its doors to 16 fresh faced and enthusiastic individuals wanting a small taste of what it would be like to enroll in the program.  Located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district the school is a hub of game design activity, bringing together people from various backgrounds and experiences to join in their common passion of video games.

 

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Think Design: The Endowment Effect

Close your eyes, and… No, wait! Don’t close your eyes, or you won’t be able to read this post.

Okay, keep your eyes open, definitely keep your eyes open. Now imagine your home. Imagine walking through it, from room to room. See your belongings exactly as you have them. Your furniture, artwork, electronics, clothes, everything. Now think of something you own that is valuable to you. Got something in mind? Great. How much would you sell it for? If it’s something really valuable to you, maybe you wouldn’t sell it for any price. Maybe you feel it has sentimental value. Part of what creates this sentimental value is the Endowment Effect.

The endowment effect says that we value things more when we own them. This is why home sellers often think that realtors and buyers are undervaluing their house. It’s also why we sometimes have a hard time lending books, movies, or games to friends. Because once we own something, it’s no longer a house or a game, it’s our house or my game.

I’m not sure if I want you borrowing my car – it’s a classic.

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Six Strategies for Seasonal Game Content

Six Strategies for Seasonal Game Content

By Adrian Crook

Forget snow… here’s how to “make it rain” at Christmas!

Just a few years ago, seasonal content was a fresh concept in mobile game product management. Now, it’s par for the course. Still, many companies still aren’t getting the results from seasonal content that they’re hoping for.

That’s a shame, because the holiday season is the largest spending event of the year, and each year mobile sales and digital goods are becoming a larger part of that ecosystem. From 2011 to 2012, there was a 250% increase in mobile traffic over Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday (according to Compuware APM). It’s vital that your organization learn to harness this force of nature, because your competition most certainly will.

At Adrian Crook & Associates, we’ve worked with clients to improve their seasonal content offerings, helping them avoid common mistakes and boost revenue. That’s why we’ve prepared this list of strategies that will help you develop high-performing seasonal content. It’s focused on the holiday season, but the principles can apply to any event year round.

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Game Review: Disney Infinity

DI_Logo

Disney Infinity

Release Date: August 18, 2013
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Genre:
Adventure / Sandbox
Plataform: PS3 / 360 / Wii U / Wii / 3DS / Mobile / PC

Lets face it: everyone is a Disney fan! I honestly won’t believe you if you say that at one point of your life you weren’t touched by Disney’s unique way of telling stories. Whether by their characters, art, animations, parks, shows, songs or even by Mickey himself. I bet you have experienced that “magic” and, if you are a human full of emotions, you probably fell in love too.

And finally the big day arrives for all of those Disney lovers: the big release of Disney Infinity, a game that – as Disney – is everywhere. Or at least in almost all platforms. The player can find it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo WiiU – as the main console version – or even on Nintendo 3DS, following more as a “Mario Party” gameplay style. Nintendo Wii also received the game for its platform, though with fewer features, such as the absence of a co-op experience in the Play Set part of the game. And if it wasn’t enough, players can also experience Disney Infinity on PC and iOS devices, offering the options to build, edit and share all of your toy box experiments at any time.

For the ones who still don’t know, the game allows players to share their creations on ANY PLATFORM. It doesn’t matter if you are a Nintendo player, you can easily share your Toy Box with an user that plays on PlayStation 3, for example.

WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE

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Game Design Robot Demo for Foundation

On July 1 three instructors from the game design program visited the Foundation program to give the students an overview of the wonderful world of games that they could create if they enroll. Those instructors were Bren Lynn, Andrew Laing & Roger Mitchell.

The talk consisted of three parts; Introduction to Game Design, Creation of Art, and Empowering your Game Code.

The Introduction to Game Design.

The game demo we showed is of two types of battling robots, who are trying to destroy each other. They both have start positions or spawn points, which are locations that generate the robots at the beginning. These spawn points also allow more robots to be created from the same location.   Each robot comes with a rapid fire gun and grenade launcher.  The students will be able to alter the parameters for weapons range and fire rate, robots speed, stamina and shield abilities, as well as adjusting spawn damage range. The win state will be when the boss robot is destroyed.

To help the students understand the game demo, we gave them a copy of the basic game to use.

Rules of the Design.

The ideas for this Robot Game demo is born in design… How will the gameplay work? Do the enemies attack patterns change? Can you introduce new elements that will alter the game play? How will the win or lose conditions be satisfied? Will it all evolve? These were the types of questions that were proposed, and discussed as part of this segment.
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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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