Archive for the ‘Game Design’ Category

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!

E3 Fans Go Bananas at The Super Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament: The Olympics of Nintendo

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

The most talked about title at the recent E3 convention, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, was the upcoming and highly anticipated fourth installment of Super Smash Brothers. The hype was generated from its massive fan base for the first chance to see the game in action, as well as the first ever Super Smash Brothers for Wii U Invitational tournament.

E3 Fans dressed up as their favorite Smash Bros. characters and waited in an entry line that wrapped nearly the entire circumference around the Staples Center. Superfans included Pikachu, Ness, WaLuigi, and a very vocal Yoshi. Check out the line footage here:

Fans from around the world also got to partake in the event, as it was broadcast on Twitch, a live-streaming video platform focused on gaming. This truly was the Olympics of Nintendo. The Super Smash fans cheered for their favorite digitally animated heroes (Megaman appeared to be the crowd favorite) and held up signs as the countdown to show time commenced.

Geoff Keighley of Spike TV’s GTTV (Game Trailers TV) hosted the Invitational, promising fans a first look at the game as well as the tournament itself. 16 highly skilled players from around the world met to compete in the tournament. One by one players fell as commentators shouted over-excited observations during game play. The Invitational climaxed as Zero Suit Samus (played by professional gamer Gonzalo “CTZeRo” Barrios) defeated Kirby in the final match.

Super Smash Brothers for Wii U will be released in late winter of 2014. The title boasts running speeds of 60fps, which means players are going to get a graphically-smooth fighting experience. Another perk is the simplicity of controls, as it can be played with almost any of the previous game console controllers. This offers players the familiarity of past titles, with the updated design tech capabilities of the Wii U.

Cogswell offers programs in Game Design and Development combining both engineering and art for games and various forms of interactive technology.

Would you wait in line to watch an epic gaming tournament? Who is your favorite Smash Bros. character? Tell us in the comment section below!

The Lessons Learned After Spending 13 Years Making One Game

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

What happens when you spend literally half your life working on one game? This burden was carried by one developer as he spent 13 years trying to develop “the game he had always wanted to make.”

Adam Butcher started working on his game Tobias and the Dark Sceptres when he was 14 years old. He was using Multimedia Fusion when he started, game creation software for those without coding experiences that became popular in the early 2000s.

Now that Tobias and the Dark Sceptres is complete, Butcher looks back on his years of toil in this charmingly animated YouTube video. He calls his labor “The Game That Time Forgot” because of how much gaming standards, especially the concept of indie games, had changed since he started as a teenager. He said he hoped the video is a cautionary tale to developers who let a project consume too much.

Butcher is free of his albatross now, and the game can be downloaded at no charge on its website.

See the full story here.

Interested in Game Design & Development? Read more about Cogswell’s Bachelor Degree Program!

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

Cogswell Game Studio & Barron Park Elementary School

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Cogswell Game Studio & Barron Park Elementary School

Barron Park ElementaryCogswell Game Studio, a project-based learning course, visited Barron Park Elementary on Thursday, March 6, 2014 for the first “play test” of their game Tangram Jam.

A “play test” is a quality insurance process in game development where an alpha or beta version of a game is tested in a controlled environment. The team took both a PC pre-alpha build and mobile versions of the user interface for 3rd grade students to experience.  While the game is fun, it is also a ‘serious game’; it teaches math concepts to students.

Arlinda Smith (teacher) and Magdelna Frittoria (Principal) welcomed the Cogswell students form the game development team into a 3rd grade class at Barron Park Elementary.  The elementary school students were enthusiastic to give feedback on the game and what they found to be fun elements.  Cogswell game design art and engineering students took metrics on game play performance and observed what the children were enjoying and learning during game play.

During this play test session, the team also found several things to improve the play of the game for the students.

Cogswell Game Studio is part of the curriculum and process in the Game Design & Development program.

It was a wonderful experience and we learned a lot. We were able to observe how the kids responded to the music, models and interface. We found out why they liked or didn’t like certain aspects of the game as well as what they would do differently with the game. My focus was seeing if the kids understood the interface. I was surprised at how easily the kids navigated through the interface as if they’ve done it a thousand times before. [We] tried to make the UI as clear and understandable as possible and we definitely nailed it with this one. I’m looking forward to the next school visit because we’ve prepared an even better game to present.

~ Shawn Sercombe, Cogswell student

ElementaryElementary 2

10 Most Influential Games of the 80s

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

It’s no secret that video games were a great deal different back in the 1980’s; from classics we still see today to the games that didn’t live to see the next decade. Remember the original versions of SimCity (1989), The Legend of Zelda (1987), John Madden Football (1988), and Super Mario Bros. (1985)? What about the always classic Pac-Man (1980) and Tetris (1987)? One component we can all likely agree on, however, is the fact that the ghosts of gaming past have paved the way and made a huge impact on the gaming industry we see today. This Yahoo article gives their picks of the 10 most influential games of the 1980s, but we’ll let you be the judge on which games were the most impactful from that decade.

What would you add to their list? How would you rank the games? Give us your two cents below!

Free-to-Play Games on the Rise

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Many experts in the game design industry predict that the rising trend in free-to-play games will continue during 2014 and the foreseeable future. Insiders and outsiders alike are of the opinion that free-to-play was just for mobile and browser titles, but that’s not the case.

Some high quality offerings have become available over the last couple of years and with the success they’ve experienced, more are planned. Full games such as Team Fortress 2, League of Legends, PlanetSide 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic have all launched on the free-to-play platform.

There are definitely pros and cons to free-to-play. On the positive side, people can try the game and play for extended periods of time before spending money. Casual gamers can enjoy playing without paying monthly fees. It offers a cheap entertainment alternative.

The flip side is that free isn’t free in a lot of cases, and it’s difficult to tell when you first start playing how much it will cost to maintain interest or stay competitive because many players will choose to add options. Some options give players a competitive advantage, hence the allegations of “pay to win,” and many players are willing to buy anything and pay any price to win.

How game designers make money with free-to-play games

It seems counter-intuitive that a game designer would make money for a free game, but they can actually make more money if done correctly by offering it for free rather than a pay-to-play model.

Through micro-transactions, (generally $1-$5) game designers make options available to enhance the player’s experience. Some purists decry this as “pay to win,” but many of the things you can buy in the cash shop are cosmetic options to differentiate players from each other.

Free-to-play games also monetize through advertising. Many have ads that pop up during breaks; in-game advertising banners placed throughout the game simulate advertising at sporting events. In-game adverting affects the game as little as possible.

It’s estimated that the free-to-play version of Team Fortress 2 generated 12 times the revenue of its subscription counterpart. So if it’s done well, game designers will find the free-to-play platform very lucrative.

As a consumer, do you use free-to-play games, or spend a little extra to enjoy an ad free gaming experience?