January 2013 Pitch And Play Review

Sean Smillie introduces the evening

On Thursday, January 31, 2013, VFS Game Design hosted it’s industry night event Pitch and Play, giving their 26th graduating class the chance to show off months of hard work, and industry professionals the opportunity to check out some great talent. The event saw another terrific turnout, with representatives from studios such as Next Level Games, United Front Games, and Jet Pack Interactive making an appearance.

The presentation also provided the backdrop for the official announcement of Game Design’s community blog and games site Arcade, with Dave Warfield calling for contributors to help make the site a showcase hub for student achievements.

Dave Warfield introduces Arcade to the Pitch and Play crowd

In another Pitch and Play first, visitors were treated to a sneak-peek of an in-development project from upcoming graduates in the 27th Game Design class. Team Fragment kicked off the evening with a demonstration of their “single-player co-op” game, now four weeks into development, which allows players to take control of clones (or ‘fragments’) as they stealthily navigate a futuristic research facility.

Team Fragment previews their game to Pitch and Play audience

Even in mid-production, the game shows terrific potential, helping to set the stage for a very impressive lineup of finished projects from the up-coming 27th graduating class.

For the 26th class, the Titan Racing team started things off with a colorful take on the racing genre, which is set on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, in the year 2096. While cars jostled for position and burst into flames onscreen, the team discussed their approach to intuitive track design, unobtrusive shortcuts, and the benefits of working in the Unreal Engine. The team cited inspirations such as Mad Max and Death Race, which were reflected in the game’s bulky vehicles, snarky commentators, and its grungy visual aesthetic.

Team Titan Racing present their game at Pitch and Play

The two-person Shattergun team impressed visitors with their polished First-person-shooter for the iPhone. Boasting open level design and a freeform approach to mission objectives, the game features a unique visual style inspired by the opening titles of Casino Royale. The team discussed the hardships associated with designing for the mobile platform, as well as some potential monetization plans.

Team Shattergun present their game to the Pitch and Play audience

Team Chefasaurus rounded out the evening with a humorous action game that sees players in the role of a caveman chef atop a hungry dinosaur. The team showed off a well-paced suite of abilities, ranging from a coconut shield to a devastating roar.

Team Chefasaurus present their game to the Pitch and Play audience

After the students presented their final projects they invited the industry to come upstairs and try their games first hand. This was a unique opportunity to mingle with the existing industry people and show off all of the hard work of the past four months.

The second floor felt far more relaxed than the previous hour spent in the TV Studio. Students and industry people alike were mingling in a relaxed environment, where the grads had spent the last four months creating their final projects. The industry people were able to walk around at their leisure and try the games first hand, as well as chat with the budding designers.

The turnout was fantastic and the games looked great. The students had also prepared their business cards to give away to potential employers. Several representatives from major studios around Vancouver were present at the event: Relic Entertainment, Blackbird Interactive, Exploding Barrel and Fathom Interactive were some of the studios represented.

Previous VFS grad Richard Harrison of Fathom Interactive was impressed with this GD’s games. “They were overall really strong. They had a small class but showed off really well”, said Harrison. He added, “I was really impressed with the state [Fragment] was in”, with regard to the preview from the 27th class.

Instructors and mentors both seemed pleased and excited about the results of this edition of Pitch and Play. By the looks of it, all of the grads seem to have a bright future in the industry!