Women’s History Month: Developing the Foundations for Modern Technology

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Last month we talked about the African American women who changed the face of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, despite adversity and oppression. Since March 1st marks the start of Women’s History Month, we are going to continue our acknowledgement of the women behind the modern technological age. We discussed the pioneers Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper in a previous blog post (which you can read here) but there is a long list of women who have come after them who have created their own legacy in STEM. If there is someone missing from this list, feel free to add them in the comments!

Susan Kare
When you think of Apple, most likely you’ll picture Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak. Or maybe the first image that comes to mind will be the computer itself, a large and heavy object with a screen the size of a notepad. However, one of the names that you might not recognize is Susan Kare. Behind the scenes, she was in charge of developing the typography and iconic graphics for the launch of the original Apple Macintosh computer. Many of the interface elements that have become common in their products were designed by Kare, like the command symbol on their keyboard. Remember the “Happy Mac” that greeted you when you booted up your system? That was Susan Kare’s design!

Hedy Lamarr
You might not know Hedy Lamarr’s acting career, but you have definitely used her invention in your daily life now. She conceptualized the first ideas for frequency hopping (sending radio signals from different frequency channels). The basis for the idea was to help the Navy launch torpedos through remote control, and block communications from being interfered with. Despite the fact that this technology would have been way ahead of its time, the Navy was not interested and passed on the invention. However, Lamarr’s design would find its use in the 1950’s when the concept was used for secure military communications. This new use paved the way for Hedy Lamarr’s concept to become the foundation for modern Bluetooth and Wifi technology.

Roberta Williams
When videogames became popular in the 1980’s, the at-home console was a huge seller and brands like Atari took the market by storm. However there was a revolution coming and Roberta Williams was one of its leaders. It was her creation “King’s Quest” that would create the market for PC gaming. Her company Sierra On-Line would help to shape the future of video games with their more complex puzzle designs and storylines. Games that take the main character on a quest before they can compete against a final “boss” are inspired by her original design.

Radia Perlman
A member of the Internet Hall of Fame, Radia Perlman designed the spanning tree algorithm that transformed Ethernet from single-wire CSMA/CD into a protocol that can handle large information clouds. She also designed Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), which allows Ethernet to make optimal use of bandwidth. Perlman holds over 100 patents and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Unisex and the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communication. She holds BS and MS degrees in Mathematics from MIT, and completed her PhD in Computer Science through MIT as well.

Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code)
After earning her degree in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, and a successful career in the bay area near San Francisco, Bryant decided to dedicate her life to helping more African American women achieve their dreams in STEM. She founded Black Girls Code in 2011 to bring classes and workshops to her community that focused on helping underrepresented girls learn computer programming, coding, website development, and robotics. Her foundation now had chapters in seven states, and across the globe in Johannesburg, South Africa, and even offers programs in Spanish! To learn more about her organization and all of their community work visit: www.blackgirlscode.com

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller
Though she was a devout nun her whole life, Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was the first woman in the United States to earn a PhD in Computer Science. She entered into the convent in 1932, and earned her BS in Mathematics and her MS in Physics from DePaul University. However, it was during her time studying at Dartmouth College in the 1960s that she developed the BASIC computer language which made it possible for anyone to write custom code. Suddenly developers didn’t need to have a mathematics or science degree to be able to code their own programs. Keller’s dissertation, written in CDC FORTRAN 63, was titled “Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns.” In 1965, she became the first American woman to earn a PhD in Computer Science. She envisioned a future of computers that would help teach and stimulate cognitive development for all.

Carol Shaw
Considered the first female professional video game designer, Carol Shaw worked for the Atari company programming games for the VCS console before leaving to work for Activision. The now famous River Raid game for the Atari 2600 was her design and is considered to be one of the best examples of game design in history. However, even though she was an equal member of the team, she still faced discrimination, even from the President of Atari. During a walk through, he remarked “Oh, at last! We have a female game designer. She can do cosmetics color matching and interior decorating cartridges!” You can read more about her life in game development on the Vintage Computing Website.

Adele Goldberg
A prominent software developer, Adele Goldberg is one of the designers of the SmallTalk-80 programming language. While working at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) she would become the manager of the System Concepts Laboratory where her team would finish the SmallTalk-80 program. She served as president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) from 1984 to 1986, and, together with Alan Kay and Dan Ingalls, received the ACM Software Systems Award in 1987. Many of the concepts she and her team developed at PARC became the basis for graphically based user interfaces, replacing the earlier command line based systems.

There are thousands more women who have made great strides in technology development who also deserve recognition on this list. This month, take the opportunity to learn more about the extraordinary women who have made history in STEM. You can tell us about them here in the comments!

 

 

The first degree conferred by Coleman University (then the Automation Institute) was to a woman, for Data Processing in 1964. It has been our mission since we were first established to ensure that all of our students have equal access to education, and resources to pursue their passion to turn their ‘Dreams Into Reality’. What could you do with a degree in Software Development, Cybersecurity, or Game Development from Coleman University?

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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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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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Game Development Capstone Presentation is a Huge Success!

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What does it take to design and create a video game from scratch? Have you ever wondered what your ideal game would look like, or what you would want to see in a new game, or how long it would take to make your vision into a physical game? The students in our Game Development program took that dream and made it into a reality for their capstone presentation this month. Over the span of ten weeks, a student group came together to create their own game from beginning to end. This included story boarding, character design, background music development, character movement, and multiple game levels. We can only begin to appreciate the amount of work that went into this project! The capstone game is called “Savage Island”, and takes place on an isolated island overrun with dinosaurs that are hungry and looking for a human sized meal. Game players are put into a 2.5D map and have to fight their way through each level until they finally encounter The Boss, a massive T-Rex who will not go down easily! At their capstone presentation the designers discussed their original plan for the game and the challenges that they overcame to make this game a reality. Programs used to create this game include: Unity, Visual Studio, Source Tree, Trello, Photoshop, 3DS Max, zBrush, FreeSound, and Audacity (for the sound mixing and sampling). Each member of the development team took on a specific role in order to efficiently produce content for this game. From the concept art, background set up, and character movement, each aspect of the game was the responsibility of one of the four team members and when the game was presented to the audience it was clear that this was an incredible project. Overall the team discussed their work, and the various programs that they used to develop each piece that they were responsible for. The audience heard first-hand what skills and technologies the team members had to develop in order to complete the assignment, as well as what they plan to add to the game  After the initial presentation audience members were asked to play the game themselves and see close up how the mechanics of the game work and try to destroy as many dinosaurs as possible. Audience members were also encouraged to ask questions and some of our Coleman staff members who attended were thrilled to learn more about the game development process from the student’s point of view. What’s next for these game developers? We hope big and exciting things! Congratulations to these excellent students!!

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Virtual Reality Comes to Coleman, Thanks to Mr. Jeep & Harvard University

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I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jeep from Valve during a January event which Coleman University hosted. Valve has teamed up with HTC to develop a VR headset system which can be used for both development and consumer use. Mr. Jeep brought with him a prototype of the HTC Vive which the participants of the IGDA Game Jam event could use for development.

After the event I sent Mr. Jeep a courtesy email thanking him for his contribution to the event and inquired further how Coleman University could benefit from a development device like the HTC Vive. Without hesitation, Mr. Jeep replied and offered to send me an HTC Vive VR system which I could incorporate into the curriculum. This was a generous offer seeing how the HTC Vive retail for $800 per unit.

With the contribution of the HTC Vive, I was then encouraged to contact LayoutVR which is located at Harvard University, who in February, was given a grant to develop curriculum for VR development in the Unreal Engine. Teaming up with LayoutVR, we redeveloped the curriculum for DSN353 Level Design II to include VR development, with this new partnership I took the responsibility to convert their VR curriculum which was catering the Oculus Rift and redesign the curriculum to work with the HTC Vive. Once this research project is complete, I will then share my finding and redevelopment with LayoutVR, Stanford University, and Epic Games. The major outcome to sharing the research is to be considered for a grant which Epic Games gives out twice a year.

Travis Vasquez is an instructor in the Game Programming Development & Design program at Coleman University. 

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