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  • VR and AR Crash Course with pioneering developer and NYFA instructor, Aaron Pulkka

    NYFA instructor, Aaron Pulkka is a pioneer in the virtual reality and augmented reality having created groundbreaking projects going back to his days creating Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride as a Disney Imagineer in the 1990s. He has been leading cutting edge projects in the space ever since. He is now leading creative development for the much anticipated series of VR/AR amusement parks for Two Bit Circus funded by Intel Capital among other investors.

    Like all of the NYFA Games’ instructors, Aaron is a working game developer in industry and chooses to teach at the school on top of his professional practice.

    Aaron appeared on the NYFA Games’ Twitch Channel to create three awesome videos in which he explains

    • the history of VR and AR
    • the current state of VR and AR including a hands on explanation of the hardware platforms
    • a crash course on VR Game Design

    Check out Aaron on NYFA Games Twitch here:

    (Virtual) Reality Check – Part 1 | Schooled with Aaron Pulkka
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv
    (Virtual) Reality Check – Part 2 | Schooled with Aaron Pulkka
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv
    VR Game Design Crash Course! with Aaron Pulkka
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

    August 18, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Game Design • Views: 188

  • NYFA Game Students Playtest New Module for Alternate Reality Game Hit – Ingress

    NYFA Games promises students hands-on learning from industry masters. To that end, NYFA Instructor and Niantic Labs creative director, John Zuur-Platten, brought his students to get hands on with the innerworking of a AAA studio and provide design feedback on a new module of their alternate reality game Ingress.

    NYFA Students test Ingress

    If you’re not familiar, Ingress is the pioneering augmented reality game in which you move through the real world with your mobile phone battling and claiming territory for your faction within the game.

    Ingress App | Game Design at NYFA

    The game uses the Google Maps API and challenges factions to capture real world “portals” that are typically places of cultural significance such as public art, landmarks, and monuments. An ongoing mystery story plays out via videos and blog posts posted by Niantic.

    NYFA Game Design Students play Ingress

    Ideas that work in Ingress can sometimes see their way into Niantic Labs more mainstream AR game, Pokemon Go. We caught up with NYFA Games’ MFA student, Fabio Ribak, to get his take on the experience:

    “Ingress engages players from around the world in a rich interactive story. Game events attract thousands of players to meet up and collaborate in the real world. There is really nothing else like it. It was amazing to see the process of how the conceive new kinds of game play on the cutting edge of storytelling.”

    When asked what he learned that could be applied to his projects:

    “I have never done a playtest that long (2 hours) before, and I enjoyed how much detail there was on every quest. I will try to achieve a balance on these aspects that capture the attention of the players throughout the entire playtest.”

    August 4, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 367

  • NYFA Hosts Veterans for Exclusive Game Design Workshop

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) facilitated an exclusive, hands on Game Design workshop for service members and veterans that were interested in pursuing an education in the field of game design and game engineering. Veterans from across Southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, met at the College’s campus located in Burbank, CA.

    veterans game design

    “Veterans working together to build a game during the workshop”

    Several veteran nonprofits including Veterans in Film & Television (VFT), Team Push (TPU), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) collaborated with NYFA to support the workshop. The special event focused on how to break into the game design industry. As part of the activity veterans participating worked together to build games.

    Bryan Parent, Founder of Team Push, and a workshop participant, stated, “These types of events are important to our veterans; it is an opportunity to learn how their military skills can be used in a civilian setting, where they can work together as a team with other veterans and co-workers, and to break apart any assumptions we have leaving the military, or what others think we are coming out of the military. NYFA put all of that into an easily digested workshop that left all of Team Push Up’s members asking for more.”

    The College’s Veterans Services Department organized the event; Chris Swain, NYFA’s Game Design Department Chair facilitated the workshop. Swain is a seasoned game designer and game design engineer, who has authored 50+ games for Activision, EA, Sony, Microsoft, Disney and many others.

    “The New York Film Academy has a long history of supporting veterans and while this workshop was geared towards those interested in learning more about the burgeoning game design industry, the occasion also provided an opportunity for veterans to network with each other and be around those with similar life experiences,” said Eric Brown, US Navy Veteran and Veterans Coordinator at NYFA.

    May 5, 2017 • Game Design, Veterans • Views: 1988

  • NYFA Game Design Mentor Meetup with Aaron Pulkka

    This past week the New York Film Academy Game Department held a Game Mentor Meetup. The special event focused on the history and development of Virtual Reality. VR pioneer and NYFA Instructor Aaron Pulkka led the discussion.

    nyfa vr games

    Before the presentation, high school students hoping to attend NYFA, current NYFA students, and instructors from nearly every department gathered outside of the theater. Pizza, soda, and snacks were served. Through mouthfuls of hot cheese, participants buzzed over which VR headset was worth the price tag, which game best utilized its VR feature and whether the future of VR relied on lasers or motion capture and other topics.

    With full bellies and buzzing brains, the students filed into the Riverside theater. Pulkka spoke for over an hour giving first-hand knowledge of the rise of Virtual Reality. Pulkka worked on the “Aladdin’s Carpet Ride” at Walt Disney World in Florida, which first utilized VR in 1998, and many other groundbreaking projects.

    He also broke down the key factors of establishing a VR world. The gamer must move in the space, but space cannot come to the gamer or they will be too disoriented to keep playing. This is known as an explicit camera. Light and sound help establish where in space the gamer is supposed to be.

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    Pulkka then walked the students through the different kinds of headsets. The Play Station 4 has sold three times as many VR headsets as the next leading brands, but there’s an HDMI cable limiting the player’s movements. Google Cardboard costs anywhere from $2 to $30, but you have to have an expensive smartphone and the games are limited.

    A highlight of the night was Pulkka’s demonstration of the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset. He created a VR program in Unity and output it to the Hololens. He then walked around the room dropping giant 3D cubes on the audience.

    A great lesson was the difference between VR and 360-degree videos. Pulkka says, “If you can’t interact with the world it’s not VR. 360 videos, like the ones you see on YouTube or Facebook, are not considered VR.”

    After the presentation, the audience spilled into the lobby to converse about all they learned and enjoy cupcakes. A group of students was overheard excitedly chattering about their VR projects. Game students are free to explore VR in any of their Game Studio semester projects. And there is one VR class currently available documentary students with more planned in the future.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank those who participated in this exciting conversation. You can join the conversation by watching the discussion here.

    April 17, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 2060

  • NYFA Game Design Alumnus Creates His Own “Borders”

    One of the more controversial topics in recent months has been immigration and America’s stance on border control. Like other artists, New York Film Academy Game Design School alumnus Genaro Vallejo and his teammates, John DiGiacamo and Gonzalo Alvarez, created a unique gaming experience to express their point of view on the subject.

    The game was recently discussed in The Huffington Post, and the New York Film Academy spoke with alumnus Genaro Vallejo to find out more about creating “Borders.”

    Where are you from, and what brought you to NYFA?

    I was born in Acapulco, a beach town in the south of Mexico, I spent most of my life there until I moved to college to Mexico City. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue my lifetime dream of becoming a game designer. I looked up schools in New York, and I found NYFA was the best option for my needs at the time.

    Did you create “Borders” while at NYFA?

    “Borders” was created shortly after I graduated from the One Year Game Design Program. This project was created for a “Game Jam” event in which a game has to be developed during a weekend. Although the task seemed almost impossible at first, the skills learned at NYFA — alongside the help of my teammates John DiGiacomo and Gonzalo Alvarez — enabled us to create a polished experience in a span of three days.

    Was there a retro game that inspired “Borders”?

    Gonzalo, the main artist, took inspiration from the harsh experiences from Mexican immigrants trying to find a better life. The art-style and moral issues were inspired by games like “Papers, Please” and “Passage” (By Jason Rohrer).

    What do you hope people will get out of this game? Are you making a political statement?

    Personally, I think empathy is the key thing that I want people to take with them when they play “Borders.” If you try to understand and feel the struggle and problems of others, you will be more open and thoughtful of others’ actions and motivations.

    Can you tell us how your job at GameCo came about, and what your role is with the gaming company? 

    At first, I was hired at GameCo to write Game Design documents for upcoming games for their platform. Eventually, I began to get involved with QA, Hardware/Software installation and troubleshooting, and Translations. The skills learned at NYFA were without a doubt valuable assets that helped me to get a job at GameCo and expand my versatility in the company.

    I think one of the most important skills learned at NYFA was the whole process of creating the game. From prototyping, documenting your game idea, working in the game editor, to play-testing and fixing bugs. All of the steps you take are important, and you always have to keep focused on moving forward.

    Are you currently working on another game or project that you’d like to share?

    I’m currently working on Mama Hawk, a mobile game about a Mother Hawk trying to feed her babies. Hopefully you can give it a look!

    We certainly will! If you’re interested, please CLICK HERE to learn more about Mama Hawk!

    March 7, 2017 • Game Design, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2012

  • MFA Game Design Showcase at NYFA LA

    On Tuesday, January 24th, the Master of Fine Arts Game Design students held a showcase of their work at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles Campus.

    The presentation was part of a fifteen-week course taught by Professor Scott Rogers, entitled Master Thesis Showcase. The goal was to help students learn how to promote the work they’ve created in their other classes.

    game showcase

    The class consisted of both current students and alumni. Games were designed in teams of four to nine students. Both board game and P.C. games were set up for students to test out.

    Pirates Bay is a board game in which players try to conquer lands and protect their waters from other pirates. Another game, Copper Cage, is a two player PC game. Player A is a human inside a mech suit trying to out run Player B, a battle bot with a hacksaw and a hammer.

    Students, faculty, friends, and family filled the fourth-floor lobby. Chinese food was served buffet style and tournaments began as everyone sampled games. In the center of the floor, NYFA’s Twitch team covered the event live. They played games with the creators and took questions from the at home audience.

    game showcase

    Peppered throughout the crowd were gaming professionals. Everyone from agents to game designers to producers came to see the NYFA grads. They are invited by faculty and staff to experience the students’ work first hand “We want them (students) to be proud of their achievements. This is a great opportunity for job placement and growth,” Rogers said of the experience.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank the Game Design department for putting on the showcase and the recent graduates for sharing their work. If you’d like to watch the Twitch stream you can click the link here.

    February 1, 2017 • Community Highlights, Game Design • Views: 1459

  • Game Design Master’s Showcase at NYFA Los Angeles

    This past September 2016, the Game Design Department held their annual Master’s Showcase at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus. Students displayed games ranging from virtual reality, tabletop, side scrollers, card games, and PC games.

    game design

    The event also played host to the second Twitch stream for NYFA. Previously, NYFA hosted a Twitch stream for the Pokémon Go Event in July. Students and professors play-tested new games so fans could see the gameplay.

    I asked the team producing the Twitch TV stream, NYFA student Davin Tjen and Nicholas Cunha, about the response they were hoping for from their audience. “We’re very excited for it and we’re very excited to go live. We don’t know (what to expect). Our last stream was a hit, but that’s because it was Pokémon Go.”

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    Guillermo Quesada Paez, Master of Fine Arts student, had several games at the event including Identity, Fetch Through Time, and Samurai V Skeletons.

    Paez said, “Samurai V Skeletons is a tower defense game, but we also made it so you could control the main character. You can play as your tower but you can also play as a guy and help shoot the enemy. We basically mixed two different games together: tower defense and a top down shooter.”

    The hardest part about making the game was creating path finding for the enemy. “We needed an algorithm to find the shortest paths between points,” Paez explained. “The player keeps moving around and the enemy has to keep recalculating their path to get to the player.”

    nyfa game design

    Drew Fletcher, Master of Fine Arts student and one of the developers on Fetch Through Time, told us about his game. “In Fetch Through Time, you’re a gelatin dog bouncing through the world trying to collect bones. You have to make sure you don’t run into anything otherwise you’ll pop.”

    The inspiration behind the game was simple, “…we had two ideas. One teammate had an idea for a gelatin game and another teammate had an idea for an endless bouncing ball, so we combined the two.”

    Board games were also on display. Associate of Fine Arts student Jeffery Lay told us about his game, inspired by the game Set. “I used something called the script effect. For example, here we have the word blue written in green. Your left side of the brain is trying to read the word and the right side of your brain is seeing the color. That brings a clash in your brain and it makes the game more challenging. If you do the script affect often it increases your logical brain. ”

    game design

    Lay also showcased his game Capture, a horror game without monsters. “My main focus was environmental designs. I don’t like horror games. Well … it’s not that I don’t like them. I’m scared of them. So, I thought it might be fun as a challenge to create one. I used environmental design to make it look realistic or give it that natural feeling and I wanted something that had a scary vibe without scaring the person directly. In some of the horror games something just pops up in your face. It’s not fair to the player. I try with music and sound to give players that scary feeling.”

    New York Film Academy professor Scott Rogers (History of Video Games) had this to say about the event, “I’m really proud of all our students. They managed to do some pretty amazing things in a very short period of time. I’m always impressed with the work they do.”

    game design

    Rogers then explained how the students learn to develop their games. “One of the things that we like to teach the students here is that paper prototyping is the foundation of good organized game design, whether it’s making maps for their level designs or actually creating a playable version of their game in paper form. We’re trying to teach them to work not only well, but smart. So paper prototyping is this great tool that’s been around since Dungeons & Dragons.”

    “The other side of this is you could just learn to make a board game. In fact, one of our students earlier tonight was talking to a fellow who’s a Creative Director at a board game company. The guy took the students card because he was so impressed with the game.”

    October 19, 2016 • Game Design, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2135

  • NYFA Game Design at Revolutionary Learning 2016

    Last week, New York Film Academy NY Chair of Animation & Game Design Phoebe Elefante hosted the first ever Pitch Contest Game for participants of Revolutionary Learning 2016. The conference, which took place at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel, focused on innovation in game-based learning – a sizable, and very profitable sector of the larger game industry.

    The conference featured a long list of influencers in the GBL space, kicking off with legendary keynote speaker Ian Livingstone (founder of Eidos, the company that created Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), and concluding with an inspirational talk by Rebecca Rufo-Tepper (game-learning evangelist and Program Director for the Institute of Play). Other featured speakers included NYC locals Nicholas Fortugno of Playmatics, Scott Brewster of Electric Funstuff, Jordan Shapiro Senior Fellow at Sesame Workshop, and Justin Leites, President of Amplify.

    game design

    The Pitch Contest Game, designed and run by Ms. Elefante and NYFA NY Game Design alumna Nina Mirhabibi, guided participants through a game concept development process, which resulted in a short pitch presentation to the audience and an illustrious panel of judges, which included: Dr. Elena Bertozzi (founder of the Engender Games Group at Quinnipiac University), Michael Gi (Play Designer at BrainPOP), and Bert Snow (VP of Design at Muzzy Lane Software). The panel also featured a student judge, Mickell Ford Jr., member of Mouse.org and starting freshman in the Design and Technology program at Parsons. The winning team created a game called Amor Vincit Omnia, designed to teach ethics to students in middle school and up. The Crowd Favorite award was given to the team that created Pitch Deck, a game for MBA students and aspiring entrepreneurs that aims to bring humor to the high pressure investor pitch.

    “We designed the Pitch Contest Game to bring conference participants together, encourage collaboration, have fun, and design games. None of the players knew each other at the beginning, and all of the teams have plans to continue development of their concepts into playable games,” said Ms. Elefante. “That’s a big win.” All of the activities and design documentation used to help participants design their games are now available on the Revolutionary Learning Blog.

    phoebe

    The educational games market in the US is estimated at $1.5 billion. According to Ms. Elefante, NYFA students aren’t required to make learning games, but “I always encourage our students to consider the marketplace — there are countless opportunities for game designers and developers if you know where to look.”

    Unlike other top game design schools, NYFA’s Game Design School offers a course that challenges students to lead their own Game Studio with two other classmates. Throughout the semester, students receive coding support and mentorship from professional game programmers, developers, and instructors. This focused effort and unique approach of pairing students with professionals allows students to create their own digital game by the end of the semester.

    August 25, 2016 • Community Highlights, Game Design • Views: 1715

  • Pokémon Go Hunt with Creative Director and NYFA Instructor John Zuur Platten

    New York Film Academy hosted its first ever Pokémon Go hunt this month at the Los Angeles campus. About one hundred students, faculty, and fans joined Creative Director at Niantic Labs and Game Design Instructor at New York Film Academy, John Zuur Platten, to try and catch ‘em all.

    pokemon hunt

    Throughout the evening shouts of, “I leveled up,” “I just took this gym,” and “Oh my god, it’s *insert favorite Pokémon here*” filled the air. In the end, someone took over two gyms, several eggs were hatched, and a Bulbasaur made a surprise appearance just as the event wound down.

    The event then moved inside for an industry meet and greet. Game Design students snacked on Poke Ball pizza while talking shop. Ideas for future games were exchanged as well as talk about whether virtual reality or augmented reality would be a better sell to the gaming community.

    Finally, it was time for the main event. Platten threw away the traditional Q & A process and instead decided to have an open forum, allowing anyone to ask a question as it came up. An excited buzz ran through the audience as Platten began to break down the ins and outs of Niantic.

    The majority of the talk was focused on Niantic’s breakout game, Ingress. Ingress shares many similarities with Pokémon Go, but instead of three teams, there are two: The Enlightened and The Resistance. Each team is trying to own portals that pop up all over the world. The Resistance wants to keep whatever’s trying to come through the portal out of their world. The Enlightened believe there’s something to be gained from whatever’s trying to come through.

    pokemon go creative director

    There’s no violence within the game and, like Pokémon Go, the players don’t have to interact with one another to play. In fact, many fans of Ingress don’t play the game. Instead, they head online, where Niantic has created a wide series of gaming extras. This includes YouTube videos, comics, and short stories that tell extra parts of the story. This media is often cryptic mysteries that participants can solve, netting their team extra points.

    Like Pokémon Go, Ingress has lots of fanatics. People make flags, costumes, and pins with the team’s sigils and show up for mass real world meet ups. Fans also have a civil service side. Many have seen encouraging memes asking players to drop lures outside of children’s hospitals so the very ill can play. Platten recalled a story where a famous Ingress player in need of a wheelchair received one through community donations and support. He recalled another story of an autistic teen who was barely able to leave his room until Pokémon Go was released. That teen’s mother said she felt as if she had gotten part of her son back. “That’s a pretty great magic trip,” Platten stated.

    August 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 2817

  • Game Design and 3D Animation Graduation

    The New York Film Academy’s 26 Broadway transformed into a miniature arcade last week as Game Design and 3D Animation students showcased their final games and thesis films to peers, friends and family.

    game design grad

    “I am immensely proud of our graduates,” said Game Design and 3D Animation Chair Phoebe Elefante. “They have stretched themselves beyond what they thought possible, and they have achieved so much in such a short time.”

    Visitors had the chance to play student-made games like Kramacus 2 and Climaniacs while 3D Animation student films were shown both during a screening showcase and on a rear projection at the graduation reception. It was quite remarkable seeing what each student had accomplished in just a year’s time.

    game design graduates

    “They have acquired all of the skills they will need to pursue their passions in the fields of animation and game design, and they have demonstrated the dedication to succeed,” added Elefante. “It has been my honor to help them on their way, and I wish them all good hunting.”