On June 18, 2020, Video Game Designer David Jaffe talked with NYFA’s Scott Rogers as part of the Masters of Game Design speaker series.
Game designer David Jaffe
Jaffe discussed how he entered the games industry, ending up at Sony Santa Monica. Jaffe chronicled his experiences working on games such as Mickey Mania before leading a team to create the car combat game Twisted Metal.
Original cover art for ‘Mickey Mania’ video game
Jaffe touched on the subsequent games of the classic game franchise and the origins of the acclaimed action game God of War. Jaffe also discussed starting his own companies – Eat Sleep Play and the Bartlett Jones Supernatural Detective Agency – and the games those teams created: Calling all Cars and Drawn to Death. Jaffe also took questions from the Zoom audience.
A recording of this talk will be available at a future date. To learn more about upcoming Masters of Game Design speakers, please join the NYFA Game Mentor Network at Meetup.com. For more on NYFA’s School of Game Design, click here.
A few days ago, I got a message from former NYFA Games student Shaquan Ladson (1-Year Game Design Program, 2017), who finds himself quarantined in the rural Pacific Northwest. “This time at home is making me miss being around good company and creatives,” he wrote me. We texted for a bit and I advised him to see the wealth of opportunity in this time alone. What will the world do, I wonder, on this global artist’s retreat?
Those of us lucky enough to be stuck at home during “Borentine” (as a friend so aptly dubbed this time) have a unique opportunity to flex our creative muscles, and create without the usual restrictions of time and commerce.
While the news inundates us with frightening stats and global uncertainty, and we marvel at the courage of healthcare professionals and those services we consider essential for our modern life, humanity has been connecting in the most inventive and intimate ways. We’re getting our groove on at home with Instagram Live DJ sets from people like celebrity darling @DNice and my hometown hero @DJ_Oso_Fresh, as well as exploring the magical self-expression of distance nightlife through #ClubQuarantine.
TikTok insanity has gripped everyone from Jane Fonda’s 9 to 5 send-up to my in-laws’ happy Birthday Abuela dance. Let’s hope you’ve seen some variation of the high fashion Trikini for summer 2020. We’ve gotten weird, people, and I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT.
And that’s all happening when we’re not scrolling, streaming, or gaming. According to SuperData Research, we spent a record $10 Billion in March on digital games – that’s the biggest monthly expenditure on games, ever. Nintendo’s brand new Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold 5 million units in March alone – the most any single title has sold in one month. It’s no surprise that a lot of that spending is on MMORPGs and networked multiplayer games, across all platforms. When we can’t be together, we play together.
I’m not gonna lie, my Farmville 2: Country Escape obsession had definitely cooled until I was forced to find ways to disconnect from all this high-intensity family time. While I farm away 5 minutes at a time, my students are playing hours ofFIFA20, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and reliving their youth through fan-supported servers of Club Penguin. Other worthy titles include:
Bring your darkest sense of humor to the browser based Pandemic 2, where you play as a virus that aspires to become a species-decimating disease.
Photo Credit: Club Penguin Online
Whatever your pleasure, games are a way for us to connect, to comfort, and to escape.
I don’t want to sound trite: millions of people are losing their jobs, many are facing life-threatening illness and death on a daily basis, and all the burdens we struggled with before feel a lot heavier now.
The beauty of creativity is that it is in you, in me, and in us. It’s in the ways we are providing and caring for each other, and the ways we’re finding laughter even in grief. So whether you’re alone in the woods, or stuck in your 5th floor walkup, you have something inside you that deserves to be seen and heard. If games are your artform, I hope you’ll join us in making something meaningful and magical.
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New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Acting for Film Alum Gonzalo Martin has been nominated for a BAFTA Game Award for his voiceover work in the critically-acclaimed video game Life is Strange 2. Martin will be competing in the Best Performer in a Leading Role category, along with notable actors Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Prometheus) and Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead, The Boondock Saints). The winners of the prestigious awards will be announced at the 2020 British Academy Games Awards ceremony on Thursday, April 2.
NYFA AFA Acting for Film Alum Gonzalo Martin
Gonzalo Martin stars as lead protagonist Sean Diaz, who the player controls throughout the game. Martin is an Acting for Film alum from New York Film Academy, having attended the AFA program in 2015, and has previously been a part of the Academy’s admissions team.
Life is Strange 2 is a graphic adventure video game, available on nearly all major platforms (including Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and macOS), and is the sequel to the smash hit and critically-acclaimed Life is Strange, originally released in 2015. That title has sold over three million copies to date and comes from Square Enix, the Japanese developer and publisher of wildly popular games Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest, among others.
The game was developed by Dontnod Entertainment (Vampyr, Twin Mirror) and has already been nominated for several gaming awards and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Ping Awards. The game tells the story of young brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, who are on the run from the police. The game is a third-person story adventure, with dialogue trees and gaming decisions affecting the story and future episodes.
“It’s an honor to be nominated for such a prestigious award in a field that I am just getting my feet in,” Martin tells NYFA. “I already feel like I have won, just because of being nominated side-to-side with all these other amazing actors, whose work I admire so much, such as Norman Reedus.”
Martin’s previous acting roles include BuzzFeed Murder Mystery Stories, and the films I’ll Be Next Door for Christmas and When It Rings. He is currently finishing with post-production of the first feature film he’s produced and starred in, titled Back to Lyla, which features more than five other NYFA alumni on the production.
“I am a very, very proud NYFA alum,” adds Martin. “And the most fulfilling thing about this nomination was the ability to go back to school and share this amazing news with all my teachers and mentors. They are a big part of the reason why I have made it this far.”
UPDATE (4.3.20): Gonzalo Martin was awarded the BAFTA Game Award for Best Performer in a Leading Role for Life is Strange 2. The winners of the BAFTA Game Awards were announced at the 2020 British Academy Games Awards ceremony via livestream on Thursday, April 2.
New York Film Academy congratulates Gonzalo Martin on his exciting BAFTA Game Awardwin for Best Performer in a Leading Role for Square Enix’s Life is Strange 2!
Dragon Age: Blue Wraith, the newest Dark Horse comic adaptation of popular video game franchise Dragon Age, is being written by New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Chair of Screenwriting Nunzio DeFilippis and NYFA-LA Screenwriting instructor Christina Weir.
In addition to teaching at NYFA’s Burbank-based Screenwriting school, DeFilippis and Weir are married and have been writing partners for several years, working together on numerous projects like HBO’s Arli$$ and Disney Channel’s Kim Possible, as well as developing a video game at Sony and a TV movie at Oxygen.
DeFilippis and Weir have been writing comic books for over 17 years, including New X-Men, Adventures of Superman, and Batman Confidential. They’ve created the comic franchises Bad Medicine (in development at Closed On Mondays with NBC), The Amy Devlin Mysteries (in development as a TV series at E!), and Frenemy of the State (co-created with Rashida Jones, optioned as a feature film by Imagine Entertainment/
Blue Wraith is their latest comic in the world of Dragon Age; DeFilippis and Weir previously wrote Dragon Age: Knight Errant in 2017 and Dragon Age: Deception in 2018, both critically acclaimed series published by Dark Horse. Blue Wraith will feature Fenris, a fan-favorite character from Dragon Age II, the blockbuster video game released in 2011. The plot of their newest series has been described as: “Dragon Age: Blue Wraithstarts off with the fanatical Qunari seeking to topple the Tevinter mageocracy. Caught in the middle, one powerful young mage’s desperate search for her father brings her face-to-face with a notorious mage hunter—Fenris, the Blue Wraith.”
DeFilippis and Weir are joined by artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa and colorist Michael Atiyeh to being this latest series to life, with covers done by Sachin Teng. The writers also had to work closely with BioWare, the company that produces the Dragon Age franchise, to make sure the comics didn’t conflict with the video game world.
“They are great collaborators,” Weir said about BioWare in an interview with ComicBook.com. “We have story conferences with them before starting a miniseries, and then they give notes along the way. Their notes are always driven by the same instincts we have: what’s the best story? How do [you] let this character grow or shine?”
In the interview, DeFilippis talks about what set writing Blue Wraith apart from writing previous Dragon Age series: “We’re also painting on a bigger canvas than just the individual miniseries issue count. Knight Errant was very much a new thing, but it picked up characters from Magekiller. And from there, we’ve been telling one long quest—Knight Errant into Deception into Blue Wraith and beyond.”
Dragon Age: Blue Wraith #1 is set to release on January 15, 2020 with the following two issues releasing after that. New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA-LA Screenwriting Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and NYFA-LA Screenwriting instructor Christina Weir on their work and encourages everyone to check out the comics when they’re published!
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.”
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!
New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gonzalo Martin might agree that “life is strange,” especially since he nabbed the lead role in Square Enix’s highly-anticipated video game, Life is Strange 2. Square Enix is the Japanese developer and publisher of wildly popular games Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest, among others.
The episodic graphic adventure video game, available on nearly all major platforms (including Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and macOS), is the sequel to the smash hit and critically-acclaimed Life is Strange, originally released in 2015. That title has sold over 3 million copies to date.
The newest entry released its first episode in September 2018, with the last of five episodes set to come out in 2019. Life is Strange 2 was developed by Dontnod Entertainment (Vampyr, Twin Mirror) and has already been nominated for several gaming awards and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Ping Awards.
Life is Strange 2 tells the story of young brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, who are on the run from the police. The game is a third-person story adventure, with dialogue trees and gaming decisions
affecting the story and future episodes.
Gonzalo Martin stars as lead protagonist Sean Diaz, who the player controls throughout the game. Martin is an Acting for Film alum from the New York Film Academy, having attended the AFA program in 2015, and has previously been a part of the Academy’s admissions team. At NYFA’s acting school, Martin was given both practical experience and a hands-on education to develop his skills as an actor, with training from a faculty of experienced actors currently working in the industry.
Previous acting roles of Martin include BuzzFeed Murder Mystery Stories, and the films I’ll Be Next Door for Christmas and When It Rings.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Gonzalo Martin on landing the lead role in Square Enix’s Life is Strange 2!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Last week, New York Film Academy Game Design Chair Phoebe Elefante welcomed guest speaker LeeSheldon to the classroom. Sheldon is a professional game writer and designer currently working on his 43rd game. Prior to writing for games, Sheldon was a television writer-producer with over 200 produced shows ranging from Charlie’s Angels to Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of his first writing jobs was for a 1976 Hanna-Barbera series called Clue Club, which Sheldon jokingly admitted was essentially another Scooby Doo knock-off.
Sheldon wrote the bestselling book The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game (2011); his book Character Development and Storytelling for Games (Second Edition, 2013) is the standard text in the gaming field.
His recent applied game projects include two games at Rensselaer: The Lost Manuscript 2: The Summer Palace Cipher, a virtual reality game teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture; and These Far Hills, a video game teaching engineering and science for an NSF proposal. He wrote Crimson Dilemma, a business ethics video game for Indiana University that debuted Fall 2014; and wrote and designed Secrets: A Cyberculture Mystery Game, an online class designed as a game teaching culture and identity on the Internet for Excelsior College that went live Fall 2015.
His most recent entertainment games are the AAA Kinect title Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (2014) for Harmonix and Suburbia 2, a Facebook game for MegaZebra upcoming in 2016.
Sheldon felt the urge to move into gaming after years of churning out episodic television series. It was time for a change.
He now feels that he is much more capable of giving his characters depth in his games, as opposed to the characters in his television scripts. Having worked on games for twenty years, Sheldon says, “In order for me to work on something new, there has to be an interesting idea behind the game. It has to have a different approach [than your average game].”
As to where his ideas derive, Sheldon says it all comes from his own life and experience. “Don’t limit the scope of your interests, ” he said. “Go see plays you normally wouldn’t see, read books, and travel!”
One interesting exercise that Sheldon says he brings to his own classroom is to eavesdrop on strangers. He believes ideas and interesting dialogue can develop by simply listening in on strangers’ conversations. We’re pretty sure that our students in New York City, Los Angeles, and South Beach, amongst others, will hear some pretty enticing conversations.
The New York Film Academy Game Design Program welcomed guest speaker, marketing expert Chaucer Barnes (Executive Director, Context Strategy at Translation). Using his “Contagion Cookbook,” Barnes lead an insightful and entertaining presentation aimed to help students answer the golden question, “how do I get players to my game?” Moderated by NYFA Chair of Game Design, Phoebe Elefante, students and alumni were also given the opportunity to ask specific questions during an extended Q&A that followed his presentation.
Chaucer Barnes is a communications planner and creative who specializes in setting the proper conditions for mass adoption. He leads the Context Strategy group at Translation, which enhances creative impact through the often overlooked channels of brand behavior. Chaucer returned to helm his group in October 2014 after a brief sabbatical as a business development consultant for a top social media site, rounding out over 3 years of service that spans the entire creative roster. During this time, Chaucer’s served many major brands including GEICO, BFGoodrich, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Nespresso among them.
Earlier in his career, Chauser learned the agency business during his time at Wieden + Kennedy Portland. He worked across many disciplines but later headed up a digital strategy team tasked with tooling Electronic Arts with the analytic capabilities, partnerships, inventory sets, and internal resources necessary for their next phase of fulfillment: wholly digital distribution of their hundreds of games and expansion packs.
Chaucer also currently provides his consulting services to socially progressive early- and mid-stage technology companies, and works with his co-author on a forthcoming executive reader: a textbook that demystifies the components of mass cultural adoption.
Using a few recent examples of popular marketing strategies, such as “The Harlem Shake” and “Straight Outta Compton,” Chaucer broke down how to make an idea or game really explode in the market place. At its essence, here are the five “C’s” that you need for “Contagion”:
Content (The idea, content or game)
Credence (Appropriate messenger)
Customization (Thematic iteration)
Co-incentives (Fertile conditions)
Concurrence (Public progress bar)
Chaucer added that, “Fertile conditions where some people can make money and some people can become famous,” are also essential in making an idea go viral.
“Create the sense that it’s everywhere and everybody is talking about it,” even if that’s not entirely true, he added.
In a day in age where social media is key, sometimes the simplest idea like “The Harlem Shake” or “The Ice Bucket Challenge” can become the most popular trend in a matter of days. At the end of the day, it’s up to your creative imagination and hard work to navigate the market and develop the proper strategy, with the right guidelines in place, to make your game the next Mine Craft.