Graduation and Awards show for the 37th class of Game Design

It’s Christmastime at VFS, and what better reason to celebrate than Graduation. Our 37th class of Game Design graduated on December 18th.

It all begins with speeches from the Head of the Department, Dave Warfield, the class selected student speaker, Nicholas Romeo, and wrapped up with the student selected Instructor, Andrew Laing. Each of them looked back on the last year, and also looked ahead at the great future these alumni have in the Games Industry. Dave’s Christmas poem is included at the end of this article.

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Hat Jam 3 – The Temptation of Antonio the Vampire [Post-Mortem]

Hat Jam is a game jam that runs at VFS (Vancouver Film School) once a term and is organized by fellow students Anna Prein and Michelangelo Pereira Huezo.

Teams of 3 had less than 48 hours to design and make a game from scratch, based on a painting that was randomly given to them.

You can read Anna’s write up of the jam on the VFS arcade and play games made by other teams HERE.

I entered with two of my classmates, Danilo Reyes and Guerric Haché, winning best story.

Picture taken from here: Danilo, myself and Guerric, with a screenshot of our game.

This post is about the process behind the game we made, ‘The Temptation of Antonio the Vampire’, which can be played by clicking HERE.

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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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Interview with Jay Cormier, Co-Creator of Belfort and Train of Thought

Meet Jay Cormier. Together with Sen-Foong Lim, he has published board game titles such as Belfort (2011) and Train of Thought (2011) under the duo’s moniker, the Bamboozle Brothers. But that’s not all! As of June 2013, Jay also teaches the Game Theory Analog class at VFS, passing on his years of board game design experience. But wait – there’s more! Jay is also a tech blogger and a children’s entertainer, clowning around Canada with his jungle-explorer persona Bertolt. I chatted with Jay about how he got into game design, coming up with Belfort and it’s upcoming expansion, as well as advice for fellow game designers who are looking to get published.

Growing up with a family that played lots of board games together, Jay became interested in designing games at an early age, eventually taking on his first dungeon master role for the fantasy tabletop game ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ in seventh grade.

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Think Design : Cognitive Dissonance

Has this ever happened to you? You saw a job posting, and it sounded perfect, like they copy/pasted your resume as their ideal candidate. You applied, landed the interview, and aced it. You pictured yourself and the company running and leaping toward each other on a beach – in slow motion. You told all your friends how awesome it was going to be to work there, and you were so excited you checked your email every twenty minutes for the offer letter.

Nailed it! I’m like the Rocky of business.

But the offer didn’t come. And so you waited. Eventually, you emailed yourself to make sure your email was still working. It was. So you sent the interviewer a quick message to make sure you didn’t miss an email. The interviewer wrote back, and you opened the email expecting to see an apology and the offer letter, but instead you read that they went with someone else.

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World of VanillaCraft

It’s been almost 10 years since World of Warcraft’s release.  During those first years World of Warcraft achieved an end-game experience like non-other; never in my life had I been a part of such a vibrant, cultured, and dedicated community than the ones forged in each and every realm.  These communities were a result of technical limitations, and advances in this tech ushered in an era of cross-server everything and instant party and raid finders.  Vanilla World of Warcraft is a relic resting deep in the archives of the Blizzard servers, and there it will remain—fossilized.  It’s up to us to breathe life into this dinosaur so we may analyze and learn from it.

I’ve wanted to do a series of articles on the finer points of World of Warcraft’s design for some time now, so what better time than the present?  There are so many layers to this monolith that I didn’t even know where to start, so I chose the only obvious point: the beginning.  Vanilla, as it’s called within the community, is the first World of Warcraft without any expansions released on November 23, 2004 in North America and Australia.  Like many people I can still remember my first encounter with World of Warcraft; I was just a kid with dreams of being a hero in the fantastical world of Azeroth.  But this isn’t really about nostalgia, this is about taking a look back at the roots of what has, without a doubt, set the bar for the MMORPG experience. Read More

SUPER-Mythology 101: Part 1 Marvel Comics

Mythology can be described as collections of characters, monsters, and stories used by various civilizations throughout history as a means to explain the world around them, provide examples of heroism and villainy, or use as examples to teach the populous important lessons. In previous entries Dave has provided examples of a diverse sampling of mythologies originating from the distant past, which is often the case but I would argue that humanity is still creating mythoi to this day.

The best example of this is the rise of the super-hero beginning in the 1930’s with the likes of The Shadow, and Mandrake the Magician; which ultimately coalesced into the Marvel Comics and DC Comics universes that formed out of the popularity of the original Human Torch from Marvel Comics #1 and Superman from Action Comics #1 respectively. In this article I will pluck a few examples of interesting super-heroes from the Marvel Universe and explain their origins with an eye on mythical influences, I hope to follow this up with an article about three heroes from the DC Universe.

Wow that was awfully formal huh? I apologize I’m more used to writing report papers than I am blog posts, I will try to be a little more personable from here on out.

SUPER-Mythology 101: Part 1 Marvel Comics

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Think Design : Social Proof

Update: Wow, apparently this article is one of the most read posts on the VFS Arcade!

GTA V just came out. Tons of people will buy it. New console launches are happening within the next few months. If you’re anything like me, and I think most gamers, you will feel compelled to buy most or all of these things as soon as you can. Why? Because of something called Social Proof. (Admittedly, the force of In-Group Out-Group Bias is also at play here, but we’ll leave that for a future post.)

Will anyone not buy this game?

Social Proof says that we tend to do what others are doing. Further, it says that as more people do something, it becomes increasingly likely that we will do that same thing. For example, imagine you go out to dinner with some friends. If someone puts her napkin in her lap, you might ignore it. If a few other people at the table decide to put their napkin in their laps, you will feel very tempted to follow suit. If everyone else has done it, you will almost certainly put your napkin in your lap. And at the end of the meal, if they all order dessert, you will be more likely to do so, even if you feel full. Read More

GD34 Board Game Presentations

For those of you who read my previous blog post, you may have been wondering why we devoted 3 hours each week to playing board games in class.

For these babies:

They might not look like much in their boxes, but they are the result of hours of work by individuals and partners, slaving over rule sets and playtesting sessions to create kick ass board games for our Game Theory Analog class.

The requirements were simple (not really):

  1. Interesting or unique concept.
  2. Core mechanics that match the theme.
  3. Game mechanics that lead to fun and interesting decisions for the target audience.
  4. Play-test documentation
  5. Clear, easy to understand and logical rules – with game play examples and images.
  6. Boxed game with neatly stored components and functional artwork.
  7. In-Class Presentation of the goal and core mechanisms of the game, as well as the evolution of the game from conception through to final prototype.
  8. BONUS POINTS for anything that exceeded expectations.

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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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