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  • 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: 696

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gonzalo Martin Stars in “Life is Strange 2”

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    gonzalo martinNew 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! 

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    November 28, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1638

  • 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: 1149

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

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    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.

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    August 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 4401

  • Lee Sheldon on Writing for Games

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    Last week, New York Film Academy Game Design Chair Phoebe Elefante welcomed guest speaker Lee Sheldon 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.

    lee sheldon

    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.

    lee sheldon

    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.

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    May 11, 2016 • Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 5748

  • Chaucer Barnes Breaks Down How to Market Your Games

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    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

    Chaucer Barnes

    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 barnes nyfa

    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.

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    March 25, 2016 • Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 4031

  • Former NFL Player-Turned-Writer Pat Hegarty Talks Business with NYFA Students

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    patrick hegarty

    Patrick Hegarty

    Recently, movie and video game writer Patrick Hegarty dropped by New York Film Academy’s Business of Screenwriting class to share his remarkable journey of how this one-time professional NFL football player went on to become a professional screenwriter and video game scribe.

    Hailing from Orange County, CA, Hegarty attended the University of Texas at El Paso, where in addition to playing football on a scholarship, he earned himself a Bachelor of Arts in English. However, in 1989, he was recruited by the Denver Broncos and ended up becoming the back-up quarterback to John Elway and Gary Kubiak.

    After 2 years in the NFL, Hegarty attended the University of Colorado Denver and attained his masters in English. The initial plan was to become a novelist, get his PhD, and teach. And for a while that’s what he did, teaching high school English and writing books, including the semi-autobiographical tale, “The Dazzle of the Light” (Wexford College Press), about a troubled man coming to terms with the untimely death of his brother. “The problem with books is that they take a lot of time. A lot of time,” Hegarty smirked.

    However, a unique opportunity came for Hegarty when a friend working in the video game sphere needed a writer to generate announcer commentary material for a new football game they were producing called NFL GAMEDAY, and recruited Hegarty to write the play-by-play dialogue. “I guess they thought, given my experience, I could do it. I’m really glad they did. It opened up a lot of doors.”

    Before long, Hegarty immersed himself in video games, writing the scripts for over a dozen titles for Playstation 1 and 2, including, MLB 2002, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning and Eragon, becoming a Senior Writer for Sony Computer Entertainment.

    “The great thing about writing video games is they give you the parameters, the plot-points, but you have a lot of freedom within those confines to make it your own,” Hegarty remarked. Hegarty soon became an acclaimed video game writer. He was a finalist at the 13th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards (Best Adapted Story for Ghostbusters video game); and a finalist at the 10th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards (Best Story – Kids’ Title for The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning video game). NFL news used on this page source of nflbetting.us via NFL Betting. More recently, he was the Voice Director and Writer for Battleship, and wrote on Wipeout: The Game, NBA 2K15 and NCAA FOOTBALL 14.

    But writing in the gaming world isn’t all Hegarty has in his satchel of acumens.

    HIs first screenplay, Flower of Fire, won the prestigious Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition and garnered some industry attention. Soon, managers came clamoring, and he signed with Madhouse Entertainment, where he’s still represented.

    Another action feature script S.T.E.A.L. — about an American hiding in Brazil who is blackmailed back into his life of crime to steal back loot from ‘The Sao Paulo Seven’, a multi-national gang of expert thieves — placed on the Hit List in 2010, an industry insider’s list of the best specs screenplays in Hollywood, before selling to Fox International. It is currently in development there, with early 2016 as the scheduled start of filming.

    Hegarty has been writing TV and film projects in addition to video games ever since.

    On writing, Hegarty remarked, “You have to treat it like your day job, even when you have a day job, you have to always keep writing. I know it’s cliche, but I write every day. Maybe it’s from my discipline developed in football, but I make it my daily routine.”

    Hegarty also talked about his process, “I’m not the biggest outliner. I do it, but I don’t like to have my characters pigeon-holed into a pre-existing plot. I like them to take me to unexpected places. To let them surprise me. Sure, I’ll know the general shape of a story I’m working on, but I don’t let an outline rule the screenplay once I start writing it.”

    Hegarty advised the students to find the process that works for them. “Don’t be afraid to try it your own way. Look at Blake Snyder. His unique way of looking at things became a best-seller. And wear different hats. Many hats. Learn editing, copywriting, video game writing, directing — it’s all part of that same creative muscle. But never, ever stop writing.”

    Currently, Hegarty is working on a one hour drama pilot as well as several feature concepts. He is represented by Madhouse Entertainment and yes, he can still throw a mean spiral.

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    August 14, 2015 • Game Design, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Sports • Views: 7816

  • MFA Filmmakers Collaborate to Develop Klaus for PS4 and PS VITA

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    klaus

    In addition to film and television, games have become one of the most prominent platforms for artists and writers to tell their story. We’ve seen films adapted into games and games adapted into films. Either way, the multi-billion dollar gaming business continues to grow and allow filmmakers another avenue to reach their audience.

    We recently heard from MFA Filmmaking students, Victor Velasco, Aleksandar Cuk and Kshitij Bal, who are currently all studying at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. The team is in the process of developing a 2D puzzle based platformer for Playstation 4 and PSvita. The game, Klaus, which was the brainchild of game designer and creative director Victor Velasco, aims to provide an experience that is narratively innovative and extremely self aware. Klaus is an office worker who wakes in his basement with no recollection of who or where he is. Almost reminds us of the classic Chris Nolan film Memento.

    klaus

    His only clue is the word Klaus tattooed on his arm — forcing him to find his way out of the mechanical and constructivist world that he finds himself imprisoned in. It his search for these answers of where and who that lead him to the larger question, Why.

    During the course of the journey, Klaus encounters a second playable character – K1, a friendly brute who has been damaged by his prolonged imprisonment. Together the two embark on an existentially definitive journey that explores the idea of the 4th wall and a self awareness of the player playing the game. Will Klaus discover his truth? Will he find a way out? These are questions that are at the core of the narrative that the game presents.

    In terms of gameplay, Klaus is an organic and reflexive 2D platformer, with 2 playable characters, Boss fights and interactive environments. The focus of the gameplay will be on tight controls, environmental puzzles, exploration and a complex yet accessible interaction of the player with not only the characters, but also movement and rotation of objects, jump pads, platforms etc. The game is best designed for the PS4 and uses the touch pad as an integral part of the gameplay.

    “It is an extremely exciting game that allows us to bring our passions and our talents together to collaborate to create a cohesive, creative yet marketable product,” says Bal. “This is a project that is extremely close to our heart.”

    Klaus was awarded the 2012 Square Enix Excellence Prize and was recently showcased at the PS Dev Summit 2014 where it received a lot of welcome attention for its unique approach and narrative techniques. It is also the first game to be developed out of Venezuela for the PS4 and PSVita platforms and has received positive media reception from Media outlets within the country. However, it is targeted to audiences worldwide, as it has a universal feel and story.

    Bal and Klaus have already been featured on the PlayStation blog, as well as HardcoreGamer, GeekBinge, and other gaming publications.

    Klaus is set for release on the Sony Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita platforms that is releasing in August – September 2015. For more information, visit www.klausgame.com.

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    April 14, 2015 • Filmmaking, Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5068

  • Epic Trailer for Adam Sandler’s ‘Pixels’ Is Out

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    sandler pixels

    Summer blockbusters are known for their photorealistic HD and 3-D special effects, but Adam Sandler’s new film, Pixels, is all about the 8-bit. The supervillains conquering the planet in the latest space invasion epic are animated in the blocky style of early video games—because they are video games.

    Adam Sandler says it himself in the trailer: “Pac-Man is a badguy?” It turns out, according the plot of Pixels, that aliens mistook thirty-year old video signals from Earth of period arcade games as a declaration of war. In response, they invade our world with giant, pixelated monsters based on Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and others. It’s up to arcade champ Sandler and President of the United States,  Kevin James to stop them, with some help from Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, and Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage.

    Pixels is based on the French animated short film of the same name by Patrick Jean. The feature was adapted by Timothy Dowling and SNL vet Tim Herlihy and was directed by Harry Potter and Home Alone director Chris Columbus. The film releases July 12, but you can watch the trailer now!

     

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    March 18, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3191

  • Big News Coming Out of Nintendo Direct

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    nintendoIn today’s Nintendo Direct, company President Satoru Iwata went through a series of announcements revealing future plans for both hardware and game releases.

    You can watch the entire presentation below, but a few highlights stood out as they will undoubtedly have a major impact on the direction of the company.

    In terms of game consoles, North America and Europe can expect the new Nintendo 3DS XL to arrive on February 13th. While the smaller non-XL version of the console arrived in Japan back in October, there seem to be no plans for an American release as of yet.

    These smaller versions are unique in the fact that they have customizable face plates. But buyers of the upgraded XL version have plenty to look forward to even without these customization options.

    The new console will feature a small C-stick next to its face buttons along with two new shoulder buttons. The upgraded hardware will, of course, run faster. But the major addition is NFC technology, which will allow the use of Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines with the console.

    Amiibos are figurines that double as wireless memory cards. Given that the 3DS is consistently Nintendo’s bestselling console, combined with the fact that Nintendo has a huge roster of characters that could be made into Amiibo figurines, this move could spell good news for the game developer.

    On the game front, Nintendo certainly has no shortage of release plans. But the one that could stir things up is Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, due out in March.

    The game will be Nintendo’s first foray into cross-buy games, something that Sony has already been involved with. Essentially, if you purchase a version of the game for Wii U you will also get a purchase code for the 3DS version of the game (and vice versa).

    There are certainly some big plans coming from Nintendo’s camp. You can watch everything they have in store below:

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    January 14, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3007