An author on the VFS Arcade!

I finally did it. My name is finally up on the VFS Arcade as an author for a blog post! And this is my headshot for it!

Recently, my co-class rep and I were given the opportunity to be reporters for the GD36 Pitch & Play! The Pitch & Play is the final presentation for graduation students as they showcase their final game projects in front of VFS staff, alumni, and industry professionals. It’s a time for them to strut their stuff, displays their skills, and network with new people in hopes of establishing new friendships and work relationships.

You can visit the arcade and read our article by clicking here.

I have been meaning to author something on the VFS Arcade for a while, but given the fact that my own blog hasn’t seen much of the love that it deserves, I believe that to be proof enough that I have been exceptionally busy!

Our 2D Game Projects are due next Tuesday evening for presentations in front of students and staff on the Wednesday afternoon. We’ve got some pretty solid looking games in our class, and you can be certain that we will be cramming to fit as much projected content into the games as we possibly can!

It’s been an exhausting nearly six months of school, and I am so looking for the four-day break!

Happy Super Smash Bros. Day!

Although I am sure there is a specific date for this (or maybe there isn’t), I am absolutely over the moon right now. I didn’t have a morning class today, so I was able to nab my pre-ordered copy of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS at EB Games! Super exciting!

I stood in line with people who weren’t very Nintendo aware, which I thought was super interesting. Unwilling to get a Wii U for Super Smash Bros. Unaware that there was a new Legend of Zelda game coming out. Hypothesizing which characters would be unlockable and who would be making a come back! Clearly not dedicated fans of the Big N! ;-)

Now, from analytic standpoint, this game plays super well. I’ve been playing the demo for the past two weeks, and though the character selection was limited, I was extremely impressed that Pikachu made the five man roster alongside Mario, Link, Mega Man, and Villager.

The default controls for the game didn’t make sense to me, but after having used them for two weeks with no option to customize, they became second nature, so now I’m fighting to adapt to my new “intuitive” control layout… The intuitive part hasn’t kicked in yet. Haha.

I’m impressed with the game so far though. I haven’t really explored what SSB3DS has to offer quite yet, but Classic Mode has a neat map layout offering multiple paths for the player and the coins, collectibles, and power-ups you collect along the way and after battles are a neat bonus. Yes, power-ups! You can customize your non-Mii fighters, too!

So far, I have managed to unlock Falco and Ness, plus his map, Magicant. Ness holds a very special place in my heart, being my favorite video game character and also coming from my top favorite video game of all time. That being said, I haven’t mastered the timing required for psychokinetic boy wonder and so I’ve been playing as the quick and nimble electric rodent.

I must continue playing! I am super excited to unlock even more characters, maps, and everything else tucked away inside the Smash Bros. vault.

If you would like to challenge me, my friend code is 0447-5271-3916 and Nintendo ID is Jeryes, in preparation for the Wii U release.

Smash on!

- Jean

Three more weeks in term three!

Currently, I am sitting in my class room as the Group A half of the class is having their Audio Design workshop for the 2D Game Project. We’ll be presenting our games in three weeks in the TV Studio, showcasing what we’ve learned so far in the six months that we’ve been here.

Energy levels are low due to lack of sleep, but the determination to do great work is what is keeping our eyelids open. Term three has been dubbed the gauntlet, the term with assignments that are largely scoped with the always looming 2D game project just screaming to be worked on whenever there is the free time to do so. Time management skills are extremely valuable here!

It’s exciting and exhausting. Quite a few of my classmates have spent many sleepless nights here at school in the past month, or they manage to go home to catch just a couple of hours of shut-eye before coming back for a 9:00am class.

I think the thing that keeps most of us going is playing the Project M version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl in the Retro Arcade as a way of keeping our sanity intact.

Tonight, I’ll be attending a talk about the narrative in game design as Corey May, Lead Writer for Assassin’s Creed I, II, and III shares what it was like to work on the popular series developed by Ubisoft.and the challenges a writer faces when writing for games.

Following that, the GD36 Pitch & Play! The next graduating class will be presenting their final games to industry professionals tonight, and my co-class representative and I will be reporting on the event. You’ll be able to read our article on the VFS Arcade! You can check out the Arcade by clicking here.

- Jean

ALL THE LIGHTS!

I have finally found something that I absolutely love doing! Environment and lighting! Take a look at a bit of concept art for the God of War: Ascension game that came out for PlayStation 3 in 2013.

Cool, right? Yeah. Yes, it is! Well, in our Environment & Lighting class, we were shown how to light up a scene in UDK (Unreal Development Kit). So then our instructor assigned us the task of taking a bit of concept art, and recreating it with the assets available in UDK and spamming point lights all over the place in our scene in an attempt to recreate it, playing with lighting in the foreground, midground, and background. I’m not finished with mine yet, but I am super close! Let me know what you think!

Unfortunately, I’ve spent more time on this than I probably should have… But I love it so much. Doing this kind of work makes me super happy. OK, BED TIME.

We are now here.

First week of term three is over and it took waiting until Friday to earn our first concrete assignments of the term. Spirits are high and everyone seems pretty determined to kick ass and specialize. With the day having come to a close a few hours ago, our streams have been cemented forever into our future gravestones.

"Here lies Jean, a man who believes he made the right choice."

Dramatics aside, I chose to stick with the Programming and Game Art streams, while still sitting in on and auditing the Level Design courses. Having taken every class this week, I can comfortably say that Mission Design doesn’t thoroughly interest me, but our instructor from Level Design 2 is accompanying us further on this journey to Game Design greatness into Level Design 3. One might compare him to Gandalf the Grey, leading the Fellowship to Mordor… Or something. I’m not a huge Lord of the Rings fan, though the films are neat. And Ian McKellen is super awesome. HOLLA BACK, MAGNETO.

But yeah, I’m happy. Been working on our game design document for our 2D Game Project and look forward to fleshing it out this weekend. And I’ll also be looking ahead into the Programming assignments, in an attempt to get an early start and wrap my head around C++ and its strangeness. Truthfully, I can’t wait until we’re in term four and learning HTML5 game design. But I’ll slow down to enjoy the now.

Off to a bar to join other game design students and alumni for a night of networking, and of course laughs and brews.

I AM PUMPED.

- Jean

We are now here.

First week of term three is over and it took waiting until Friday to earn our first concrete assignments of the term. Spirits are high and everyone seems pretty determined to kick ass and specialize. With the day having come to a close a few hours ago, our streams have been cemented forever into our future gravestones.

"Here lies Jean, a man who believes he made the right choice."

Dramatics aside, I chose to stick with the Programming and Game Art streams, while still sitting in on and auditing the Level Design courses. Having taken every class this week, I can comfortably say that Mission Design doesn’t thoroughly interest me, but our instructor from Level Design 2 is accompanying us further on this journey to Game Design greatness into Level Design 3. One might compare him to Gandalf the Grey, leading the Fellowship to Mordor… Or something. I’m not a huge Lord of the Rings fan, though the films are neat. And Ian McKellen is super awesome. HOLLA BACK, MAGNETO.

But yeah, I’m happy. Been working on our game design document for our 2D Game Project and look forward to fleshing it out this weekend. And I’ll also be looking ahead into the Programming assignments, in an attempt to get an early start and wrap my head around C++ and its strangeness. Truthfully, I can’t wait until we’re in term four and learning HTML5 game design. But I’ll slow down to enjoy the now.

Off to a bar to join other game design students and alumni for a night of networking, and of course laughs and brews.

I AM PUMPED.

- Jean

When fear strikes.

As I lay in bed ready to sleep post our Mobile / Social Design class, I begin to realize that tomorrow and the rest of this week will be the defining moment of what I am going to get out of my experience here at VFS.

Tomorrow, I begin my day with Programming 2. As I have stated in this blog before many times (or at least it feels that way), Programming is definitely my extreme weakness when I consider everything I have done so far in the past four months. It requires a certain way of thinking that hasn’t quite clicked for me yet, but I am seriously hoping it comes soon. (Oh, what I would give to be Sylar to just understand how things work!)

This week is the deadline for choosing our stream for the next two terms. As mentioned before, they are Game Art, Programming, and Level Design. Currently, I am enrolled in Game Art and Programming, but will still sit in on the Level Design classes. I have done so because as a person who would like to pursue an independent game development route after school, these skills would be the most valuable to me. I also believe that I would benefit the most from having instruction for these two, whereas I could refine my Level Design skills through massive amounts of quality playtesting. Whether or not this opinion of mine is correct, it helped me determine what is most important to me as a student wanting to learn all that I can, and what I want to be capable of doing straight out of school. First Day Value!

My greatest fear right now is thinking about Friday and the possibility that I might actually swap out Programming for Level Design. I just hate giving up on something, knowing how badly I want it. Like I said, I plan to sit in on every class anyway, regardless of the streams I’ve chosen, but I feel like the pressure of being graded for something will help me learn it better and care more about it.

I can’t think about it too much tonight, or I’ll never sleep. Tomorrow is Wednesday, and it’s a full day of class from 9:00am to 9:30pm, starting with Programming 2, then Mission Design, and finishing with Game Interface Design. It actually sounds like a really fun day. And hopefully the coding won’t be so bad.

- Jean ( jeryes )

Not much love for term two.

The title of this post is misleading. It’s not that I didn’t love term two, because I did, but rather, I barely wrote about it during the last two months. Obviously, this is my fault, because no one else is going to be writing in my blog on my behalf, but it was a busy term, and although I meant to do a recap about it sooner, I figured that today, the first day of term three, would be as appropriate of a time as any other.

In a week, we would have the following classes:

  • Level Design 2 (Unreal Development Kit)
  • Game Mechanics
  • Team Management
  • Game Theory Digital
  • Game Art 2 
  • Critical Analysis
  • Unity 1
  • 2D Gaming Project

These aren’t ranked in any order of preference or anything, just so we’re clear, because Game Art 2 would definitely be up at the top otherwise.

Anyway, this term was our first foray into using UDK for Level Design, and it took a lot of getting used to, especially the one Ctrl+S keyboard shortcut, which isn’t used to save, but rather a substractive brush which we weren’t allowed to use. If it had been me who designed it, I would have left the Save shortcut as is, and done some Ctrl+Alt+A thing so it was opposite of the additive brush, but… I digress. All in all, I ended up with a pretty strong mark in Level Design 2, making a pretty swankified disco ball space station level with a light that changes colours. (OK, yes. I wanted to make a gay level. Sue me.)

Unity 1 was definitely not my best class, though I really wanted it to be up there alongside Game Art 2. Programming is still something I do not fully understand, and it is frustrating to me for that reason, but I don’t want to give up. However, we declared our streams at the end of term (Game Art, Level Design, or Programming) and I chose Game Art and Programming. I have a feeling this will change…by this Friday, because that is the deadline. But I did make my first solo project video game which is fun. A one button game that also counted towards Game Mechanics.

I don’t really have much to say about Game Mechanics, other than it was an interesting opportunity to think about the mechanics that are put into a game, their value for the game, and how you would go about fine tuning everything within the game system so that it is balanced. And ultimately, if it doesn’t work, chuck it.

Game Theory Digital was playing games during the practical sessions, and learning more design choices in the theoretical part of it. 2D Gaming Project was learning new things in Unity. Critical Analysis was all about, obviously, analyzing video games critically. Game Art 2 was creating pixel art characters with animations, learning how to texture 3D models using UV’s, and creating low-polygon art with the help of bump maps, normals, etc… Probably stuff that doesn’t make any sense to you if you don’t know anything about 3D modeling. I would advise you look it up instead of me attempting to explain it. Haha.

Team Management, though, was a very interesting class. Apart from learning what it takes to have a well working team, what it takes to be a great team member and/or team leader, our instructor gave us the real talk about what it was like to work in the games industry and what kind of expectations we should have about it.

Term two really flew by. And here I am, on a break from the first class of term three, finishing off this post. I’m ready to do this all over again after twelve days off. Bring it, VFS.

- Jean ( jeryes )

Hiiiiiiiiii guys. I’ve missed you.

Currently working on a Deathmatch level map in Level Design 2 class.The first image is of a paper map that we were assigned to make before starting the design in Unreal Development Kit. The maps are to be designed for 6-8 player Deathmatch games, and there should be use of UDK’s Kismet (which I haven’t quite thought about yet, but I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with something), and take us around 25 to 30 hours to complete.

The paper map is missing things like player spawn points, weapon and health pickups, jump pads, gravity volumes, etc. I am not really a Deathmatch type of player, but this is super fun. My level’s name is Jumpomatic. At least for right now. I may have been thinking about Daft Punk while I was designing it. 

Technologic.. Technologic…

Sorry for the lack of blogging, everyone. I’ve got a couple of drafts waiting. I WILL HAVE MORE CONTENT, I PROMISE. DON’T HURT ME. *crying*

As always, if you have questions about the Game Design program at Vancouver Film School, feel free to hit up my Ask box and I’ll try to answer you quickly!

- Jean

Oh boy.

So it has seriously been a while since I wrote an actual post in this here blog. Let that be an indication to you, would-be game design students, that this program is demanding. And to be completely truthful, I haven’t been working on assignments the whole time I’ve been absent. Oh, no, no, no. On the contrary! I’ve been playing video games because I hardly gave myself time for that last term!

I’ve learned that it’s very important to maintain a healthy balance of school work and your life. Last term had too many nights of staying up too late. This term has been lighter on the homework side, but that’s because we’re working on our 2D games right now!

My group is working on a game that we’ve tentatively titled “Thread”. We really like this title, and it may be the one we keep at the very end. We’re a team of four, with myself being the project manager, and then we have our art lead, programming lead, and audio/QA lead. My team has some pretty rad people, and we’re super pumped for our game.

We’re currently trying to shape it so that everyone can share the same vision, which is essentially my responsibility. I’ll be producing a Game Design Document (GDD) that will contain our vision so everyone stays on the same page. It’s all very exciting!

And that’s just a bit of a taste of what we’re going through right now. It’s late, and I’ve been working on an art asset for the game. Until next time. And hopefully it’s sooner rather than later!

- Jean

Pixel Art Tutorial

makegames:


Note:
This tutorial was created in 2007 for my personal website. Some small tweaks have been made since then, but nothing too significant.

In this 10-step tutorial, I’ll teach you how to create a “sprite”, which is a stand-alone two-dimensional character or object. The term comes from video games, of course.

Creating pixel art is a skill I picked up because I needed graphics for my games. After a lot of practice, I became kinda handy with it, and started to see it more as actual art rather than just a tool. These days, pixel art is quite popular in game development and illustration.

This pixel tutorial was created many years ago to teach people the basic concepts behind pixel art, but I’ve streamlined it a lot since its first incarnation. There are other pixel tutorials around, but I find them to be overly-complicated and too wordy. Pixel art is not a science. You should never have to calculate a vector when doing pixel art.

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I figure for anyone looking to create pixel art, this tutorial might be useful!