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University of Advancing Technology is an elite, private college that serves its student body by fostering knowledge creation and academic excellence in an environment that embraces the young technophiles of the world. With three centers of research and a suite of technology-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University is a recognized leader in technology education.
Photo: Kenny Ryan (left) checks the Axosoft to-do list with Crimson Nights artist Terrence Miller.
The UAT Game Studios class brings together students from different disciplines such as game programming, game design, art and animation and digital video to develop video games from the initial concept to a completed work. For every game dev project, each team member has their own set of responsibilities and must meet specific milestones to completion along the way.
At UAT, students may work physically on campus or virtually from their homebase as online students. No matter what the students’ physical location, everyone needs to communicate and be on the same page to successfully design a completed a game. UAT Game Studios emphasizes Agile project management with Scrum and has partnered with Axosoft to use their tools to keep communication flowing through the development teams.
Axosoft offers a Scrum project management tool, or ticketing system, that allows people to share goals and objectives between members. This helpful tool has enabled students to communicate, assign responsibilities and keep the team accountable.
Recently Axosoft’s Content Strategist Trista Sobeck came out to UAT to see her company’s software in action! See her blog about her experience at the UAT Summer Greenlight Celebration here.
Game Design student Kenny Ryan, a member of the Crimson Nights game development team has found Axosoft to be helpful. Kenny said, “Each week, we looked at what needed to be done and broke it down by skill sets.”
Kenny organized the task by type such as “Design,” “Art,” “Programming” and “Online” and each member in that discipline could see a list of their assigned work for the day.
Once the Crimson Nights team got to a certain point in the development process, Kenny was able to take a more freeform approach assigning more long-term goals to the artists and designers, but not listed as a specific task to a specific person. Kenny saw the benefit from both strategies, but admits more was accomplished during the direct assignment phase versus the goals approach phase where it took more effort to complete more elaborate tasks over a longer period of time.
Axosoft enabled Kenny and his team to keep up with their work and see what tasks are on their to-do list without having to send emails back and forth or meet with Kenny face-to-face, which can hold up the process. When a team is investing so many hours per week, per semester, it’s important to make that time count!
In addition to their weekly sprint logs, all students enrolled in the UAT Game Studios are required to submit screenshots of their Axosoft personal release planners and team burndown charts. This helps them determine the velocity of their team’s game production and gauge their own skills through timeboxing.
Hey UAT students… The Austin Game Conference wants you!
Submit your application to become a Volunteer Coordinator at the Austin Game Conference, but don’t wait, there are a limited number of positions available.
Volunteers gain full access to AGC when they are not working. The Volunteer Coordinator will work with volunteers to insure a percentage of their time is left open to attend portions of the conference.
Job requirements: hard-working, knowledgeable, enthusiastic people who are interested in serving as members of the support team
Consider what skills and interests you have that would make you a valuable volunteer.
Apply here for the Volunteer Coordinator position for Austin Game Conference, Sept. 20, 21, 22 at the Austin Convention Center.
Do you have friends or siblings who like to pop Bubble Wrap? Most people enjoy this simple, yet satisfying task, which is why it’s the perfect idea for a video game!
“Bubble Wrap: Pop A Palooza” was produced by Ara Shirinian, Principal Designer at WePlay Media and Tyler Weiss, a UAT student dual majoring in Game Programming and Advancing Computer Science, in partnership with Sealed Air, the official Bubble Wrap brand.
Bubble Wrap: Pop A Palooza is a fun game with fundamentals which resemble the old “Whack A Mole” carnival game but replaces the mole with fun activities and gameplay derived from playing with Bubble Wrap.
“We saw a great opportunity to do something fun with Bubble Wrap and noticed that while there are several Bubble Wrap style games available, none really did the idea of Bubble Wrap justice,” Shirinian said.
So how did UAT student Tyler Weiss get involved? He heard about WePlay Media‘s competition for game ideas involving Bubble Wrap. Tyler and friend Mike Citrin were matched up with Ara Shirinian to get started on the project. Over the course of a year, Tyler worked on this game as the lead programmer between taking a full load of classes and working a job on the side. Tyler, Mike, Ara and a few outsourced artists and backend developers were able to bring Bubble Wrap: Pop A Palooza to completion.
This clever and simple gameplay lets the player go at their own pace, but speeds up the faster you can go. The game was designed with almost an infinite ceiling of performance, continually giving players the chance to improve and learn how to play the game better.
Within each stage, there are four different goals to achieve. The player can decide which goal to focus on each round or attempt to fulfill all four goals in one stage, which presents quite a challenge. This feature was designed specifically to create a cool dynamic where playing for goal A is a different experience from playing for goal B, and so on, massively increasing playability.
There are 40 different stages to unlock and play, with new features, obstacles and abilities introduced as you progress with more stages and features coming in future updates.
Bubble Wrap: Pop A Palooza has fun power-ups that don’t require real money purchases, allowing players to reach their full potential in the game.
While playing, beware of hazards such as beetles, bombs and protective metal domes that make the bubble popping experience much more exciting.
Bubble Wrap: Pop A Palooza is now available in the Google Play store, download for free and get popping today!
Over the past few semesters, UAT Game Studios students developed a game called Crimson Nights, which is a multiplayer dungeon crawler with a retro arcade feel.
Crimson Nights developers were introduced to a film crew, who were in the process of producing a film called “Show No Mercy” and they wanted to have a video game displayed on the arcade machine in their film. The filmmakers loved Crimson Night’s retro arcade style and decided it was perfect for their film.
Over a weekend, the development team got to work and sent over some ideas for the film crew. From there, Crimson Nights got their first big break in cinema!
See the trailer including Crimson Night’s contribution to the film, “Show No Mercy” in the video below.
Game enthusiasts, it’s time to get your game on because the Game On Expo is back!
Taking place at the Mesa Convention Center on August 5-7, the Game On Expo is the largest gaming convention in Arizona! The word on the street is that this year is expected to be even bigger and better than last year’s inaugural event, so don’t miss out!
What is the Game On Expo?
It’s the largest gaming convention in Arizona, including table top and retro/modern video games. You can buy and test games, shop the vendor hall, and attend panels with industry designers, leaders and pro players! Attendees can participate in multiple game tournaments, dress up for the cosplay contest, enter the tabletop gaming room, play free play arcade games and more!
UAT is joining in on the fun this year! Look for students representing UAT Game Studios at the Game On Expo and ask to demo their awesome games. Professor Ben Reichert will also have information about Game CoLab, a co-working space for game developers in Arizona, which acts as a video game development incubator and community advocate for local game developers.
UAT game students have the opportunity to share their knowledge of game development and speak on a panel - UAT Game Studios: Teams Leads Perspective on Development on Friday 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. in Palo Verde III. This panel will contain the following students: Tyler Ann Cook (Game: The Deadliest War), Kenny Ryan (Game: Crimson Nights), Jesse Rogers (Game: Couch Game), and Donald Schepis (Game: Happy Skies).
If you have a passion for games, come out to the Game On Expo for a fun-filled weekend and get your game on!
At University of Advancing Technology, we’ve seen an invasion of Pokémon Go hunters roaming the campus in search of Pokémon since the game was released on July 6. In speaking with Professor Maureen Beam, we came up with ten awesome reasons to play Pokémon Go! Please see our ideas below.
1. Helps with depression and anxiety
Many students have commented on how the game has helped them make new friends and overcome depression and the social anxiety that comes from meeting someone for the first time. There is an instant bond when you are playing Pokémon Go and see groups of other people playing Pokémon Go at the same park or location.
2. Map reading skills
It’s easy to rely on Navigation systems in today’s world, but a fun, interactive game like Pokémon Go, can help users learn how to read a map and learn about their surroundings.
Students can cooperate and work together to guard their gyms. At UAT, it’s common for students to collaborate on projects together so now they see Pokémon Go as a big scavenger hunt on campus. When one student catches a rare Pokémon, it’s likely they will tell all their friends in the area so they have a chance to catch ‘em all, too! There is also a way to team up with other teams to battle the mutual enemy who currently holds leadership of the gym. (Example: Team Valor (red) and Team Instinct (yellow) can team up to take over a gym controlled by Team Mystic (blue).)
4. Raises self-esteem
In Pokémon Go, when you do something positive, like level up, catch a rare Pokémon or take control of a gym after winning a battle, you feel good about yourself. Gratification is something that younger students really need as they mature.
5. Promotes family bonding
Planning a family outing just got easier! Take your family to a local park or shopping center to catch Pokémon. You can compete as a family or individually and either way you’re still interacting together and having fun! Take funny screenshots of each other with the Pokémon characters or just enjoy the family bonding experience.
6. Organizational skills
Pokémon Go is also a good tool to help improve organizational and strategizing skills. In order to advance to higher levels and catch stronger Pokémon, you need to hatch eggs, catch Pokémon, upgrade your Pokémon, and hit Poké Stops to collect balls. At gyms, you need to have stronger Pokémon to win so it’s smart to strategize the best way to upgrade the Pokémon before a battle and also how to heal your Pokémon to regain strength after the battle.
7. Active lifestyle
Students are more active as they must walk around to catch Pokémon Go opposed to most other types of video games that enable a more sedentary lifestyle. We’ve also seen some students riding their bikes around playing Pokémon Go to cover more ground and catch more Pokémon quickly.
8. Healthy competition
Students and faculty are interacting in a fun, competitive manner in the halls, between classes and at lunch. They are often comparing which Pokémon they have caught, asking which team they’re on and talking about their challenges and eevee-lutions!
9. Increase leadership skills
In life, you can’t always be a leader. In Pokémon Go, there are opportunities for all players to become leaders. If your Pokemon trains at a gym and wins the battle, your character takes leadership of the gym – until someone else wins a battle at that gym. You can feel good about winning a battle and use your leadership skills to put a team of people in place to guard the gym in preparation for the next battle.
10. Stress relief
Playing Pokémon Go is a great way to release stress, let go of tension and get immersed in a fun atmosphere. What better way to overcome a stressful day, than to chase adorable Pokémon in your neighborhood?
Game Design student Tyler Ann Cook made it her mission to return to Rooster Teeth (RTX) as a Guardian volunteer in 2016 and with her foot in the door from volunteering the previous year, she was ecstatic to learn she was accepted once again! Upon her return to UAT, we wanted to find out more about the event and her role as a Guardian.
Learn about Tyler Ann’s experience in the Q&A below:
Q. Can you tell us more about Rooster Teeth and your role as a volunteer?
A. The motto of Rooster Teeth is “where gaming meets the internet” and allows for people in the gaming community to connect with their role models and friends. Rooster Teeth as a whole is a very welcoming community that feels like one giant family at times. RTX brings like-minded people together from all walks of life. Having a common interest in gaming, makes it easier to make friends and to strike up a conversation, whether commenting on the latest RWBY episode, discussing the latest podcast topic or pondering the most impossible achievement in the last Let’s Play. It’s like the people at RTX are my people.
As a Guardian, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the event runs smoothly. We do it all, from registration to organizing lines and running the panel rooms and expo hall, to ensuring that special guests are on time to for signings and appearances. Guardians are the sea of people in and around and behind the scenes of the event that make sure RTX goes according to plan. We foster relationships between attendees, allowing those who are too shy to introduce themselves to have a safe place to make new friends.
Q. What were your duties?
A. I was a personal assistant (PA) so I was assigned to one of the special guests and it was my job to keep track of this person, guard them, escort them to their appearances, ensure they were fed and hydrated, and essentially I was their contact person to provide whatever they needed throughout the weekend. My tips for success are to always have water, snacks, sharpies and hand sanitizer available.
Q. How were you selected as a volunteer?
A. There is an online application one must submit prior to the convention each year. I was a Guardian last year and already had a foot in the door from my previous experience. I kept an eye on the website and Twitter feed waiting for the application to drop and then applied right away. The application includes questions such as prior experience with conventions, role requests, and experience you have that you think would be beneficial to whatever role offered.
Q. What did you learn?
A. The power of networking and making positive connections with people in other departments – in my experience as a PA you end up working with most every other job that exists, so it’s smart to work together when possible. I found that ensuring you have positive relationships with everyone also ensures that when things go wrong, you have ample backup to help fix it. It also helps to ensure nothing does go wrong in the first place.
For example, there was a panel that took a turn for the worst really quickly from the standpoint of Guardians. Attendees loved it and the special guests were having a great time. However, no one informed the Guardians there would be alcohol or excessive amounts of drinking and hence we were not prepared to deal with extremely drunk special guests. There was one other PA and myself at the panel and we were scrambling to figure out how to deal with the situation. I spoke to the lead panel Guardian for the room and between his assistant, myself, and the other PA, we were able to figure out how to deal with the situation, handle it, and effectively ensure everyone was safe, and that the crowds were handled efficiently. After this unexpected issue, the two panel Guardians, the other PA and I all ended up becoming really close and knew that together we could diffuse any situation.
Q. What was RTX like?
A. RTX is a whirlwind. That’s really the only way to describe it. You barely sleep, you don’t stop moving for the entire three days that the convention runs. You are exhausted and blissfully happy, yet stressed out of your mind, your whole body hurts and your emotions are on a rollercoaster ride. But when it’s all over and done with, you wouldn’t give it up or change it for the world. You are sad it’s over, and immediately miss all of your new friends, and start counting down the days until RTX next year.
Q. Did you meet any industry leaders?
A. No. This is a community gaming convention, not an industry gaming convention. Rooster Teeth is known for their Let’s Plays and creating content (videos, shows, etc.) about video games and using video games in their creation. One of their most known works is Red vs. Blue which is the longest running web series and started as a machinama based animation style show recorded using the earliest Halo games. It has been on air for over 10 years and is on its 14th season.
Q. Was this a paid opportunity?
A. This was not a paid opportunity. This was a strictly volunteer position. The reason the majority of Guardians that I know volunteer and work is simply because of their intense love for Rooster Teeth and desire to help the community members have a wonderful experience.
Q. How does this impact your degree? What benefits did this experience offer you as a student?
A. RTX gave me the chance to talk about games and really connect with other people who love games as much as I do. Much like E3, RTX is a conference devoted to seeing and experiencing the latest innovations in gaming and sharing ideas, thoughts and experiences with peers. I had an opportunity to get feedback on what a large portion of the gaming community likes and doesn’t like; simply through conversation. It is not a chance to network or playtest games; however it is a really wonderful opportunity to just talk about games and have that social interaction. As a student, I worked with students from the US and around the world. In addition to making a ton of new friends, I made connections. At RTX, professional networking is not allowed however, the casual networking aka the connections you make by working together and making friends with others is encouraged. I made a lot of connections that I can call on if needed at a future point in my life. But right now, I’m counting down the days until RTX 2017!
“I’m getting misty eyed at the airport because I just don’t want to leave! I can’t wait til RTX2017 when I can do it all again!”
Pokémon GO was released a week ago and already local businesses are reporting profit gains, social media is creating hilariously relatable memes and news outlets are reporting on the unique situations ordinary citizens – turned “Pokémon hunters” have encountered. The game’s popularity shot to the top of the App store in a matter of hours. It’s no longer a question of who is playing Pokémon GO, but who’s not playing Pokémon GO.
Here at UAT, we’re no different. In fact, we have three Poké Stops on campus and usually one stop has a lure, or a lure module, which causes more Pokémon to appear in location. Our students and faculty are placing lures at Poké Stops regularly throughout the day to attract more players.
UAT is already a close-knit campus, but the bond of the Pokémon hunter transcends student and faculty boundaries. Now, in the café, students and instructors alike are sharing their victories and challenges, their “eevee-lutions” and their server-freezing woes.
There’s even a Pokémon gym across campus! Gyms are places where hunters can train their Pokémon’s to battle each other and take ownership of the gym, and currently the blue team is the reigning champion! Professor Hue Henry even joked over lunch that for the first time in history, he can truthfully say that after work he’s going to the gym.
Rumor has it that higher level players attract higher level Pokémon and at UAT, we happen to have a lot of high level players. Here’s a map of user-submitted Poké Stops around the Valley.
Technology is often cited as a way to advance and move toward a more sustainable or desirable future, but games like Pokémon GO also prove that social interactions and the landscape and manner in which we bond are also going digital.
“One of the things that’s amazing about Pokémon Go, is it’s not just for hardcore gamers. New game enthusiasts are getting involved and searching for Pokémon, too,” said Game Programming Professor Hue Henry, a faculty member who has been immersed in the game.
Despite some of the criticisms that the game has met and some of the real challenges it faces like server traffic, overloading and risky behaviors such as driving while trying to catch a Pikachu on the freeway, it’s been remarkable to see the engagement around UAT’s campus.
As Professor Jill Brumand said, “Seeing a group of students braving the Arizona heat in search of a Jolteon or the strange kinship many players share with strangers wandering through the park with their faces aglow and their fingertips tapping, certainly make Pokémon Go a phenomenon that will not soon be forgotten.”
So how did Pokémon Go know where to place these Poke Stops? Many Pokémon hunters have heard of or have played a game called Ingress. Ingress is an augmented-reality, massive, multiplayer, online location-based game created by Niantic, which laid the foundation for instances of how many players are in a location. Ingress players submitted locations based on cool local landmarks such as cemeteries and churches. You can submit your own location for Ingress. Naturally, UAT has clusters of players on campus and so Pokémon Go created Poké Stops around our campus to meet the popular demand suggested by Ingress players. The locations submitted for UAT are the dorms at UAT Founder’s Hall, the UAT sign and the South Mountain trail map behind the dorms. There is now an option to edit or remove a location, as well.
Professor Hue Henry said, “Given the general popularity and nostalgia factor of Pokémon, I think the game will stick around for a while. It’s more than just the AR component to gamers. Collection games are hugely popular. Right now, only 151 Pokémon have been released, but the Pokémon Universe has over 700 creatures to collect, so I don’t see the phenomenon going away any time soon.”
You know all about Pokémon Go, so now what? Well like they say, “Gotta catch ‘em all!”
You’re invited to the 2016 Summer Greenlight Celebration, an event for University of Advancing Technology (UAT) to acknowledge the amazing work of its UAT Game Studios students by offering them the opportunity to demonstrate the games they’ve been working on for the last semester to fellow students and to the public.
The UAT Game Studios is a multidisciplinary collaboration of students across undergraduate and graduate degrees and on-ground and online programs consisting of mostly game design and game programming students, as well as art and animation majors to form well-rounded game development or game dev teams.
What: 2016 Summer Greenlight Celebration
Where: UAT Theater and Commons
When: August 12, 2016, from 6-8 p.m.
Why: To celebrate the amazing work of UAT Game Studios students and demo their games
Who: UAT Game Studios students
The event includes team awards and game demos.
You can meet the game devs and artists behind the games and remember why you love to play games in the first place – to have fun!
Join us in celebrating our teams’ hard work in turning ambitious game concepts into playable realities.
UnderEarth is an immersive, first-person puzzle game available to play on both PC and Oculus Rift, slated to launch sales on Steam in June. The UnderEarth team flew in to Arizona from different states for the essential opportunity to gain real-time reactions and feedback from the active gaming community, what better place to find such a devoted pool of game enthusiasts, but at UAT!
Game synopsis: Following Valvorta Corp’s declared emergency mission, the player must simultaneously manage life support systems and locate tools, documents, devices while navigating with magnetic boot attachments to assess what’s happened in the facility and how to repair and rescue.
The UnderEarth team members include: Kerrigan Guthrie — Level Designer, Joseph Marin – Lead Programmer, John Waynick — Senior Artist, Joseph Wilhems — Lead Designer and Allison Summers – Artist.
The game developers were available for questions and to offer helpful tips so that the eager playtesters could quickly grasp the game’s scope and enjoy the game they worked so hard to develop.
Overall, the UnderEarth team heard positive reviews during the live demo commenting on the the brilliant imagery, stimulating environments and overall game challenges that UnderEarth presents to gamers.
Did we mention this game is also in VR? Yes! UAT game students jumped at the chance to playtest a new game on Oculus Rift. As it currently stands, UAT Game Studios and alumni have only produced a few games in Virtual Reality so it’s a rare find, but with games like Reflections, Wizards 1984 VR and now UnderEarth, our game devs stands to change that!
Watch the latest demo of UnderEarth on Steam here.
Thanks for coming out to play UnderEarth!