Albert Chen with his Game Class
Love video games? Want to make them? Then why not learn what it might be like to work in a start-up? Cogswell’s Game Studio brings together students from all majors – game design, concept art, 3D modeling, animation, sound design and programming – to develop a video game. During the class students experience first-hand the trials, tribulations and excitement of video game development from the ground up as they participate in hands-on team projects that have hard, aggressive deadlines.
“The focus is on learning how to work as an effective and efficient development team to produce fun, playable games on schedule while fitting in with students’ regular course load,” said Albert Chen, Director of the Game Development program at Cogswell College. “The goal of the class is to prepare students for the rigors of development and give them at least one “shipped” title for their resume.”
Game Studio provides a unique opportunity for students to apply what they have learned, deal with personnel conflicts, troubleshoot production problems and identify any gaps in their skill set that need to be addressed before graduation. The unofficial motto for the studio is: “Work harder, Work smarter, Work together.”
Students learn a variety of open-source tools that replicate those found in industry. MediaWiki is used for planning, project management and documentation. Source control management (SCM) software such as Subversion and Mercurial is used to maintain version control of all game assets. This eliminates accidental data loss or overwrites and provides an easy to maintain asset organization and management system. Mantis is used for bug tracking and exposing students to a formal QA process.
Students create, own and develop their intellectual property (IP) and are responsible for 100% of the work. They take on real-world game development roles and have the opportunity to “test-drive” them during production with the guidance of a video game industry veteran serving as their instructor/Executive Producer. The class also gives students the opportunity to become familiar with the latest industry production practices such as SCRUM. Quality, accountability, attention to detail, polish and “fun factor” are heavily emphasized throughout the course.
Digital content creation (DCC) tools used on the project include but are not limited to: Maya, Modo, Photoshop and Illustrator.
Mixamo has partnered with the Game Studio and given students free access to their animation and motion capture technology.
The class is also working with Neurosky to explore the potential of their brain/computer-interface technology.
The final deliverable for the spring 2010 term is a “vertical slice” (a fully realized, playable cross-section of all the major game features that will be in the final game project). The final deliverable for the fall 2011 term will be a fully playable polished game product.
-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement