Archive for the ‘Game Design’ 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

Jodediah Holmes and GXDev Award Winning Game Patchwork

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015


Q:Tell me about you. What’s your name? What school do you go to? What is your degree program? Frosh/Soph/Jr./Sr.? Are you a part of any clubs?

A:Hello! I am Jodediah Holems. You may recognize me from my personal brands: pajama pants and hubcap backpack. I am the Game Development Club president at Cogswell College, where I organize teams, give lectures, hold workshops, and kindle the growth of my fellow game friends. I am aspiring to become a professional weirdo, but at the moment I am only part-time. At Cogswell I’m under the Digital Media Management degree, and I’m a junior.

Q: What was the competition that you entered? How many participants were there (if you know)?

A: I recently participated in GXDev: Everyone Create’s Games, a 24 hour game jam put on by the GaymerX organizers. I’d say there were around 30 developers in attendance, figured from the ~10 games made by teams of less than 5 (there were two solo teams, I was one). The goal was to make a game in 24 hours from the theme “the stories that aren’t told.”

Q: What did you win???

A: I won in 2 categories: Strangest Game and Judge’s Pick. I got two lovely glass bricks, a DVD, and some other nifty digital gifts as a reward! I also got to feel very excited for a whole week. I still can’t handle it.

Q:Tell me about your game. What is it called? How does it play? What is the goal? How long did it take you to make? Did you create it by yourself or with friends?

A: My game is called PATCHWORK, and it’s a bit of a game soup. The official genre is “Tetris-Jenga-word-search-diary-entry-collect-a-thon”, and it is played with two people, two devices that can run an .html file, and ten painted pieces. One player builds a balancing building, searches for words, and enters found words into their device to read a selection of secret stories. The other player is in control of certain parts of the process, answering questions and assisting the player in such a way as to bend the outcome of the game to their will. Nobody knows how many secret stories there actually are, but it doesn’t matter. Some people choose to stop playing after the stories make them cry or laugh or feel.

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the game? Is it based on anything?

A: My local art gallery was putting on a project where members of the community could buy oddly shaped wooden blocks, paint them, and bring them back to form one giant puzzle mural. I noticed that they were Tetris shapes and remembered that I was going to a game jam, so I asked if I could have a whole bunch. I walked out with ten. These pieces whispered “Hey, I really want to be in a game,” so I planned to fulfill their dreams. This merged with a couple of other ideas I had, those being:

  1. I really want to make a game that is played a little bit in a Gamemaker file, a little bit in a Twine file, a little bit in physical space, and maybe also over email or something.
  2. Oh yeah, this is a queer game jam! I should write the letters S, E, I, A, L, B, and N all over the backs of the tetris tiles. Someone may unwittingly spell LESBIANS. That would be humor.
    Those ideas all came together in a gallon pot for 45 minutes on medium-high heat, and emerged as PATCHWORK. They were all inspired by certain Big Ideas I’ve observed across games and games academia, but otherwise there were no direct inspirations.

Q: What programming did you do for the game? What languages did you use?

A: I do not know programming. I made the digital portion of this game in Twine, a program for making text-based choose your own adventure-type games. It is very easy to learn, I’d recommend you check out out! http://twinery.org

Q: What advice would you give to another student trying to enter a gaming, or game creation competition?

A: Do it. Participate in as many events as possible. Meet people. Run through every door.

Q: There’s something really intoxicating about games that have physical and virtual elements. Do you think there’s particular power in combining elements of both?

A: All digital games have physical elements, which is something I don’t think a lot of people think about. Your hands are always going to be interacting with a mouse, keyboard, controller, or other contraption. A really easy way to make a game that genuinely surprises people is to have that in mind, intentionally forming a physical something that isn’t a mouse, keyboard, or typical controller. It’s so easy to make something unlike anything your audience has ever seen, and that’s incredibly powerful!

Q: Here’s where I get super arty on you — do you think our lives are more physical or virtual? Or is the difference unimportant?

A: Ahhh, that’s a great question! When I hear “are our lives more physical or virtual,” I immediately connect physical to body and virtual to mind. There have definitely been times where I think “bodies are handcuffing my spirit to the earth. I’d be so much happier if I wasn’t weighed down with needing to sleep, eat, exercise, and perform for people. I just want to be a brain.” There are also times when I’m upset with my brain and feel the opposite feelings, but that happens less often.

The internet, as it exists on phones and computers and wires in our homes, very much fuels the idea of bodies as inconveniences. Chairs, mice, keyboards, controllers, and screens don’t respect our bodies. What is the point of the rest of me when I can lead a happy connected existence as a brain, a couple of fingers, and a pair of eyes? That’s why I think games with designed physical components are so powerful. Even if they still only require your brain, fingers, and eyes, doing it in a way that is new and interesting lets you know that someone out there respects your fingers. Someone out there understands the terrible sameness your fingers have to deal with every day. Someone out there wants you to experience your body in a world designed for your mind.

Q: What are your aspirations for the future?

A: I would very much like to ascend to the next mortal plane, but in the meantime I will make games and art and friends. Dismantle capitalism!

Watch a short clip of Patchwork on Vine at: Patchwork

COGSWELL COLLEGE TO HOST GLOBAL GAME JAM EVENT AT SILICON VALLEY CAMPUS JANUARY 23-25

Thursday, January 15th, 2015


Sunnyvale, CA, January 13, 2015 — Cogswell College, a leading educational institution offering a unique curriculum fusing Digital Art, Engineering and Entrepreneurship, will serve as one of the international hosts of the 2015 Global Game Jam (GGJ) Event (January 23-25) at its campus in Silicon Valley. Cogswell has been hosting GGJ since 2009, and is one of the original sites to host this unique event in the Bay Area.

To register for the Cogswell-hosted event, please see: http://www.cogswell.edu/ggj2015

The goal behind the annual Global Game Jam (GGJ) is for people from all walks of life to come together and make a video game, or non-digital game like a board game or card game, during one single weekend. Participants rapidly prototype game designs and inject new ideas to help grow the game industry. GGJ asks participants to create a game from beginning to end in a prescribed time (maximum of 48 hours). The brief time span is meant to help encourage creative thinking, always resulting in small but innovative and experimental games.

Regarding the event, Albert Chen, Cogswell’s Assistant Professor, Game Design & Development, said, “The Global Game Jam hosted at Cogswell College exemplifies what Silicon Valley is all about. Within 48 hours, students, alumni, professionals and hobbyists will converge in the spirit of Hewlett & Packard and Jobs & Wozniak, to turn ideas into innovative game prototypes and future game startups. Our students will have another great opportunity by which to learn the value of doing and creating.”

Run by a small international team of volunteers, the annual GGJ is the world’s largest game jam (game creation) event, and takes place around the world at numerous physical locations simultaneously. GGJ is the outgrowth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, people can still come together, be creative, share experiences, and express themselves in a multitude of ways by using video games. The weekend stirs a global creative buzz in games, while at the same time exploring the process of development, be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression. GGJ is condensed into a 48- hour development cycle, and encourages people from diverse backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity.

The structure of each Global Game Jam begins when people gather on a Friday late afternoon, watch a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then receive a “secret theme.” All physical locations that participate in each GGJ event, worldwide, are then challenged to create brand new games based on that same theme. These games are to be completed by the following Sunday afternoon.

ABOUT GLOBAL GAME JAM:

The brainchild of Susan Gold in collaboration with Gorm Lai and Ian Schreiber, the Global Game Jam (GGJ) was founded in 2008, inspired by the many game jams before it, such as the Indie Game Jam, Ludum Dare and Nordic Game Jam. GGJ was a project of the International Game Developer’s Association (IGDA) from 2009-2012. Starting with GGJ 2013, the event has been managed by Global Game Jam, Inc.

The 1st annual Global Game Jam was held in 2009 to much critical acclaim and success. With over 1600 participants in 23 countries, and a theme of “As long as we have each other, we will never run out of problems,” the GGJ produced 370 games. In 2010, the number of participants increased to over 4300 with 900 finished games on the theme of “Deception.” GGJ participants worldwide have continued to dramatically increase in numbers during each subsequent year of this unique event.

GGJ is a volunteer-run organization, built upon the very hard work of its leadership, site organizers, and participants. For more information, please visit: http://globalgamejam.org/about

ABOUT COGSWELL COLLEGE:

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.

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 “The Boxtrolls” and “The Avengers,” and the popular videogames “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Halo 4” and “Battlefield Hardline.”

Additionally, animated short films conceived and produced by Cogswell students have gone on to win prestigious awards, including those presented by the California International Animation Festival, the Colorado Film Festival, the Oregon Film Festival, the Miami Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival, the San Jose Short Film Festival, and Canada’s International Film Festival.

Cogswell College is located at 1175 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, California, 94089. For more information, please call 1-800-264-7955 or visit: http://www.cogswell.edu/

Global Game Jam at Cogswell College!

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Poster Image created by Jose Hernandez

Global Game Jam is a worldwide event in which over 20k “jammers” meet together in various locations around the globe to make games, and once again, we are hosting it at Cogswell! It is an intense 48 hour event in which programmers, artists, designers and audio folks are challenged to come together to build games from scratch. Best of all, every game produced is absolutely free to download once it’s finished. Admission is $40 for the general public, $20 for Cogswell Alumni, and $10 for any Cogswell or college student with a valid college email address. Price includes a pizza dinner Friday night and snacks throughout the weekend.  Don’t miss the chance to be part of something huge as space is limited to 50 participants this year. Register soon!  http://www.cogswell.edu/ggj2015

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!

Cogswell Student to Present Mobile App Game at SIGGRAPH

Monday, August 4th, 2014

SUNNYVALE, CA – A student from Cogswell College’s Game Studio will present a newly produced, school-developed mobile app game during the 2014 SIGGRAPH Conference’s “Appy Hour” showcase in Vancouver.

Cara Ricci, one of Cogswell’s Game Design Art students participating in the project-based learning Game Studio, will be presenting the new game, titled Tangram Jam, at SIGGRAPH. The game was developed and produced as part of a Cogswell Game Design & Development course. SIGGRAPH’s “Appy Hour” is designed to showcase the next generation of mobile applications and their creators. Demos by developers of interactive, animated, location-based, visualization and game apps will be presented.

Tangram Jam is an iOS and Android mobile educational puzzle game created by students attending Cogswell’s Game Studio. The game is aimed at third- and fourth-grade students, and has been designed to teach them concepts of adding fractions. The game leverages visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning style techniques in a fun and stimulating environment. 3D characters and procedurally generated music are also featured in the game.

Jerome Solomon, Cogswell’s Dean of the College and Director of Game Design & Development program, says,

“Cara Ricci’s contribution to the exciting new kids game Tangram Jam has been invaluable. She completely redesigned our user interface and contributed much of the game’s UX (user experience). She also worked as a character animator on our team. The look and feel, UX, and animations featured in this new game are critical to making its game play experience fun and engaging for third- and fourth-grade students.”

Adds Cara Ricci, “Almost everything on this project was new and different for me, since I had never previously worked on a video game project with a team comprised of more than five people. There was a lot of teaching and learning from each other, since we had to pass off work and take on unfamiliar tasks. It was exciting for me to have learned such a huge amount of information in a very small period of time. Our original idea was to develop a game that would teach fractions to children in a fun and visually pleasing manner. I believe that the kids who ultimately play Tangram Jam will learn math through shape and color association, as well as how fractions are basically pieces of a whole. Hopefully, it will also teach them how to make decisions quickly, and how to organize and categorize within a restricted time limit.”

As seen on Computer Graphics World: http://cgw.com/Press-Center/Siggraph/2014/Cogswell-Student-Presents-Mobile-App-Game-at-SIG.aspx

Other sources:

Computer Graphics World
Animation World Network
Gamasutra
Shoot Publicity Wire
Games Press

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!

This Software Will Let Anyone Create Virtual Reality Games

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

While the frontiers of virtual reality are expanding due to increased interest in the Oculus Rift headset, creating games and virtual reality experiences has generally been limited to those who can program.

Sixense, a company known for its motion controllers that excel in virtual environments, wants to lower the barrier of entry to VR creation to anyone with a little design know-how with its upcoming software development kit. The SixenseVR SDK will integrate into Unity and Unreal Engine, two of the most popular game engines, giving creators a toolset that already supports most gaming platforms.

“The main reason this is important is because quite often developers such as designers and artist have great game concepts but are not proficient in programming and are often dependent on others to see their ideas come to life,” said Sixense Creative Director Danny Woodall. “Giving them the ability to prototype and flush out their ideas without the aid of someone else is very powerful. Unreal 4 has a similar vision and uses a system called blueprints to allow developers to use a node based visual scripting system.”

Read the full article here.

Developers – do you support this technology? Weigh in below!