Sound Design Student Brings Animated Clip to Life

March 20th, 2014

Sound Design student, Maya Rybold, left her culinary arts dreams for Cogswell’s Digital Audio Technology degree program. We asked Maya to talk about her creative process while adding sound to an animated clip for a class project. Watch the video below for a peek into what it takes to bring an animated clip from the movie ‘Ratatouille’ to life with the implementation of music and sound effects.

Have a comment or question for Maya? Submit responses below.

Free-to-Play Games on the Rise

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?

2014 NCIIA Papers Feature Cogswell Authorship

March 14th, 2014

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education, and has a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from across the country. This 17-year-old national nonprofit organization engages with over 5,000 student & faculty entrepreneurs each year, by helping them to commercialize their concepts.

The NCIIA is holding their 18th annual conference from March 21-22, 2014, right in Cogswell’s backyard in San Jose, California. It is an intensive two-day conference for practitioners of technology entrepreneurship in high education. Conference sessions explore policy, programs, funding and insights into what is happening in higher education today; and how that will impact tomorrow.

Cogswell Polytechnical College is proud to share the 2014 peer-reviewed papers written by our very own Christopher-John Cornell & John Duhring! Topics include Project-based Learning Kickstart Tips, The Metamophosis of Business Plan Competitions, and Crowdfunding: More Than Money Jumpstarting University Entrepreneurship. Follow the links for the full publications.

Visit our website for more information about Cogswell’s Master’s Degree Program in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Immersion Program for visiting students and entrepreneurs, or the Kauffman Fasttrac Program.

Can Indie Games Thrive Without Big Publishers?

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?

An Inside Look at Creating Digital Art

March 7th, 2014

Listen in as Cogswell Digital Art & Animation student, Jennifer Hicks, talks about her creative process and what her art means to her.

(If your machine does not support flash, please view the video here.)

Marketing Your Mobile App – Advice from the Federal Trade Commission

March 6th, 2014

As mobile app developers soon discover, coming up with a great idea and then building the mobile app is only just the beginning. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – the nation’s consumer protection agency – it’s never too soon to start thinking about making sure your app is compliant with current commerce regulations.

While every app is different, there are some general guidelines that every developer should be thinking about:

  • Truthful advertising: Don’t make claims your app can’t deliver. One rule of thumb: Look at your product and your advertising from the perspective of average users, not just software engineers or app experts. If you make objective claims about your app, you need solid proof to back them up before you start selling.
  • Disclose key information clearly and conspicuously: The goal is to make sure they are big enough and clear enough that users actually notice them and understand what they say.
  • Build privacy considerations in from the start: You accomplish this by limiting the information you collect, securely storing what you hold on to and safely disposing of what you no longer need.
  • Be transparent about your data practices: Explain what information your app collects from users or their devices and what you do with their data.
  • Offer choices that are easy to find and easy to use: Give your users ways to control how their personal information is collected and shared.
  • Honor your privacy promises: Reread your privacy policy or what you say about your privacy settings. Chances are you make assurances to users about the security standards you apply or what you do with their personal information.
  • Protect kids’ privacy: You have additional requirements under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC’s COPPA Rule so make sure you know what they are.
  • Collect sensitive information only with consent: Get your OK before you collect any sensitive data from them.
  • Keep user data secure: Under the law, you have to take reasonable steps to keep sensitive data secure.

The article contains some helpful links giving you access to additional information.

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

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?

Fonts to Amaze and Inspire

March 4th, 2014

If the creative design side of your brain needs a bit of stimulation, here is a bevy of typographic designs to inspire and amaze. Designers from around the world post their work on Behance and this image article in Creative Blog offers up 25 of what they consider the best.

In addition to the truly awe-inspiring creations, the piece tells you a little about each artist and links you to their websites so you can check out more of their work.

For instance, the design above was created by “Alex Trochut, a typographer and graphic designer based in Barcelona. He has worked as a freelancer since 2007 and gained clients such as Pepsi, Wallpaper* and Audi. His experimental style has earned him critical acclaim from across the board and with a philosophy of ‘more is more,’ his array of work is a perfect example of embracing the endless spectrum of font formats.”

Do you have a favorite?

Inventor and Hacker Collide in the Person of Pablos Holman

March 3rd, 2014

Pablos Holman at Cogswell College

On February 13, 2014, renowned futurist, inventor and hacker, Pablos Holman spoke to students, faculty and staff at a noontime gathering. If you missed his insightful and thought-provoking presentation, this video of his talk is your chance to see what you missed or to relive the moment.

Pablos has informed and entertained audiences at world-renowned technology summits including United Nations, the World Economic Forum at Davos, The CIA, TEDx and DEFCON on invention, innovation, cyber security and the future of technology.

Do you have a favorite moment in the video?

Get Your Fat Mobile Apps in Shape

February 28th, 2014

Some app developers may create their app for love but most also want to bring a little money into their lives as well. Dale Carr, founder and CEO of LeadBolt says with all of the changes that developers in the mobile app industry face, it may be time to get some of the lead out of your apps and make them leaner and meaner.

In this article in DevsBuildIt, he offers realistic and achievable fitness tips to help your app monetization strategy shape up to all it should be in 2014:

  • Trim the fat: Don’t overstuff your app with ads by placing banners in every conceivable place. Think of your user experience first and be more strategic about ad placement.
  • Exercise different muscles: Connecting with your user in different ways is like exercising different muscles. To achieve results and continue to convert energy consistently, switch up your routine and target more than one area. Evaluate the entire usage cycle of your app.
  • Pay attention to your vitals: Resolve to measure your app performance by paying attention to analytics. In the article he offers ideas for app analytics to help you achieve optimal results.

What app monetization ideas have worked for you?