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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The Game Design Summer Intensive Experience 2013

During the week of July 8 to 12, 2013, the Game Design program at Vancouver Film School, located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district, welcomed 15 brave explorers to its Game Design Summer Intensive experience. These explorers may have come from different lands and backgrounds, but they had one thing in common – a passion for creating video games. It is thanks to this passion that they found themselves enrolled in a week-long intensive experience of All Things Video Game Design.

DAY I

The students’ initiation began with a welcome from the Head of the Game Design program Dave Warfield, after which they were off to their first class of Game Theory taught by Instructor Chris Mitchell and Senior Instructor Andrew Laing. During the course of the day students became immersed in the roles of the game designer and analyzed the basic rules and mechanics of gaming.

One of the hardest things to do is to come up with an idea… and by idea, I mean a ‘good’ idea.  There is a fine art to making a game challenging yet entertaining – the motto: if a segment of the game or level is not fun to play, then it needs to be cut, no matter how much you love it. Chris and Andrew shared useful advice, suggestions, techniques and approaches on how to keep the creative process fresh and flourishing, as well where to find inspiration.

Right off the bat, students were divided into teams and asked to brainstorm unique game ideas, keeping in mind 5 essential questions:
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?

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Game Design Summer Intensives

All this week it’s the Summer Intensive sessions here at Game Design, a chance for aspiring Game Designers to get a sneak peek at the types of things we do here at the Game Design campus. Starting with some Game Theory, and wrapping up with creating games in Flash, our 1 week students have been very busy. Yesterday they spent the day understanding Level Design, and using the same tools that Level Designers in the games industry use. More details on the Summer Intensives next week.

Level Design instructor Calder Archinuk tries to figure out how to help one student,
while another student has just blown her mind with her creation in UDK (Unreal Development Kit)

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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VFS Game Design Summer Intensive : Level, Story, Art

UDK First-Person Shooter

The VFS Game Design Summer Intensive covered a lot of ground over days two and three, delving into Level DesignStorytelling/Interactive Narrative and Game Art.

Day 2 introduced the students to the core of game design: constructing the environment and scripting the events of the play. Game Design Instructor and 3D Environment Artist, Victor Kam, introduced students to the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), which uses the Unreal Engine (a game engine developed by Epic Games, first used in the 1998 first-person shooter game Unreal). UDK is a free download available to the general public (for non-commercial games, although, games built using the free kit can be sold according to certain relatively minor stipulations outlined in Unreal Technology’s Licensing Terms).


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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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