After a very hectic, very awesome weekend, Global Game Jam is finally over.
In case anyone is not aware, Global Game Jam is an industry crunch-time simulation, in which teams are challenged to create a full video game in 48 hours.
Despite being a freshman and having doubts about my usefulness on a team, I was very excited about this event from the start. Every person I talked to said that it’s worth doing, regardless of what year you are or how much skill you have. It’s all about the experience…and let me tell you, this was one hell of an experience.
At 5:00 PM (EST), participants at SCAD met at Montgomery Hall and were presented with the official Keynote presentation that kicked off the Jam. The keynote gave us a theme, around which all of the games had to be designed. The theme this year was “Extinction”.
Our brainstorming went really well. We came up with a ton of great ideas, and eventually settled on something we decided would be manageable and unique. Unfortunately, about 8 hours in, we realized that we expected too much. We had to keep editing and changing the ideas due to complications, and it ended up a very skewed shell of our original idea. No on in our team was an expert programmer, and we only had two people who had ever really been exposed to UDK (Unreal Developer Kit).
Sometimes, it’s best to just scrap something when you know when it isn’t going to work. Especially if the whole team is unmotivated about it. After our detective space adventure turned into a super boring fetch quest, we decided it was time to rethink.
In the end, we developed something completely different that we were all really psyched about.
The idea is that you are a robotic probe gathering DNA from endangered & extinct species for your master. These species include a dodo, a panda, and a bison (and just for shits and giggles, a beached whale). We decided that the animals would be on a set path, and it would be the player’s job to guide them to safety through an obstacle course.
A very appropriate adjective for our game is “derp-y”. While concepting, we picked an art style that was cute, and made the animals (especially the dodo) look very derpy.
"Cover" Art, featuring the player-controlled probe & the dodo bird.
I blocked this out in Photoshop, and our animator refined it. We had a Motion Media major on the team as well, and he created the logos and the Intro/Credits for the game.
I was so happy to be able to contribute something to the project. After this, the modelers showed me what a UV map was and set me up to start texturing, since Photoshop is one thing I definitely can do. I concepted & textured an adorably derpy whale for the bonus level. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it into the game because we only had time to finish the first level (starring the Dodo).
Even though he didn’t make it, I still thoroughly enjoyed learning to texture. It’s experience I can use later in my career, for one. Two, I loved being able to help out the team. Having me texture the whale freed up another artist so they could start rigging & animating other assets for use, thus making our workflow more efficient. And, it was fun. I like Photoshop, so I was only understanding a concept, not learning a program. However, I did have a very basic crash-course in Flash so I could make transitions between levels that could be imported into UDK.
Overall, I feel like we did an excellent job. We made a video game in 48 hours. 40 hrs., really, if you take into account the 8 hours spent on our first concept. It really felt like one ridiculously long day, because since there are no windows in Montgomery Hall, there is a very warped sense of time passing. Plus, we only got a couple of hours’ sleep, so essentially it was just one really long work session. But, we met the deadline.
It was definitely worth it, I’m so glad I participated. There are few feelings better than the feeling of accomplishment in the room as we played through the game right after submitting it. I had a blast, and the experience really just made me even more excited to break into my major.
I love this industry.
This is the team gathered around as we watched the first official playthrough.
Right now I’m sitting in Montgomery Hall, almost 17 hours into Global Game Jam.
Global Game Jam is an industry crunch-time simulation, in which you and a team create a fully functioning video game in 48 hours.
Being a freshman, I don’t have very much to offer as far as skillsets…I’m good with Illustrator and Photoshop, but I’ve never touched Maya or UDK (the Unreal Engine we’re making the game with). So, for me, this is a very big learning experience. 17 hours in and I’ve learned a little bit of Flash and how to texture on an unwrapped UV map and load it onto a model in Maya. I’m enjoying myself very much, but it’s really making me realize what kind of industry I’m breaking into. Crazy, hectic, fun…but it requires a very specific, very technical skillset that I really need to work on developing. Hopefully, by the time next year’s GGJ rolls around I’ll be much more capable.
If anyone is interested, SCAD is streaming a live feed of the different teams participating. Here’s the link to our feed. It ends Sunday at 5PM (EST), so the cameras will be on until then.
I’ve linked to my deviantArt page on the side, but I thought I’d mention here that I’m uploading some classwork & projects (as well as other work) to dA so people can see what kinds of things I’m doing here at SCAD.
If you’re a prospective student or just curious about what goes on at art school, I welcome you to check it out. Comments/Critiques from fellow artists are very much appreciated as well, and please don’t be afraid to ask questions! I’ll try and reply as quickly as possible.
This weekend I had a chance to play with the Kinect for Xbox, and you know what? It’s pretty awesome.
I went over to a friend’s dorm for dinner on Sunday and afterwards his roommate talked to his Xbox and turned it on. This was the first time I saw a Kinect in action.
We had a lot of fun playing that Kinect Adventures game. There’s some obstacle course adventure that has you dodging things, jumping, and collecting little “A” balls floating on the course. It gets progressively harder as the levels increase, so by the end you’re in for a real workout. And apparently, if you feel like sitting down for a moment, the Xbox will pause the game and tell you to get the hell back in the frame. Not only that, but the thing will move and try to find you. It’s actually a little bit creepy. Especially since in the game, while you’re doing random shit to collect the “A” balls, the Kinect takes pictures of you. Strange…
But, it’s a very cool device. We had fun just goofing around and making the human model do crazy little dances. Supposedly, they are also trying to add a gesture recognition sensor to the Kinect. That would be neat, but then of course you’d probably end up with a bunch of hacks for obscene gestures and some really rude, and possibly risque things…especially after the hack-bounty posted upon the device’s release.
It’ll be neat to see where this technology leads designers in developing different games for the system. Plus, it’ll be very interesting to follow how the competition goes between the Wii, Move, and Kinect.
Microsoft, thanks for the technology. And gamers, thanks for…um…not getting stalked by your Kinect? (Seriously. That thing is always watching.)
One thing I love about college is that you have to option to do this. My 3D design professor, although I’m sure he’s a good man, is basically Mr. Carpenter. The way he described the class was ideal for an architecture major. I am a video game design major.
I believe if I had stayed with him, I would not be learning the principles of 3D design in a way that is fully beneficial to my chosen major. Granted, this does mean I have to run around like a headless chicken tomorrow returning all of those carpentry tools I bought…oh well.
I think it’s important to remember that you have a good amount of control over your education in college. If you don’t believe a class is right for you…don’t take it. Drop it. Switch professors. While you’re here, it’s up to you to go out and get the education you deserve. So choose the best for yourself, whether that ideal comes in the form of professor, time slot, or the course itself.
I found today that I was very happy after I switched professors. Here’s hoping the new one works out.
Wonderful as it is, it sucks up funds like nothing else. Sure, textbooks are expensive, just like they are for any college student. But here, it’s all about the supplies. If you don’t have the proper supplies for the project, you fail. It’s as simple as that.
Tomorrow, I have to go out to home depot and get a carpenter’s tri-square, a hobby saw, a miter block, and some other random tools. I’m going to be using these for 4 projects in 3D design, and then I’m done with them. This is what it’s like for a lot of foundations classes. I’m not a sculpture major (or a carpenter, for that matter) so it’s not like I’m going to be using these things regularly. But…there’s another chunk of cash I can fork over in the name of SCAD.
For any prospective art student, I highly recommend opening up a bank account as soon as possible. Start dumping as much money into it as you can get your hands on. Hell, save your change. All of those pennies, nickels, and dimes add up. Because once you get here, you’ll need more supplies than you can fathom.
Sketchbook, portfolio, graphite pencils, illustration board, charcoal, erasers, xacto knife, cutting mat, more illustration board, tracing paper, straight-ruler, a monochromatic color scheme in various mediums, more illustration board, a t-square, a set of acrylics, colored pencils, watercolors, Sculpey, bristol…I could keep going. That’s not even all of it. I have about 4 different kinds of glue that as of now I’ve only used once or twice each. But…you get the idea. This is the kind of torture art school makes your poor wallet endure.
God bless those going into traditional majors…have to deal with this for the rest of their career, haha.
But for those of you nodding your heads in agreement, I feel for you. You are not alone.
I’m finally back at school! It’s so nice to see everyone…I missed it here so much.
Maybe this is just me, but I feel like college is more like my home now than my real home is. All of my friends are here, I go to school here, my bed is more comfortable, I have much more fun here, and even the food is arguably better than the frozen dinners I’d have every night in high school.
Perhaps this is the full feeling of moving out, and taking up residence in a new home. I mean, most of the time I even say “go back home” when I’m talking about heading back to the dorm for the night.
I guess it really all depends on if you’re ready to move out, and go somewhere far from home for college. I’ve been ready to get the hell out for quite some time, so it didn’t bother me at all that SCAD is 15 hours from home. But if you’re not ready for that drastic change, it probably doesn’t feel as nice to be away for so long. Regardless, it definitely teaches you a lot, both about life & responsibility and about yourself.