The time has come.
Our class (GD33) has finally moved to the 2nd floor! This means we’re back to 12-hour days of classes and work, but most of this time is now dedicated to our final project games, instead of assignments. It’ll be busy, I’m sure, but sometimes we spend so much time thinking about where we’re going that we neglect to appreciate the journey there. So: our team has decided to document our game through weekly devlogs*!
* Provided at least one team member has the energy and time remaining on each Friday to write one. As you might guess from the title, we didn’t really have time the first two weeks.
- Project Manager: Juan Carlos Perezcruz
- Artist: Tyson Bednar
- Lead Programmer: Anna Prein
- Graphics Programmer: Michelangelo Pereira Huezo
Another term, another Hat Jam! This one was held the weekend before Halloween, so we decided to choose 13 horror-esque classical artworks, and have the teams randomly draw one to work with. As is becoming standard for Hat Jam, we were blown away by the results. Instructors Bren Lynne and Victor Kam sacrificed some of their precious Sunday time to come out and judge — not to mention that Bren was also a sporadic Unity mentor through-out the weekend! Both have our utmost gratitude for supporting the Hat Jam cause. Prizes were donated by Microsoft, and included full licensed copies of Windows 8 for the top 4 teams.
Grand Prize: Masked [Play here!]
Team Members (left to right): Spencer Goring (GD34), Willy Campos (GD34), Carlos Eduardo Da Costa Novaes (GD34)
Theme: Mask Still Life III, by Emil Nolde
This team received one of the less classically-oriented paintings to work with, and turned out an exceptionally clever platformer, worthy of the Grand Prize. Each mask shows you the world in a different way, and use of all three masks is required to advance. On top of the great gameplay and puzzle elements, this team turned out some beautiful visual effects and stayed true to their theme, for a wonderfully cohesive game. Given more time, the judges believed the concept and mechanics behind this game could really lead to something great.
Following the success of the first Hat Jam, myself (Anna Prein) and classmate Michelangelo Pereira Huezo banded together to organize the second incarnation of this VFS game jam. Leaping Coyote Interactive also generously offered to sponsor this time, meaning that we could provide some food, snacks, donuts, and lots and lots of coffee.
If you already know what a game jam is, go ahead and skip this paragraph, but otherwise — a game jam is an event (usually over 48 consecutive hours) in which teams create a small game from start to finish. Game jams are increasingly more popular these days, with events like Global Game Jam, Ludum Dare, and Indie Speed Run! Some have prizes, but all game jams are fundamentally about the same core values of teamwork, creativity, and passion. They’re also a great way to learn, as GD34’s Daniel Garma will attest to: “You learn so much by jamming. People don’t even know. They don’t even KNOW.”
This time around, nearly 30 VFS Game Design students and TAs participated, creating eight fabulous games. Each team drew a theme from our fancy hat; themes were produced by the Video Game Name Generator. From there, it was a grueling 48 hours of work, work, work, and temporary periods of sleep-deprivation-induced madness.
A Dark Room came to me right after last month’s Full Indie, where I discussed with a few people about why I don’t play many text games. As an artist, I am deeply invested in visuals and find it difficult to get into games with poor graphic styles or games that are text-only — not to mention that despite being an average writer myself, I’m harsh on other people’s writing. Well, that was silly. It seems like I was playing all the wrong text games.
The only visuals you’ll find in A Dark Room are very minimal ASCII, in what I assume is a later part of the game. Or is it only the beginning? The appeal of this game lies very much in how much it doesn’t tell you.
Term 2! Term 2! So much to do!
If you know what I’m cheering about, congratulations, because I don’t (yet). After the happy-fun-bonding times of Term 1, where we had relatively few assignments and spent hours playing Super Mario Bros. WiiU (which, by the way, is fabulous, and I encourage everyone to check it out from the Resources room… if our class hasn’t taken it already), Term 2 is like a road into darkness.
I don’t mean to be ominous or anything, but when there are instructors approaching you with warnings about the increased workload, you start to worry. We’ve seen first-hand what Term 2 does to people, too. The class before us, Game Design class 32, started it off cheerily enough, popping into our room to say hi on a near-daily basis. Then they began to disappear. We’d pack up to leave at 10 pm, and find them in the kitchen, preparing for an all-nighter — and that was only half-way through! Spottings of Moustafa grew fewer. The circles under their eyes grew darker. (But we love you, GD32!)
It’s Week 5 of Term 1, and we thought it was about time for us to sit down and have a chat – “we” being Janel Jolly and Anna Prein, from VFS Game Design‘s Class 33. Being both recipients of the Women in Games Scholarship, we wanted to learn more about each other, and what we thought of the program. So, let’s start!
Janel Jolly : Hey Anna! I’ll go ahead and start with the first question. What attracted you to the Game Design program at the Vancouver Film School?
Anna Prein : I’ve been living in Vancouver for about 5 years now, and a former roommate actually applied for the same Women in Games Scholarship a few years back. Once I had finished having my existential crisis about doing an unrelated undergraduate degree and then committed to pursuing game design, VFS was the first school I thought of.
In the past year, I started actively going to events in the community here, like Full Indie, and I kept meeting VFS Game Design graduates who were all intensely positive about their experience and who urged me to apply. I think that was definitely the biggest push! What about you?