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.
Creation of Art.
The world that the robots inhabit is very sparse and barren. To breath visual life into the scene, a game artists will create 3D model assets, textures maps and animations. The second segment focused on exactly that, using the provided assets, how do we change the look of the game?
The Game Design demo comes with art alternatives which allowed us to change the look and feel of the scene. We have different colour schemes for the robots. We also have different wall textures to add a touch of flair to the environment. The robots also have a degree of animation that can be applied to each version. These animations can be as simple or complex as we want to make them. Once we are satisfied with the look we can export the data and import it to our Unity game engine project file.
Here some of the assets that we used for this demonstration
Terrain before & after
Robots before & after
Enpowering the game Code.
The last segment was all about breathing life into your creations, using programming to create Artificial Intelligence and enforce the gameplay rules. We created script text files that perform complex commands that brought life to our robots. Their movements and abilities are easy to modify, which led to some interesting situations with them. What happens when a robot comes into contact with another ? can one robot move faster than another? Can we create a conflict situation? These are all questions that are answered when we alter the rules that guide our game world environment.
During the demo we showed the students how easy it is to modify any aspect of the creation process. Lots of fun was had. The student’s feedback and responses were a really good indication of how fresh eyes perceive the world of a game designer, game artist and game programmer. Here are some of the comments that were got:-
“The ability to alter the range of fire on the grenade or the damage that was done with the gun was good. I’ve now got a better understanding of what is involved with programming a game.”
“The demo was very cool to use, but understanding the principles was difficult.”
“I wish there was one button to make things happen.”
“More textures choices means that the game will look exactly how I want it to look.”
“This stuff is hard !!”
Clearly the responses show that being a Game Designer is not an easy thing, however it also showed that they wanted to change and modify the Robot Game Demo even more.
The demo proved to be a lot of fun for both the instructors and the students. A lot of them had never worked on a video game project before, so being able to look behind the curtain at how things worked was a great learning experience. Each of the Foundation students that attended, got to take away a game project that they could tinker with using the free Unity toolset, and 3 hours of one-on-one feedback and advice from 3 industry veterans who collectively had 40 years of games creation experience.
We can now take the feedback and experience from this Game Design Robot Demo for Foundation to make VFS Game Design even more insightful to those that might be interested in making games.
Roger Mitchell is a 3D Modeling & Game Art instructor at VFS Game Design