Archive for the ‘Game Engineering’ 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 http://myvirtualrealitygames.com

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.”

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. 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.”

As seen on:
Gamasutra
Creative Planet Network

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.

GAMING FOR ALL

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 cogswell.edu. For more information about the Global Game Jam, visit globalgamejam.org.

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.

Source: www.seaofthieves.com

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.

Source: cdn.arstechnica.net

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.

    

Source: Kotaku.com

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: Dualshockers.com

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?

Source: polygon.com

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

Recent News in Animation & more

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Source: tadoo.com

Disney is releasing two critically acclaimed and fan favorite films from the famous Studio Ghibli on Blu-Ray! Widely considered to be a masterpiece, the Oscar award winning ‘Spirited Away’ (2002, Best Animated Feature Film) as well as the charming fantasy/adventure ‘The Cats Return’ will be made available for the first time in a Blu-Ray Combo pack on June 16th here in the US.

Created by world renowned filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most celebrated and respected filmmakers in the industry, ‘Spirited Away’ is a feast for the eyes. With lush dazzling landscapes, minute details in things like environments and architecture, and a story bursting with adventure and wonder, its no wonder this film has been called an absolute masterpiece. ‘Spirited Away’ tells the tale of a young girl named Chihiro who ends up in a strange and unfamiliar world populated by spirits. After witnessing her parents undergo a bizarre transformation, Chihiro is tasked with finding the courage shes always carried as well as learning to cope with change in order to save her family and free them back into the outside world. A story for the ages, ‘Spirited Away’ is not to be missed if you haven’t already seen it.

The English-language voice cast is made up by Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba/Zeniba), Jason Marsden (Haku), Susan Egan (Lin), David Ogden Stiers (Kamaji), Lauren Holly (Chihiro’s Mother), Michael Chiklis (Chihiro’s Father), John Ratzenberger (Assistant Manager), Tara Strong (“Baby”) and Bob Bergen (Aogaeru).

While the original Japanese version was written and directed by Miyazaki, the English-language version was produced by Donald W. Ernst and John Lassetter (of Pixar). Bonus content in this new release includes an introduction by John Lassetter, in addition to “The Art of Spirited Away” and “Behind the Microphone” featurettes and original Japanese storyboards, Nippon Television Special, original Japanese trailers and TV spots.

Also from Studio Ghibli comes ‘The Cat Returns’. Directed by Hiroyuki Morika the film follows Haru, a schoolgirl bored and unsatisfied by her ordinary routine who saves the life of a mysterious cat and suddenly finds her world flip-turned upside down. To alter her destiny, she must learn to believe in herself and in turn, appreciate her everyday life.

The English-language voice cast is made up of Anne Hathaway (Haru), Cary Elwes (The Baron), Peter Boyle (Muta), Elliott Gould (Toto), Andy Richter (Natoru), Rene Auberjonois (Natori), Tim Curry (Cat King), Judy Greer (Yuki), Andrew Bevis (Prince Lune), Kristen Bell (Hiromi), Kristine Sutherland (Haru’s Mother) and Katia Coe (Little Haru).

Bonus features for ‘The Cat Returns’ include the original Japanese storyboards, original Japanese trailers, TV spots, and two features: “The Making of ‘The Cat Returns’” and “Behind the Microphone.” Again, don’t miss either of these releases on June 16th.

Source: gamepur.com

‘Uhcharted 4: A Thief’s End’ developers Naughty Dog have divulged details of major improvements to their internal facial animation rigs used since Uncharted 3 and the Last of Us. They claim face models now animate with around “300 and 500 bones”. Writer Josh Scherr spoke to GamesTM and quantified the improvements by comparing them to rigs used in previous Uncharted titles, and ‘The Last of Us’ which used “about 90 and 100 ‘bones’ in their faces.”

“We’ve completely revamped our facial animation systems,” Scherr commented. “Think about that, how detailed Joel and Elli’s pained facial expressions were, how well the game captured the respective actors … Now, the faces have anywhere between 300 and 500 bones.”

“(This) lets us emote more, with all the ‘bones’ we can put onto (the face) – you pan round the camera to look at Nate’s face when he’s climbing and you see him grimacing and all this kind of stuff … we’re pushing detail on a macro and micro level that I think people are really going to respond to,” chimed in lead designer Ricky Cambier.

Nathan Drake face detail, source: Gamespot.com

On previous Naughty Dog games, “some of the animations might have been sample(d) at 10 or 15 frames per second to save memory,” these captured frames would then be run through software to interpolate or “tween” (in-between) them to run at 30 frames per second in game. This new technology can “afford to record [footage] at 30 frames per second so that [it'd] look that much smoother.”

“If you look at the first Uncharted and how that looked versus how The Last of Us looked … I have difficulty fathoming that we’ll have that kind of graphical leap in the next several years. The reality is, we probably will as we learn the systems better, so it’s all up from here, and that’s exciting.”

Naughty Dog has said it is targeting 60fps for Uncharted 4, but the studio won’t push the PS4 game that far if it affects the gameplay in a negative way. According to director Bruce Straley, the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Gameplay Demo was hard locked at 30fps, however, the game is now achieving higher frame rates.

Source: Cartoonbrew.com

What if the dinosaurs hadn’t have gone extinct? This is the question animation studio Pixar poses in their latest film, ‘The Good Dinosaur’. Anyone who’s been following this movie knows its had trouble getting onto its feet, after a change in directors, and a pushed back release date ‘The Good Dinosaur’ is finally ready to be shown off to the public.

The story is somewhat simple, but full of the signature charm and multi layered approach Pixar has been recognized for. A boy and his puppy… except the roles are reversed, the boy is a wild child (the puppy) and the dinosaur is the one offering life lessons to the boy. With the help of the good dinosaur, the boy learns more about the world, himself, and how to be a normal human. Originally pitched and directed by Bob Peterson, the movie has been shifted over to Peter Sohn.

Peter Sohn has been the inspiration

Arlo (the boy) isn’t seen much in the trailer, with the teaser focusing more on the titular Good Dinosaur, and the situations he finds himself in. Most of the trailer is spent focusing on the asteroid that never impacted this big blue marble we call Earth. Glimpses of Arlo are seen towards the end, which is sort of a shame as Sohn won the directors position after his insistence on the boy-and-his-dog archetype. Sohn told Yahoo! the following:

The heart of it has always remained the same in terms of the boy and the dog. I’ve been very diligent with the story team to kind of protect that and focus on that more. In terms of the world, it has kind of changed a bit here and there, and some of the characters have gone out and new ones have come in.

“We’ve been trying to find physical obstacles and and emotional obstacles for our main character, and nature can represent both. In a lot of the research that we’ve done, going out into the Northwest and out into the wilderness, I cannot tell you how beautiful and scary it can be, and how quickly nature can just turn on you. And we’re trying to finding the truth in that in terms of Arlo’s growth.”

Watch a trailer for ‘The Good Dinosaur’ on YouTube, it will be released November 25th of this year, one day before Thanksgiving.

Juan Rubio

Experience at the Game Developer’s Conference

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Image from url: http://www.sonniss.com/wp-content/uploads/edd/2015/03/gdc15_logo.jpg

I went to my first Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) this year, thanks to Cogswell’s ASB. From March 4th-6th, I was on a mission to do as much networking and have as many portfolio reviews as possible. However, there was no way I could be prepared for the level of insanity that this conference offered. I’ve been to animation conferences and other game events before, but this conference was the Godzilla of the gamer spirit. Imagine mega-nerds gathering from every different corner of the world and combining forces for a non-stop celebration of the video game industry —that would be close to capturing the essence of GDC.

When arriving on Wednesday, my first objective was to hit the Career Center. This area houses quite a few game company booths who have job opportunities. Fortunately, a few companies were interested in my portfolio, and I was able to get portfolio reviews with Gree and Glu Mobile. The High Five Casino games representative wasn’t able to do portfolio reviews, but she invited me to come back to speak to their art director.

Afterward the Career Center, I hit the main expo floor with some friends. Some of the biggest companies were there—Microsoft, Xbox, Steam, Windows, Google, and Unity to name a few. Many of them were showing off the newest tech that would be coming out in the next year or so. One display had a man hooked into a virtual reality setup in which he was physically running, turning, and shooting his gun. There were plenty of mo-cap setups as well, where one man was jumping around and playing basketball, with a monitor displaying a 3D character replicating his exact movements. I was particularly excited about a booth from TalentScotland—multiple game companies based in Scotland were being represented and actively looking for overseas workers. Working in Scotland has been an interest of mine, so I was pretty excited to find this booth.

After the conference hall shut down for the day, the real fun began. Companies rented out full bars and clubs just for GDC attendees. On Wednesday, I went to the Polycount Mixer and then to the Epic Games after-party. The events are intended for networking as well as having fun, and I made more contacts there. I also met an awesome group of people from the East coast and another from Denmark and Spain.

One thing I discovered at GDC was how big the gaming industry was in Norway. There was a whole section dedicated to Norwegian indie game developers, and apparently investors throw hundreds of thousands of dollars to those who are willing to make games. In that moment, I considered the possibility of moving to Norway to work as a 2D artist.  Then I remembered I was a California girl and would likely freeze to death in Norway!

I was able to get some very beneficial contacts from GDC, one being with the Director of Engineering from Gree Mobile, based in San Francisco. I will be visiting the studio next week and having dinner with some of their employees, which is a fantastic opportunity. I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk directly to artists in the game industry had it not been for GDC. I would absolutely recommend the conference to anyone who’s looking to get into games. Besides being exposed to some of the best work out there, you are immersed in what the game industry truly feels like. I’m excited at the chance to have some of these people as future coworkers—the workweek would certainly not be a boring one.

Sierra Gaston

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

Monolith, the future of 3D

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Image sourced from: http://www.3ders.org/images2014/new-voxel-modelling-software-monolith-6.jpg


In an industry where the standard is influenced by the goliath Autodesk, Two Developers hope to impress with their creation. Panagiotis Michalatos and Andrew Payne have coded a modeling engine that offers “A new paradigm where objects are defined as a dense representation of material properties throughout a 3D volume.” They call their creation, Monolith. Most 3D applications are ineffective when handling different spatial variations in material properties. This is because they are mostly built to deal with a surface modeling template which represents a solid object that is enclosed by a set of edges.

However, this software was created with the new type of 3D printers in mind, which are capable of multiple print heads that can deposit different types of resin within a single build. What makes Monolith truly remarkable is the way it handles voxel channels (3D Pixels). Through this program, voxel channels act as controls for lines, points, curves or even filters like gaussian blur. Overall, this will allow for an easier and more intuitive time creating 3D models as well as 3D Printing. This is definitely a program to keep an eye on in the upcoming months!

Check out videos of the software in action at: http://vimeo.com/113743660

Peter Gazallo

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