Tech Talk – Entering the Scary World of Coding

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When students first come to VFS one of their major worries is often: will they be able to handle the coding?  The answer to me is obvious – and it’s almost always a resounding yes!  That is because the curriculum at VFS has been designed to teach everything you need without prior knowledge of coding.

People also ask me a lot – don’t you get bored teaching introductory programming in term 1?  The answer is definitely not.  The more advanced classes are great fun too, but for me my favorite class is week 7 of Programming 1.  Seven weeks earlier, twenty or so students start my class; most with no experience coding.  And seven weeks later they are producing group projects with thousands of lines of code.  Seeing that transformation and their confidence developing never gets old.

Coding is not for everyone though and some students decide in the end it is not a career they want to pursue – so does that mean they can’t make games?  Absolutely not – there are so many different disciplines that go into making games, from art to design, audio to production.  However even if you choose one of these other great avenues, you will benefit from the knowledge you gained about what programmers do and how they work.  That is why it’s a core part of the curriculum that everyone learns in their first term.  If you want to learn more then you can choose to go deeper in later stream choices.

But I’m biased – don’t take my word for it!  Here are the thoughts of three students from last term that have just finished Programming 1:

Juan Carlos Perezcruz Pintos

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Things You Wish You Knew About Unity v4 Before You Went To The Dev Floor

So there you are, you’re sitting downstairs on the Dev Floor sweating bullets over your final project and the line of code or prefab that you’re staring at just isn’t working and all you can think is “WTF is going on — I know I’m doing everything right… it must be Unity‘s fault.” So you take the next logical course of action; you wander over to Bren Lynne and Peter Walsh‘s office. No dice; they are off helping someone else or teaching… What now?

Sadly, for those of you who fit the above scenario, this article may have come a little bit too late. But for the rest of you, this article may give you a hand with some of the stickier points that you may encounter, as well as with some common problems that my class had a hard time with. As of my writing this I believe that VFS Game Design has upgraded to the newest Unity (4.1) but all or almost all of this is relevant, regardless.

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Sony’s PS4 Announcement

PS4 Announcement

After watching a huge two-hour press conference from New York with a group of students and instructors, where Sony announced the PS4 for release this Holiday season, I decided to share a few of my thoughts on the new console (but remember, nobody has actually played it or seen the actual unit yet).

The production value behind this event was very high, even being described by some as extravagant. The call went out to a lot of well-known industry personalities, who were there to help support the cause. Sony clearly wanted to show that they had addressed development issues and that world class developers were on board with the product. We all like the idea of consoles still being relevant. It already feels a bit nostalgic, though.

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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.

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