Archive for the ‘Video Game’ Category

Cogswell Brings Original VR Mobile Game “We Are Cubed” To SIGGRAPH 2015’s “Appy Hour”

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Sunnyvale, CA, July 27, 2015 –Cogswell College, a historic, 600-student educational institution offering a unique curriculum fusing Digital Art, Engineering and Entrepreneurship, will have two students from its Game Design & Development Program present a newly produced, school-developed mobile VR game during the 2015 SIGGRAPH Conference’s “Appy Hour” showcase in Los Angeles (August 9-13).

Originally prototyped during the 2015 Global Game Jam by Cogswell students Christian Sasso and Steven Ulrich, “We Are Cubed” (WeR3) is the next evolution of 3D puzzle game. Sasso and Ulrich will demonstrate WeR3 during SIGGRAPH 2015’s “Appy Hour,” a cocktail reception where independent app developers can show their apps to the SIGGRAPH 2015 attendees. During this event, participants get feedback, cultivate new ideas, and make contacts to help move their efforts along. “Appy Hour” features new apps that use augmented reality, computational photography, image manipulation, location-based gaming, or anything someone can make a mobile device do.

In WeR3, each level presents players with a colored canvas they must recreate using their own colored avatar. Players must develop a strategy for moving their six-sided avatar across the landscape, as some faces of the avatar “paint” different colors. Developed in the Unity Game Engine using Google Cardboard technology, the game can be enjoyed as a standalone smartphone experience using touch controls or, much more interestingly, as a completely hands-free Virtual Reality experience. The Virtual Reality mode immerses the player within the game world, and the intuitive and easy to use controls take nothing away from the experience. For more information about WeR3, please visit

Regarding today’s news, John Duhring, Director, Strategic Alliances and Alumni Relations with Cogswell College, said, “The acceptance by Siggraph of our students’ new game ‘WeR3’ points to a critical note of differentiation about our school’s approach. There is no doubt that conventional wisdom embraces the idea that exposure to research provides the best college experience. However, most colleges request that students graduate first before they are allowed to create experiments. Our students have the opportunity to paw through brand new technologies and generate their own experiences while they are still undergrads. I believe that our approach is more effective. Our results speak for themselves.”


Designed as a “fiercely collaborative, living laboratory,” Cogswell College is located in the heart of the legendary Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California. The school is a WASC accredited, four-year institution of higher education with a specialized curriculum that fuses digital arts, audio technology, game design, engineering and entrepreneurship. In 2015, Cogswell was cited by Animation Career Review as “One of the Top 50 Private Game Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.”

Numerous alumni of Cogswell College have secured prominent positions within the entertainment, videogame, technology, computer, animation, and motion graphics industries throughout California and beyond. Several of these alumni have established careers with such high profile companies as Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Microsoft Game Studio. Many other alumni have launched their own creative ventures.

Recent Cogswell alumni were members of the Academy Award-winning production teams which worked on the blockbuster films “Frozen” and “Life of Pi.” Some of the other well-known consumer projects to which Cogswell alumni have contributed include the feature films “Big Hero 6” and “The Avengers,” and the popular videogames “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Halo 4” and “Battlefield Hardline.”

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Students at Cogswell College spend 48 hours developing games

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

The following article originally on the Mercury News website, February 4th 2015 written by Jasmine Leyva of the Mercury News. It covers the 2015 Global Game Jam event at Cogswell, and offers an inside look at the thoughts, philosophies and experiences the folks at Cogswell had earlier this year.

Cogswell College was one of 518 global sites to participate in the 2015 Global Game Jam, an annual event that sees students and gaming enthusiasts hunker down for 48 hours and create what they hope will be the next great game.

Students, professionals, alumni and hobbyists have risen to a new challenge each year to develop a game, whether it be digital or non-digital, to match a secret theme. This year’s theme was “What do we do now?”

“It’s an open-ended theme, but it’s meant to be open-ended so that the developers have the freedom to do whatever they want, but they have to capture the theme in some way,” Organizer and assistant professor Albert Chen said.

The event ran Jan. 23-25 and included a record 25,000-plus participants around the world. Global Game Jam got its start in 2008, with Cogswell College in Sunnyvale participating since 2009.

Jam participants have the chance to develop their game further by working out design flaws or programming kinks. It is even possible to have their game published and in the gaming market under an independent company or a well-known corporation.

“There have been a number of success stories where students who participated at the game jam have gotten hired into game companies. It’s a great way to jump start their career if they are trying to get into the game industry,” Chen said.

Teams at the Cogswell site were designing games with many different concepts in mind. One group was using Google Cardboard for a virtual reality game. Virgil Garcia, a sophomore at Cogswell, and his team worked around the clock to put together their virtual reality game, which he described as a horror game.

“Our idea was for a dark, atmospheric maze game,” Garcia said.

The groups at Cogswell spent hours building a concept, designing characters and programming playable levels and instructions for their games. One group of came up with Fluster Cluck, a multi-player party game resembling Tron and Snake with plenty of poultry puns.

“I believe the coolest stuff comes from the craziest ideas, and if you’re having fun something must be going right. So we came up with Fuster Cluck. I think it’s just hilarious every time I say it,” said Darrell Atienza, a returning participant to Cogswell’s event.

Atienza, a San Jose resident, was his group’s character designer. Characters he designed for Fuster Cluck included Gizard, a chicken wizard and Robocock, a robotic rooster.

Besides funny game characters and programming levels in just 48 hours, event participants said they were happy to put their skills to use for their passion. Dylan Greek, a junior at Cogswell and Global Game Jam veteran, said he’s been involved in the gaming industry since he was just a little boy.

“I’ve always been an avid player, but my dad worked for a company that made educational games back in the 1990s, so I was kind of a game tester since I was 5,” Greek said.

“I was playing the original Nintendo since I was 2, so it’s amazing to see that games I used to play were developed along the same lines as we are doing now,” said Tanner Posada, a newcomer to the event.


Cogswell College has worked hard to include everyone. The Global Game Jam event saw more than 50 participants and the school’s game development club is helping curb the gaming industry’s boys club reputation. President of Cogswell’s game development club, Jodediah Holems said he is focused on making the gaming community open to everyone, just as GaymerX does.

GaymerX and GX are gaming conventions that bring game developers and enthusiast together to discuss their passions while creating a safe space for all attending.

“I think Cogswell is trying to actively get more females, but I think the ratio was 80:20 when I came in,” said alumna Cara Ricci, who participated in this year’s event with a handful of other women.

“I think Jodediah [Holems] has helped things out, especially being the game development club president. I wasn’t here for it, but I know he gave a talk for inclusive and respecting other people,” she said.

Holems, an eclectic developer, is no stranger to the game development jams. He is looking for games that go beyond the normal guns, battles and missions. He develops experimental games that take more than a controller to win a level. Last year he created a game that was a combination of the puzzle game Tetris and a word search. The game ultimately created a story from the letters.

This year he and his team created a game that reached to players’ emotional and psychological playing level. They called it “And after a long day of (blank) I removed my armor.”

For more information about Cogswell College, visit For more information about the Global Game Jam, visit

Fantastic work everyone! And much thanks to the Mercury News for coming out for a story earlier this year.

Juan Rubio – Cogswell College
3D Animation Student
Internal Public Relations, Blog Administrator/Writer
Industry News Coverage

E3 Recap 2 – Final Fantasy 7

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Source: Official Trailer - YouTube

In 1994 a game that has been since known as a ground breaker for Japanese RPGs began development. It was originally intended to be developed and released for the Super Nintendo, and was moved to to N64. The only problem was even the largest N64 cartridge lacked the capacity required for the game, the first in this game series to use fully rendered 3D characters on a pre-rendered background.

Final Fantasy 7 was released on the Sony Playstation in 1997 to critical and commercial success, through the years and various re-releases and versions, its sold over 10 million copies worldwide. At the 2005 E3 conference a PS3 Technical Demo of FFVII was shown off leading many to believe a remake was on the way. After a decade of speculation and rumors, a Final Fantasy 7 remake was officially announced at this years E3 in the form of a trailer.

Source: FFVII Official Trailer - YouTube

With visuals that are at times brilliant and vibrant, and then shadowy and brooding, Square Enix manage to transport us to right back into that world we first explored some 18 years ago. A haunting score reminiscent of the horror classics of yesterday plays over a narration delivered by voice actor David Lodge, all the while we are treated to sights both old and new. Director Tetsuya Nomura reassures us that this game isn’t just the original with a face lift, but rather something like visiting an old friend who has new clothes. Not everything is exactly the same, nor will it be, but classic and pivotal story elements won’t be altered in any way. Speaking with Famitsu, Mr. Nomura had the following to say about the trailer and game:

“We’re using part of that video in the game. We’re going to raise the quality even more.”, he said on using footage from the trailer in-game. On platform choice he said, “You’ll be able to play it first on PlayStation 4, that’s for certain. We’re not thinking beyond that yet, so after that is undecided. Since we’re bringing out PlayStation 4 title after PlayStation 4 title, it’d be great if we can give the hardware and industry a boost.”.

On whether or not the game was just a remaster or a remake Nomura said, “Final Fantasy VII is special, and we can’t ‘exceed’ the game by simply making the graphics nicer. That’s not a thing to be excited about…. Precisely because it’s a full remake, I want to challenge what’s fun and what’s possible now.”. When asked about the possibility of new characters, Nomura said, “There won’t be new characters. As for the visual taste, we’re doing them to match today’s visuals and appear closer to reality.”. Lastly, when asked about the game and battle system he said, “I can’t share details, but we’re changing it to a more realistic system.”.

In an interview with Matt Kamen from Wired UK Tetsuya Nomura had the following to say:

“In terms of taking a such an iconic game and giving it a fresh feel, we can’t go into too much detail but we’re not intending for this to become a one-to-one remake, or just the original Final Fantasy VII with better graphics,” Nomura says.

“We don’t want to interfere with what makes the original title so iconic,” Nomura explains. “There are certain plot points we don’t want to interfere with or disturb, nor will we want to change elements that fans have very big attachments to.”

Source: FFVII Official Trailer - YouTube

“My goal with the remake is to make it apply to the current era, the current generation of players that are going to be coming into contact with or playing FFVII for the first time through this remake,” Nomura continues. “I want to make it so it’s relevant to the modern era, as well as having an element of surprise.”

“It has to be something that riles up this sense of wonder and amazement. I don’t want to change it so much that it’s unrecognisable, but make sure that it’s something fresh and new [yet still] recognisable as FFVII. That’s what I’ll be keeping in mind as I work on this.”

“We’re taking something that’s text based with no voice over. If we add voice over to it, that will trigger some adjustments that need to be made to accommodate for that. Then, because we’re making it in full HD, we’ll need to think about all the resources that are needed to populate the screen. We’d need to go in and see what needs adjusting in that aspect. It’s like a chain of events; ‘OK, we’re going to revamp this part, what do we need?’, and see if there are any changes that creates. As I say, we can’t go into the specifics at this point but we’ll need to revisit elements within the game to see what is appropriate.”

“This term, ‘J-RPG’, I don’t approve of it,” he says. “I don’t get why it’s being referred to as such — it almost feels like people are kind of making fun of RPGs that are coming out of Japan. I think ‘well, how are they different to RPGs coming from other countries, what’s the difference?’ It feels very uncomfortable when people bring up the term JRPG.”

No official release date has been confirmed or announced, all we currently know is the game is slated to come out on the PS4 first. If there’s any concern over the changes being made to the game, bear in mind original writer Kazushige Nojima is on the project to contribute any new story content, and the original game’s director Yoshinori Kitase is a producer.

Source: FFVII Official Trailer - YouTube

Watch the announcement trailer here.

Written by Juan Rubio, with some edited excerpts credited in the article.
Cogswell College Blog

E3 Recap

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

The E3 Entertainment Expo is happening right now, among the slew of announcements comes some welcome news for any fan of Rareware (RARE) games. Microsoft and RARE are bringing a collection of 30 of the studios games to Xbox One, including titles from the very beginning, to present day. Called Rare Replay, it features games including but not limited to:

Battletoads (released in 1991, 1-2 players), Battletoads Arcade (released in 1994), Killer Instinct Gold (released in 1996, 1-2 players), Banjo-Kazooie (released in 1998, 1 player), Perfect Dark (relased in 2000, 1-4 players), Banjo-Tooie (released in 2000, 1-4 players), Conker’s Bad Fur Day (released in 2001, 1-4 players) and more.

The games aren’t just thrown on the disc with an arbitrary menu to scroll through, RARE has included additional challenges, achievements (over 10,000 Gamerscore worth), cheats, and behind-the-scenes extras to create a premium experience. Known for their charm and quirkiness, the studio decided to present the games in a theater format, with the hosts Joanna Dark, Banjo, and Conker.

The three characters are all eager to relive and reminisce about their past, and when you select a game the theater format is left behind and you’re transported into the game world. Older titles such as Battletoad’s even feature a special filter toggle that emulates the look of a CRT monitor, complete with scan-lines and that slight blurriness we all remember from back in the day.


As a bonus, a brand new game will be included with the bundle. ‘Sea of Thieves’ is a swashbuckling new multiplayer pirate adventure, featuring a vibrant and colorful world that’s very much in line with Rare’s style. In the game you explore islands, search for treasure, sail ships and engage in naval warfare all with your fiends as your crew mates online. There is blunderbusses, there are swords, and yes, you can even walk the plank into shark infested waters.


Sadly, certain games such as Goldeneye, Donkey Kong Country, and Donkey Kong 64 are omitted due to RARE not owning the rights. Rare Replay is slated for release August 4th and will retail for $29.99 US.



In other Xbox One related news, Microsoft has announced that backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles will be arriving this holiday season for the exorbitant price of $0. Xbox’s Phil Spencer mentioned you’ll be able to access your digital Xbox 360 library, as well as load physical discs you already own. Of course, not all games will work with the service when it launches, Microsoft stated 100 titles would be compatible upon launch citing Mass Effect as an example. Microsoft took a jab at Sony’s paid Playstation Now service stating, “We won’t charge you to play the games you already own.”


Source for all:

Crystal Dynamics just announced a follow up to their 2013 reboot of the ‘Tomb Raider’ series, the sequel is titled ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider‘. In the trailer, we follow Lara and a colleague as they trek through a frigid cave high up in the mountains. A flare is lit, and as we approach the exit, the wind starts to batter both Lara and her partner.

The sun is coming up over the distant mountains, and then right as we exit the cave the wind settles down. She speaks with her partner and then proceeds to scale a cliff, everything is fine until massive chunks of ice begin to fall down towards Lara, we see her swing and duck to avoid the ice, and run along the cliff side as an avalanche happens right next to her. All of this happens in roughly 5 minutes time, and Lara manages to make it out in piece.

Later, we see Lara exploring ruins, jungles, jumping platforms, solving puzzles, and yes, even raiding tombs. Its all presented in an incredibly eye catching and film like manner. This approach lends the game a grandiose and wonder filled atmosphere reminiscent of the feelings we all had as a child seeing the world for the first time. It’s truly a treat for the eyes and the imagination.

Its clear that Crystal Dynamics have improved the engine since 2013′s ‘Tomb Raider‘, as we see much more sophisticated and detailed particle effects, higher quality textures overall, much nicer cloth and water simulations, and improved environmental interaction and physics to name a few enhancements. ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ is shaping up to be a technical marvel.

Tomb Raider is back and better than ever.


Quick! Think about a game about a young boy trying to escape crumbling ruins along with his giant bird/dog companion. Stumped? What about a game stuck in development hell since 2007? Still stuck? Does Team Ico ring a bell?


Yes, ‘The Last Guardian‘ is finally being released for PS4 come sometime 2016, what would have been Team Ico’s third game (and in a sense, still is) was formally showed off to the public at this years E3 conference, it is now being partially handled by original Team Ico director Fumito Ueda‘s new studio genDESIGN. Fans of the studio know their first game was the critically and publicly acclaimed ‘Ico‘, followed by ‘Shadow of the Collossus‘.

The game follows a young boy as he makes his way through high altitude ruins that are falling apart. With the aid of his friend Trico. The boy must scale walls, jump chasms, solve puzzles, and more. The idea is being that Trico is your only friend, an emotional bond will be formed as the player learns to trust Trico.

There is also hazards such as traps, some enemies, and possibly boss fights as well. The trailer shows en expanded sequence of a small clip first seen in the games original trailer years ago. The game features an aesthetic that Team Ico has been known for, grand vistas, artful lighting, and small details peppered here and there to round out the visual fidelity and atmosphere. The game play trailer can be seen here.


Written by Juan Rubio
Cogswell Polytechnical College

Tour with Gree International

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Image source:

Thanks to my attendance at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco last month, I was able to meet the Director of Engineering from Gree mobile. After he helped me with a portfolio review, I asked if it was possible to tour the studio to see how their pipeline worked. During spring break, I was given a personal tour of the facility where their 300+ person team works. I got to see how Gree International functions as a whole and how the artists collaborate with each other.

After signing a nondisclosure form and mentally getting over the fact that their employees get a never-ending supply of snacks, beverages and coffee as well as free meals, I was able to meet with Gree’s Production Artist. She walked me through their pipeline, explained how art reviews were performed, and went over how long it generally takes to create a game. I also learned about their outsourcing and how many artists were actually in the studio.

Near the end of the tour, I was able to get a look at one of the Art Lead’s workspace where he had several characters and environments drafts that the other artists had submitted to him. His job was to maintain consistency in the established art style, so he would do paint-over corrections and send it back to the artists to make the changes.

At the end of the tour, I got a free burrito (yay!) and left more enlightened about the studio and really impressed with the level of work that came out of Gree. I hope to be back one day soon!

Sierra Gaston

Tour at Zynga

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Image source:

There were dogs everywhere. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise to me after seeing the huge dog logo on the massive building, but it still caught me off guard in a pleasant way. Zynga also gave off this sense of happiness—just walking in, I could tell that the people employed by Zynga were pretty content with their environment. For those of you who don’t know, Zynga happens to be one of the largest and best-known mobile and social gaming companies in the bay area– you’ve probably also seen a few games of theirs on Facebook.

A group of four people and myself from Cogswell got the chance to visit Zynga from Women in Games International, a group formed for the purpose of providing women with support and opportunities in the game industry. While there, we got a tour of the studio, which included the exercise room, bar (yes, there’s a full bar) the candy room, and the Farmville rooms!

After the tour, we got to enjoy some h’ordeuvres and listen to a panel given by women leaders at Zynga. Some of them had been in the industry for quite some time, and a few originally hadn’t had any intention of going into games. Yet another one actually played WOW as a side hobby. (Yes!)

It was amazing to see Zynga up close. It was clear to see the passion that they had for their work. We also got to do a lot of great networking, and meet people working in the heart of the mobile game industry. It was an amazing opportunity!

Sierra Gaston

Women in Animation and Women in Games International

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Image from

Image from

The animation and games industries are two places where you rarely find women working, until recently. Even Cogswell has been a heavily male-dominated school until a few years ago. What’s exciting is the wide-spread growth of organizations that are specifically for women in these industries (although men may join). These groups promote networking, inclusion, exposure, encouragement and opportunities to hear industry leaders. By creating a more diverse workplace, animations and games will be even stronger therefore garner more consumer enjoyment.

Two organizations that I am involved with are Women in Animation and Women in Games International. Thanks to Women in Animation, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Pixar twice as well as network with some of the best known women in the business. Being a newer member to Women in Games (WIG), this week I will visiting Zynga’s campus for the re-opening of the San Francisco WIG chapter. As a primary developer of Facebook games, Zynga is one of the most famous game companies in the Bay Area.

I definitely recommend checking these two groups out, and any groups dedicated to animation and games in general. As well as being fun to join, they can be key to getting crucial contacts in the industry.

Sierra Gaston

Day of the Devs

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Day of the Devs - Double Fine convention - in San Francisco, California

It was a video game enthusiast’s paradise. Screens and consoles decked every wall of (nearly) every room of the two story Old Mint building in San Francisco, all displaying demos of games to be released within the next year. There was a crowd gathered around each display, each person eager to get a chance at playing the game. I was attending with a few other friends from Cogswell, whose brains I could audibly hear exploding as they took in scenery and games around them.

The turnout of indie game developers was amazing. Day of the Devs was hosted by Double Fine, so they had a room full of their own soon-to-be-released games such as Costume Quest 2 and even a remastered version of Grim Fandango, but the rest of the building was filled with small studio games like Night In The Woods and Knight Squad (my personal favorites), Classroom Aquatic, Push Me Pull You, Spy Party, Ikarus, and Please Don’t, Spacedog. A few of the games were played with an Oculus Rift headset. There was even a swag shop full of t-shirts and books related to the games. Outside in the courtyard was a bar and a stage where live DJ’s played music, and games were actively played on a large screen by their developers.

It was enough to make any self-declared nerd hyperventilate. Being as there were a thousand in attendance, the excitement in the air was palpable. Within the first ten minutes, I was thrown a controller and fighting in an arena with five or six other well-seasoned game players. My first thought was along the line of panic, as I was sure I was going to get my butt kicked by people who definitely played more often than I did, but by the first game I was hooked and throwing other players to their deaths.

In the game Classroom Aquatic, one player wore Oculus Rift headgear and was plunged into an underwater school for dolphins. The character they played was a student diver who hadn’t studied for a test. As a result, the player is forced to cheat off of the neighboring students in the room. The trick was to avoid being caught by the teacher. The game effectively gave the player knots in their stomach, and was especially nerve-wracking when players were caught and scolded by the teacher.

Day of the Devs was amazing for one huge reason; EVERYONE there was in love with games, whether they were fans or developers. As a result, there was a feeling of common purpose and enthusiasm. We were all there for the same thing, and it was exciting to be in a place where people from inside the industry and out of it mixed together in a gaming paradise.

During the course of the evening, we got to talk to Double Fine creators, several other indie game makers, and even managed some networking with other people in the game industry! It was absolutely a beneficial experience, and it made the prospect of graduation and getting to work in the industry more tangible. I’m looking forward to next year with Day of the Devs!

Video Gaming and Healthcare Industries Collaborate to Deliver Dual-Effect Treatment

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Do you suffer from anxiety, depression, foggy memory, or lack of focus? Your doctor may soon prescribe video games as a form of mental therapy.  In his recent article “Will Doctors Soon Prescribe Videogames?” Adam Bluestein reveals that brain-training games are quickly being welcomed as a means of therapy by both the neuroscience as well as pharmaceutical companies. The game featured in the attached video is called Neuroracer, “a specifically designed driving game… [for] age-related cognitive decline in senior citizens, improving memory, attention, and the ability to multitask.” says Bluestein.

However gaming-based health solutions aren’t limited to the senior market. Another Neuroracer platform game called EVO is being developed, by game maker Alkili Interactive Labs, for adolescent to middle age adult tablet users. “The game is currently being deployed in about a half dozen clinical trials, testing its effectiveness for improving function in kids with ADHD (in collaboration with Shire) and autism, treating depression (with the National Institutes of Health), and detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s disease (with Pfizer).” Says Bluestein.

Pharmaceutical companies are partnering with game developers to market drug-software “eFormulations”. “Imagine picking up your medication and finding a software code on the package that directs you to a complementary game,” Bluestein said. This will be particularly helpful in aiding general anxiety disorder. Benzodiazepine is the standard prescription, which usually requires a component of deep breathing and meditation. The games are designed to put the patient at ease and in a state of serenity needed to react with the medication.

Cogswell offers programs in Game Design and Development combining both engineering and art for games and various forms of interactive technology.  The possibilities of merging game design with the healthcare industry open up lots of potential directions for future designers.

Where do you see the partnership between the two industries leading? What other industries do you think may merge with game design in the future? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Fast Company

Cogswell Student’s Artwork Featured On Kotaku!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Matt Bard

Dungeonesque Walls

One of our students, Matt “Bardler” Bard, had his polycount rock formation featured on Kotaku as, “A rather magnificent-looking, somewhat dungeonesque wall from Bardler”

Clicker here for the article!

Awesome job, Matt!