Sunday was a whirlwind tour of Vancouver. We saw a lot of downtown, Gastown, Granville Market and a harbour. The Game Design program at Vancouver Film School
had an open house
so we were able to go participate in that as well.
The Vancouver Film School started their Game Design program back around 2000. It looks like a pretty exclusive class to get in to - they accept only about 75 students each year. From what I saw in the open house, the Game Design program isn't just about coding or art, it's about putting together the whole thing. They have courses that cover theory of game play from the basics that make board games and paper games playable and compelling. They cover 2D graphics and gaming, from pixel art to Flash animation. They do 3D work in 3DS Max. Students build games using one of a few popular game engines, like the Unreal Engine. The idea is to prepare them for mainstream tools and they'll be able to adapt if and when they run in to other tools they need to use.
I watched a presentation that showed off some of the projects that previous classes produced. I was impressed by a few and less so by others. Then we got to sit in on a couple brief overviews of some of the classes there. First up we heard all about how great Flash is. It's funny that it doesn't even get called "Adobe Flash", just Flash. Apparently Flash works on the Wii, PSP and some other game platforms. Some games use it for intros or HUDs
even though the rest of the game is done with some other technology.
After the Flash session we tried out the Unreal level editor. I loved UT2004
and had a hard time when it came time to stop testing our levels. The level editor is reminiscent of any other 3D editor and we didn't have enough time with it to really see much that sets it apart.
Entrants to the program at VFS
come from all over. They've got a substantial international enrolment and students have all kinds of backgrounds. It sounds like most students just have high school education but some have post-secondary education or some kind of art schooling. They also claimed that some students as old as their 40s start the program but I think that was just to make me feel welcome.
game design program sounds cool and Vancouver is a good place for it. During the initial presentation the speaker used a phrase like "local game companies" that gave me pause. This isn't something anyone could say where I come from.