Grad Night for the 36th class of Game Design

It’s Fall in Vancouver, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. It’s graduation night, a night to celebrate, to look back on the year, and recognize the amazing things they have done.

The Graduation and Awards show on October 23rd has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a congratulatory speech from the Head of Game Design Dave Warfield, then the student-elected class speaker David Milne took us through stories of the past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Rick Davidson closed the speeches with his advice for the class.

Each of the speakers had some deep insight into what they had just been through, and how to prepare for the coming months, but mostly it was a chance to look back on the year, and look ahead to the bright future this class has. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to James, Ian, David, James, and Matthew, all who graduated with honours.

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GD34 Graduation & Awards Show

Summer is finally here, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. It’s graduation night, a night to celebrate, to look back on the year, and recognize the amazing things they have done.

The Graduation and Awards show on June 27th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a congratulatory speech from the Head of Game Design Dave Warfield, then the student-elected class speaker Daniel Garma took us back through a timeline of  this past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Calder Archinuk closed the speeches with an overview of the 34 iterations of his grad speech.

 

 

Each of the speakers had some deep insight into what they had just been through, and how to prepare for the coming months, but mostly it was a chance to look back on the year, and look ahead to the bright future this class has. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Guerric, Nicha, Jeremy, Rafe, Jakobsen, Spencer, and Jaymee, all who graduated with honours.

 
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The Importance of Reverse Engineering

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There are many people out there who think they have a winning game concept based on borrowing and meshing two or more concepts together. One such example that I’ve heard a lot recently is taking the combat of Dark Souls 2 and combining it with some other game feature. Whether that’s with a narrative of another game, a different type of RPG system or the platforming of another game; at face value it seems like it could be really cool, especially if you enjoy the combat of Dark Souls 2. If you were to try to make this game a reality, it would be very important to understand how exactly Dark Souls combat works as well as why it is made to be a certain way and what about that appeals to you and other players. Without it, you are likely to end up with a combat system that feels nothing like what you were hoping for. This is what we call Reverse Engineering.

Reverse Engineering is the practice of taking something that already exists and peeling away its layers to better understand exactly what makes it tick. For example, Super Mario is known for having an intuitive jump that makes sense for the player to use. If I was to make a game that revolved around platforming and jumping, it would be very important for me to take a close look at Mario’s jump to understand what about it resonates with players. How low and high can Mario jump? What is the full range of both jump height as well as horizontal movement? How long does it take for Mario to complete a jump? How long does the player have to hold the jump button for to achieve the maximum jump? How much of an impact does sprinting have on his jump? What is the rate of acceleration for his ascent and descent? How long does Mario “float” at the peak of his jump?

Mario Jump in order of input

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Creative Coding

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People often put creativity and logic at odds. This seems rather silly to me, an unnecessary and limiting binary. You have to be very creative to solve problems with logic, and creative efforts often demand a applied and determined logic. Creating a plot that keeps your reader engaged requires creating an internally consistent set of rules for your setting and applying them. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they found it odd that I loved both creative writing and mathematics, but honestly I love systems. When I started coding I found a wonderful blend of the creative creation of systems, and the analytic study of those systems. Plus, it makes me feel like a sorcerer.

I think that when you empower the player to experience and enjoy those systems and if you make powerful code you give designers the feeling of directly making the action. But there will always be a gap between design and code implementations. I cannot give a designer a tool that codes for them, and even the most detailed instructions are ultimately interpreted or else your map is as big as your world. And that is why as a new game designer I felt it was imperative to learn to code and to dive as deeply into that part of our field as I could. It’s wonderful to get to input values into a publicly available variable and change how high a character can jump, but I wanted to create how the character jumped. Does it use physics, or translate its motion across spaces? Is it pulled by an invisible game object, or are the motions one to one with animation? As a writer, I wanted to create stories to put in my games, but I wanted even more to lay the narrative in the foundations of the actions and logic that created meaning for the player moment to moment. I want to give the player the best tools to make their most meaningful stories within the worlds where they play.

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GD33 Graduation & Awards Show

Spring is in the air, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. It’s graduation night, a night to celebrate, to look back on the year, and recognize the amazing things they have done.

The Graduation and Awards show on April 24th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a congratulatory speech from the Head of Game Design Dave Warfield, then the student-elected class speaker Janel Jolly spoke about the strength of the bond between all of her classmates this past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Dan Sochan closed the speeches with some great advice and words of wisdom for the most recent group of Game Design Alumni.

 

Each of the speakers had some deep insight into what they had just been through, and how to prepare for the coming months, but mostly it was a chance to look back on the year, and look ahead to the bright future this class has. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Alberto, Frankie, Maria and Janel, all who graduated with honours.
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2014 brings a new addition to the VFS family

In case you haven’t heard, we are excited to add a brand-new, innovative program to the award-winning educational roster at VFS.

Programming for Games, Web & Mobile is the first of its kind in the industry: a comprehensive one-year program that provides grads with the technical, creative, and industry knowledge to work in an almost unprecedented number of fields. An incredible array of skills are learned and an incredible range of industry doors are opened.

The course was designed by Dave Warfield, Head of Game Design; Peter Walsh, Game Design Senior Instructor; and Miles Nurse, Head of Digital Design. Many months of research and planning went into the program, along with students, alumni, recruiter, and industry consultations.

The entertainment arts industry relies on skilled programmers, who are the technical lynchpins to digital media projects, from Interactive Designers and Front-End Developers, to VFX Programmers and Technical Architects. Programming for Games, Web & Mobile is all about becoming a better, smarter, more versatile and hireable developer.

If you would like to learn more about Programming for Games, Web & Mobile, or know someone who would be interested, please visit the program page or speak to an advisor.

We are extremely proud of all the hard work that has gone into this program and are excited to see it start in March and grow the world-class educational experience that is Vancouver Film School.

Hat Jam 3: Thirteen Games

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.

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Graduation and Awards Show for the 30th class of Game Design

It’s almost Halloween, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. It’s graduation night, a night to celebrate, to look back on the year, and recognize the amazing things they have done.

The Graduation and Awards show on October 17th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a speech from myself, then the student-elected class speaker Anthony Bruno broke down some vital statistics of his past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Andrew Laing closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and stories about fog.

Each of the speakers had some deep insight into what they had just been through, and how to prepare for the coming months, but mostly it was a chance to look back on the year, and look ahead to the bright future this class has. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Anthony, Andy, Elad, Eric, Joel and Adrien, all who graduated with honours.
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Level Design, Game Programming, or Game Art?

It’s about time to choose streams now.

The time flies so fast. 4 months passed, since I have studied here.
Term 2 is going end. Term 3 with more specialized courses is coming.
To become more specialized in each game development’s field, VFS let us choose 2 major streams in term 3.
We still have other Game Design courses, but these ones allow us to go deeper in areas we are interested in.

We have to choose 2 from the following available 3 streams

1. Level Design: More level design on UDK and also game environment design in Unity. We are going to get our hands on these tools and level design tips!

   

 2. Game Programming: Advance programming in c# with more complex topics such as AI, network, etc. And a course for HTML5.

       

3. Game Art: More on 3D modelling and lighting techniques. The most artistic courses!

 

In Team management class, teacher Rick Davidson (GD02) reminded everyone about “specializing”. This course really clicks everyone’s passion and also motivates us.

He told us to think about and write down what we really want to do, and what we want to be, and MAKE THIS STICK! DO IT! GO FOR IT!

For me, I choose level design and Game Art, because they are the top two things I love to do. I have found out that I enjoy doing the assignments of both Level Design and Game Art courses.

In conclusion,

“Choose what you are passionate about”

You have to work hard on the assignments in your chosen stream. You are going to make your portfolio and go to work in these fields.

May the passion be with you! :D


Nicha Jaijadesuk is Game Design student at VFS, and a winner of the Women in Games Scholarship

A few tips for Game Programming Newcomers

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So far I’ve been in the VFS Game Design program for about three months and it´s been a great experience overall!  I’ve been meeting new people, working on lots of school assignments, but most important,  I’m always having a fun time doing it.  I’m currently in Term 2 of the program which is offering a broad overview of all subject matter revolving around game design, but in Term 3 we are tasked with choosing 2 out of the 3 specializations to focus on. Art, Level Design and Coding.

Many people want to know what specialization is the best option for themselves and their current set of needs and skills. Some even can ask themselves “Is programming hard? Am I good enough to learn and become a good coder?”.  The answer is: Yes you can! Good news is that technology is constantly moving so fast that the Game Industry always has a high demand for programmers between Junior and Senior positions. If you are interested in creating your own games, including prototypes that can show off the core gameplay mechanic, then programming is a great path for you.

The coding world is vast with plenty of topics to explore such as Object Oriented Programming, Artificial Intelligence and Algorithm Design. One thing to take in to consideration is learning programming languages like Python, C# and C++. If you are really new into programming you may want to learn Python first.  This language is considered to be a great option to introduce people into the coding world. After getting used to the syntax of Python, C# will come more easily to you.   C# is one of the best options for scripting in game engines such as Unity. Once you’ve gained some experience and understand the basic concepts and logic in computer programming, C++ is next with more advanced topics like pointers and manual memory management.  C++ is considered to be the industry standard language. So if you are serious about game development then you should give it a try.

The following are a few tips I have found useful as both a student and a programmer.

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