Archive for the ‘Video Game’ Category

Tour at Zynga

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Image source: www.adweek.com

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 http://www.womeninanimation.org/


Image from http://www.womeningamesinternational.org/

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.

http://www.womeningamesinternational.org/
http://www.womeninanimation.org/

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!

Mario Kart 8 and Anti-Gravity: A New Frontier in Racing Game Design

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The 22-year-old Mario Kart franchise has always been Nintendo’s go-to game when it comes to boosting sales. The May 29th release of Mario Kart 8, couldn’t have come at a better time. Nintendo recently slashed its sales forecast for the Wii U down to a mere 3.6 million for the current fiscal year. The title may boost revenue for the floundering Wii U system, however the release also boasts new and innovative factions of video game design with the concept of Anti-Gravity.

Anti-Gravity allows gamers to defy the laws of physics and race on tracks horizontal, vertical, and upside-down. This creates a whole new angle on track options, game play, and the overall fun-factor. However defying the laws of gravity in a racing game proved complicated for game designers.

IGN Game reviewer Jose Otero offered insight on the issue in his recent review How Anti-Gravity Made Mario Kart Better. “We always want to introduce an element of surprise,” Director Kosuke Yabuki told IGN. “We thought that just improving the graphics to make the game prettier wouldn’t be enough.” Yabuki and the team came up with lots of ideas for what the new hook for Mario Kart 8 would be, but they settled on changing the direction of gravity,” Ostero said.

Mario Kart had a lot of to think about in terms of processes and physics. “Working in anti-gravity along with the speed of the karts, the camera location, and items that were in play was difficult,” said Ostero, “The team tried to come up with a system that would automatically determine gravity as a player raced along as a potential solution, but the results weren’t satisfactory.

The solution was a manual method of controlled gravity. “A programmer set specific areas that would activate different gravity in each course. This decision eventually led to being able to play these courses in a natural and comfortable way,” Ostero said.

The final product introduces a noteworthy new concept that’s subtle, but adds to the overall visual aesthetics. This also introduces a new spin on the concept of anti-gravity within the realm of racing games. Cogswell’s Game Design & Development programs exemplify the intersection of engineering and art concepts like that of anti-gravity.

Are you going to buy Mario Kart 8? – Do you think that game design concepts like anti-gravity are enough to further the franchise? – Are you Team Mario or Team Luigi? Tell us in the comments below!

Source: IGN

The Sims 4: Unique Fusion of A.I. Technology and Emotion-Based Soundtrack offers Gamers New Ways to interact with their Sims

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Since 2000 The Sims has been a staple in the gaming world, setting the standard for real-life simulation.  However in recent years the various expansion packs and add-ons have confused consumers on the brand that original creator Will Wright began 14 years ago.

The Sims 4 offers new and exciting features that will remind gamers of the original game rooted in emotion. “SmartSim”, is a new feature that heightens emotions for the Sims. During gameplay, the Sims’ emotions are impacted in different ways, for example, hobbies, relationships, food, etc. Combined with new digital animation techniques and A.I. technology, the “Smart Sim” is a completely new breed of Sim.

In the past Sims never interacted with the gamer. However, by adding emotion, and a new soundtrack, the Sim can now react with the gamer through music. Soundtrack composer Ilan Eshkeri had to create scores that could take advantage of the SmartSim’s emotional capabilities and also hark back to earlier stages in the game.

“If something emotional happens… I’d try to relate all of those to a few notes or a riff or a chord sequence that appeared in one of the longer pieces of background music. For example, if character is doing something in the house or if something breaks in the house, I’d try to relate that to the music you heard when you were building the house,” Eshkeri said.

According to executive producer Rachel Franklin, the flow of the game comes together with the marriage of sound design and digital animation technology. “Ilan is known for these theatrical sweeping, wonderful compositions,” Franklin said. “It’s a way for the Sim to respond back to the player… You can really feel that in the audio. Combining that with animation technology and facial emotional overlays… things work together in a really cool way to make you feel more related to your Sim. Because ultimately you’re caring for them…the music brings your relationship really to a height.”

Cogswell College offers programs in Digital Art and Animation, Digital Audio Technology, and Game Design.  Titles like The Sims 4 wouldn’t be possible without the technological advancement of these disciplines.  – Learn more about the opportunities these programs can provide TODAY!

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/07/sims-4-composer-ilan-eshkeri

9 Video Games We Wish Had Sequels

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

When video game studios hit on a good idea, they’ll frequently throw all of their resources into turning that one success into a string of successes. Although franchising is very common, every now and then a designer will leave a great title as a lone project. It might be a budget issue or politics among the developers or just bad luck, but whatever the reason, some favorite titles that would be well-suited to follow-ups have been left untouched for years. From underground research facilities in Half-Life to heroic journeys in Heavenly Sword; the end of these games has left thousands of gamers heartbroken.

Some are stand-alones and some are series that lost their way, but a new chapter of any of these stories would be welcomed with open arms. Visit this link for a full list of the nine video games that we wish would get sequels.

Article originally published at Mashable here.

25 Years of Game Boy

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Raise your hand if you’ve owned a Game Boy (Hand raised)!

The Game Boy, Nintendo’s first full-sized handheld device, was released in Japan on April 21, 1989. It featured a green LCD screen, a directional pad, A, B, and start and select buttons. It was released in America in August of the same year for $89.99. Over the next decade and a half, the original Game Boy and its upgrades like Game Boy Color would sell 118 million units worldwide.

Take a look at this Mashable article for Every Game Boy Model from the Past 25 Years.

Top 10 Games we’d Love to Play in Virtual Reality

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The next chapter of gaming and entertainment is almost here; virtual reality. As Sony prepares ‘Project Morpheus’, a virtual reality prototype for the PS4; the realism that virtual reality games will be taken from concept to completion is approaching quickly. This new technology will deliver a sense of presence, where you as the player actually feel like you’re inside the game and your emotions feel that much more real.

With the knowledge that this will soon be available to the masses, CraveOnline made a list of the Top 10 Games We’d Love to Play in Virtual Reality. Although we think that practically any game in existence would be insanely cool to experience through virtual reality; this list really gets the imagination going at the idea of experiencing these games in a seemingly real environment. Take a look at their list and see for yourself!

What games would you love to experience through virtual reality? Comment below!