A new semester has started. I started the semester by coming in on Monday and applying to internships. I am excited to have the opportunity to build a career in the games industry. I will be applying to more companies as the semester progresses.
On Tuesday we had our first game projects course of the semester. We are dividing into teams and will be creating a game that will be submitted as a student game to the Indie Game Festival (IGF) and be our thesis game for our Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering degree. Dividing into teams has created some drama. The drama will reserve itself. I am currently a member of a team with six producers, four engineers and three artist. My gut tells me that the ratio of producers on our team is too high when compared to other members.
I have grown a strong appreciation for version control. From my prior work in industry the idea seemed like something nice to have, but working in the program has shown me the importance of having version control in place for the entire project. The entire project includes art, documents and other assets. Version control ensures that people are getting work done, showcasing the work and subjecting the work to peer-review.
We were tasked with studying prior winning submissions to IGF from two specific years. The years my team was assigned were 2012 and 2007. The process behind the study was to split the team into two with one group studying games from 2012 and the other 2007. The task proved too slow and further division occurred into each member being assigned a single game.
I was assigned the game “And Yet It Moves”. “And Yet It Moves” was a winner of IGF in 2007. I was able to play the game for approximately half an hour. The game explores the question “How can we make a physics based two dimensional platform game?”. The game allows the player to change the orientation of gravity. Controls use W,S,A,D for movement and right, left, up and down arrows for gravity orientation. I am unsure if using two “sticks” was common in 2007, but in-game physics were new and exciting. Half-Life 2, a commercial three dimensional shooting game, was released in 2005. The most interesting feature in “And Yet It Moves” is the way the game incorporated pit traps, such as those found in Mario or Sonic platform games. The game includes large tears in two dimensional space that cannot be entered. The game is casual with a system that starts the player at a nearby checkpoint when they fall to far, are crushed by falling objects or enter a torn region.
The game programming class for spring semester will be entertaining. We developed data structures as part of an engine to create an academic interactive console experience. Our final project last semester was a memory manager. We were allowed a lot of creative freedom to create the best memory manager we could in a limited time. For me the memory manager was created over the course of two days since I was busy working on “Snow Place Like Home” our final prototype from our rapid prototyping course. As our first assignment for spring semester we will be utilizing a render built by the instructor to move our console experience to DirectX graphics. As side projects I will be working on my own rendering system using DirectX and converting “Snow Place Like Home” to Android and iOS by writing rendering systems using OpenGL ES. I will also be working on development for our thesis game for submission to IGF.
Today I have read the preface of the book, “The Videogames Ethics Reader” by Jose Zagal. The course associated with the book is called “Ethics in Games”. We were offered four options and I selected ethics since I am curious about how to engage players emotionally using games. The course will be the most academic of my three courses during spring semester.
I look forward to the semester. There are a lot of opportunities ahead of me.