Game Design Robot Demo for Foundation

On July 1 three instructors from the game design program visited the Foundation program to give the students an overview of the wonderful world of games that they could create if they enroll. Those instructors were Bren Lynn, Andrew Laing & Roger Mitchell.

The talk consisted of three parts; Introduction to Game Design, Creation of Art, and Empowering your Game Code.

The Introduction to Game Design.

The game demo we showed is of two types of battling robots, who are trying to destroy each other. They both have start positions or spawn points, which are locations that generate the robots at the beginning. These spawn points also allow more robots to be created from the same location.   Each robot comes with a rapid fire gun and grenade launcher.  The students will be able to alter the parameters for weapons range and fire rate, robots speed, stamina and shield abilities, as well as adjusting spawn damage range. The win state will be when the boss robot is destroyed.

To help the students understand the game demo, we gave them a copy of the basic game to use.

Rules of the Design.

The ideas for this Robot Game demo is born in design… How will the gameplay work? Do the enemies attack patterns change? Can you introduce new elements that will alter the game play? How will the win or lose conditions be satisfied? Will it all evolve? These were the types of questions that were proposed, and discussed as part of this segment.
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Diving into Game Design @ VFS

Every year, VFS opens its doors to over one thousand excited and sharp-minded students ready to pursue their passions.  Instead of delving in a traditional 2 to 4 year program, these students have chosen to dive deep into a one-year intensive learning experience here at VFS.  For the Game Design program, this means one year of absorbing as much as they can by immersing themselves into all things game design.

This can be hard enough for local students, but if you are an international student, there can be added challenges.  For example:

  • English may be a second language
  • you have left your home, friends and family to relocate to a new country where you don’t now anyone
  • this is the first time you will be living away from home

The point is, no matter if you are a young adult or mature student, this year can be an overwhelming and we at VFS understand that.

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The 29th Annual Game Design Awards Show

Just like that, summer is almost 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 August 15th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening began with a speech from myself, then the student-elected class speaker Jordan Tame spoke about his favourite Kung Fu movie, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Andrew Laing closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and gelato.

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 about the fact that Andrew brought Gelato. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Pedro and Peter who both graduated with honours.
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Level Up: Planning the Vista

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

When planning any level out, we usually think of pacing out our gameplay moments and intensity over time.  While both are vital, we can also do the same by pacing our scenery.

What I mean by this is creating visual contrast in the space outside of the gameplay area, so let’s focus on creating the vista point in our level and see what we can do to maximize it’s impact.  Keep in mind, any time you do the same thing over and over it will lose its effectiveness over time.  So we have to create this contrast, or in this case, a narrow space going to a vista back to a narrow space.

Uncharted is great example of this, here we see Drake standing admiring the view which is quite breathtaking to look at.  For the most part of the level you are traversing in a forest with no clear sightlines, and then as you turn the corner you get treated to this great shot of the world only to return back within the trees.

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Think Design : The Fear Of Regret

The Fear Of Regret

This post will be up for today and tomorrow only, so read NOW to learn valuable secrets so that you will never feel regret again!

Okay, probably not. But it kept you reading, right?

Last chance offer! Buy now, supplies are running out! There’s a lot of interest in this property, so if you like it, you better act fast! Call in the next 20 minutes and we’ll double your order!

We’ve all heard messages like these. They are intended to tap into our fear of regret, and panic us into taking action before it’s too late. In fact, it’s pretty much what the infomercial industry is built upon.

This ad is clearly preying on our fear of regret.

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Mythology 101: Episode 7

In Episode 6 I talked about the inclusion of animals in Egyptian mythology, how by looking at Mother Nature we could come up with ideas for characters, their backgrounds, meaning and abilities. This week I wanted to step away from characters and start thinking about the objects and weapons that might be a core part of your game designs. What better to look at for this than the Celtic mythologies, a wide range of myths that included Irish, Scottish, and Welsh stories.

A lot of the mythology from that time period may have been lost due to the Romans destruction of  most of the Celtic writings, but there was still a lot of very interesting stories that survived in secret forms hidden from the Romans, or handed down generation to generation. When people are asked about myths and magical objects, the first things that come to mind are King Arthur’s Sword in the stone, the Stone of Scone (aka Stone of Destiny) from Scotland, and the infamous and lipstick covered Blarney stone in Ireland… but there is a lot more to Celtic mythology than a bunch of rocks.

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Flash Game Presentations : Game Design Class 31

The tradition continues with the 31st class of Game Design (GD31) hosting the Flash Game Presentations here at VFS Game Design.

Working in a small team, the students develop a Flash game over a 14-week period in Terms 2 and 3. While learning the intricacies of the Flash engine, the students write code, create art and produce audio for their games. The whole process culminates in a presentation to the entire Game Design student body, faculty and staff.

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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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Mythology 101: Episode 6

In Episode 5 I took a deeper look at Dragons, the various types of dragons, the interesting stories and backgrounds of dragons, and ultimately just how embedded dragons are in so many different cultures. The purpose of this deeper look, was to think about how we can take one element of mythology and find many different ways of presenting it or altering it to best suit our game designs. In last weeks article I made reference to an Egyptian god by the name of Ra, let’s go back into a specific culture and examine some of the other gods of the Egyptians and see how that might help us to create interesting stories or characters.

When talking to people about Egyptian history, I always find it interesting  that they have heard of the pyramids, but beyond Cleopatra and King Tut they really aren’t familiar with some of the most common Egyptian mythological characters. Let’s take a deeper look into some of those other gods and goddesses, and in particular look at the influence that animals had in Egyptian mythology.

Cats

It is widely known that the Egyptians treated cats as gods, just ask any cat owner and they will tell you that. The cat was a sacred animal in Egypt, appearing many times in hieroglyphs, and shown as a human-cat hybrid for the goddess Bastet. Early studies of Egyptian mythology showed her to be a lioness, and later a cat, that was both a fierce hunter and protector, a goddess of warfare, however later studies have deemed her to be a goddess of perfume… perfume needs a god?

Another of the cat gods is Sekhmet, she was the lion headed goddess of retribution, vengeance, and conquest. Her responsibilities included doling out punishment to those that were enemies of Ra (see below). As part of Egyptian beliefs, there was even  a Sekhmet cult centre, and when one of the Pharaoh’s moved the capital, he moved the cult center too, believing she would protect him.

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Level Up: Flat is boring!

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

As the title suggests, flat is booooring!  A game level with little to no elevation will bore the player as the constant threat is completely visible;  the player always knows what’s coming ahead of them.  So what we need to do is add slight undulations in our paths to create tension and reveals in our levels.

In this day in age we have superb game engines and level editors that let us develop 3d worlds at the touch of our finger tips.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of this.  I remember making maps for Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, it was nearly impossible to create overhangs and vertical gameplay due to the technical limitations.

Let’s take a look at our first example, oh the dreaded UDK hallway.  Being a player, traversing through this area requires you to press the “forward” button to get through.  This is fine, especially if it’s in a downbeat in our game level and we just want the player to absorb their surroundings after an intense battle.  But we can make this calm section much more interesting, not by changing what the player is doing on their controller, but by creating the illusion that the player is doing “something” in a flat travel section.

This is done here by adding a ramp up or down.  Keep in mind that all the player is doing is still pressing the “forward” button on the controller.

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