Vancouver -Last night we attended the GD14 Pitch ‘n’ Play Presentation at Vancouver Film School , and as always, we were impressed with the talent and innovation shown by the school’s Game Design Programme students.
Two of the games were built using the Unity engine, while two were built using the Unreal Developer’s Kit. Nerves and glitches aside, all four teams did very well with their presentations and follow-up play sessions. It’s also good to see so many industry people attend the presentations to provide valuable feedback to the students.
The first game presented was Premonition, which was built using the UDK. Premonition is a third person action adventure game featuring a hero who has the ability to see one second into the future. The premise of the game is to complete challenges utilizing this ability to avoid traps and defeat enemies and ultimately triumph over the evil forces who have taken over the game’s world. The trailer for Premonition was very well done, and with some further polish I believe that this title has good potential.
The second game to be featured was I Don’t Know How Not To Be A Robot. This game, in the words of the team, is a “twisted retelling of the story of Pinocchio” featuring a very cute little robot named Pin. The trailer for this game was also very well done and through the antics and easily understood expressions of Pin was quite engaging. The environment design for this game was very rich and made good use of depth and advance lighting features available in the Unity engine. Again, we feel that with more polish and design correction, this game has good potential, although I prefer to attack enemies outright, and would like to be able to put Pin’s talents and power-ups to better use and not have to depend so much on avoidance mechanics.
Title number three was Smart Shopper and is a multi-player game built using the UDK. Smart Shopper is a fast paced food fight which takes place in a grocery store. With over 60 different items to use as weapons, the design team assign a calorie count value to the store’s items based on size and weight. The higher your calorie count, the better your game standing. This first-person-thrower was highly imaginative and I believe that the team met their goal of creating a visually silly, easy to play game.
The final title to be showcased was Eat ‘Em Up, and I have to say that this is the presentation which we chose as our personal winner for the evening. The team built their game on the Unity engine, and in our opinion made the best use of their short development period. Their presentation was polished and well thought out with well-placed injections of humour. Eat ‘Em Up is a colour matching strategy game done in the style of a 1950’s TV show. The objective of this game is to turn buildings into yummy treats for your evil minions to devour while avoiding the cops who will beat your minions and steal your cash. This game also had a very well-done trailer and does a good job of getting the viewer to want to try the game.
Congratulations to all of the students for their efforts and presentations.
Tickets for Vancouver Film School’s  very popular Game Design Expo  will go on sale to the public on February 16th. Tickets to the Expo, which takes place April 10 & 11 will cost $75.00 (+ applicable service fees) for the Saturday Industry Day , with the Sunday Open House at Vancouver Film School being free. I have attended every year since the first Game Design Expo, and in my opinion this is a great event to attend and as it always sells out, I recommend getting your tickets as soon as they go on sale.
Saturday Schedule of Events: (subject to change)
9:00am–10:00am – Meet, Greet & Sign-In
10:00am–11:00am – Anonymity to Superstardom: Making User-Generated Content Fast and Fun -William Ho, Game Designer, United Front Games
11:10am–12:00pm – Get Your Game Out Of My Movie! Interactive Narrative Design in Mass Effect 2 – Armando Troisi, Lead Cinematic Designer, BioWare
12:10pm–1:00pm – The Modern Role of the Game Designer and the Importance of the Team Voice – Chris Whiteside, Design Director, Propaganda Games
2:00pm–2:50pm – Re-Raising the Dead – Sequeling Dead Rising 2 – Josh Bridge, Level Director & Jason Leigh, Creative Director, Blue Castle Games
3:00pm–3:50pm – Crafting the Perfect Challenge – Matt MacLean, Lead Systems Designer, Obsidian Entertainment
4:00pm–4:50pm Game Mechanic Throwdown – A Nitty Gritty Primer – Tyler Sigman, Design Director, Big Sandwich Games
5:15pm–6:30pm Panel Discussion – The Future of Gaming with Panelists: Jay Balmer (Game Director, BigPark), David Bowring (Designer, Volition Inc.), Josh Bridge (Level Director, Blue Castle Games), Jason Leigh (Creative Director, Blue Castle Games), Ted Nugent (President, Genius Factor Games Inc.), Trent Shumay (President, Finger Food Studios) and Moderated by Victor Lucas (Creator/Executive Producer/Host, Electric Playground, Greedy Productions Ltd.)