Archive for the ‘Game Engineering’ Category

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?

Brenda Romero to Speak at Cogswell

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Cogswell College is pleased to welcome award-winning game designer, artist, writer and creative director, Brenda Romero, to campus on Thursday, November 14. During this student only event she will be giving her IndieCade talk entitled:  “Jiro Dreams of Game Design” from 12:30 to 1:30 in the Dragon’s Den.

During her presentation, Brenda will talk about the traits that three-star chefs share and the lessons game designers can learn from them. From early on in the careers, three-star Michelin chefs – a rarified 106 in the world at present – have a nearly tyrannical hold on their kitchens. They insist on perfection in every ingredient, in temperature, in presentation and in accompaniment. From the first to the last impression, every part of a perfect culinary experience is an obsession so many chase and so few achieve. Interestingly enough, it is something they do because they are driven to, not for money or fame, but because of the pursuit of perfection itself. It is a passion many of us share and struggle to achieve in a world where shipping a game often means compromising on our ideal vision.

About Brenda Romero

Brenda entered the video game industry in 1981 at the age of 15. She is the longest continuously serving woman in the video game industry. Brenda worked with a variety of digital game companies as a game designer or creative director, including Atari, Sir-tech Software, Electronic Arts and numerous companies in the social and mobile space. She is presently the Program Director for the UC Santa Cruz Master’s in Games + Playable Media and the Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer of Loot Drop, a social and mobile game company. Brenda serves on the advisory board of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at the Strong Museum of Play and also works with John Romero and The Romero Archives to record game designers discussing their game design process for historical archiving.

She is the recipient of the 2013 Women in Games Lifetime Achievement Award awarded by Microsoft and previously was a nominee in Microsoft’s 2010 Women in Games game design award. Romero was also named one of Forbes “12 Women in Gaming to Watch” in 2013 and Woman of the Year by Charisma+2 Magazine in 2010, one of the top 20 most influential women in the game industry by Gamasutra.com in 2008 and one of the 100 most influential women in the game industry by Next Generation magazine in 2007. Nerve magazine also called her one of the 50 artists, actors, authors, activists and icons who are making the world a more stimulating place.

Rational Game Design Handbook

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The introduction to this article in Gamasutra by Luke McMillian sets the tone for the piece. “When a sound engineer is given the task of recording a particular sound, they rely on a set of tools such as microphones and preamps to take a less than ideal input signal and ‘shape’ this input to what they desire. What we hear as consumer is the product of many hours of fine tuning and tweaking to reach the ideal outcome. Games are no different.

Their designers test and fine tune their product until they have crafted what they believe to be the most ideal player experience. The difference for a game designer is that the method of achieving this ideal player experience doesn’t come in the form of a tangible, standardized device.”

This in-depth comparison between the work of a sound designer and a game designer covers a lot of territory including using noise to stifle competition and the different types of noise used to do this – action noise, rules noise, feedback noise and model noise – and strategies for applying noise.

The piece also mentions Cogswell grad, Steve Swink, for offering “one of the best ways of thinking of games in terms of representational layers, versus mechanics. Swink does this by visualizing how Street Fighter is merely a collection of moving rectangles tied to mathematical formulae BUT represented visually in a way that provides the player with context.”

How will you use sound in your next game project?

Double Fine Productions Hosting Fan Day

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Double Fine Productions has announced that it is hosting a special “Day of the Devs” event on November 2. The event is open to the public and in addition to meeting the great Double Fine crew – which includes several Cogswell graduates – guests will mingle with other indie developers and have the chance to test the company’s new Kickstarter-funded game, “Broken Age.”

Learn more about the event at GamePolitics.com or RSVP at the Day of the Devs website.

Day of the Devs will take place at Public Works at 161 Erie St. in San Francisco from 4-8 p.m. on November 2. The event is free to attend, though no one under 21 will be allowed in, likely due to alcohol being on-site.

Moonbot Animates Chipotle’s ‘The Scarecrow’ Project

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Interactive marketing – what exactly is it? We’re hearing the term more and more but over the past few years consumers are beginning to see this concept in action. As reported in Animation Magazine, here’s a great example is the new animated short and game app created by Moonbot for Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Award-winning Moonbot created “The Scarecrow,” campaign that depicts a scarecrow’s fight to ensure that people have a wholesome alternative to processed food. The game is available for free download in the Apple App Store and the short film can be viewed below and at www.scarecrowgame.com.

The game, designed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, allows users to visit the animated world and correct the wrongs committed by Crow Foods.

Can you think of other interactive marketing examples? Hint, some of your favorite television shows may have an interactive element.

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.