Posts Tagged ‘Game Development’

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!

Free-to-Play Games on the Rise

Tuesday, 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?

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?

New Degree Program Game Design & Development

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Jerome Solomon, appointed Director for the new Game Design & Development bachelor degree program

Cogswell College announced the offering of a new degree program, Game Design & Development. Students will have the option of majoring in either Game Design Art (GDA) or Game Design Engineering (GDE). Each specialization focuses on one of the two sides of game development: art and content development or game design programming and software development.

“The creation of this new program presents a strong opportunity for students to make games in a more realistic industry environment,” says Jerome Solomon, assistant professor of Cogswell’s new game design program. Solomon is a film and game industry veteran, and currently sits on the National Committee for ACM SIGGRAPH.

While most of the classes are not new to Cogswell’s curriculum, creating a separate degree program around them gives the college more flexibility to adjust course offerings to keep up with current industry trends. The new degree program also allows graduates to emphasize their specialized skill-set on their resumes.

“Typically, games are created by multidisciplinary teams” Solomon continues. “Cogswell is one of only a handful of schools that bring together all of the elements of game development. We have students and faculty with expertise in art, engineering, design, audio, and entrepreneurship that work together on teams. This is exactly like the composition of game development teams in the industry.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for software developers will grow 30 per cent by 2020, equaling approximately 1.1 million new jobs or 14 per cent of all occupations in the U.S. economy. This demand is fueled by the gamification of everything from law enforcement to education to healthcare, which requires skills in game design, art, animation and programming and constitutes a significant portion of the projected 1.1 million jobs.

Last week’s Game Developer’s Conference was held in San Francisco. Thousands of hopeful game design and engineering graduates and job seekers flocked to the Career Pavilion that housed over 50 booths including Sony, Microsoft, Electronic Arts and WB Games along with various schools and recruiters.

Solomon visited the pavilion on behalf of the college and was encouraged by the positive reception to Cogswell’s new program from the industry exhibitors.

“Game development companies are either looking for an artist or an engineer,” explains Solomon. “Larger studios look for very specific skills; smaller studios look for those with multiple skills. The employers we met with were extremely receptive to the fact that we have every component of game development here at Cogswell, which creates a real-world, industry work environment for our students.”

Bankruptcy doesn’t mean “Game Over” for Atari

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Atari, one of the pioneer video game design companies, declared bankruptcy recently. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the end for the iconic brand.

In fact, many thought the company faded away years ago. Not the case. For nearly a decade, Atari has been owned by a French company, Infogrames Entertainment, which coincidentally, is also filing for bankruptcy. The move is seen as a way to separate U.S. operations from the financially troubled parent company.

For the past few years, Atari has been producing versions of its classic games for browsers and for mobile devices. Although not nearly as huge as the company was in the 1970s and 80s, Atari’s U.S. operations provided more than 70 percent of the company’s revenue.

The rise of Atari

Atari was founded in 1972, and the company began to manufacture an arcade game called Pong. It was a hit. Two years later, Atari began producing a home version with a console that connected to the TV.

Warner Communications purchased Atari in 1976 and oversaw the period of growth that made Atari the fastest growing company in the U.S.

The game design console that made Atari a household name hit the market in 1977. The first year, the video computer system was manufactured in Sunnyvale before moving overseas. By 1979, the Atari 2600 was the most popular Christmas gift of the year. Popular games such as Space Invaders, PacMan, Centipede, Breakout and Asteroids, among dozens more, helped Atari sell more than10 million units in 1982.

Decline

A number of factors contributed to the decline of Atari as an innovative technology company. Several entities that controlled it had financial problems, which meant that research and development suffered. The parent companies often refused to give credit to video game designers, which made for unhappy employees and high turnover.

The biggest factor contributing to Atari’s demise was the rise of the home computer system. Here’s an interesting fact: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak all worked for Atari in the early days. No doubt their experience at Atari had an impact on their innovations. Job and Wozniak worked successfully on the system for the arcade version of Breakout, while Gates, hired to help simplify the system, was fired when the project was stalled for a year.

Many suspect that during that time, Gates was working on the DOS system that IBM used to propel the home computer revolution. By that time, Atari had fallen behind in the race to develop technology and the rest is history. The three former employees went on to form Apple and Microsoft, arguably two of the largest corporations in the world. With its Bay area location, a good number of Cogswell College engineering graduates also got their start at this iconic company.

Still lucrative

After separation from its French owned parent, the brand and intellectual rights could still be profitable for whichever company buys Atari. Like Hostess, there will still be demand for the games the first gamers grew up with. Compared to video games of today, they are quite simple, but nostalgia buffs find the mobile and browser versions just as addictive as they were back in the day. Which could mean a good return for the right investor.

Psychology and Video Games, part deux

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Hey everyone, time to get back to our talk about psychology in video games.

Let’s dive right back into our previous discussion about conditioned and unconditioned responses. Just a quick reminder so we don’t need to back track: conditioned responses are like tutorials, reoccurring quick time events, things you find out on your own through trial and error, etc. Now we get to delve into unconditioned responses, which deal with a players natural response to stimuli… and hopefully we can get to fight or flight before the third part of this incredibly long blog post!

Unconditioned responses: not touching a hot stove after having found out that hot=pain, knowing that a headache is not good, being parched after a good workout. We train ourselves unknowingly to follow these responses day in and day out to make our lives easier and safer. Games use this natural human trait and expand on it within their world by giving you experiences that you the player may like or dislike but give you one crucial fact to these experiences: they won’t let you progress. Well, that’s not entirely true since secret bosses can be ignored throughout a whole game. Okay, let’s just say that games use unconditioned responses as a tool to make a game more vast and explorative in more than just ways that hinder ones progress… but for now we will stick to progress hindering. To present the way it works, take an imaginary game where you are the main character and you have to save the world from bad guys. These bad guys have attacks that will hurt you and you can attack them back. As an added bonus, the game gives you areas that you can hide while they attack, so you can wait for the perfect time to strike. At this point you have a few choices but two main choices. Do you charge in, guns a blazing? Or do you take the safe route and wait patiently for your time to strike?  Both can get you further in the game, but what if one of those choices almost always ended you up in failure? Say the charging tactic would get you killed instantly because your enemies can kill you the closer you are to them. You’d try and try to kill these enemies over and over and always come up short. Sure, you might get lucky sometime but that’s probably not going to happen with how this area is designed. Frustrated, you stop and think about what you can do to avoid failing over and over again. You remember that there were areas where the enemies couldn’t attack you and take advantage of them next time. Suddenly, the enemies forget you are there and nod off for a bit which gives you the opportunity to attack them for a short time and finally win, leaving you happy and satisfied. The game developers gave you two ways to handle a task where both could get the job done, but one made it easier than the other. One way made you furious, and the other made you happy.  Although my reasoning is a bit broad here, the unconditioned response was your feelings towards each different style of playing. When you got killed doing something one way, you got furious which is how any human reacts when they can’t progress, but when you did progress, you were satisfied and glad. It is the natural way we would react to something when stimuli is presented to us such as being hungry when we smell food, or being thirsty when it’s too hot. I’m really banking on the universal thought that people like to progress in life and only touching on the mechanic of progression inside video games today so don’t think that this is the only way that game developers use unconditioned responses in video games today. Anyways I think I’ve given a good idea on both conditioned and unconditioned responses. Time to move onto the fight or flight reflex in gaming!

Let’s keep this part short and sweet. Fight or flight is the reaction that we get when presented with a situation that requires an almost immediate response. You can’t have some in-between answer for this problem; it can be only one or the other and has to be made right then and there. Early video games really banked on fight or flight since it always kept the player engaged and gave opportunity for replay value. A perfect example of this reflex in the past is the game Rally X where you are in control of a car that is speeding within a confined space with three or more racers trying to crash into your car. Your goal is to capture flags so you can advance to the next level while avoiding the enemy cars with a burnout mechanic equipped on the car that can disable any car caught in it’s smokescreen. That burnout mechanic is what really made that games fight or flight input shine since the paths you could take were designed to have the enemy cars corner you and destroy your car, but was expansive enough so you could use that burnout or your own skill to get yourself out of sticky situations. The real defining factor that made it fight or flight was the games ability to give you choices that ended you up in either one place or another: I’m running into a tight space…do I avoid them using my own skill/the burnout button, or do I just accept my fate and try again? The choice in which one is better is irrelevant, because at this point you have two choices: die or survive. Many old school games use these choices to make a much more exciting experience and let the player progress the way they would like.  These days fight or flight is used, but sometimes in more confined experiences. Quick time events are perfect examples of this since some are optional, and some are required in order for you to progress. Not to say that mandatory fight or flight choices are bad, but a little variety never hurt anyone, right?

I’m really glad I got through all that in under 1,000 words… oh darn I’m already over. Well, at least this touched on one complete topic. All we have got left is subliminal messaging and relatable video games. Check you guys next time!

-Davain

Cogswell student hones in on psychology and games.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Here is a guest blog from a Cogswell Digital Art and Animation student, Davain.

Hey everyone. First post of my blogging career. Kind of important isn’t it? Well I hope that I can deliver great topics to discuss and bias/unbiased views on said topics. As well as exceptional grammar since if I can’t even form a coherent sentence, what were all my 12 Language Arts classes for?

Ok, so today’s topic: psychology and games… well psychology and video games to be more exact. In this blog we will discuss the connections between psychological studies and how they are used by both publishing and developing companies in the video game industry. It’s a really big topic that I think about daily since video game development is something I want to do as a profession. It’s pretty big people. So where to begin? Let’s start off with some psychological terms that we are going to be referencing during this thing so you guys don’t get too confused: conditioned and unconditioned response, essentially training someone to do something or even not to do something; subliminal messaging, a hidden message or picture in plain sight, but is de-emphasized in order to trick the subject into thinking about whatever it is your trying to show or tell them without letting them know consciously, but subconsciously; fight or flight reflexes, either you do it, or you walk the other way…there is no in-between;  and I know this isn’t an official term, but I also want to talk about how video games use recognizable situations within their storytelling in order for the player to connect much more with the story and feel much more immersed in the game playing experience.

Let’s start off with conditioned and unconditioned reponses in video games. This is beyond overused because it’s what ALL games use in order to function at a level of enjoyment. You buy a new game, all shiny and new and you start playing. What’s always at the beginning of almost every game that is made nowadays? A tutorial or some level designed to show you the controls of the game and what rhythm you will be using them. You don’t always have to go through these tutorials, but for this blogs purposes let’s stick with the assumption that every person who plays a game goes through it. The game at this point is telling you how to play it and what commands you can give it to grant you success in its progression and if you plan on finishing any game these days, you’ll want to listen. But not all video games nowadays do the traditional tutorial level. Most tutorial levels in the past had you go through a level that wasn’t even a part of the actual storyline. It would put you in a room where you are free to try out the controls and not be punished for doing them wrong.

These days, it’s a mix of styles. Sometimes you get games that do the traditional style, and sometimes you get games that immerse you into the story and give you control commands while you play. On rare occasion, you may get no information at all and be expected to get to a certain part of the game before they tell you how to really perform the complex actions it is capable of. All are effective in telling the player how the game works in its own way, but sometimes the player gets bored or becomes uninterested because the controls are obvious to them or they have already played a previous installment and the controls are already conditioned in their heads. Some might want to skip the tutorial all together and just jump head first into the game, but can’t because the game requires you to go through a long tedious tutorial level. There are many different scenarios that come with tutorials in games, but all these different styles all are trying to do one thing: train your mind to perform the games actions with little to no effort. The developers want to train you, in a very small amount of time, how to perform actions that are new and have you execute them so you can get to the next level…or stage, world, plane of existence, etc. By having an intuitive demonstration of the games controls you will be using throughout the game, you give the player their own conditioning period where they may or may not choose to use certain methods to progress and have them feel like they can understand instructions faster than they originally thought. It’s one of the most important part of a video game and one of the main conditioning tools developers use to teach people how to play. Without it, we’d all go through trial and error for hours on end until we got it right. I don’t know about you, but I like to know how to play my games.

Phew…there’s a LOT to cover within each of these topics and I didn’t even get to touch into unconditioned responses. I’d love to continue onto fight or flight and subliminal messaging, but I think I’m hitting my limit for this blog alone. Check back next week for the continuation of this topic. Hopefully I can put this into much more concise sentences.

See ya guys.

-Davain

Welcome back from the president of the Game Development Club!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The first week of school is always one simple thing: Crazy! No matter if you are a freshmen nervous about starting new classes and meeting people, thinking that your lack of skill will turn people away from you (which it won’t by the way! We will help you) or whether you are a junior or senior nearing the end and wondering on earth you will get a job after school, the first week of school is always the craziest and loudest usually.  I am indifferent whether or not I like the first week of school but that doesn’t really matter and as much as I love getting sleep when I want it and need it and having no homework or tests to worry about, getting back into the mayhem of school at this point in my life is something that I am just use to, it also helps that I am the President of  Cogswell’s Game Development Club here on campus and this semester along with another we got an idea for a game that we want to make and get others involved with, which is the whole point of the club really. This ironically does add to the overall stress and fatigue of the semester, but whatever call me crazy!  You kind of have to be to really dig this school, and that’s what I love about it!  This thing called normalcy is overrated here and if you are a nerd looking to be involved in crazy schemes that will make you giggle with glee at the thought of making a video game or a short film or awesome music this is the place for you.

Classes I am always a little apprehensive about cause I don’t know if I will like them or not, example is that I took lighting and layout last semester, which teaches you how to create and use lighting and effects in a 3D program to make them look realistic.  I was hopeful for the class but after it was over I really didn’t care for it, lighting just isn’t my thing but it’s fine and I learned a new skill and that will help me out in the future.  This semester I got four classes and all of them are pretty cool for the exception of math, which hates me for some reason I just can’t figure out, despite that I am looking forward to learning new things about rigging and level design along with figuring out what “x” is and how economics work.  This semester will be a big I feel cause of the project(s) I am involved with along with classes school events and parties and welcoming the new students.  Just the average life of a Cogswellian Dragon!

-Nick

First installment of Cogswell Insiders

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The first blog of the new series of Cogswell student interviews begins, today.  The first student featured is Andrew Severns.  He’s quite the mover and shaker here on campus.  I don’t think there’s anything that he isn’t somewhat involved in, either directly or indirectly.

Q: What is your major/program and student status?

A: My name is Andrew Severns and my major is DAA/DAE in Game Design with a concentration in Level Design. My current student status is Junior.

Q: What student activities are you involved in?  To what extent?

A: The student activities that I’m involved in are Andrew FEST, where I hold office of President, ASB, where I hold the office of Vice President, and Game Development Club.

I inherited Andrew FEST from the previous president, Andrew Jennings, who himself inherited it from an Andrew (or so the story goes). The purpose of Andrew FEST is to basically put on free low key events for the students with the help of ASB like BBQs and game nights with the help of Game Club. Andrew FEST has also put on themed events like Cantina Night, Lounge Night and the very popular Slumber Fort FEST. This helps to bring the Cogswell community together, gives everyone a chance to take a break from projects and have some fun.

Q: What happens if someone isn’t named Andrew and you have to pass it down?

A: Who knows, someone might be bestowed the name of “Andrew.”  It’s really still up in the air, who knows, maybe we’ll call it “Steve FEST” or “Armando FEST,” something that sounds cool.  BUT, the group/individual will still need to hold onto the ideas of Andrew FEST which is “FUN FOR ALL.”

[continuing on]

As Associated Student Body (ASB) Vice President I work with the current President Nathan Hiller in making executive decisions, help in creating, facilitating and budgeting for student activities along with the help of the ASB Executive Board for the student body. Consistent events that ASB helps to organize and run are Casino Night, which acts as a Fall semester kick-off, movie nights, where the whole student body goes to the movies, and Fusion Awards, were students submit their work to be voted on by their peers (not to worry pieces that are to be voted on don’t have names so that way it’s not a popularity contest).

As a member of Game Club we look to take what we have learned in class and apply them in creating our own games with Game Maker and the UNREAL Development Kit. We just concluded projects in Game Maker with some of the newest members for the Fall semester were they created simple side scrolling platformers. I feel everyone learned a lot in the production and creation of a video game and with the help of our faculty advisor and head of the Game Program, Albert Chen, we will continue to learn and grow.

Q: What does the Unreal kit entail, and why that specifically used?

A: It’s a free game engine editor that is one of the main engines used in the [game] industry.  A lot of game companies, from Epic Games to Ubisoft use the engine, and to know and learn that engine will make it easier to land a job.

Q: Is it because you’re familiar with the tools?

A: To a degree there are similarities (in reference to other game engines), unlike how Maya is in relation to other animation software.

Q: What was your impression of Cogswell when you started?  Has it changed?

A: During my tour of Cogswell the impression of the community I got was a place and environment that was nice, friendly and hardworking. It didn’t feel like a bunch of closed individuals but an inviting community.  The current ASB President at the time, Andrew Jennings, was very happy that I was considering Cogswell and helped to affirm those impressions after talking with him. After starting at Cogswell I could ask anyone for help with school work or to just hang out with. Over the course of my stay here at Cogswell I feel these traits have not changed and as a student and representative of the Associated Student Body I have tried to maintain these.

Q: You’re also an RA in student housing, how has that been with the transition from?

I enjoy being an RA and enjoy helping with the transition to home life to college life.  Being involved in so many activities, I find it easier to get them involved with the college and I think helps with transition into the Cogswell Community.

Q: What do you look forward to most in the school year? Projects? Events?

What I look forward to the most in the school year is having fun with my friends, working on projects with them in Game Club and helping to create and run events for them like Andrew FEST and Casino Night. The students really make this school and without them it would not be as enjoyable.

Q: Have you met anyone interesting/networked with people you see yourself working with in the future?

I have been really fortunate to meet a lot of neat people at Cogswell and would love to work with them in the future. I honestly could see myself working with anyone of them.

Q: If so, how have your career plans changed since studying?  Are they still on track with what you wanted when you started?

When I first started Cogswell I wanted to be an overall game designer but after several semesters here I have found that I really enjoy level design, creating the space in which the players will play in while still working closely with the game designer. I started out as DAA [Digital Art and Animation] but to be an effect level designer I need to know scripting languages so now my degree is split between DAA and DAE [Digital Arts and Engineering].

Thanks to Andrew for taking part in the blog!  If you’re interested in becoming a student here at Cogswell and starting your career in Game Design, please contact the Admissions Office to find out more.

Global Game Jam coming back to Cogswell

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Once again, the Global Game Jam event is coming back to Cogswell Polytechnical College.  Previous years have been major successes, with both professionals and students collaborating on fully functional games.  Last year’s game jam yielded 13 games, which was the most of any other jam site in the US!

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the Global Game Jam event takes place every year in one weekend all across the globe.  This means that thousands of people are working on games continuously for one weekend, allowing the participants to be a part of a worldwide gaming phenomenon!  Participants form teams and each team creates a game over the 48 hour period.  This means everything from concept to programming to audio recording for aural cues happens before the end of the event, resulting in a finished product that is playable and possibly available for sale soon after.  Many Cogswell students from all majors and backgrounds get involved in this huge game creation frenzy.  No matter what one’s part, each person has something they can take credit for and put in his or her portfolio. From an audio perspective, it provides a great opportunity to work on becoming efficient, because one needs to be when there are multiple teams who desire to have sound effects in their games and a short range of time to get it done!  Space is limited, so if you want to make sure you get into the Global Game Jam, register early!

Speaking of AUDIO and JAMS, if you come by the campus on Mondays between 11:00am and 3:00pm you may hear some beautiful music filtering through the hallways near the studios!  The Audio Producers and Engineers Club (APEC) is holding a weekly jam session where fellow students can bring their instrument of choice and create music in an improv setting.  APEC has been very involved in creating opportunities for Digital Audio Technology students, as well as all other majors, to enrich their aural worlds.  The club has been active in lobbying for equipment requested by students, extended acoustics knowledge in hands-on projects, and holding workshops to further investigate recording techniques.

-Rachel