Archive for the ‘Game Engineering’ Category

Software Testing without Documentation

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Software engineers are sometimes faced with the task of testing a piece of software without any accompanying documentation to help them understand the design of the software. As the title to the Slideshare presentation states: “No Time to Explain! TEST!”

Author, Oleksandr Lutsaievskyi who is a Scrum Master and Agile Coach, shares insights and techniques for making the best of this situation as you work to deliver the results your client needs. Discovery methods include exploratory testing, error guessing and your experience.

Another of the tips Lutsaievskyi offers is that finding and working with the person responsible for the results of the testing is crucial to a successful outcome. This contact is key to helping you understand what is expected from test scenarios, pass/fail and anticipated results. Check out the presentation for additional insights.

If you have tested software without documentation what issues did you encounter?

Cogswell College: A Microcosm of Silicon Valley

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

While many regions around the world have access to talented artists and engineers, groundbreaking marketers, infusions of capital and excellent universities – what is it that makes Silicon Valley so special and difficult to reproduce elsewhere?

It’s not in the water but it does seem to be in the air we breathe. We operate differently in the Silicon Valley and have a very different mindset about how to do business. Words often used to describe this unique area include: entrepreneurial, passionate, future-focused, collaborative, high-energy, innovative, creative, techy, team-oriented and willingness to take a chance.

In an article published in the Washington Post, author Victor Hwang, identifies a key element that is often overlooked. Other regions “focus primarily on its ingredients — its obvious assets, like venture capital, skilled workers and universities. What they have largely ignored is its recipe — the social interactions that turn those ingredients into vibrant companies.”

He goes on to state, “arguably, the most important factor in its success has been the formation of a unique culture — one that allows people with diverse skills, who often don’t know each other, to mix and match: collaborating and trusting in ways that people in other cultures don’t. It is not simply creative destruction, as many observers say. More importantly, it is a process of creative reassembly, as people join forces on temporary projects and then recirculate and recombine for other projects later.”

Cogswell College, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is a true microcosm of Silicon Valley. Within our walls a true collaborative spirit exists. Students, faculty, alumni and external ventures dive into projects and work together to give them life thus gaining valuable collaboration and teamwork competencies. The groups formed bring a diversity of talents, skills, life experiences and perspectives to the task at hand plus an eagerness to learn and desire to create something extraordinary.

Visitors to our campus respond to the natural curiosity and energy permeating Cogswell’s classrooms and labs as teams tackle whatever challenge is in front of them. Whether you are a student in our Undergraduate program or Master’s program Cogswell encourages its students to create, innovate and apply what they have learned in a project-based curriculum that focuses on delivering market-ready products. Students learn to work on teams that mirror real development teams consisting of artists, animators, audio experts and project managers – with software engineering at its core.

With the ability to assemble multidisciplinary teams from within its programs of study, Cogswell College is uniquely positioned to deliver market-ready projects to partner companies and organizations. A sampling of projects we have collaborated on include:

  • Interactive Logo Designs – Cogswell’s Sound Design class developed new logo treatments for Cogswell (seen at the end of the video posted below) and for two different external partner organizations.
  • Interactive Book – Using the latest industry-standard technology, students are working under faculty guidance to create an artistically stunning interactive book (or whatever text Thomas approves).
  • Mobile game – Prairie Rainbow develops table top games to help younger students learn math concepts. Cogswell students are developing a mobile game version of the company’s Rainbow Squares learning tool.

Cogswell also encourages it students to develop their own projects through and supports their efforts. Original student development projects include: game development, operating student store, 3D printing and audio theater projects.

One of the things that sets Silicon Valley apart from other tech development centers, is the sharing of ideas and expertise. Few days go by without an opportunity to attend meetups, salons, hackathons, live/work houses, clubs and industry-specific events. Most have an open door policy – if you are interested in whatever the topic, stop by to learn and network. There is an accessibility to successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley unavailable in other tech regions largely fostered by the area’s culture of sharing knowledge with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

At Cogswell College we bring all the pieces together in one place. Our students have the opportunity to collaborate with other students who possess a diverse range of skills and interests on projects, they have access to Silicon Valley thought leaders and a long history of innovation and cutting-edge education. Cogswell College truly is a microcosm of Silicon Valley.

Check out this video to learn more about how Cogswell mirrors the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

5 Obscure Marvel Characters

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Gamora – Drax the Destroyer – Rocket Raccoon – may not we well known Marvel Comic book characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy series but might make a blockbuster movie under the guidance of Director, James Gunn.

Check out this slideshare presentation to see what he has in mind.

Which one is your favorite?

The Future of Video Games – Is It in the Cloud?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Thomas Bidaux, former development director at NCsoft, CEO of online game consulting firm ICO partners, and advisory board member for GDC Next; was recently interviewed by Gamasutra about his thoughts on where the video game industry is heading. In his opinion, one of the big influencers in how games are made and played will be using cloud technology.

  • While he thinks cloud computing still has much to prove to convince him, he does see a lot of untapped potential from cloud computing in the way games are conceived. A few other points he covered during the interview include:
  • How he sees the rise of cloud computing tech changing the industry – the best change would be those that players don’t even notice, convenience.
  • What does he see as the challenges of content creation changing in the future – user generated content requires good UI, good documentation because game developers are basically running a project inside their project.

What other changes do you think cloud computing technology will make to video game development?

Puzzle Game Project Class Gets Underway

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

In a recent Skype call on a large monitor at the front of the classroom, George Gagnon, Founder of Prairie Rainbow Company, met with students and faculty for an introductory session to clarify parameters for the project and to present the concepts the two student teams developed in a 48 hour turnaround.

The eleven students enrolled in the class were divided into two teams and tasked with creating a video game version of the Rainbow Squares table top game. Rainbow Squares is a puzzle game designed for elementary, secondary or adult learners to use as an individual or group learning tool. The game consists of six squares, each made up of three different rainbow-colored pieces. Each of these pieces can be used to form other squares using two, four, five or six pieces or can be used to learn addition and fractions.

“Rainbow Math Models are designed to engage students and let them learn through the method that is best for them,” said George. “Feelings learners get to build a physical model, image learners can create a visual model, while language learners have the chance to hear, read, or write a number model,” added George.  “I think by offering Rainbow Squares as a virtual learning tool, more students will have access to the learning method that works for them.”

After students introduced themselves, a representative from each team outlined the concepts they were considering for the game design.

The Red Team started with general ideas and then branched out. They thought it was important for the video game to represent the physical game since the product has been so successful. The team’s goal is to make students want to play the game over and over. They also discussed implementing different levels for different shapes such as one level to focus on manipulating squares, another for pentagons and another for triangles. Other ideas involved creating a limited moves mode or an addition mode with each block being assigned a numerical value. The team would also like to explore a multiplayer option.

The Blue Team first wanted to know if George would prefer a more structural approach to presenting the concepts of addition and fractions or would he consider a more spatial representation of the math concepts through graphs or perhaps as weights on a scale. Would he like the final game to be more session-based play or individual play? If he would like a more structural approach to teaching the concepts, then they are thinking about a more traditional approach with something like Tetris.

“I love the creativity the teams have put into the process. I’m excited about what I’ve heard today and can’t wait to see the finished products,” said George.

Animation for Game Class Video

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Animation for Game class worked hard all summer – producing 30+ assignments over the course of the summer.

Near the end of the summer, they held an Open House to show off their work. Faculty member, Jonali Bhattacharyya who teaches the class, said she was really pleased with the quantity and quality of work the students produced. “I wanted them to learn how to work under the pressure of a real work situation,” said Jonali.

Here are a few video clips taken during the Open House as faculty, staff and students tested out the video games. Clip one. Clip two. Clip three.

Circuit-Bend Electronic Toys into Sonic Monsters

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Cogswell students with a laser harp they built

Tinkering with electronic audio gadgets seems to be in the DNA of most audio engineers or sound designers. The mindset seems to be – this is good, but I’ll bet I can make it better. Experimentation is a key characteristic of this group. This article in eMusician, examines the process of circuit bending.

The term “circuit bending” was coined in 1992 when Reed Ghazala began publishing a series of articles in the Experimental Musical Instruments Quarterly Journal titled “Circuit Bending and Living Instruments.” Circuit bending describes the modification of an electronic sound device beyond the designer’s intentions, adding new sonic and functional possibilities.

At Cogswell College our Digital Audio Technology students are encouraged to experiment as they participate in a full-range of hands on projects.

The Rise of the Indie Games

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

An indie game company founded by Cogswell Alumni

Here’s a thoughtful video offering insights from a number of European indie game developers about the success – and the reasons behind the success – of the indie game industry. One of the secrets is the agility these smaller companies have to address the needs of niche audiences and to try something that flies in the face of mainstream thinking.

But there are challenges to being a small, indie developer and they talk about these as well.

Let us know what you think is the biggest benefit of being an indie game developer.

Math for Video Game Developer Tutorial

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Cogswell students in physics class learning important math concepts

For those thinking about becoming a video game programmer, here’s a weekly instructional YouTube series that shows you how to use math to make your games. Every Thursday you’ll learn how to implement one game design, starting from the underlying mathematical concept and ending with its C++ implementation.

As part of Cogswell College’s Game Design & Development degree program, you have the opportunity to gain in-depth, hands-on experience learning and using both the math and physics you will need to enter the video game industry. Our curriculum focuses on giving you the fundamental skills and then applying them in a project-based educational environment.

Whether you are more interested in the art side or the engineering side of game, our degree program gives you the tools you need to be successful.

Game Studio Class Works with Prairie Rainbow Company

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

This fall the Game Studio Class will roll up its collective sleeves, put on their thinking caps and create a ‘Rainbow Squares’ mobile and pc game for the Prairie Rainbow Company to help elementary school children learn math.

This Oakland California company is operated by George Gagnon, Pre-Engineering Partnerships Director at UC Berkeley and Michelle Collay, Director of the Urban Teacher Leadership program at Cal State East Bay. 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. Rainbow Math Models are made of wood that is hand cut and painted by home crafts people in the Bay Area of California.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with Rainbow Prairie Company to help them move in a new direction by designing a video game that suits the learning needs of their customers,” said Jerome Solomon, head of the Game Design & Development program at Cogswell. “One goal of our Game program is to offer students real-world learning opportunities. This partnership gives students the chance to not only design a math learning game but to test the prototype in local schools.”

This is a big step for Prairie Rainbow Company as it ventures into the realm of using video games to help children master important math and conceptualization skills. Cogswell College is pleased they chose to partner with us to develop this additional learning pathway for its customers.

You can enroll for the class now. Fall 2013 semester starts August 26.