Games, Stories, and Game Stories

This post is an excerpt from the Foreword to “Side Stories: Short Fiction by Game Developers”.

 

What’s the story of Tetris?

Success disappears, and failure piles up.

 

Game developers are unique creatures, just as games are a unique art form.

And games definitely are an art form.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Game developers tend to be voracious consumers of media, especially entertainment media.  Most game developers I know are also rabid readers, cinephiles, comic book nuts, music lovers, and news junkies.  They are cultural sponges, soaking up everything that modern media has to offer, and letting it all simmer in a dynamic mix of references, influences, information, trivia, memes, styles, and themes.

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Unite 2013

The annual conference by Unity Technologies was held August 28-30, this time in VFS Game Design’s home city. For three days, the Vancouver Convention Centre was swarmed by hundreds of Unity developers, from all over the world – four days, if you count the August 27 Training day, a bonus for those new to the technology.

Again, the Unite conference showed what a great piece of software Unity is, and will become.

The opening keynotes by CEO David Hegalson and CTO Joachim Ante described the evolving technical and philosophical direction of the company, with the expected amount of touchy feely about democratizing game development, and changing the world, both of which appear to be going according to plan.

David’s new announcements included Unity Cloud, a mobile ad service going into closed beta, and Unity Games, which sounds like an evolution of Union, Unity’s publishing platform. Joachim primarily talked about improvements to Unity’s GUI and 2D systems in version 4.3, both a long time coming, as well as some great improvements to the Mecanim animation system. No firm date on the next version, though. Understandable, given 4.2 shipped shortly before the conference.

Then, legendary game designer Richard Garriott, back from Earth orbit, gave a guest keynote that was a nostalgic stroll through his three decades of game development. The perspective made one appreciate how far game development has come, and the remarkable tool that Unity is.

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Unity Visits VFS Game Design

Unity Presentation

Last week (Tuesday, May 21, 2013) the students of VFS Game Design got an unexpected treat when a few folks from Unity Technologies dropped by for a visit.

Carl Callewaert (Unity Evangelist), Randy Spong (Field Engineer), and Kevin Robertson (Business Development) toured the VFS Game Design campus, and had a good look at all the final project games underway by Game Design classes 28 and 29.  It was a good time for Unity to visit, because at the moment, every student final game project is being created using Unity!

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FULL INDIE SUMMIT

Held by the organizers of the tremendously successful Full Indie monthly meetup, the Full Indie Summit saw hundreds of independent game developers from all over the west coast pack into the Rio Theatre on Saturday, April 20 to listen to more than a dozen short talks by independent game developers and others. Attendees included a significant number of VFS students and grads. It was great to see so many familiar faces!

Nels Anderson of Klei Entertainment opened the summit with an excellent talk on his strategies for developing Mark of the Ninja. He covered all the typical elements of stealth action games, and how he went about both converting and inverting them when creating a 2D stealth game.

Next up was Jeff Isselee from Skull Theatre who spoke about the fascinating photogrammetry art pipeline they are using for their Unity-powered game, Rustclad. Photogrammetry essentially means creating 3d models from photographs of real-world models and objects. The results are both impressive and unique.

Joel Green gave a talk called Game n’ Farmer, in which he prognosticated on the possibility of game development outside of cities — specifically, from a rural homestead on Vancouver Island. As a game developer who dislikes city living more and more every day, I found his talk intriguing and inspiring.

VFS Game Design alumnus, Nick Yonge of Krang Games spoke about his strategies for rapid development, offering tons of great tips when developing prototypes or vertical slices.
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