Coleman Spends Career Day at Wegeforth Elementary

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On May 23, 2018 Coleman University had the honor of being invited to speak for Career Day at Wegeforth Elementary in San Diego, California. We sent two of our students, Gilberto and Marilyn, to talk to their students about technology and share with them the steps they can take to become Video Game Designers and Cybersecurity Experts. By sharing their own experiences and dreams for the future, our speakers were able to show students how they could follow their own dreams into a career in technology. Many of the kids had questions about what it means to be safe online, and how to report cyber bullying, as well what it takes to make a video game. This is the third year that we have attended Career Day, and each year participants come back feeling excited to see how much technology can excite the next generation of programmers, developers, designers, and security experts. Thank you to Gilberto and Marilyn for being such great teachers and showing kids how they can turn their Dreams Into Reality!

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Coleman Game Development Capstone is a Huge Success!

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Finals can be a hard time for any student, but for our Capstone class, this week was harder than most. For the past ten weeks, two student teams have been working overtime to complete a game of their own design, but their last big challenge was to show off their hard work to an audience, for a grade! We attended their presentations and we were blown away at what we saw. Both teams put together great concepts that translated into exciting games that we hope to see produced as full games in the future. All members of the audience were given the opportunity to offer their opinions on the presentation anonymously through a worksheet that their instructor, Joe Shoopack, designed to gauge audience perception on playability and overall concept.

Both Team Jekyll and Team Hyde had to present and discuss where their game idea came from, which roles the team members took on, and the challenges that they faced while working together and working on their own. Team Hyde presented their game, Path of the Warded, which is based on a book, which takes place in a fantasy world overrun with demons that are set on destroying everything in sight. The main character has to wait until nightfall in order to protect his farm and the animals that live there. Team Jekyll showed us Malice, a game that was a three-year dream of project manager Marisa Hatcher, which took the main character on a quest to save her sister from kidnappers. The audience followed their presentations as the teams broke down their work flow and the various pieces of the game that each member was responsible for, and how their designs changed over time. Though this class was a great learning experience, it came with its fair share of difficult challenges that, in the end, taught the students what it’s like to work in a real-world game developer environment. This class is also a great example of why it is important, as a Game Developer, to be able to work in various job titles or departments. If you can better understand what it is that your teammates do, and how to help when it is needed, the more versatility you will bring to your job.

Once the presentations were over, the audience was given the chance to ask questions about the game and then was brought to the development lab and took their turns playing the games and seeing first-hand how the games worked. All of the attendees were really excited to see the results of these projects and had a great time hearing directly from the students about their experiences. You can check out the photo album below for more photos of the presentations and behind-the-scenes images of the production process. Congratulations to the Capstone class! We see a very bright and successful future in Game Development for all of you!

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Are You Team Jekyll or Team Hyde?

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For some, the thrill of playing a new videogame is like nothing else. Meeting a character for the first time, watching a new story unfold, wielding a super-cool new weapon, and  playing with others online are what make gaming so much fun. What you don’t see is all of the coding, programming, structuring, planning, designing, and all around WORK that went into creating this experience. What may have taken 12-15 hours to finish, in reality took months to create and perfect. In fact, you might be surprised to know that there are thousands of jobs related to Game Development and Design and some don’t require coding experience at all! For the Game Development Capstone students at Coleman University, this truth is one that they are learning first hand, and soon they will have their own game for other gamers to play.

For ten weeks Coleman Game Development Capstone students will be working closely in teams to create, from start to finish, an original videogame of their own design. Beginning with the concept art and overall design, these students will build a game that is the culmination of all that they have learned and a test of their skills in teamwork. As scary as that may sound, the Capstone is an opportunity to take what they’ve learned so far in their program and work as part of a team to experience the iterative process of Game Development that celebrates their creativity and talent. The Capstone class will mimic the pressures and expectations that game development companies put on their employees in the real world. This term we have two teams working on Capstone projects and an exciting rivalry is developing. What do Team Jekyll and Team Hyde have in store for their final project? Keep reading to find out!

 

TEAM JEKYLL: MALICE

Taking inspiration from the classic game MARIO, players in the world of Malice will have to race against the clock solving puzzles and battling creatures along the way to save someone they love in a 3D world. The story begins with a young boy who is looking for his younger sister who was taken from their home, followed by his trusty dog that has some cool tricks of his own. In a brilliant twist, Team Jekyll has designed the game to allow players to switch between the young boy and his dog to solve puzzles or leap over traps.  Various monsters and creatures will try to attack you and stop you from finding your sister, and you’ll have to defeat the boss at the end, so this game is definitely going to be exciting! Though this game is fun to play, it won’t be a walk in the park; there are some scary challenges and surprises hidden in this game.

Project Manager: Marisa Hatcher

Level Design/Puzzle Design: Jake Bommer

Programmer/Puzzle Design: Gary Lawrence

3D Modeler: Curt Ljungquist

 

TEAM HYDE: PATH OF THE WARDED

Based on the book The Warded Man, this PC game is a post-apocalyptic challenge that tests the ingenuity of the player at every turn. During the day, players must take care of their farm by reinforcing fences, finding defensive weapons, and preparing for sunset. Once the moon comes up, demons and menacing creatures come out of the woods to try to tear your farm to the ground! Attacks come in three waves and players can set traps in order to destroy as many attackers as possible. Each creature or monster that attacks will have a specific elemental characteristic related to water, fire, wind, or earth. The final version of the game will allow players to customize their character and upgrade their farm to further defend against attacks. After a detailed cut scene, players will have the opportunity to explore their surroundings and engage with their farm. Unfortunately the animals at the farm are not part of the game play and can’t help you defeat any of the demons or monsters, but they provide good company.

Project Manager/Level Designer/Branding: Mari Erdman

Level Design: John Becker

3D Modeler: Eduardo Aviles

3D Modeler: Curt Ljungquist

 

So why are they named Team Jekyll and Team Hyde? When the class began, the 7 students enrolled were expecting to be working on one game, but instead developed into two teams that are working on two different games. As a way to foster healthy competition, and teamwork, the two teams each became Team Jekyll and Team Hyde; two sides of the same… In week ten of their course (March 12-16th) both teams will present a finished product to faculty, staff, and classmates, including offering the opportunity for attendees to play the game as well! If you want to see what these teams are developing, keep your eye on the blog calendar for the announcement of the Capstone presentation. Congratulations to Team Jekyll and Team Hyde! We look forward to seeing the hard work that you are putting into this project and we can’t wait to play it!

 

 

If you are interested in where your own passion for Game Development can take you, give us a call today at (858) 499-0202 and schedule a tour! There’s plenty of opportunity in San Diego to start your career, so take the first step and meet the Coleman Game Development community!

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Faculty Spotlight with Joe Shoopack (Game Development)

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We are less than two weeks from Global Game Jam 2018 and this year is gearing up to be one for the record books! For this month’s Faculty Spotlight we interviewed one of our Game Development instructors, Joe Shoopack, in honor of the upcoming Global Game Jam. Joe has a lot of passion for gaming and enjoys teaching the next generation of great game developers! Thank you to Joe Shoopack for giving us an awesome interview!!

If you’re interested in the Global Game Jam there’s still time to register!
Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the only Game Jam in San Diego for 2018!

  1. Joe, what was the first video game that you bought; why did you choose that one?

The first game bought for me was PONG for the home television system in 1975. The first console game I bought for myself was the Sega Genesis Mickey’s Castle of Illusion in 1990. It was a really creative platform featuring a level that flipped upside down and had some very cool looks to the levels.

  1. Name some of your top five favorite game releases in the past ten years. What makes a game noteworthy for you?

I would have to say, The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinity, and Cuphead are three standouts I’ve really enjoyed playing since they were released. I like to feel completely immersed in a world, and all three of those games accomplish that in different ways.

  1. Are there any upcoming game releases that you are looking forward to?

I’m waiting for the release of The Last of Us II.

  1. What retro game would you like to see brought back for a modern console?

Rather than seeing an old game brought back, I’m more excited to see the emergence of interest in creating 2D sprite and tile mapped games. It’s been referred to as the Hi-Bit Era: 16-bit style games utilizing the wide screen and higher resolution, like Owlboy from D-Pad Studio.

  1. What drew you to making Game Development and Design your career?

I loved art and arcade games, and when I graduated from Brigham Young University in 1985 with a degree in Illustration, game careers for artists were just starting to become a viable possibility, so I naturally gravitated to doing art for games.

  1. Can you share some of your experience in becoming a game developer and what you are currently doing in the field?

I first started working on Atari 7800 and Sega Genesis Games at Blue Sky Software in San Diego. These were small development teams, so you had the opportunity to do both art and level design as an artist.  I worked there for about 5 years and contributed to Jurassic Park, World Series Baseball, a Ren and Stimpy game, The Little Mermaid and a bunch of others. After that I started working at Sony and worked on Gameday ’99 (a football game for the PC). I then moved over to a spin off company of Sony, called Sony Online Entertainment.  At Sony Online I worked on some very fun Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games like Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest 2.  I then became a Development Director for Art and started working in a broader capacity with all the games and artists at the company on games like DC Universe Online, Planetside 2, H1Z1, etc. I left in 2016 to work on an independent project and to start an adjunct teaching career.

Joe Shoopack Game Development Faculty Quote Coleman University

  1. What brought you to Coleman University to teach?

I started a professional mentor program when I worked at Sony Online that partnered with a local college where I visited classes and advised on student projects and portfolio development.  I really enjoy interacting with students and helping them get started in the game industry, so I started teaching as an adjunct professor.

  1. Any advice for potential and current students looking to make Game Development a lifelong career?

My biggest piece of advice is: be willing to work on anything and be one of the people that volunteer to do whatever it takes to get a game done, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.

  1. What’s the gaming industry in San Diego like? Is it a growing industry?

It’s pretty stable; although some larger companies have come and gone over the last 20 years. Amazon just opened a San Diego Studio this past year and I’m sure they’ll be growing. Also there are a lot more small independent developers now, which means there will be more pathways to enter the field of Game Development.

  1. Are you involved in the Global Game Jam? Or planning to attend or create a team?

I will be attending Global Game Jam, most likely as a resource visiting and helping out different teams.

  1. Why are events like Global Game Jam important for Game Development students?

It gives you an opportunity to meet some really creative peers and mentors and it’s an excellent opportunity to test your creative and development skills against a tight deadline while having lots of fun!

  1. What are some hobbies, outside of gaming, that you enjoy in your spare time?

Whenever I go on a road trip I take photos of old “roadside America” attractions that have been abandoned or are off the beaten path.  I especially like finding dinosaur and prehistoric animal sculptures. (See attached.)

 

If you are interested in learning more about our Game Development program and the opportunities available for you here in San Diego, give us a call today at (858) 499-0202 and schedule a free tour! 

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Celebrate National Trivia Day with Coleman University!

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January 4th is National Trivia Day and we want to share some fun facts about us! As you know, Coleman University was established here in San Diego in 1963 by Dr. Coleman and Mrs. Lois Furr. Our first building was in Downtown San Diego, and since our first graduating class; we have been making history in this amazing city. Check out our list of some of the top 10 most interesting trivia facts about Coleman University, and if you’re an alumnus, feel free to share your own trivia in the comments!

  1. Coleman’s original mainframe was named Kermit; the name was changed to Papa Bear in the 1990’s.
  2. Coleman University (then Coleman College) presented its first lecture about the internet and the World Wide Web in 1991. The internet was not even being accessed commercially at this point by users at home; that came later in 1995.
  3. In the 1990s Coleman was the home of the Computer Museum of America, whose mission was to collect, preserve, and exhibit historic computer equipment and artifacts.
  4. Coleman (then the Automation Institute) conferred the first degree in Data Processing issued by a private data processing institution in the state of California in 1963. The degree was conferred to Jean Thomas by Doctor Coleman Furr, our co-founder.
  5. Our second location was in Old Town San Diego, at 2425 San Diego Avenue. Today that location is now a storefront; you might not even recognize it with all of the changes!
  6. Over the years Coleman has had a successful track team and softball team that competed in events across San Diego.
  7. Our Co-founder, Dr. Coleman Furr, was a friend of Grace Hopper (the inventor of modern binary code for programming) and since the founding of our institution Coleman has always dedicated a hall on our campus in her name.
  8. From 1974-1976, Coleman College supplied 38-42% of all the initial Data Processing workers needed during the early days of building mainframes to begin automating City and County Government offices in San Diego.
  9. On September 12, 2015 the White House, through their “College Scorecard” software named Coleman University as a school whose students graduate on time, get good jobs and can pay off their loans quickly.
  10. On Jan 26, 2017 – Coleman University became host to “Hornet’s Nest,” San Diego’s first publically-available Indoor UAV drone flight, test, and training facility. It is open 11AM-2PM every Saturday in the B Building located on the West side of the campus.

Since 1963, it has been the philosophy of the Automation Institute, Coleman College, and Coleman University to bring career opportunities and accessible education to any and all people who wanted to learn. Technology was a passion for our founder, and that passion is still here today. We can’t wait to see what history we continue to make here at Coleman and in San Diego!

 

If you are interested in taking your own passion for technology and turning it into a career, call us today at (858) 499-0202 and we would be happy to give you a tour! (Tours are available in Spanish).

Become a part of our history, and look to your own future, at Coleman University!

Coleman University Technology Focused Careers

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Global Game Jam® Returns to Coleman University

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Developers and gaming enthusiasts around the world will be participating in this weekend long design/development marathon, from January 20 through the 22nd 2017, and Coleman University will be the only location in San Diego that will be hosting it!  Participants are challenged with creating a working video game  throughout the weekend that follows a theme that will not be revealed until the first day of the event.

Working around the clock and in teams, participants will have to collaborate and simultaneously develop various elements of a game. As if this wasn’t challenging enough, each team is competing with groups in and outside of the U.S. who are working towards the same goal. Though it seems like a difficult challenge, this event is not meant to divide teams. In fact, it is meant to unite teams and create a more connected and collaborative game development community.

The Global Game Jam (GGJ) website says it best:  “The weekend stirs a global creative buzz in games, while at the same time exploring the process of development, be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression. It is all condensed into a 48 hour development cycle. The GGJ encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity.” The GGJ will also be broadcast on Twitch so you can follow the action from your mobile device or gaming console.

Coleman has opened this event to any developer, or game enthusiast that wants to participate; that includes graphic designers who are experienced in character design and developing, and software developers who have worked with game coding. The entry fee is $10 and participants must register by January 19th to be eligible to join. The campus will be open for the entire event, and participants will be sleeping and working here at Coleman to finish the challenge.

Last year, we had an impressive number of participants, not just our own students, but many talented developers from around San Diego who wanted to join in as well. Coleman University is the ONLY location in San Diego that will be hosting the GGJ so you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to meet and work with other game developers in San Diego.

You can visit www.globalgamejam.org or Eventbrite to register, get more information about the challenge, clips and links for past game submissions, an FAQ page, and much more! We hope to see you there!

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An Interview with Travis Vasquez, Instructor, Game Programming Development and Design

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Global Game Jam® (GGJ) has become a fast-growing event at Coleman University. For the past two years, we have hosted this event to help bring together gamers, artists, and developers from around San Diego to prove just how much talent lives in this city. The dates for the 2017 GGJ are January 20-22, so we sat down with one of our own Game Programming Development and Design instructors, Travis Vasquez, to talk about the importance of this event and the benefits to participants.

How long have you been working with the Global Game Jam?

“Coleman University and the San Diego IGDA started working together in May of 2015 and three months later we held our first GGJ in August on the campus. With the success of that event, we decided to continue holding IGDA events at Coleman University. Since 2015, we have held Game Jam events twice a year.”

What are the benefits, immediate and otherwise, for participants?

“The main benefit is networking with fellow developers and industry veterans. This event will get you out of your comfort zone and break free from your shell to collaborate, brainstorm, and have fun.”

Do you have any favorite games that have come out of this challenge over the years?

“I don’t necessarily have a favorite game, but I do have a favorite experience. Last year’s event was the first time where VR (virtual reality) was available for participants to work with. Jeep Barnett from Valve was kind enough to come down for the weekend to attend the GGJ at Coleman University and offer the use of two Dev HTC Vives for participants to develop on. I remember one team decided to create a game in VR where the player was on a row boat and with the two controllers in hand, the player had to figure out how to move the boat across the water and through various obstacles, going forward, backward, right, and left. It was really great to see this new technology being used by our students.”

How do you sign up to participate in this event?

“Anyone who is interested can join in. The cost is $10 and includes a free lunch. Registration ends on January 19. Visit Eventbrite to register and for more information.”

What do you recommend that people bring with them for this challenge?

“Participants should bring their own equipment, especially items that they are used to working with (i.e. computers, laptops, monitors, headphones, Wacom tablets, etc). We also suggest including water, snacks, sleeping bags and a pillow, if you plan on staying for the full weekend. Basically, bring what you need to be comfortable for two days.”

How have you been preparing Coleman students for this event?

“We have other participants (Coleman students) that come into the classrooms and talk about their past Game Jam experience. Faculty discuss with students what to expect when they arrive, how the process works, and the importance of networking with other participants.”

Will you be showcasing the final product after the event is over?

“Just like last year, IGDA will host all the submitted/completed games on their website, which can be accessed at any time after the event is over. Many of the 2016 Global Game Jam projects are available to play on the IGDA site. If you are interested in attending the event and working with local game developers, please feel free to join in!”

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How To Get Started in a Career in Game Development and Design

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Do you want an exciting career in game development and design? Unfortunately, it takes more than just a love of video games to be successful. Luckily, a Bachelor’s degree in game programming development and design from Coleman University can open the door to the myriad of opportunities the gaming industry has to offer. While many video game development careers may seem similar, a vast array of roles exists in the industry, ranging from creative functions (story development, artwork, music, etc.) to technical functions (coding, modeling, animation, etc.). At Coleman University, we offer a unique program that will prepare you for a rewarding career in game development and design by teaching you the skills and technologies that prospective employers look for in an applicant.

With such a wide array of potential career options, it befits you to determine which path is right for you, based on your interests, skills, and abilities. Though falling under the video game development and design umbrella, the distinct career paths all possess their own necessary skills and experiences. Can you draw? Concept art may be the right path for you! Are you a coding whiz? You just may be the next great game mechanics engineer! Let’s look at a few possible careers and what they look for in a candidate.

Game Designers are the architects of video game creation. They develop a vision of what the game will look like, how it plays, and how the various teams of developers will work together to bring that vision to life. First and foremost, game designers have to understand what gamers want and how to bring that demand to the screen. Once an idea for a game has been pitched, it is the game designer’s responsibility to determine which genre, platform, and game engine would suit the concept best. Once the foundation has been built, the game designer will lay out the fundamental concepts of the game, including characters, setting, and story. Each of these concepts will then be broken down further to include levels, landscapes, missions, and other central models that will ultimately shape how the gamer will interact with the game. Simply put, game designers see the big picture for every project.

Game programmers take the outline provided by the game designer and bring it to life through code. Since video games are essentially self-contained software packages, game programmers must be familiar with various coding languages, such as C++ (the most popular), Java, and C#. Another option that game studios utilize when developing a new game is the use of game engines. Game engines are basically pre-built software templates that programmers use to expedite the development process. They generally contain the game studio’s preferred physics engines, rendering engine, and animation bundles, among other things. The Coleman University Gaming Development and Design program will prepare students to master arguably the two most popular game engines available today: Unity and Unreal. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, these game engines possess different attributes, strengths, and limitations that prospective employers expect applicants to be able to navigate. With these tools at their disposal, game programmers can dictate characters interaction with the environment, commands from the player, and other characters.

Animators are responsible for the movements and interactions of characters and the environment. Much like game programmers, animators utilize a specialized software package to determine how things interact in the game. Though some games have cut scenes (a short movie within a game) that animators must design, most of the work comes from determining how the playable character moves within the environment. Early 2D games (like Mario and Pong) had fixed settings, because the hardware was not equipped to render advanced environments. However, with the advances in technology over the years, animators possess more freedom to explore the boundaries of what is possible within the construct of the game. With that said, animators are relied upon to portray the simulations as effectively as the hardware and software will allow. As a result, animators must be cognizant of the platform’s strengths and weakness, as well as the physics engine’s capabilities. With that said, this allows animators to create a cache of standardized character models that he or she can pull from in the future, rather than starting from scratch every time.

Video game tester may be the most sought after position in the video game industry, due to the nature of the role. Game testers provide quality assurance for studios by playing through upcoming games and discovering bugs or glitches. Generally, these positions are more entry-level than the others on this list, but still require the knowledge necessary to identify technical problems in the game. Video game testers also serve as the first focus group for a new game, as they are asked to give feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of each new project. Since video games are meant to be vessels of enjoyment, studios count on testers to determine if the gameplay is conducive to fun.

Though an education is important, experience is the most crucial requirement for a career in game design and development. In an effort to provide additional hands-on experience, Coleman University encourages students to work on independent game projects, as well as participate in two “Game Jams” per year. A game jam is a game development marathon that can last up to 48 hours and is meant to be collaborative. Generally, game jams bring people together in a single location, and participants are given a theme on which to base their game. By bringing people together, students have the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions, and receive feedback from their classmates and instructors. Though they only have 48 hours to produce a prototype, many developers go on to complete their games afterwards. By designing and programming their own games, students receive the opportunity to experience the responsibilities and tasks that accompany a career in game design and development. It also allows the students an opportunity to create a portfolio of their work, which can set an applicant apart when applying for jobs after graduation. As a matter of fact, some of the assets created are used in actual games!

Though the gaming industry encompasses many roles, the most basic (and valuable) skill is the ability to code. Many industry experts would recommend learning C++, as it is the most widely used. When pursuing careers in the industry, being able to present a game (even a rudimentary game) that you produced will be invaluable, as it proves to employers that you have the skills and knowledge to do what they are looking for. From there, more often than not, you will begin as a game tester. This role allows you to display your understanding of how a game should play and how to fix glitches. It also comes with the added benefit of playing video games for a living! Once you prove your worth, you have the opportunity to branch out to any of the jobs listed above (and many more). Unlike many professions, the foundational knowledge and skills allow designers and developers to dabble in multiple roles. Though some people do specialize, there is simply more crossover in the video game industry than others.

The video game business is ever-evolving due to its reliance on technology. As new technologies are developed, new breakthroughs in video gaming will follow. With an industry larger than that of Hollywood, studios are pouring more and more money into blockbuster titles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6% increase in video game designer and developer jobs over the next eight years. Advancements in virtual reality or similar technology may cause a massive boom for an already promising industry. Though a love for video games is not sufficient for a career in the gaming industry, Coleman University’s Game Design and Development degree program can equip you with the tools and knowledge to pursue your passion for the world of video games.

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