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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GDC Follow up 2: 10 Predictions For The Game Industry

The most stirring talk at GDC this year had to be Manveer Heir’s talk “Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia: Where Do Video Games Stand?” but that’s already very well covered by the internet in general.  Go read about it, then come back here. This article is on the future of the game industry according to GDC presenters.

It’s easy to sound smart at GDC, or in games in general. Just talk about how we got the industry to the state we are now. Through the power of hindsight you sound like a genius with just a bit of research. The really brave GDC presenters were the ones making predictions about the future.

Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat was one of the brave ones this year, making ten predictions in just an hour, including a number of questions the industry really doesn’t want to hear.

1)    Are we in a golden age?

2)    Are we in a bubble?

3)    Do valuations of game companies make sense?

4)    Who is going to win?

5)    Who is the most efficient at making games?

6)    How many people do you need to make great games?

7)    Who is going to grow?

8)    What are the risks?

9)    How do you wind down a game?

10) What is gaming’s dark side?

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On the Other Side of the Table

I’m Alvin and I graduated from the VFS Game Design Program. As a student, I focused on learning as much as I could, and everything came at me so fast that often the details got fuzzy. As a Teaching Assistant, or being on the other side of the table as some like to call it, that focus needed to be redirected toward fine details and assisting students.

Within a three hour lecture, a student is given a lot of information that they’re expected to just remember. But obviously there are going to be points that stand out more, and there will be points that they’ll forget altogether unless they put it into practice daily. The majority of the students probably won’t care about that small portion of information that was forgotten. But when a single student comes to us with a question about even the most minuscule detail, it’s up to us to have an answer they can trust and move forward with.

Now I’m not saying as a TA you have to immediately study all the details and potential questions that students may have, but one of the most important things is to be prepared. This may require that you’ll have to do the assignment yourself to really understand where the questions are coming from, and what other potential questions may be. It’s also very important to have a solid foundation of knowledge on that particular piece of software. If you understand all the components that you’re working with, it just takes a bit of disassembling and finding the source of your issue. Most of the problems students have will come down to the fine details; being prepared and having a solid foundation just makes things easier.

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GDC2014: Teaching Sportsmanship in League Of Legends

At GDC 2014 one of the most interesting talks for me was a talk by Jeff Lynn of Riot Games on encouraging sportsmanship in players. This concept isn’t new in engineering online experiences but Riot Games has an interesting twist in that Riot Games focuses on four different ‘behavior inflection points’ rather than just in-game behaviour.

 

Choosing a game mode, pre-game, in-game and post-game are all seen as points to encourage sportsmanship behaviours. If you pave the way towards good experiences before matches or after matches, you greatly increase the odds that a players’ overall experience is seen as positive.

 

The company starts from the premise that all players are inherently good, but bad contexts give rise to bad behaviours. If a player has a positive day, gets the character and role they want, then obviously they’re entering the game on a high note, coincidentally it all worked out in the players’ favour. On the other hand, if they had a bad day, can’t get the player they want, they’re having a bad experience before they start playing.

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Success Principle #1 For Getting Paid To Make Games

There is nothing wrong with floating through life. You know, drifting wherever the wind takes you.

It can be fun and relaxing and free of tough decisions or responsibilities.

BUT… if this is how you are approaching your Video Game career, you will likely land in a puddle or get haplessly stuck against a tree, or perhaps snapped into the jaws of a hungry dog who mistook you for a squirrel. “Squirrel!”

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Think Design: The Endowment Effect

Close your eyes, and… No, wait! Don’t close your eyes, or you won’t be able to read this post.

Okay, keep your eyes open, definitely keep your eyes open. Now imagine your home. Imagine walking through it, from room to room. See your belongings exactly as you have them. Your furniture, artwork, electronics, clothes, everything. Now think of something you own that is valuable to you. Got something in mind? Great. How much would you sell it for? If it’s something really valuable to you, maybe you wouldn’t sell it for any price. Maybe you feel it has sentimental value. Part of what creates this sentimental value is the Endowment Effect.

The endowment effect says that we value things more when we own them. This is why home sellers often think that realtors and buyers are undervaluing their house. It’s also why we sometimes have a hard time lending books, movies, or games to friends. Because once we own something, it’s no longer a house or a game, it’s our house or my game.

I’m not sure if I want you borrowing my car – it’s a classic.

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Gamers can read! This week: Traitor’s Blade

Are you salivating while you wait for season 4 of Game of Thrones? Well I have just the thing to tide you over until that GoT itch can be scratched. It’s called a book! You remember those! And interestingly enough, I just learned that Game of Thrones is actually based on a series of them. The tome I am reviewing today is called Traitor’s Blade.

Traitor’s Blade is high fantasy that follows the exploits of swordsman Falcio val Mond. The setting is a medieval world named Tristia which is divided into several duchies. Tristia is a very well thought out land and contains many factions and history of its own. And if you enjoy a lot of action, witty writing and great storytelling you are sure to enjoy Traitor’s Blade.

The opening sequence makes it very clear that this story is not for children but rather adult fans of fantasy. And no quarter is afforded to the reader when it comes to the depictions of violence contained within. The combat sequences are very well detailed and part of that description is going to include the unpleasant end result for one duelist every time.

Busy author Sebastien de Castell was kind enough to answer a few questions in between his book signings and other interviews.

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3D Pipeline Process: Tips & Tricks

Often-times students ask me what the process is of creating art and getting it in-game. The plethora of tools available for artists to use these days means that there is really no one true answer to that question. Through research of my own and working closely with others, I’ve continually iterated and built on my own workflow and pipeline process to a point at which I’m happy with the results. Below I’ll be sharing with you a quick overview of the process that I use in creating art.

Concept Creation:

Whether you work in Zbrush or in Maya, the early block out stage is extremely important. At this stage in the game art-creation is all about working fast and agile to suss out the overall theme and tone of the character or art-piece.

Iteration:

Through time and continually building up your model you will eventually have a high resolution mesh you are happy with. This process can be time consuming and consists of continually adding-to and taking away from the design and concept of your project. Having good reference separates good art from great art at this stage.

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Graduation & Awards show for the 32nd class of Game Design

The Olympics are over, 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 February 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 speech from myself, then the student-elected class speaker Rony Miller spoke from the hip about his classmates past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Jonathan Falkowski closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and stories about this crazy batch of students.

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 Miles, Melissa, Sebastian, Gui, and Karthik, all who graduated with honours.
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Think Design : Anchoring

Most blog posts take about 15 minutes to read. This one should only take you about 5.

Today, we’re taking a look at another concept that affects the decisions we make. And I’ll warn you now: even when you know of this effect, it will be almost impossible to avoid falling for them.

Imagine you are going to donate to a charity you support. How much would you give:

  • $10
  • $25
  • $100
  • $500
  • $1000

I’m going to guess you chose either $10 or $25. Very few would choose $500, and almost no one would choose $1000. The reason is anchoring. When we have a few options to choose from, we often use an anchor as a kind of reference point, and compare the other options to it. In this case, the first number we see is $10, so we compare the other amounts to $10. Here, even $100 seems a lot when compared to $10.

But imagine if the order was reversed:

  • $1000
  • $500
  • $100
  • $25
  • $10

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