Archive for the ‘Game Design’ Category

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?

SuperGenius – One Company’s Journey into the World of Outsourcing

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

SuperGenius is a new generation of game art studio. A full-spectrum art and animation support studio for video game developers.

SuperGenius started out like many small game companies – with a dream. They wanted to outsource their talent and work with the best game developers in the world. They quickly discovered that someone else would always work for less so had to figure out a way to compete that would allow them to earn a living.

In this article in Gamasutra, Paul Culp, talks about the studio’s first attempt at being an amazing art asset producer and the lessons that helped it become the company it is today. “By taking a more holistic approach to the art and animation, and making sure it worked properly was immensely valuable to our clients. We stopped focusing on mass asset production and instead focused on completion, wrote Culp.”

One of the first lessons they learned was who they did not want to be. Another lesson was, “if you are going to spend a huge chunk of your time doing something, it better be something you believe in. Any endeavor, no matter how profitable it is, will eat you alive if you don’t like who you are while doing it.”

If you have tried to sell your art assets, what lessons have you learned?

So You Don’t Want to be Rich and Famous?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

If you don’t want to be rich and famous, then we guess you should not follow in the footsteps of Dong Nguyen, developer of the popular mobile game, “Flappy Birds.” He pulled the game down on Sunday, February 16, and walked away from advertising revenue estimated to be $50,000 each day. According to an exclusive interview published in Forbes, the reason he removed the game was:

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, but it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down ‘Flappy Bird.’ It’s gone forever.”

But according to another article in Forbes by Paul Tassi, there is a deeper issue at play here – the fact that there are a myriad of clones hoping to ride the wave of success of “Flappy Bird” and this cloning tendency is dragging down the creativity and originality of the mobile game market.

Tassi says, “I’ve always spoken out against the prominence of cloning in the mobile scene, but it’s usually been against companies like Zynga or King ripping off their most famous games from smaller developers or already established hits. Now we have a rise of ‘the little guy’ trying to rip-off fellow little guys, and the wake of this Flappy Bird drama, it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

Do you agree with Mr. Tassi’s assessment of the mobile game industry?

Behind the Scenes with Toy Story III Video Game

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Join Sr. Producer, Jonathan Warner, for Toy Story III in this behind the scenes tour of Avalanche Studios – based in Salt Lake City – and the game design process for this video game. The studio pitched creating both a story version of the game and a toy box version of the game. Disney loved the idea and the designers got to work.

Not only do you learn a few fun facts about Salt Lake City but you get to follow the camera through Avalanche Studios and watch some of the development team at work.

Cogswell’s Game Studio – The Joy of Bringing a Game Concept to Life

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Listen in as Cogswell students Sean Langhi, the Engineering & Design Lead and Bugi Kaigwa, Art Lead for the Prairie Rainbow project, share their excitement about the work they are doing in the Game Studio. Access the video here for a sneak peek into a game development team at Cogswell.

Prairie Rainbow develops board games and teacher and parent guides to help students learn math. The Rainbow Math Models are designed to engage tactile learners who need to build a physical model, image learners who need to create a representation of a mental model, and language learners who need to hear, read, or write a number model. This Game Studio project is taking the company’s board game concept and turning it into a unity-based action puzzle game for mobile devices that will not only support the different learning methods but will add another dimension to the user’s experience.

“One goal of our Game program is to offer students real-world learning opportunities,” said Jerome Solomon, Director of Cogswell’s Game Design & Development degree program. “This partnership gives students the chance to not only design a math learning game but to test the prototype in local schools.”

Under the supervision of faculty and industry advisors, Cogswell’s comprehensive project-based learning focus gives students the chance to work on teams that mirror real game development teams of artists, engineers, animators, game designers, audio specialists, and management. Our unique system of Studio classes offers students the opportunity to experience the entire production pipeline from concept through shipping in the process of delivering a professional-quality product.

Global Game Jam Recap and link to Games

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Cogswell hosted 28 jammers from January 24 to 26 during Global Game Jam 2014. Here’s a recap of what happened over that 48 hour period. We hope you will take a few minutes to check out the games our teams developed.

  • We were one of 487 jam sites around the world with 23,452 participants making video games.
  • At Cogswell, we made 7 games/playable prototypes.  We made more than the folks at Stanford!!!!
  • We had a mix of people ranging from Cogswell students to Google engineers.

3 largest single jam sites in the world:

  • Tel Aviv, Israel = 485
  • Curitiba, Brazil = 410
  • Giza, Egypt = 400

Many thanks to the Cogswell faculty and staff and the Global Game Jam 2014 volunteer organizers who made this experience possible!

Here’s the link to all our games

Check out photos from GGJ 2014 at Cogswell College

More Photos

Listen in as the Development Team of ‘Elder Scrolls Online’ Discuss Gameplay Strategy

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Would you rather play a game by yourself or be part of a group effort? ‘Elder Scrolls Online’ hopes you choose the latter and their game design team was tasked with motivating gamers on their MMO to play with others.

Paul Sage, Creative Director; Nick Konkle, Lead Game Play Designer and Dan Crenshaw, Dungeon Lead talk about the strategies they used and challenges they faced to achieve their goal in this article in GameInformer. Some of the game incentives offered to players include the ability to teleport to join your team and creating foes that are too strong for a single player to defeat. Their discussions take place as voice-overs during scenes from the game.

What strategies would you use to encourage multiple players in a game?

How One Man Built a Video Game to Pop the Question

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

What happens when guy video gamer meets girl video gamer and they fall in love? The guy, Robert Fink, makes a video game to ask his beloved, Angel White, to marry him. In this article in Yahoo Shine, he said that the task took about 5 months to complete and he discovered that the hardest part was keeping the project a secret.

In the game, dubbed “Knight Man,” a dashing white knight attempts to save a princess by completing a series of challenges. Each successful challenge helps him build a golden ring that, in turn, unlocks the castle, where the princess is frozen in a crystal.

Try out the game here and let us know what you think.

One Game Programmer’s Journey

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Tommy Refenes remembers his days as an aspiring video game designer and the myriad of questions he had about how to get started. Following a particularly inspirational presentation, he wrote the featured game designer a long email filled with his thoughts and questions. Sadly he never heard back from the designer.

Through trial and error he eventually learned his craft and in May 2006 Tommy founded PillowFort and created “Goo!.” The game earned an IGF Technical Excellence nomination, grand prize in the 2008 Intel Game Demo contest for Best Threaded Game and finished 3rd for Best Game on Intel Graphics. He is best known for “Super Meat Boy.”

Now he is in the position of master game maker and the recipient of those ‘how-to’ questions. He says that the two most asked questions are, ‘How do I get started?’ and ‘What programming language should I use?’ In this article in Gamasutra, he attempts to answer these and other questions.

  • Everything starts out at the very most basic level and builds up from there. Breaking your game down into small pieces forces you to analyze and evaluate your ideas on a deeper level.
  • When it comes to programming languages he suggests that you stick to what you know, or go the easiest most comfortable route possible to acquiring skills to start work on your game. So if you know a little Flash, use Flash, if you use C++, use C++, if you only use Java, then use Java.
  • The article also covers using books and tutorials as learning aids, what software he has used, how he stays motivated during the development process, steps to get your game on various platforms and how to deal with a lack of audience interest in the game you build.

Send us your questions about how to get started as a game programmer or visit our website to learn more about earning a BS in Game Design Engineering.

Cogswell College is a 2014 Global Game Jam Host Site

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Eating pizza and waiting for the Opening Presentation at GGJ 2013

Cogswell College is pleased to once again serve as a host site for the Global Game Jam. The College’s involvement with the annual event began with the first sponsored Game Jam in 2009.

DATE: January 24 – 26, 2014

TIME: 6:00PM on Friday and wrapping up at 3:00PM on Sunday

PLACE: Cogswell College, 1175 Bordeaux Dr, Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Registration required

COST: $10 students (with college email address); $20 Cogswell Alumni and $40 general public

INCLUDED with registration: Pizza on Friday evening, continental breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and snacks and coffee throughout the weekend.

The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event taking place around the world at physical locations. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. It is the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways using video games – it is very universal.

REGISTER now for an action-packed weekend of game development and networking!

Don't miss the fun!