A considerable amount of work goes into developing a game. Artists paint beautiful worlds, writers craft elaborate stories, and programmers construct complex game mechanics, but none of these by themselves make a game ‘good’. All of those things will contribute to a game’s overall quality, but above all else, you’ll need to create a good gameplay loop.
Last semester, I had the opportunity to take a brand new special topics class here at UAT. The class was, as the title suggests, about designing and building a new game every single week. It was an amazing experience, and I wanted to talk a little bit about the class and my experience in this rapid prototyping class as well as the lessons I learned.
Game development can be expensive. Expensive software, licensing fees, publishing costs, etc. will eat up your money. So, to save as much money as you can, here’s some great free software that can be useful to game developers!
I have participated in a lot of game jams during my time at UAT. If you’ve never heard of a game jam, they are competitions to make games in a short amount of time, usually 48 hours, based on a theme. There are around 3 game jams a year hosted here on campus, and I try to never miss one. I just recently brought my on-campus jam count up to 7 with the Founder’s Jam 2019, so as you can tell, I really like game jams. Being able to start a weekend with nothing but a blank canvas and end the weekend with a fully functioning game gives a feeling of accomplishment you’ll never get anywhere else.
Just the other weekend, I hopped into my 7th UAT hosted Game Jam with a group of friends and for 48 hours straight, we developed a game from scratch. The theme of this jam was Halloween, so the games we made were all in some way related to our favorite spooky holiday! A lot of very unique games were created during this jam, so instead of just talking about mine, I wanted to dive into a few of the other teams’ individual experiences and ask them how the jam went for them.
One of my favorite parts of being a Student Ambassador is getting the opportunity to give tours of the UAT campus. Sharing my passion about this school with curious people that are just as excited about technology as I am can be a lot of fun. There’s a lot of cool areas and interesting technologies on campus, so I’m going to share with you my top 3 parts of a UAT campus tour.
3. THE MAKER LAB
Over the weekend, I had the awesome experience of being able to participate in the UAT summer game jam. A game jam, for those of you who don’t know, is an event where teams are challenged to create a game with set restrictions in a short amount of time. For this game jam, we were given the theme “Abstract Art” and were given 48 hours to make a game around that theme!
This semester here at UAT, I’ve had the opportunity to take some really cool classes. I’m now in my sixth semester, which means I’m taking some of the later courses in the average student timeline. This semester I got into some of the big ones like Game Production Studios (GAM281) and Student Innovation Project/Portfolio Presentation I (SIP401). Alongside those, I also took Technical Writing (ENG301), Communication in Technology (COM226), and my personal favorite, a very unique class called Game-a-Week: Rapid Prototyping (SPT323). I want to go a little bit more in depth, so I’m going to briefly talk about my experience with each of these classes to hopefully give you an idea of what you will learn when taking the courses.
For many years, game developers have run into the same problem over and over again: How do we explain our game without boring the player to death? Nobody wants to read a manual on how to play your game and nobody wants to play a 30 minute tutorial. A good game should be able to teach you how to play the game naturally in a fun and engaging way. This idea of how you teach the mechanics of your game is called conveyance and it’s a big part of what separates a mediocre game from a good one!
Competitive gaming has been growing massively in recent years. eSports are becoming very popular among the younger generations. With new competitive games coming out every year, the old ones tend to slowly die off. With games that never hit the mainstream eSports scene, that death happens even faster. One game, however, stands out to me. Released nearly 20 years ago, Age of Empires II has earned its status in the gaming community as not only one of the greatest games of all time, but one of the precursors to modern eSports.