Archive for the ‘Game Engineering’ Category

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

Crowdfunding in Game Development

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Video games are often developed under larger publishing companies, or produced by developers themselves as independent titles. However, the new trend of crowdfunding puts gaming in the hands of the consumer rather than designer. Gamers can choose to fund the games they find interesting and are genuinely excited to play.

The crowdfunding model received significant attention in the video game world with the success of “Double Fine Adventure”, a point-and-click adventure game that earned more than $3 million via Kickstarter in excess of the initial $400,000 funding request.

Crowdfunding allows independent developers the means to create a desired product and also creates a consumer-fueled marketing strategy. Social Media is key with crowdfunding. Titles that don’t generate enough buzz won’t reach their initial funding requests. A little less than half of video game crowd-funded titles successfully obtain their target funds.

Knowledge about these strategies are key to game designers. Cogswell College offers programs Game Design & Development that gives aspiring designers the art and engineering skills necessary to produce quality content that consumers demand. Cogswell also offers their Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a comprehensive program for students to learn the entrepreneurial skills needed to create, establish and grow their own ventures. These skills key to a successful game designer.

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

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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

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

Can Indie Games Thrive Without Big Publishers?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

As the gaming landscape evolves, it’s becoming more common for Indie Game Developers to go beyond industry barriers to get their game to the public. Digital downloads and crowdfunding has made this type of self-publishing seem like a feasible alternative to working for big name publishers.

“The publishing people all watch [a game] and then make passive, aesthetic appraisals of active, functional aspects of a game,” wrote an anonymous developer, providing an attack on major game publishers. “This is because the bulk of execs can’t and don’t want to play or understand how games work.”

The recent success of indie developed games such as Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, and Broken Age have broken through the industry barriers and have given independent game developers hope that they can make a living without exchanging their intellectual property over to the big name publishers.

“Doing independent development via Indie Fund or Kickstarter allows us to be free of the pressure to change our game and to avoid things that seem risky,” Double Fine developer, Tim Shafer, says, “Now, we will rise or fall on our own merits.”

Check out this Mashable article for more on game developers who self-funded a game, and how the Indie Game industry has evolved. There are risks and benefits with working for major publishers and through self-funding. If given the choice, which route would you take?

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

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!

So you Want to Start a Software Company?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

If this is your dream, you are not alone. As witnessed in here in Silicon Valley and around the globe – the opportunities opened up by mobile apps have made this a popular choice for setting off on your own. This article in Computing Now contains important information to help you start off on the right foot.

Some of the issues covered include:

  • Your most important asset – people
  • Founders don’t see the world the same way as employees
  • It’s ‘our standard contract’ is rarely true
  • Find out what people need, make it, tell them and get them to pay you

What other issues would you like to see discussed about starting a software company?

Some Nutty Game Ideas that Should See the Light of Day

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The Twitter doppelganger of Peter Molyneux

This wistful and witty article by Kirk Hamilton in Kotaku presents 10 Amazing Peter Molydeux (the mad twitter doppelgänger of famed game designer, Peter Molyneux) ideas that need to become games right now.

Here are two of the ‘fake’ twitter posts ideas:

-Imagine if in new Guitar Hero you play as a busker, you witness your city evolve as your music changes the decisions of the people around you.

-3D adventure game where you have amnesia and wake up in a gigantic museum where every room is devoted to a year of your life.

Which of these ideas would you like to see turned into a game?