Daybreak Games Welcomes Coleman Students to Their Studio in San Diego

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On December 4, Coleman University faculty member Joe Shoopack took his DSN343 (Game Story and Character Design) class, along with other interested Coleman Game Development students, to visit Daybreak Game Company in Rancho Bernardo. Through his connections to the company, he arranged for a panel discussion and presentation about game design and story narrative creation between his students and Daybreak developers.  Daybreak was founded in 2015, and since then they have been making their mark on the gaming industry.  Published games from Daybreak include EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, PlanetSide® 2, and DC Universe Online™. Team members and representatives from Daybreak have come to our campus in the past to speak with students and present workshops on what it takes to be a successful game developer.

Luke Sigmund, EverQuest Franchise Creative Director for Daybreak Games, hosted the event for Coleman students, and was one of the panelists along with four other senior members of the game story team. The presentation covered creating compelling narrative and character design, the relationship of game play and story narrative, the process of creating/designing story worlds for open world games, creating emotion with character interaction, and other related topics. In addition the Daybreak team held discussions with our students about how to find a job as a game designer and best practices for preparing for a career in the game development field. The panel-style presentation stimulated interesting discussion and was a valuable opportunity for students to meet and interact with professional game developers. Our students benefit enormously from the connections that our faculty have with the local game development community. This event highlights the great dedication our faculty has to helping our students learn not just in the classroom, but from professionals in their field who can offer their experiences as learning tools.

 

If you are interested in helping play, test, and give feedback on Daybreak game titles visit  https://www.daybreakgames.com/insiders/  for more information.

 

If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to earn a degree in Game Development and benefit from more opportunities like this, give us a call today at (858) 499-0202!
Classes start January 8, 2018 so there’s still time to register for the new year!

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How Do I Sign Up for the Global Game Jam 2018??

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We’ve already talked about the Global Game Jam on this blog; and the fact that this opportunity to compete in a global challenge with other gamers is one that can’t be missed. So now that we’ve peaked your interest, this blog will tell you what you should know about the #GGJ2018 and what to prepare for once you’ve signed up.

To start with, we want to tell you what your ticket purchase includes. The hosts of the Global Game Jam event at Coleman, the IGDA, have dedicated the funds from the event to providing food for the participants as well as other resources to help make this event as awesome as possible for all who attend! Starting Friday evening on January 26, 2018 participants will start arriving at the Coleman campus to set up their equipment and find spots to get settled in. You can bring in your own computers, laptops, and monitors to use for the weekend as well as any other special resources that you need to effectively code or design. Since the participants will be here from Friday night to Sunday afternoon Coleman University has not only provided campus space for this event, we will be making sure that there is a computer for everyone who registers. The point of this event is to mimic the conditions and stresses of game design and development so make sure that you come prepared to work hard, but we want you to be comfortable while doing it! So if you prefer to code in your bunny slippers, make sure to bring them along too.

What if you don’t have any team members lined up when you register? Well that is certainly no problem. Once the theme for the challenge is announced on Friday night, participants will then have the opportunity to discuss their ideas with others, and teams will form based on which projects participants want to join. The proposed projects will not all be videogame based because board games, card games, and any other styles of game are all welcome submissions. Since the submissions don’t have to be a videogame, participants who do not have coding experience are not excluded from being a part of this event. A passion for gaming and creating fun projects is the only requirement needed! The fun comes from the thrill of joining a team and bringing a great game to life in only three days.

Once teams have finished their projects, they will be submitted to the Global Game Jam site and published. Visitors to the site can still see games from previous years and even play some of them as well! For a game developer or designer, this can be a great addition to any resume and will add invaluable experience to help put you ahead. Being able to perfect your teamwork and problem solving skills while also creating a game from scratch is something that many recruiters look for in a potential hire. Why not put the Global Game Jam onto your resume this year?

If your family or friends are interested in seeing the event and coming by to show support, they are more than welcome! There will be visiting hours for friends and family, however, since time is limited and teams will have to work around the clock, visitors will not be able to stay overnight. We will also have special guests from radio station FM 94.9 on our campus live streaming and getting involved with participants. Hamby from the Casual Gamers podcast will be on our campus broadcasting from his Twitch channel, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on that! Head over to the official Eventbrite page for more information and the link to register as a participant: http://bit.ly/GGJ18Coleman. See you there! #GGJ2018

Turn your passion for gaming, coding, or design into a degree and a lifelong career! With a degree in Game Design from Coleman University, along with all the first-hand professional game development experience of our instructors, our graduates have the knowledge and the connections to build a solid career in game development and design. Call us today to schedule a tour and learn more about our programs at (858) 499-0202! Turn your “Dreams into Reality” now, classes start January 8, 2018!

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Global Game Jam is Coming to Coleman! #GGJ2018

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       It seems like only yesterday that we had a big group of game developers and creative designers on our campus for the Global Game Jam. Yet that was almost a year ago! Once again Coleman University will be hosting the Global Game Jam and we are calling all programmers, coders, designers, and game enthusiasts to participate! So what is the #GGJ, how much experience do you need to attend, and how can you get involved?
The GGJ is a weekend long coding and development event that happens a few times per year and challenges the skills and creativity of participants. Starting on Friday evening, the secret theme for that challenge is revealed and teams are formed with only the rest of the weekend to complete their projects. Groups can take the theme and create a video game, card game, or even a board game using the theme as a guide. Last year the theme was “waves” so teams had to incorporate that idea in some way into their project (think of ocean waves, sound waves, air waves, wavy hair, waving hands, the possibilities are endless!). Coding and developing overnight and into the early morning hours, teams have only a limited amount of time to create a tangible product. However these teams are not just working against the clock here in San Diego; teams from all over the world will be going through the same challenge! From India to Africa, England, Mexico, China, Australia, and many more countries; teams from around the world will be participating together. Last year the teams participating at Coleman University published some amazing games to this challenge. If you visit the Global Game Jam website and search under San Diego, you will see all of the submitted games from previous events over the past years. With fun names such as Chore Wizard, Cowabunga, and Elon Musk Goes to Space, you can see the high level of creativity that goes into these games. You can even play some of them! Studios like to see game developers who have proven their skills outside of the classroom, and having a game published on the Global Game Jam site is a great way to show off your talent.
Our event in January with the GGJ will be one to remember. Bring your sleeping bag, favorite pillow, snacks, and comfortable clothes to code in, and meet new friends who are just as passionate about gaming and game development as you are. The entry fee for earlybird tickets is $25, (all tickets purchased will include a meal) and you can begin registering this month. Visit their Eventbrite website for registration and get your discounted ticket before they are sold out! After you register you will have to also register for the event on the Global Game Jam website, or create an account. Participants will also be asked to sign a permission waiver to have photos or video taken of their teams working over the weekend. If you do not want to have your photos included in Game Jam promotional material, please speak with an IGDA representative when you arrive at the event. We look forward to seeing all of the new and returning participants who will be at the Global Game Jam this year! There may even be some special guests making an appearance that weekend to show support for the game developers…so you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!

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Celebrate International Internet Day!

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      What do you consider to be the greatest invention in modern history? Many will suggest the automobile, airplanes, the telephone, or even sliced bread, but there’s one that we think outshines them all. Yes, we are talking about the internet! The internet has created a powerful online community that has spawned countless cultural changes and has greatly influenced our lives. Through social media and email alone we have the ability to instantly connect with our friends and family, as well as new acquaintances from around the world. It is hard to fathom that this invention is technically a new phenomenon; we’ve only had the modern internet since 1989!

Why do we celebrate internet Day on October 29th? On this date in 1969, the first recorded message transmission was sent over an internet connection between two computers. A student at UCLA named Charley Kline attempted to send log in information to another student at Stanford named Bill Duvall and managed to send the letters “L” and “O” before the connection was lost. At the time these two students were working on the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) which was being funded by the US Department of Defense and consisted of four terminals set up at UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. Each terminal operated independently testing various connections and after this first message attempt, it only took an hour to send the entire message to Stanford.

Even though this internet connection was the birth of the World Wide Web, it was still uncommon for anyone outside of universities, government agencies, and a few scientific labs to be using it at this time. This year also marked the establishment of HTML and HTTP by Tim Berners-Lee who was working in Britain at CERN. The World Wide Web was officially launched as a project in August of 1991 and you can see the results of that project today when you pick up your smartphone. The digital age in the late 90s and into the early 2000s was an explosion of internet fever with over 162 million new and public websites being created and hosted online. Silicon Valley in Northern California became the epicenter of internet development and the dotcom boom. Today the internet is a central pillar in global communications and almost every notable public figure has their own profile online that their fans can interact with. How much do you use the internet in your daily life?

It is important to note that Coleman University was established in 1963, long before the internet was born. Computers were not developed for internet use, in fact, they were initially conceptualized for computing large sums (hence the name “computer”) and storing information securely. At the time it would have been unheard of to discuss putting a computer into a private home. Why would a family or single person need one? It may be hard to imagine now, but considering the size of the computers that were being built, it would have been hard to fit one inside of a home in the first place!

We recognize Internet Day as a moment to reflect on the incredible advancements in technology that we have witnessed in the past century and will continue to see in the future. Celebrate today by learning more about the history of the internet, how it has influenced your life, and the telling your friends on social media to celebrate too!

If you are interested in learning more about our degrees in Software Development, Cybersecurity, and Game Design call us at (858) 499-0202 and schedule a tour! There are thousands of jobs for programmers and coders across the nation, and we want to help you get started in your dream career today!

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Effective Leaders are Constant Learners: Bob Sweigart

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Effective leaders are not afraid to learn something new and keep their minds active through professional development and training. It is important for any professional to be willing to learn whenever they can to improve their work culture.

 As a student or graduate of a technology focused University, it is crucial for you to show not only a mastery of your craft, but also that you have the hard skills needed to be a successful employee and peer. When you review a job description, you are going to assume the company wants you to do A, B and C and have X, Y and Z skills. While it is essential to have these hard skills at your disposal, you need to show the ability to learn new skills. Being the best choice for a position is more than what you have achieved on paper; it is also what you are willing to do as a professional to continue to be the best.

The first step in becoming a successful professional is being able to read between the lines to see past what your employer is asking of you, and understand what you can do that isn’t asked for, but could potentially be of value to the company. As an example, during a college internship, a student was tasked to complete a project and realized that there was software that could be used to assist with the effort. The hurdle was that the proposed software required that the student learn a programming language she was not familiar with. Since the student knew the program would greatly improve the chances of completing the project successfully, she took it upon herself to learn the new programming language. It was not just showing the initiative to try a new way of doing things that made this student employee an example.Being excited to learn something new that would not only benefit the employee, but also the company, is an example of what a great employee should be.

Demonstrating you are constantly learning is crucial in the field of technology because as we all know technology is constantly updating and changing itself. In an article published by Inc., the five best practices for learning while on the job include understanding how things work in your office, talking issues out with others who have more experience, and simply throwing yourself entirely into something new that you have yet to encounter (Inc., 2014). The Harvard Business Review writes that leaders are better when they are also learners. In order to be effective as a leader, the avenues of creativity and innovation have to be open and that means bringing in new perspectives and protocols (Harvard Business Review, 2015). Learning does not stop once you exit a classroom; to be a high performing employee and a powerful leader you should look for opportunities to learn in every challenge that comes your way.

Thank you to Bob Sweigart, our Director of Career Services for his contribution to the Coleman blog. For more Career oriented advice, resume building assistance, help signing up for e-Hired, and interview prep, visit the Career Services staff at Coleman University or email careerservices@coleman.edu for more information.

 

 

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Faculty Spotlight: Anthony Le (Game Development)

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What did your parents say when you told them that your plans were for your future? Were they happy about your decision, or did you change your mind all on your own? One of the benefits of obtaining a degree in technology is that your skills and career path are destined for a long life. Your passions are what shape your future, and that rings true no matter the circumstances. That is the theme for our Faculty Spotlight this month as we sit down with Anthony Le, a senior Game Development and Software Development instructor for Coleman University, who started out with a very different career path in mind.
Enrolling as a medical student at UCSD, Le realized that he was not meant to enter the field of medicine. After a thrilling class in physics, Le found that he was more interested in the mechanical way that the world worked, rather than the biological. From there he began his career in technology through computer programming and artificial intelligence. We asked him about his life in technology and his passion for teaching at Coleman University.

1. What was it like moving to the US?
We moved out to the United States in the 1975 after the Vietnam War when I was nine years old. At the time my father worked for a shipping company in the US and the first place we were brought to was Camp Pendleton. So all of my family came to the US at the same time. We settled in Bayou la Batre, Alabama because that’s where my father’s shipping company was based. It was also the setting for the movie Forest Gump. At the time the southern states were very anti-communist, and my family was deeply Catholic, so they welcomed us with open arms and we had a better time adjusting. We went to Alabama, and I had the BEST time. All of these people, our neighbors, town folks, would come over every day and give us stuff and check in to see if we were okay, so my experience in Alabama was wonderful. However my Dad didn’t like it as much as I did, because he wanted to be back in California with the rest of his family, so he rented a big U-Haul and drove everybody back. That was 1976, and my family has lived here in San Diego ever since. I went to Serra High School in Tierrasanta and graduated at Mt. Carmel in Rancho Penasquitos. I was yearbook photographer there and won several drafting and photography awards from the Del Mar Fair.

2. So you stayed in California for college and went to UCSD. Is that were you became interested in technology?
I love UCSD. It is a great school and much bigger than it was when I was there. That feeling of being on a college campus, making friends in the dorms—it was like its own city. I changed my major several times while I was there. My family wanted me to be a doctor and get a good job, so I started out with bio-chemistry and I quickly discovered that I didn’t like it, but I loved my computer science classes. Turns out one of the faculty members at UCSD was a family friend and he was teaching physics, so he got me into that and I became a TA for his program and for the computer lab. Physics simulations were really my first computing job at UCSD. I fell in love with computer programming after that and changed my major to Cognitive Science, which was a nice mix of biology and the physiological makeup of the human body. I learned and dreamt about how those mental processes can one day be emulated with computing. So that was around the time when an Artificial Intelligence major was introduced at UCSD, and I jumped on that program and that was my final change of major. I also have minors in philosophy, psychology, and astronomy (because I love studying the planets).

3. What were you like as a student?
I was a very active student. Besides being a TA in the computer lab, I was a member of the Vietnamese Student Association, and I became president and tried to get our club more involved with other club events on campus. I organized an International Volleyball Player’s club and organized a Hands Across UCSD event for the campus, and it was really tough to get all of the logistics together, but it was a really fun to try to get everyone involved. By that time my sister and my cousin were attending UCSD, so it became a family affair. Overall, UCSD was an amazing experience, and that is where I cultivated my love of learning.

4. Once you graduated with your degree in A. I. where did you go? Did you create robots?
I wanted to work in computing, and my relative had a chain of computer stores, so I started working for them when I graduated from college. I was in charge of writing programs for diagnostic and performance testing and for keeping tabs on all of the inventory and OCR (optical character recognition) programs used to process all the orders. Unfortunately, this chain did not win out over its competition, so my relative moved into a different field—buying and selling prescription medications from Canada to patients in the US. So I wrote all the programs to scrape and accumulate all of the data on prescription medications (this was before Big Data was around) and price match for the lowest prices. Then the government changed the law and we could no longer sell lower-priced prescription medication from abroad. With my 20 plus years of programming experience, I ended up getting into teaching through my wife at the time, who knew the Vice President of Coleman University was looking for programmers who had real experience and wanted to teach. I came to Coleman when the Game Development department was still in the process of creation, so I was involved in writing the courses for Game Development. We had to write six classes and establish a certification program. I wrote Course 2 and Course 5, which were about Engine design and 3D rendering (for networked first-person shooter (FPS) and third-person shooter (TPS)). The algorithms for 3D rendering use the same technology and mathematical calculating processes as Artificial Intelligence and neural network programs. It’s the summation of a lot of values and the manipulation of numbers simultaneously. It is a lot of complex ideas, and that is the challenge of teaching: getting students to relate to the material and understand it, so they will be excited to learn.

5. Did you find that you had a passion for teaching after you began at Coleman?
Turns out, from all of my experience as an eldest sibling and as a TA in college, this is my calling. It fits me, because I can explore what I love to learn, and using what I know about AI and how the brain works thus far, to facilitate and transfer that knowledge to another person, using a many sensory modalities as possible. For me this was a fateful event, and I went with it. That was over 7 years ago. Now, I am focusing on helping our students learn physical computing, like how to program robots, sensors, GUIs, and different hardware devices to enhance their job placement. Our students are so excited to learn and Game Programming is very competitive, so I am working on introducing physical computing using Python and C into Game Development and Software Development. Even though I love games and created my first game using the VIC20 and Commodore 64, I am not a gamer per se, I am more into computing. I want to bring more programming into the Game Development program. When a student is hands on and sees his or her creation, and it’s something that’s tangible, that is the experience we want. Computing is a tool with a specific language and you need to understand the syntax to express how you want to control the technology.

6. What do you look for in a potential student at Coleman University? What advice do you have for a new Coleman student?
What I love ideally, is excitement. When students are excited, they are learning and progress goes up exponentially. My advice is perseverance. You cannot learn everything in one try. It is a process and especially with programming, you have to do it in many different ways and solve many different errors. In solving errors you learn something new. You can read about it and watch it, but until you do it and spend the time fixing it, you will not actually learn. The more you put yourself through this process the better prepared you will be, so use repetition and that will help you excel and gain experience. Education is an investment, so I would advise anyone who is learning a new skill to keep in mind that commitment to an investment. I will always give students a chance to solve things on their own, and then I step in to help by providing strategies and hints. I often discuss the various ways that people solve the same problem, and my motto is if you don’t agree, at least try it once, and if you realize you like it you can incorporate it into your own style. Be open minded.

 

We want to thank Mr. Le for taking the time to sit with us and discuss his passion for teaching and computer science.  If you are interested in pursuing a technology-focused degree and learn from instructors such as Anthony Le, do not hesitate to call us. Classes start every ten weeks and financial aid is available for those who qualify. Call (858) 499-0202 today!

 

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Coleman is Ranked #1 in San Diego!

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Recently our University was pleased to find that we had been ranked number one in San Diego for Cybersecurity degrees by Universities.com. If you did not already know, Coleman has had the longest running Cybersecurity (formerly Network Security) degree program in San Diego. Since 1963 when we first began our journey as The Automation Institute, our organization has been at the center of technology development and we have graduated many distinguished alumni over our 54 years in Southern California. From Data Processing to Cybersecurity we have come a long way by following the trends and seeing the potential in every student that walks through our door.  Our alumni have gone on to work for SPAWAR, Cisco, Kyocera, and many other incredible companies that are the leaders in technology development. With our lifetime Career Services access and small class sizes our students have been able to create lucrative careers in exciting fields. More importantly, they have brought integrity to the Coleman name and we are proud to continue to provide a top Cybersecurity education for San Diego. Our mission statement is “To deliver relevant education that prepares individuals for technology focused careers, while providing an environment where they may develop to their full potential” and we will remain dedicated to that mission long into our future. This is exciting news for our university and we are so happy to share it with our followers and alumni!!

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Coleman and Ssubi give back to San Diego

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Our President, Norbert Kubilus, stands next to the donated computers from Sharp Healthcare that Coleman will be helping to refurbish. Ssubi is located behind the Graduate Studies building. 

Coleman University’s mission statement is “To deliver relevant education that prepares individuals for technology-focused careers, while providing an environment where they may develop to their full potential”. That mission statement is not just focused on our learning environments. Our emphasis on developing to a full potential also applies to the various opportunities that Coleman is bringing to our students that take place outside of the classroom and within our community. Since 2016 we have provided a portion of a warehouse for the non-profit Ssubi to operate out of, as well as encouraged our students to work with them to collect and ship donations around the world. This organization has taken on the enormous task of processing gently used medical equipment from local hospitals and clinics and distributing to areas in Africa that have no access to basic and essential medical materials. The founder, Laura Luxemburg, has worked tirelessly throughout Southern California to encourage the leaders in the Healthcare industry to be more conscious of their potential impact through conservation and to donate their equipment to communities who need it. It is her goal to bring jobs to our city in an environment that promotes conservation. Through efforts in connection with Sharp Healthcare and the San Diego Veterans Association, Laura has been successful in reaching the first part of her overall goal for Ssubi: the potential millions of tons of medical waste that can be reused are being saved from landfills. Sustainability is important for helping to make San Diego a Green city and Coleman University wants to be a part of that movement.

In conjunction with their effort called Greening for Good, Ssubi is also offering gently used computer equipment to low income families in San Diego. Our University has provided Ssubi with a center on our campus to clean, store, and refurbish 50 computers that were donated by Sharp Healthcare. Using the Cybersecurity Club room which serves as a lab on our campus, student volunteers are installing new software and returning the equipment to their factory settings. Once each computer has been cleaned, they will be donated to local shelters and families who may not have access to computer equipment. Computer and internet literacy are vital skills that will help every child become more successful in their academic careers. Coleman is dedicated to promoting this literacy effort and we are doing our part by donating equipment to help maintain an equal educational playing field for young learners and their parents. We hope to continue to work closely with Ssubi again in the future, and we look forward to seeing all of the delighted faces of the families who will be receiving these donations.

For more information on the on-going efforts of Ssubi please visit their website: http://www.ssubi.org/ or check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ssubiishope/

 

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Faculty Spotlight: Tommy Mitchell (Game Development)

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This month we wanted to showcase another of our amazing instructors on our blog, and our spotlight is on Tommy Mitchell. A Game Development instructor with many years of direct experience in the field, Mitchell’s knowledge of the game industry has become a huge advantage for Coleman University students. Having been a fan of gaming since he was six years old, it is more than safe to say that this subject is a passion for him; one that he shares with our students.
We sat down with Tommy to discuss how he got started in Game Development and what it takes to be successful in the industry.

1. How did you get into Game Design and Development?
Well that’s a bit of a long story. I have played video games since I was 6 years old so I’ve always been pretty active with that. I used to play about 2-3 days per week and it just became an obsession. However traditional art became my forte. When I graduated from high school, I had a partial scholarship to Southern Methodist University in Texas for their art program. As I was going through my courses I was approached by a professor who had recently established a game design program on campus called Guild Hall and she wanted me to join. I went through those courses for two years which put me in the pipeline for a game development degree. So I have a traditional art background, but I went from painting canvases to digital art and sculpting.

2. How did you apply your degree after you graduated?
Once I graduated I was called up to work for a small gaming company in Austin Texas called Midway. During that same time I was hoping to pursue more education in game design, so I applied to schools in San Diego that offered higher degrees. Once I had been accepted, my company offered to hire me back once I had finished my education. So I moved to San Diego in the hopes that I would have a job waiting for me back in Texas once I was done. I attended ITT Tech for their Digital Entertainment and Game Design program. I received my bachelors degree, while also doing freelance work. In 2009 I was lucky enough to get an interview with Sony and I was hired on as a game tester. I did game testing for about a year and a half.

3. Wow. So you lived every teenage gamer’s dream then?
A lot of people think that with game testing you’re just constantly testing games and having fun, but it is serious software testing. You have to look for bugs and issues, marking their coordinates in the game, and making sure that you are sending that information to the developers. Your job is to find as many ways as possible to break the game. After a year of testing I was promoted to being a character artist. The first game that I worked on for character design was God of War 3, just small portions  of the background design, which was really fun. Then I was put onto the teams for MLB The Show, and Star Hawk. After a couple more promotions I was given a project management role, around 2011 for a game called PS All Stars. At that same time I started working at Coleman University.

4. So how did you become an instructor at Coleman?
Once I had graduated with my bachelors I was interested in getting my master’s degree, so I came to Coleman to pursue my degree in Information Systems Management. I was going to school and working at the same time. I graduated in July of 2010, and continued working at Sony. After a big project that I was working on was finished, I stopped in to talk to Career Services and catch up with my instructors. I found out that Coleman had started a Game Design (as it was called at the time) program and they were looking for instructors. Career Services took my information and forwarded it to the dean of the program, who called me ten minutes later asking for me to come in and interview. Two weeks later I was a full-time instructor for Coleman.

5. What classes are you teaching now?
I instruct Level Design 1, Intro to Digital Sculpting, the Programming Capstone, and Fundamentals of Game Design. Mainly I teach students the basic structures of game design. It is a very fast and competitive career path to go into, so you need a strong knowledge of every aspect of design.

6. On that note, what are the misconceptions that incoming students have about getting into the Game Development field?
Whenever we have student orientations I am the first person to tell students that if you think that you’ll just walk into a studio and start testing video games, you should throw that idea right out the window. This program is not about that. You are learning a skill set that is very complicated. Even when you’re done with a class meeting, you still have to do more work on your own outside of class. The industry’s first question in an interview will be “what else have you done?” You can create a portfolio that includes your class assignments but companies do not focus on that, they want to see how you applied your skills to an outside project. You need to develop more than programming skills. Game Developers have increased hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, and problem solving skills due to the requirements of this industry. In this industry you will be asked to work long hours and even work overnight to meet deadlines and finish projects, so putting in more hours for professional development will only benefit you. In our program there are really two tracks. The first is more of a programmer role, and the other is the designer role. Each one takes a lot of time to master and you have to do it all of the time, which includes participating in game focused events. Luckily for our students Coleman hosts the Global Game Jam every year, and that has a huge impact. Organizations look for that specifically, as well as your online presence through LinkedIn and Twitch. Networking is a lot more involved in job placement than people realize. Passion is important in this field and students need to have that in order to succeed. I would also recommend that students be prepared to freelance while they are looking for work. Once a project is over you may not have a residual income coming in so be prepared by getting into other projects ahead of time. Be willing to learn as many skill sets as possible. Ask peers who may have a better grasp than you to help you learn more. As long as you communicate the desire to learn, people will be willing to teach you.

7. What are your opinions on the rise in online celebrity gamers, or the professional gamers that compete in world competitions?
Well, social media and online exposure is actually a huge boost to developers looking to get hired by a company. These feeds and uploads are being watched 24/7 by companies looking for new hires. If a studio likes a candidate they will be brought in for testing or interviews. Having a vlog or Twitch channel is a big help for getting yourself noticed. I had two students who were invited to work with famous game vloggers and were flown to a vlogging convention in San Francisco because of their popularity online.

8. Considering your passion for art and your background in it, what are some of the recent games that have come out that you feel are visually/artistically incredible in their style?
I’m going to be a little biased with my answer. I would have to say two of the games that I actually worked on within the last five years. I was an Associate Producer for The Last of Us and I really loved the artwork that was developed for that. Even though I was brought in around the third phase, it was my first big title as Associate Producer and I was freaked out because I was working on that and teaching at the same time! My second choice didn’t do so well commercially, but I really liked Order 1886. I consider that one to be a steampunk version of Van Helsing. You were acting as a werewolf hunter and it was almost like its own cinematic movie. I helped design some of the Demon Dogs that were within the game. The other game that I can think of is Unfinished Swan, you are playing as a little boy who falls into an open world through a book which is all white. As you work your way through the game, colors and structures start to appear and you create your world that way. The first color that is initiated is black so you can create figures and outlines then add color as you go. We tell students when they are applying to a company and want to showcase their best work with a demo, that if you can turn down the volume and run through it and still understand the story no matter where you are, then you have done a great job. I look for that specifically when I am hiring for studios.

9. Can you tell me the most important traits that you look for in a potential Game Development student?
Definitely, I look for a student who is passionate for Game Development and who is an open book. They don’t come into the classroom thinking that they have everything handled, that they only have to learn to do a couple of things. You have to be very motivated and hungry to achieve your goals because this field is very competitive. You have to realize that you and 20-30,000 other people are applying for the same jobs at any given time. Challenge yourself every day to get better; you can’t stay in the same place. You have to reinvent yourself, and the best thing about being in the game industry is that it is not hard to find something new to learn every day. There is no ceiling on what you are capable of in a work position, because the technology in this field is constantly changing so you have to change with it. Confidence is also really important, being able to look someone in the eye and provide straightforward answers will help you stand out from the crowd in an interview and in class.

10. Last question: tell me about your favorite project that a student or group has produced at Coleman?
It was a capstone group in 2014. It was a very unique group with plenty of colorful personalities that also had a lot of motivation and passion for what they ultimately wanted to do. They created an amazing 2D game, with almost every aspect being hand drawn and conceptualized by this group. The project lead was a really shy and laid back student so I purposefully put him in a leadership position. Within hours of their first meeting they came together and completed their concept. This group came in every day that they could and worked on this project, which was incredible. Once they had a finished product, they published it online and received a lot of praise for their work from other developers and programmers. I use this group as an example to motivate students, because it is this type of project that they should be striving for. The capstone is a great way for students to really figure out what it is that they want to do.

If you love gaming and creative art, think about joining our Game Development program! Tommy is just one of the amazing instructors that we have in the program and there are opportunities here for you to grow and establish an exciting career. Call Coleman today at (858) 499-0202 for more information and to schedule a tour! 

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Ransomware Global Strike: The “WannaCry” Attack

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In the height of the westward expansion into California, the “Wild West” became not only a place, but a term that described an entire cultural phenomenon. What made the west so wild were the apparent lawless territories that saw hostile takeovers, train and carriage robberies, kidnapping, and ransoming. Over time the west was settled and developed into new states with their own laws and regulations. The wild part of the west was no longer a threat, at least in the physical world. Today we have a new and almost lawless place, however this territory only exists online. Though there are plenty of companies and programs that work 24/7 to ensure safety online, there are still opportunities for malicious attacks to be carried out. The robberies and takeovers that plagued the westward expansion have now become digital.

A typical scam that you will see online is the email phishing that we talked about in a previous blog. These scams can be easy to avoid as long as the recipient is not engaging with the email or providing any personal information. Unfortunately that does not always protect online users from being attacked for their information. Ransomware has become a bigger threat that is hard to trace and causes an incredible amount of damage. Essentially it is software that takes all of a victim’s personal files and information and holds it for a ransom that must be paid. Recently a large ransomware attack has become global news, with at least 150 countries experiencing the same attack. The most affected victims were the small businesses, universities, and hospitals that were unable to protect themselves and had to either pay the ransom or risk losing all of their data (CNN Money). Reports from China, Germany, Japan, Russia, the US, and Spain confirmed that there had been attacks from the same ransomware and that they had taken the necessary precautions to try and stop its spreading.

Through a patch in the Microsoft Windows software, the ransomware “WannaCrypt” was able to target specific users and take over their systems. Ransomware works as a lock box for your data, keeping you from accessing any of your files or personal information unless you agree to the terms and conditions set up by the creator. Victims were told to use Bitcoin to pay for the return of their files (Microsoft). Many of the Windows users who were targeted were not using an updated, or a licensed version of this software making them even more vulnerable to patches that could not be fixed in the Microsoft updates. In the wake of this viral attack, Microsoft released a statement outlining the efforts they were making to avoid these attacks in the future. However, they also called on the public to become more aware of their own responsibility in updating their computers and backing up their information with an external drive and cloud software. Proactive actions are the key to being safe online. This idea of being proactive is also what stopped the ransomware attack from continuing to spread. A young cybersecurity student in the UK decided to look more closely at the software behind the attack and discovered a kill switch. The malware was using “a very long nonsensical domain name that the malware makes a request to – just as if it was looking up any website – and if the request comes back and shows that the domain is live, the kill switch takes effect and the malware stops spreading” (The Guardian). Once the student located the domain name, all he had to do was buy it. The domain cost $10.69 and was immediately registering thousands of connections every second; once it was purchased the malware was stopped in its tracks. Additionally once this domain was bought he was able to determine the IP addresses attached to the malware and reported them to the authorities. Though this was a great victory, in the world of Cybersecurity it is just a temporary fix. There are just as many entities creating malware as there are cybersecurity experts trying to stop them. What makes this malware attack so dangerous is that it can be replicated and reused at any time.

Backing up files, or storing information in the Cloud, and regularly updating your software are the best measures you can take to protect yourself from ransomware. As we mentioned in a previous blog on email phishing, it is imperative that you avoid any email from a company or bank that is asking for your personal information via email.

If you are interested in becoming a cybersecurity expert yourself, consider a degree from Coleman University. Perhaps it could be you that stops the next big cyber-attack in its tracks! Call (858) 499-0202 for information on our technology focused programs.

 

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