Before I came to VFS I was working as an architect. I have always loved creating and design and I see programming as another form of making, and like architecture it shapes our world in meaningful ways.
Therefore, for me, the progression to programming has been a very logical one. There are the same management issues, maintainability issues, good practice, incorporating new technologies and human factors. What is different and I find incredibly fulfilling is that I no longer have to rely on a 3rd party construction team to realize the design, I can now built it myself.
From the beginning of January (Term 2), I have been taking part in the Role Playing Lab at VFS. The RolePlaying Lab consists of weekly sessions in which we meet to play table-top RPGs.
In the case of my group, we are playing a Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 campaign.
Although I have heard a lot about them, I had never got the chance to play a table RPG before. In some way I am glad because now I learned how to do it with an amazing Dungeon Master! Funny enough, our Dungeon Master is a VFS Graduate himself. Diego R. Pons graduated way back in 2006, in the 4th Game Design Class ( we are in the 40th class), and currently works at Next Level Games. Our DM plays all characters incredibly well, and is able to provide us with a deeply immersive experience both with his performance and the soundtrack and images he prepares.
I moved to Vancouver back in April to prepare for a long year at VFS. Since I had 3 weeks before my classes would start, I used some of the time to visit the the Vancouver Aquarium. While there I’d frequently come across a particularly playful harbour porpoise in the underwater exhibit. He’d flap his flippers and stare expectantly at the opposite side of the glass trying to interact. Alas, each time he would eventually get bored of my silly faces and swim off.
Wait a second… If I was serious about being a game designer, then shouldn’t I be able to make a fun game for a porpoise?
Absolutely! Here is the process of this somewhat unusual game project that was conducted in April, and the unexpected outcome that made it all worthwhile.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
The target of my project is Jack, a harbour porpoise who was stranded in Horseshoe Bay on September 16th, 2011. He was only 4 weeks old when he was transported to the Marine Mammal Research Centre, weighing 12-kilogram. His skin and muscles were so severely damaged, that he required a sling made of pool noodles to help him swim, as well as 24 hour volunteer care around the clock. He was later deemed non-releasable by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so was introduced to Daisy at the Aquarium where both are ambassadors for their species. Read More
VFS Game Design‘s Head of Department, Dave Warfield, was interviewed recently by the online version of Edge Magazine about the Game Design program, designing games, Women in Games, and achieving success in the Game Industry. Edge Magazine is a multi-format video game magazine published by Future PLC in the UK. The online component was originally known as Next-Gen; the two properties were merged by Future PLC during a rebrand a few years ago. Edge is a leading magazine for the games industry.
The Edge contacted Dave for an interview via Skype from the UK after the success of some of the program’s students came to their attention. It’s a great piece, which also includes a shout out to Team Pixel Pi’s Pulse, which recently managed a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Here are a few highlights of the interview:
On the subject of Game Designers :
“They are the people with the creative vision who work with a team to work out what that vision is. Ultimately they are cat herders who have story skills, artistic skills and technical skills.”
On the subject of Game Design’s Community Site, Arcade:
“The Arcade is an important component of our student experience, it allows us to celebrate the work that our students have done. It allows people to look back at the types of things that have been achieved by our past students, and it allows us to bring together the game design community with interesting stories, games and information.”
On making a success in Games:
“Nowadays it’s a lot less about ‘give the guy a chance and see if he sinks or swims’. People don’t just get pulled out of QA and given a shot. It’s about making sure the next generation are prepared and have skills to shape the industry. I’d like to think I’m helping the next generation and I’m a part of that.”
Each year VFS awards an outstanding candidate the Women in Game Scholarship to the Game Design program, which sets them on the way to being next generation game designers. But this year, for the 5th Annual edition, there is a bit of a surprise — the candidates were so impressive that we awarded it to four of them!
Pictured above, from left to right are: Janel Jolly of Canada, Jaymee Mak of Australia, Anna Prein from Russia and Nicha Jaijadesuk of Thailand.
Two winners will be arriving in April, and the other two will be arriving in June. All of the winners of the scholarship will be sharing their experience with everybody by way of blog posts to Arcade. You can read the posts of the current Women in Games Scholarship winner Kristina Soltvedt from Norway (who will graduate from VFS this June) here. Previous winners Shannon Lee of Canada, (now at BigPark Games), Annie Dickerson from USA, (currently at Grantoo), and Larissa Baptista from Brazil, (who won a Unity Award for best Student game and is currently with DeNa Studios) have graduated and are now making their mark in the games industry.
We caught up with the recent grads, Larissa (Lala) Fuchs (Project Manager & Artist —and also Women in Games scholarship winner), Leanne Roed (Level Scripter & Effects Artist), Maxwell Hannaman (Programmer), Michael Cooper (Environmental Design), and Richard Harrison (Level Design), to learn more about their win in Amsterdam and what they are up to now. Team membersMaxwell Hannaman and Richard Harrison took the trip to Amsterdam to bring home the trophy.