Game Design
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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Game Design Alum Drew Fletcher Works on ‘Avatar’ Game

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    Drew Fletcher, graduate of the MFA in Game Design program at New York Film Academy (NYFA) is working on the video game adaptation for the massive blockbuster Avatar franchise. The game is being produced by FoxNext.

    The game, being developed for mobile, is called Avatar: Pandora Rising, and is based on the 2009 film Avatar, the 2009 Best Picture nominee that held the all-time box office record for nearly a decade. Two sequels have already been filmed with director James Cameron, with subsequent sequels already in pre-production. 

    Fletcher, who earned his MFA in Game Design from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus after enrolling in 2015, is working on the game as a QA Tester. His responsibilities include playing the game to seek and log any functional or gameplay bugs. His work on Avatar: Pandora Rising is specializing as the QA pro for combat play; the combat system being developed is similar to Clash Royale.

    Fletcher, who knows the ins and outs of the game even outside its combat play, describes Avatar: Pandora Rising as a “4x game. The objective of our game is to gain resources, build up your army/commanders, build up your alliance and rule Pandora. Similar games to ours in different parts are Rise of Civilization and Clash Royale.”Drew Fletcher

    He enthusiastically adds, “For more information download the game early next year!”

    In addition to Avatar, Fletcher is working on a personal project, saying it is “a mix of color theory and Paper Mario.” While pursing his career in game design, he’s also working on the side researching voiceover acting. 

    Giving advice to current and future NYFA students, Fletcher says, “NYFA gave you the tools to succeed, but the road to your dreams will be long—but worth the fight!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Game Design alum Drew Fletcher on his cool job and looks forward to seeing his future work as a game designer! 

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    October 3, 2019 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 270

  • New York Film Academy Game Design (NYFA) Welcomes Disney Imagineer Jonathan Ackley

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    On August 15, 2019, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted Disney Imagineer Jonathan Ackley.


    Ackley spoke at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus as part of the school’s Masters of Game Design series. The Masters of Game Design speaker series hosts distinguished members of the gaming industry visit for an informal chat with NYFA Game Design instructor Scott Rogers and NYFA students about their careers in gaming.

    The event was attended by over 50 students and industry professionals who had been invited to the school. Rogers spoke with Ackley about his 27-year career, including his transition from the video game industry into creating experiences for theme parks.

    Also discussed was Ackley’s work on LucasArts adventure games, Lego Mindstorms, and Disney Parks and Resort projects including Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, and the Disney Play app. After the hour-long conversation, audience attendees were then invited to ask Ackley questions in an insightful Q&A session.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) thanks Disney Imagineer Jonathan Ackley for speaking with students as part of our Masters of Game Design series!

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    September 10, 2019 • Game Design • Views: 193

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design Welcomes Veteran Writer & Game Designer John Zuur Platten 

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    On July 18, 2019, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted veteran writer and game designer John Zuur Platten. 

    Zuur Platten came to speak at NYFA as part of the school’s Masters of Game Design program, a speaker series in which distinguished members of the gaming industry visit for an informal chat with NYFA Game Design instructor Scott Rogers and NYFA students about their careers in gaming.

    John Zuur Platten

    The event was attended by over 50 students and industry professionals who have been invited to the school. Zuur Platten and Rogers talked about Zuur Platten’s 26-year career, including his transition from the movie VFX industry into gaming.

    Also discussed was Zuur Platten’s work on the Fear Effect and Ghostbusters video games, the mobile game Ingress, the mega-hit Pokemon Go, and his latest work on Jurassic World Evolution. After the hour-long conversation, students and audience attendees were then invited to ask Zuur Platten questions.

    New York Film Academy thanks veteran writer and game designer John Zuur Platten for taking the time to share his expertise with our students!

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    August 7, 2019 • Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 24

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design Alum Guillermo Quesada Helps Develop The Lion King VR Set

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    Magnopus, the visual development company that employs New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design alum Guillermo Quesada, helped create Disney’s new remake of The Lion King in an innovative, groundbreaking way—with VR.

    Guillermo QuesadaThe company pioneered a virtual reality system that allowed director Jon Favreau (Iron Man), director of photography Caleb Deschanel (The Passion of the Christ), and The Lion King crew to shoot a film that used extensive computer imagery in a physical three dimensional space. By mimicking what it would be like to shoot on a live action soundstage, The Lion King crew used the VR tools developed by Magnopus to place themselves in a virtual landscape of the African savannah and visualize how their animal characters would interact in the space.

    According to the io9 piece that went into extensive detail about the process, 90 percent of The Lion King was created in a nondescript warehouse on a backroad in Los Angeles. Monitors and VR kits, mostly HTC Vive headsets, were placed around a large open space—with the virtual savannah existing only in code.

    NYFA alum Guillermo Quesada, originally from Spain, joined the company’s large team of bright, young, VR and AR developers after graduating from the NYFA MFA in Game Design program at our Burbank-based campus. While studying at NYFA, he was taught the art and craft of game design and storytelling at the professional level, acquiring the skills of game prototyping, playtesting, iteration, presentation, collaboration, and how to develop software using industry standards—including workflow, multiple platforms, and coding.

    “At NYFA Guillermo was pushing boundaries and innovating,” recounts Matt Galuppo, NYFA Associate Chair of Games and Animation. “He was the first student to produce a full VR game and make it part of his game showcase. He went on to use the skills he learned developing that game to develop tools for the film industry.”

    After months of post-production, Disney’s latest remake was released in theaters on July 19 and boasted an all-star cast that included Donald Glover, Beyoncé, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Oliver, among several others. The film was a commercial juggernaut, becoming Disney’s fourth film of 2019 to gross over $1 billion in less than a month.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA MFA in Game Design alum Guillermo Quesada and the entire Magnopus team on giving Disney’s filmmakers the tools to bring The Lion King back to life!

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    August 6, 2019 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Virtual Reality • Views: 376

  • New York Film Academy Game Design (NYFA) Welcomes Insomniac Games President Ted Price

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    On Thursday, June 20, 2019, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted veteran game developer and president of Insomniac games, Ted Price.

    Price came to speak at NYFA as part of the school’s Masters of Game Design series. The Masters of Game Design is a speaker series in which distinguished members of the gaming industry visit for an informal chat with NYFA Game Design instructor Scott Rogers and NYFA students about their career in gaming.

    The event was attended by over 60 students and industry professionals who have been invited by the school. Price and Rogers talked about Price’s 23-year career, including his transition into the gaming industry after college. 

    Also discussed was Insomniac’s vast and successful catalog of games, including the Spyro the Dragon series, the Ratchet and Clank series, the Resistance series and 2018’s PS4 mega-hit Marvel’s Spider-Man. Audience attendees were then invited to ask Price questions.

    The entire event will be available for viewing on NYFA’s Twitch channel.

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    July 11, 2019 • Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 599

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Game Design Alum Crafts Breathtaking World of ‘CyberNeon’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Game Design alum Junliang Zhang has created CyberNeon, an incredibly impressive and visually striking 3D environment that evokes the classic hallmarks of cyberpunk art.

    Cyberpunk has its roots in the musical subculture of punk rock, early computer hacker culture, 80s Japanese culture, and American crime novels and movies; particularly film noir. In 1984, author William Gibson wrote Neuromancer, a novel about high-tech and low-life. The book took the science fiction community by storm and popularized the genre called cyberpunk.

    The genre’s visual style has greatly influenced movies like 1982’s Blade Runner, 1985’s Brazil, and 1988’s Akira. Video games such as Shadowrun, the Metal Gear series, Deus Ex, and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 are all clearly inspired by cyberpunk’s tropes and visuals.

    With these games and movies serving as inspiration, NYFA BFA Game Design alum Junliang Zhang has perfectly captured the spirit of cyberpunk in CyberNeon, the 3D environment he spent over a year creating. Zhang hails from Shanghai, China, and enrolled in NYFA’s BFA Game Design program in Fall 2014 at our Burbank-based campus.

    Zhang’s Chinese heritage replaces many of the traditional Japanese motifs found in the genre, and giving the world an identity all its own. William Gibson once said that “Japan IS cyberpunk” while Zhang’s work proudly proclaims “China IS cyberpunk.” 

    Junliang Zhang CyberNeon
    Using the Unreal engine, Zhang built a world of perpetual night and neon that could easily be inhabited by cyberpunk notables Rick Deckard or Kanada. Flying cars zoom over through canyons of skyscrapers that are festooned with advertisements for all manner of products. Futuristic displays literally dance, twirl, and flash—making the dark urban landscape come alive with motion and movement. 

    Technology is everywhere; even the darkened alleys have computer screens that flash data faster than the human eye can comprehend. The camera lingers for a few moments on a tricked-out street rod that announces “I See You” on its digital license plate. This “electric city” feels alive and as if it is constantly watching you.

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA Game Design alum Junliang Zhang on the amazing work he’s done on CyberNeon and looks forward to what the talented game developer has in store next!

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    June 17, 2019 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 700

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) VR Game Design Alum Pilar Aranda Bada Featured in Play NYC’s Graffiti Games Showcase

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) VR Game Design alum Pilar Aranda Bada debuted a new VR game at Play NYC, New York’s first and largest game convention. Aranda Bada was one of a select few developers invited to create new pieces for Graffiti Games, an installation at the event that invited first-generation immigrants to creatively express their culture and experiences through their work.

    Together with teammate Saúl Peña Gamero under the name Alpaca Games, Aranda Bada created one of the installation’s “standout” entries. The game, The Llama Express, invites players to ride a train through the fictional country of Esperú while feeding fluffy llamas along the way with traditional Hispanic food like sausages and beets. The VR game features a soundtrack of traditional Spanish music, and received praise for being an “endearing” way of honoring the creators’ cultural roots.  

    The installation was brought to life in six opera boxes in Manhattan Center’s historic Hammerstein Ballroom, where they were enjoyed by as many as 10,000 participants. In addition to the showcase in New York, the games were displayed on the event’s Twitch stream for fans around the world.

    Born in Valencia, Spain, Aranda Bada is a Mixed Reality developer at Planeta.cc, a product studio focused on sound and media. In 2016, she graduated from NYFA’s pioneering VR Game Design program, which focuses on concept development, VR design, and production of interactive VR experiences, games and 360-degree films. She holds a B.S. in Industrial Design, an M.A. in Graphic Design, and an M.M. in Communications. She specializes in immersive games and experiences in both virtual and augmented reality environments.

    After the success of the game at the installation, the teammates both expressed interest in continuing to develop The Llama Express for market, though any possible release of the game would likely be far off.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Pilar Aranda Bada on her success, and looks forward to seeing her future projects!

     

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    October 10, 2018 • Game Design, Virtual Reality • Views: 213

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design Camp Students Hold Demo Night

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    Game Design Demo Night Summer 2018
    On July 27, the six graduates of the 1-Week Game Design Camp celebrated a week of hard work and education with their very own Demo Night, showing off the different video games they had worked on putting together. The event was held at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus.

    The five-day course the campers completed is intensive, especially for students as young as these, and covers every step of the process to design and build an original video game. “During this week,” stated Game Design Instructor Jeb Havens, “we worked on prototyping, coding, creating a story behind the game… and they came up with the games you see here.”

    Along the way, the students learned how the video games they grew up playing really work, and gained an appreciation for both the craft and the art of game design. The course taught them how to use the software Unity so they could each construct their own game.

    The students’ parents and relatives were invited to attend the Demo Night, along with counselors and campers from other courses, including Filmmaking, Photography, and Acting. Six computer stations were set up, each with one of the students’ games. Everyone invited had a chance to play the games.

    Some of the games were quite hard to beat, a testament to the hard work and design that went into their assembling. Parents were thrilled to be challenged by their kids’ skillfully crafted games. Many players kept trying over and over to beat the trickier games. The environment was energetic and fun all throughout the night.

    “I’m very impressed with what these students created in such a short amount of time,” Havens continued. “Building a game takes months and months of work, and what [the students] did here in only five days is impressive!”

    At the end of the night, and week-long course, each student left camp with a copy of their game, so they can have other friends and family members play it back home. The brief but intensive and hands-on Game Design camp can be a stepping stone to longer, more advanced programs in game coding and design. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates the 1-Week Game Design Camp students on their hard work and well-designed, challenging, fun, new games. 

    Interested in learning game design? Check out more information on New York Film Academy’s programs here!

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    August 1, 2018 • Community Highlights, Game Design • Views: 1155

  • Game Design Students Venture to New York Film Academy Alum’s Escape Hotel in Hollywood

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    Last week, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Director of Media Lab Matthew Sheehan took a group of NYFA Game Design postgraduate students out for a heck of a final: the one hour to escape challenge from Slaughterhouse at the Escape Hotel in Hollywood. The stakes: solve the puzzle or pay the ultimate price — no, not a failing grade, just the pain of defeat.

    For the uninitiated, an escape room is a little bit theater, a little bit puzzle, and a whole lot adventure. Groups of anywhere between two to eight, whether coworkers, families, friends, or even couples, are placed into a themed room filled with puzzles and surprises, and have one hour to solve the clues to find their way out.  Escape rooms are amazing fun and they are all over the place, but nobody is doing them like the Escape Hotel in Hollywood.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    A soon as you enter the Escape Hotel in Hollywood, you know you are about to go on an adventure. Going into the hotel is like stepping into a story line. The lighting, the sound, and the costumed employees of the hotel all set the stage.

    When the NYFA group talked over the choice of which of the rooms we could go through with a macabre bellhop, MFA student Fabio Ribak’s face lit up when we were told, “You start the Slaughterhouse room blindfolded and handcuffed to the floor.” Challenge accepted!

    In the end, we did not make it out. But it was okay, as the room was so much fun. The teamwork, the panic, and the discoveries were worth every second of it. These rooms are more than padlocks and puzzles; they are stories, little movies, games come to life, with you in the center. For a group of students who had recently completed story-focused visual and performing arts training, it was the perfect evening.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    Escape Hotel co-creator Ivan Leon sat down with us afterward. Ivan is also a NYFA alum, who after completing his education went to work starting the Escape Hotel with some of his classmates.

    “It’s what’s next,” he told us. “It’s combining every form of media arts, theater, and games, in a way no one else is doing, and we wanted to make a big commitment, to be on top.”

    If you want to see it, you will have to come up to the Escape Hotel in Hollywood and put your blindfold on. If you want to make friends with the next Ivan Leon, you should come over to the New York Film Academy.

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  • Boy Scouts of America Earn Special Merit Badges at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) celebrated the third year of its partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with a special event offering scouts the chance to earn merit badges in the visual and performing arts.

    Through NYFA, boys and girls from local scouting dens were given the opportunity for special merit badges in Game Design, Filmmaking, Photography, or 3D Animation, through one day of hands-on intensive training at the New York Film Academy. In the morning, scouts attended classes with NYFA instructors, where they learned the basic rules of their selected craft and began to formulate the stories they wanted to tell. By the end of the day, each scout had completed a project and earned a new badge.

    The partnership between BSA and NYFA began with NYFA Service Learning Manager Paul McKenna. A native of Burbank, CA, McKenna got the idea for the partnership after reading about a similar program at Harvard. As a father and a scout leader, McKenna explained that many titans of the entertainment industry got their start in programs like the Boy Scouts.

    “Both David Lynch and Michael Moore began making films when they were in the scouts,” McKenna said. “Giving these kids an opportunity today could lead to a life-long passion.”

    Throughout the day, local scout leaders worked with NYFA instructors to help guide the scouts through the process. Assistant Scout Leader Paul Chiaravalle remarked, “The scouts are really enjoying this. … In scouting, we try to balance both outdoor and technical skills. It’s really nice of NYFA to provide this opportunity.”

    Scouts who chose the Filmmaking or Photography tracks at NYFA were taken to the Universal Backlot, where they shot a short film or learned to take portraits against a world-famous backdrop: the European set, which included storefronts, old houses, and even a train station.

    The student filmmakers were ultimately responsible for making a three-minute silent film. In teams of four or five, scouts took turns acting, directing, and filming their movies. Photography students learned how to work with light and shadow and were encouraged to explore the dynamic range of natural light. Framing was also heavily emphasized.

    At the end of the day, parents were invited to attend an award ceremony. Each scout received a certificate with his or her name on it in addition to their badges, which would be received at a later date. The scouts cheered for one another as they received their awards and celebrated their full day of storytelling through the visual and performing arts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios, The Boy Scouts of America, and our instructors, who helped make this event possible. Congratulations, scouts!

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