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ABOUT UAT
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.

Learn More About UAT

    UAT Alum Erin Ali is Playing to Win


      Erin Ali is a 2007 graduate of UAT, and somewhat of a legend. From Student Showcase Organizer to Co-Ed Softball player, she made her mark during her time on campus, and continues to do so in her gaming...

     

    Erin Ali is a 2007 graduate of UAT, and somewhat of a legend. From Student Showcase Organizer to Co-Ed Softball player, she made her mark during her time on campus, and continues to do so in her gaming career. Erin has worked at Blizzard Entertainment and Twitch, and she is currently the Senior Producer for Forza Motorsport by Turn 10 Studios.

     

    Dr. David Bolman, UAT Provost, said that Erin is—simply put­—awesome. “The thing about Erin, which has been true about so many top tier UAT grads, is that they first gained notice by being so engaged on campus,” Dr. Bolman said. “Erin was a leader in student government and inserted seeds of ideas into many of the traditions that continue today. She worked as a student-staff person all over the building, and so we became accustomed to seeing her and talking about her goals and ideas. Towards the end of her time at UAT, the experiences she cultivated led her to being hired as a student to work on a "triple A" massive multiplayer online

    (MMO) project, and that’s very rare, and very impressive. What she learned there launched her into a career in the game industry that covered some of the most well-regarded companies out there.”

     

    ErinAli

     

    Dr. Bolman also notes that Erin is a great influence for women in tech. “She is a voice for women in the industry and speaks to it when she returns to campus every year or so to speak to current students. When she is on stage in the UAT theater, I see someone who is every bit as smart and enthusiastic about tech and game studies, but also has learned enough through her career to be completely confident in her ideas and perspective. What I love most about this, beyond the joy of seeing Erin happy in her career, is that she leans in and tells the current students that finding their own values and creative voice is one of the best things you can do with your life.”

     

    We asked Erin if she could share some of her insight into the world of gaming, and she took the time to share many great pieces of career advice. Read on to find out more about Erin and how she turned her transitioned from a successful student to a thriving game producer!

     

    Why did you choose UAT?

     

    When in high school, I was big into Electronic Gaming Monthly and Official PlayStation Magazine. At the time I wanted to be a journalist in games, but had never really considered making them. It didn’t really feel like something I knew I could do.

     

    I recall getting a mailer about UAT (as I grew up in Arizona) and had decided to check it out with my Dad. Once I realized I could explore getting into game development, and after checking out the school at an info session, I had decided UAT would be a good fit for me.

     

    What did you study at UAT? Did it prepare you for the future?

     

    My BA from UAT is in Multimedia. I can’t entirely recall what classes tied to my BA, but I can say while at UAT I tried a lot of different things to help my future, a lot of which UAT supported.

     

    My first goal at UAT was to first figure out what I wanted to do in games. I took programming, animation, web design, and it wasn’t until roughly junior year of college that I realized production was what I wanted to do.

     

    ErinAli_CORTeamPhotoI sought out ways to get as close to job experience as I could by joining student led projects. I was the Web Admin on the Counter Organic Revolution Mod and became a Modeler for CiTAGA. 

     

    Outside of my studies, I also tried to find ways to network. I attended UAT’s Tech Forum and engaged with some of the speakers. I worked at GDC as a Conference Associate so I could attend GDC and meet others. I don’t think networking for me at the time was very intentional, I was more or less looking to meet cool people in the industry and make friends. What I ended up with was some strong connections to people who eventually did refer me early in my career.

    Erin's COR Team at UAT.

     

     

    How did you land your current job/project?

     

    For almost every job I’ve landed in the industry, it started with being a referred candidate (which before started with making friends and connections in the industry). That means someone I knew who was comfortable referring me to their company sent my information through internal employment channels to refer me as a candidate for the position. Cold applications for jobs can be successful (I’ve done it once before), however I’ve found with some companies the best way to get a shot for an interview is a referral.

     

    For my first job, I actually applied through the UAT Industry Career Services team. They had a posting for an Assistant Producer, and I worked with the UAT Career Services Coordinator to get my application in. It was like a referral as I went through ICS, so maybe all the positions I’ve landed started with referrals, haha.

     

    After landing the interview, a lot of it is about preparation:

     

    ⇒ I researched the studio and titles to feel better prepared. For some titles in my career I hadn’t played them, so I made sure to play them in advance for perspective. 

    ⇒ I looked up my interviewers on LinkedIn to get a sense of their histories and tenure within the company.

    ⇒ I keep a list of questions to bring to the interview. Some of them are tailored to specific interviewers and a few are to be asked in every interview I’m in. I like to get different perspectives from various employees in the company, and using a question where you can gauge answers to the same question can give you an idea of things across disciplines, teams, or levels.

     

    What is the most exciting part of your work?

     

    Seeing the enthusiasm our team has for supporting each other. When we get together to review our past month of work or to present on something we did, people care. They celebrate big and small wins. For me it’s usually about the team first.

     

    ErinAliSpeaking

     

    What is game production like when working from home?

     

    Working from home presents pros and cons on its own, just like working only from the office, and you find ways to adjust to them. For example, working from home means we aren’t commuting to the office or needing to transition between meetings from one room to another. It can be easy to fall into a trap of now having even more meetings in a day because we’re not commuting. We have been going through trial and error for what has worked for our team as a whole and among our smaller teams. We recognize a lot is going on right now though so our meetings may have dog barking, kids running around, etc. We all take it in stride and know everyone is trying their best.

     

    Some other WFH considerations:

     

    ⇒ Communication tactics may not work as well as they did when in the office, so you have to find ways to adjust.

     

    ⇒ People at home are also dealing with being with family, kids, dogs, etc. We all are practicing empathy with each other for what it means to have to miss meetings, having loud interruptions on calls, etc.

     

    Are you back in the office?

     

    We are still working from home.

     

    What advice do you have for students looking to start their careers?

     

    While I figured out that I wanted to be a Producer late in my time at UAT, I have spent my entire career finding who I am and what I want to do and should do. Please remember you don’t have to have it all figured out by the time you are interviewing for your first job in the industry. Just start somewhere, and be open to opportunities you may never have thought you’d go for.

     

    ⇒ Had I not spent time working on teams like Blizzard’s Billing Engineering team for Battle.net, I wouldn’t have realized how good I was at, or how much I enjoyed working on problems that impacted all games at a global scale.

     

    ⇒ By working as a Product Manager at Twitch, I learned how to focus on my customer and think about tough decisions, about how to be more intentional in how I was player/customer-centered.

     

    ⇒ Over time I have figured out what I don’t like and what I do. Every job is a shift, even if it’s sometimes small.

     

    ErinAli_Twitch

     

    What is the best career advice you’ve received?

     

    Asking questions solves so many things — it was something my tech director in my first industry job encouraged me to do. It has helped me learn things I didn’t know. I’ve been able to diffuse tense conversations with them. Other teammates in the room felt better knowing I asked something they too had questions about. 

     

    When used with good intent, questions have always been a go-to tool for me. Be curious, be open to learn and know that if you have a question in the room, it’s very likely someone else does too. 🕹️

     

    ErinAliaUAT

     


     

    UAT Game Studies

    Learn more about degree options for the gaming industry!

    🎮 Game Art & Animation

    🎮 Game Design

    🎮 Game Programming

    🎮 Game Production

     

    Email an advisor at admissions@uat.edu to get started!

     

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    2020 is All Fun and Games at UAT


    Summer Game Jam Themed for Life in 2020   At the end of July, UAT students and alumni wrapped up the summer semester by...

    Summer Game Jam Themed for Life in 2020

     

    At the end of July, UAT students and alumni wrapped up the summer semester by competing in the Summer 2020 UAT Game Jam. Hosted online from July 17–26, the 9-day jam was designed to be open to all levels, including those who had never even made a game before, with professors available on Discord to mentor and help solve problems. Veteran jammers and experienced developers were also strongly encouraged to partner with and mentor the newbies.

     

    GamJamMentor

    Mentors work with students through Discord channels. 

     

    On July 26, participants uploaded their builds to the jam page and then exhibited their games on Zoom, with awards presented immediately after judging. There were 24 registered participants and 9 games submitted. The theme was 2020, with games ranging from witty—like The Karening, a game where players avoid the Karens and the Kevins to complete the objective without getting infected with COVID-19—to just plain fun—like Party Manager 2020, a party simulator to ease worries after the quarantine has been lifted.

     

    UAT professor and Game Jam Judge Tony Hinton commented, “The game students created amazing 2020 games. Not only were the game students inspiring, but their games were so much fun, it made me wish I could be a student again, too.”

     

    Judges Hinton, Judy Tyrer, and Justan Mcclinton awarded teams with honors from Best Design (The Karening) to Most Experimental Game (The Visionyary).

     

    Check out all of the games at https://itch.io/jam/uat-summer-game-jam-2020, and see the full list of winners below!

     

    2020GameJamTitles

     

    Great work to all that participated, and if you missed out, get ready, the next jam will be the Founder's Day game jam in September.  

     

    THE WINNERS

     

    The Architect Award: Best Design

    • Winner: The Karening – Chase Sweeney, Dylan Chapman
    • Honorable Mention: The Visionyary – Dylan Combs

     

    The Picasso Award: Best Art

    • Winner: Party Manager 2020 – Zachary Dallas, Vanessa Adams, Marissa Williams, Carter Wolf, Brett Hoffman, Jake Fusco, Jonathon Sherwood
    • Honorable Mention: Masked in Time – Malik Shaw

     

    Pixel Perfect Award: Best 2D Pixel Art

    • Winner: Masked in Time – Malik Shaw

     

    Bardic Inspiration Award: Best Audio

    • Winner: Party Manager 2020 – Zachary Dallas, Vanessa Adams, Marissa Williams, Carter Wolf, Brett Hoffman, Jake Fusco, Jonathon Sherwood

     

    The Innovator Award: Most Technically Innovative

    • Winner: No Vision – Darin Palermo

     

    Theme Wizard Award: Best Use of Theme

    • Winner: 2020 – Connor Bish
    • Honorable Mention: The Karening – Chase Sweeney, Dylan Chapman

     

    Risk Taker Award: Most Experimental Game

    • Winner: The Visionyary – Dylan Combs

     

    Uncertain Origins Award: Most Obscure Game Engine

    • Winner: Corona Fighter – Addison Buettner, Bryan Block, Tucker Baskit

     


     

    Check out past Jams!  

    Global Game Jam 2020

    Combating COVID-19: Videogames that Empower Kids

     

    UAT was named one of 8 Best Online Schools for Bachelor's in Animation Degree Programs in 2020!

     

    For more informationa about UAT gaming degrees, check out the following:

    Game Art and Animation

    Game Design

    Game Programming

     

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    BunchOfNerds


    Student-led multimedia production company at UAT brings together innovation, creativity and a group of nerds. BunchOfNerds (BON) was created as a club for students to create projects and network.   V Greffin, game design major and CEO of BunchOfNerds, started the club with the desire to create friendships with...

    Student-led multimedia production company at UAT brings together innovation, creativity and a group of nerds. BunchOfNerds (BON) was created as a club for students to create projects and network.

     

    V Greffin, game design major and CEO of BunchOfNerds, started the club with the desire to create friendships with artists and programmers and to collaborate on small projects. The club soon morphed into a large team concentrating on one big project at a time. Executive team V, Bailey Neilson, Ricardo Martinez, Sabrina Peterson and Abby Palmer soon turned the club into a company.

     

    During a phone call between V and their mom, V’s mom said, “you’ll figure out something, you’re all just a bunch of nerds.” The name stuck and the company grew from there. Company culture at BON is focused on having fun. In the future, the executive team hopes for the company to be self-sustaining, so that the creators can focus on creating.

     

    Originally the company was just focused on game design, then a friend asked V, “what if I don’t want to work on video games, can I still join BunchOfNerds?” It was agreed to expand the company to a multi-media production studio after that. BON produces any form of entertainment media the members are interested in creating—the possibilities are endless.

     

    Due to demand, BON is now encompassing eight departments and growing. Departments include The Burn Pile, Campfire Comics, FireTape, Firelight Libraries, Play With Fire, Hearthfire Tabletop, Key Flames and SomethingExtravagant.

     

    One of the more difficult aspects the executives faced was the steep learning curve required when creating a company. Many hours were poured into research, trial and error, sales, LLC licensure, trademarking, trade naming, etc. On top of the legal aspects, getting the word out about BON proved to be another challenge.

     

    Not only is BunchOfNerds on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), but they’re also friendly faces at the Founder’s Hall yard sale. They spread the word by talking to everyone that comes their way and selling branded sunglasses. “In general, we all wear our BunchOfNerds merchandise,” says Bailey, “that way it’s just there and people ask about it.”

     

    During the process, UAT faculty and staff, such as Scott Beemer, Matthew Marquit, Dapzury Valenzuela and Derric Clark, have been more than willing to give pointers and business advice.

     

    Baily, the company accountant, distinguishes classes such as entrepreneurship to marketship, project management and accounting as classes that have helped her develop much of what BON is accomplishing. On the creative side, Ricardo and V thank their game design courses, which taught scrum and agile learning. These universal skills help the executive team lead the company, monitor progress and stay accountable with release schedules.

     

    BON holds weekly meetings every Saturday at noon. Here, team leads give updates on projects in the works and any issues that arise. “I’m frequently messaging people, like hey we’re looking to post something on social media, do you have any screenshots?” says V, “We’re constantly getting updates. When I get bored, I’ll go through our drive, through all the sig files, and see what’s new and what’s been added and read over documentation.”

     

    With an active team of 17, BON is currently running five projects. “We’re also using Pack and Plan as a development stage, so that we know what’s in process, what’s finished and we go over it,” notes Ricardo, “If it still needs to be done, we can bring it back to in process, otherwise, it needs something else finished and we move on from there.”

     

    The executive team joined BON for different reasons. For Baily, she was inspired by her business owning mother, “I love the opportunities that she’s had as a business owner and I want that for myself. I love the culture that UAT has. Plus, this BunchOfNerds was such a cool club in my eyes,” states Bailey, “Once V had proposed making it a business, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

     

    Ricardo has always wanted create games that give others the same entertainment he enjoyed from games when he was younger, which has led him down the game design path. Similarly, V enjoys making and creating things.

     

    Executive Team:

    Bailey Neilson, Web Design, Business Technology
    V Greffin, Game Design
    Ricardo Martinez, Game Programming, Robotics and Embedded Systems
    Sabrina Peterson
    Abby Palmer

     

    Other members:
    Jenn Walbaum
    Chloe Main
    Nancy Paltz
    Natalie Johnson
    Sydney Brown
    Kim Martin
    Lily Valles
    James Cortezano
    Josue Espinoza
    Victoria Cleere
    Allison Akins
    Jordan Brown
    Alex Bautista
    Maddie Johnson
    Rheana Salgado
    Joey Chilton
    Isabelle Main

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    Junior Achievement Financial Literacy Game


    What does financial literacy mean? You see articles on high schools graduating students who know math and how to read and write, but they are lacking fundamental life skills, including financial literacy. When many young adults move out, they still don’t know how to budget, pay bills or get insurance.   ...

    What does financial literacy mean? You see articles on high schools graduating students who know math and how to read and write, but they are lacking fundamental life skills, including financial literacy. When many young adults move out, they still don’t know how to budget, pay bills or get insurance.

     

    Professor Derric Clark brought financial literacy to UAT in partnership with Junior Achievement of Arizona. Students were tasked with creating a financial literacy education game for school-aged students with the goal of every school in the Valley having access to this game. The game will be integrated into classrooms to support the financial literacy curriculum schools are teaching.

     

    The team started as a small group of six, but quickly grew to 30 members. After understanding the concept, the group created the game’s identity, theme and style of play.

     

    When deciding the game style, the team addressed restraining forces and the audience. The game needed to work on existing public-school equipment with curriculum approachable for all levels of learners. The team created a Chromebook-compatible game with 200 polies max for every scene. Derric recommended games such as Graveyard Keep and Farmville, which influenced the cartoon-style.

     

    “We wanted to ensure that even though we were trying to put so much educational information into this, it was actually going to be appealing to those playing it, and that it was going to be fun,” says Kieli Adkins.

     

    Tycoonizing the gameplay, having the play constantly manage resources, created the core mechanics. This idea then stemmed many systems mapped by the designers.

     

    The education element was incorporated after the platform was established. After embracing the tycoon aspect, the team needed to decide the type of systems that worked best with educational material. This landed them on interactive gameplay, that plays out as a one-shot take. The play isn’t removed from the experience, which results in the gameplay players as a quest system that delivers education.

     

    To further that, the team implemented an event system within the gameplay for educational moments through minigames. This resulted in all actions being based on visual cues and UI as clicking was solely used for menus and confirmation. Lighting, highlighting objects, particles and player feedback where included in the visual cues. The game also allows for customization, such as customizing the character. C# coding, Unity 2019 and Rider were used to write the game’s code.

     

    Mimicking a slice of life simulator, the minigames are similar to jobs. To earn a paycheck, players must accomplish tasks and allocate resources. The practical utilization of tutorials is used here.

     

    These include maneuvering through a bank account, and learning to budget, pay bills and get insurance.

     

    While this game is meant for K-12 classrooms, it can be played by anyone who wants to learn about finances. And the players aren’t the only learners, the team noted that creating this game was a crash course in finances for them as well, “it’s truly amazing how much you may not know about life skills, every person on this project has learned something throughout this game,” says Justine Grauel.

     

    “My favorite day is sitting down and telling everybody, okay here is a mortgage, here is how you do this. Cause I’ve done it, I had to go through it, but my first time I had no idea what I was doing,” says Derric Clark, “I just had to figure it out as I was doing it because no one ever taught me either.”

     

    Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it’s taken an entire team of UAT students working together to create a much needed, practical educational tool for school kids.

     

    See what our students are working on.

     

    Professor and Lead: Derric Clark

    Project Lead: Tyler Ann Cook, MS Game Production and Management, Game Design

    Project Manager and Project Lead: Justine Grauel, Virtual Reality, Game Art and Animation

     

    Art Leads:

    Jonathan Campbell, Game Design, Game Art and Animation

    Kieli Adkins, Game Art and Animation, Game Programming

    Andrew Van Winkle, Game Art and Animation

     

    Programming Leads:

    Miguel Hernandez, Advancing Computer Science, Virtual Reality, Game Design

    Ethan Page, Game Programming

     

    Design Leads:

    Tyler King, Game Design

    Kyle Davis, Game Design

    Alex Schlegel, Game Design

     

    Artists:

    Nick Hodes, Game Design, Game Art and Animation

    Kenneth Frueh, Game Design

    Ruth Luis, Game Art and Animation

    Naomi Law-Komegay, Game Design, Game Art and Animation

    Ian Favreau, Game Art and Animation

    RaLen Watson-Davis, Game Art and Animation

    David Schafers, Game Art and Animation

    Addison Buettner, Game Design

    Sidney McKnight, Game Art and Animation

    Justan Griffin-McClinton, Game Design

    Jeff Watanabe, Game Art and Animation

    James Goddard, Game Art and Animation, Game Programming

    Jake Rigsby, Game Design

    Daniel McWhorter, Game Art and Animation

     

    Programmers:

    Abdulai Sallah, Game Programming

    Nathan Scott, Game Programming

    James Fisher, Game Programming

    Sean Murphy, Game Design

    Amanda Kimball, Advancing Computer Science

     

    Designers:

    Peter Tibbals, Game Design

    Nicholas La Macchia, Game Programming

    Tousean Woodard, Game Design

    John Kvassey, Game Design, Game Programming

    Alex Pabon, Game Design

     

    Business Technology:

    Renee Grauberger, Business Technology

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    Tech Tank


    Did you know UAT has their own version of Shark Tank, coined Tech Tank, where students pitch their hypothetical business ideas to a panel of real-world potential investors, business owners and entrepreneurs. The goal of Tech Tank is to see who can give the best pitch, arrive the most prepared and encourage the panel to invest in their idea.    This year,...

    Did you know UAT has their own version of Shark Tank, coined Tech Tank, where students pitch their hypothetical business ideas to a panel of real-world potential investors, business owners and entrepreneurs. The goal of Tech Tank is to see who can give the best pitch, arrive the most prepared and encourage the panel to invest in their idea. 

     

    This year, Tech Tank saw four projects from three different BUS200 classes. “As the creator of this event, I was very happy with the presentations and the preparedness of the students’ presenting,” remarks Dr. Mark Smith, “They held their own, answered tough questions and took the criticisms well under pressure.”

     

    Gold Award Winner—Ace of Spades presented by Christopher Hernke, Artificial Intelligence

     

    From Professor Cimarossa’s class came Ace of Spades. The project is an entertainment-based restaurant and bar with the main selling point being a POS system built off hard plastic playing cards that can track the tabs of the customers. Restaurant guests can order and pay from the POS kiosk systems and set limits for bill size with the individually linked cards. 

     

    Silver Award Winner—Demeter’s Watch presented by Marissa Williams, Game Art & Animation

     

    From Professor Valenzuela’s class came Demeter’s Watch. The project is a home gardening sensor that tracks plants’ health through an application. This sensor notifies the plant parent when their plants need sunlight, soil, water, etc.

     

    Bronze Award Winner—Eyes Breaker presented by Marc Benson, Advancing Computer Science

     

    From Professor Vita-More’s class came Eyes Breaker. The project is a social interaction application that helps socially anxious and introverted people find others in close proximity who are looking for conversation. The app prompts the user with common interest points and offers suggestions on how to "break the ice" and start a conversation. 

     

    See more innovation projects!

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    Meet New Freshmen


    Rebecca Levasseur Hometown: Fort Washington, Maryland Major: Digital Video   Rebecca remembers being six and sitting...

    Rebecca Levasseur

    Rebecca LevasseurHometown: Fort Washington, Maryland

    Major: Digital Video

     

    Rebecca remembers being six and sitting in her elementary school’s computer lab exploring all the features of the old Macintosh computers. Her fascination with computers matured into playing around with video editing for school assignments, coding activities and picture editing for fun in high school. She’s always been interested in technology.

     

    Rebecca changed her major to Digital Video after originally attending UAT for Network Security. Since she has more experience in the video field and some close friends in the Digital Video major, the transition happened naturally. 

     

    Ultimately, Rebecca just wants to edit videos. She loves creating with video editing software and discovering all the things you can make. Rebecca loves UAT for its smaller campus, which promotes a close-knit family atmosphere amongst faculty and students.

     

    When she’s not studying or doing homework, Rebecca likes to hang out with friends and play games, go to the mall, hike and joyride BIRD scooters. Inspired by her brother, parents and friends, Rebecca wouldn’t be here without their support and advice in times of doubt. After graduating from UAT, Rebecca would like to edit videos as a career. 

     

    David Austad

    David Austad

    Hometown: Gilbert, AZ

    Major: Network Security

     

    David decided he wanted to increase his knowledge after working for three years at a third-party IT company. With many of his clients working in the medical industry, he felt he could better meet their need by gaining additional skills. This led him to pursue a degree in network security.

     

    David remembers networking PCs together during gaming LAN parties and building his first PC as a teenager. He’s been interested and influenced by tech from a young age. Since many state universities didn't offer degrees that specifically addressed the field of work he was interested in, he found UAT and decided to attend. UAT’s atmosphere felt like home to David, a place where he could do the things he loved. UAT’s innovative spirit has rubbed off on David.

     

    David’s favorite hobby is gaming—all sorts of gaming, including board games, video games, card games and anything that challenges him to use tactics and intellect to achieve victory. He also enjoys hiking with Jennifer, his wife.

     

    Through the years, David was especially inspired by his great grandfather. At a young age, David had the privilege of spending time with his great grandfather at his Northern Arizona cattle ranch. At the ranch, David learned that any task worth completing is worth completing well, the value of hard work, and to never give up on any dream.

     

    Aubrey “Kim” Martin

    Aubrey “Kim” Martin

    Hometown: Keyesport, Illinois

    Major: Game Art and Animation

     

    Kim loves seeing the possibilities of what something can looked like in a TV show, animation, movie or even a comic. She’s always been interested in character design and development, so she chose to study Game Art and Animation to become a character concept artist. 

     

    After her junior year of high school, Kim received a call from one of her close friends, who told her that UAT offered both of the majors they wanted to study. They soon visited UAT for a campus tour. “The moment I walked into the main building was the moment I decided I was going to attend UAT,” remarks Kim, “nobody was going to tell me otherwise.”

     

    Kim enjoys hobbies such as digital and traditional drawing, playing video games, creating 2-D animations and playing piano. 

     

    Since attending UAT, Kim discovered her love for 2-D animation and has gained many new skills, such as developing 3-D modeling in 3DS Max and Autodesk Maya and creating vector and pixel art and animations for functional video games. She has also taken a position as a character artist at the student-run company BunchOfNerds. Most importantly, she’s gained strong motivation, new friends and a true happiness at UAT. 

     

    Interested in meeting more UAT freshmen? Read our last issue of Geek411!

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    Student Spotlight: Ricky Martinez


    Ricky Martinez knows how to hustle. As an Excel Leader and Student Mentor, Ricky is a familiar face to all on the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) campus. He’s also active in clubs, is double-majoring in Game Programming and Robotics and Embedded Systems...

    Ricky Martinez knows how to hustle. As an Excel Leader and Student Mentor, Ricky is a familiar face to all on the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) campus. He’s also active in clubs, is double-majoring in Game Programming and Robotics and Embedded Systems and works in the UAT Cafe.

     

    From a young age, Ricky was determined to be a game designer. Growing up gaming on a PlayStation, Ricky fondly remembers playing videogames with his dad, laughing a lot and discovering new worlds and experiencing adventures through videogames. These memories inspired him to create games to give players a similar experience and the same entertainment that Ricky had as a kid.

     

    The UAT community quickly drew Ricky in. “When I first came here for my UAT Experience, I met people that I was able to actually have conversations with,” explains Ricky, “I remember calling my mom the day after and telling her that I found my people.”

     

    Ricky also takes advantage of the resources UAT offers to students. Our campus system’s technology capabilities are built on enterprise server architecture—our datacenter contains more than 100 servers dedicated to production and student use!

     

    You can often find Ricky in the Robotics Lab and Maker’s Lab. Our Maker’s Lab is equipped with the latest 3D printers, maker bots, CNC cutters and the software and knowledge guidance that students need to bring innovative ideas to life. Designed to foster creativity and challenge student innovators with a 24/7 environment, the Maker’s Lab is for those like Ricky, who seek to lead the new industrial revolution driven by the convergence of advancing technologies.

     

    Ricky’s advice for new students is to learn time management and to reach out to someone if you’re struggling, so that they can give you the help you need.

     

    Check out the UAT community.

     

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    Don't Starve: What makes the game fun? (Part 1: Asymmetry)


    Hi, again! Happy to be back to writing gaming blogs for all of you guys! This time around, I’m going to be talking about a game that I just rediscovered my love for - Don’t Starve! More specifically, Don’t Starve Together - the multiplayer sequel to the original game.  ...

    Hi, again! Happy to be back to writing gaming blogs for all of you guys! This time around, I’m going to be talking about a game that I just rediscovered my love for - Don’t Starve! More specifically, Don’t Starve Together - the multiplayer sequel to the original game. 

    artem-labunsky-JXd-D70tYuQ-unsplash

    Back when I was in high school, I played this game all the time. Given, I was pretty horrible at it (and, honestly, I still am), but I always found myself having fun even when I failed. I loved building up my first base, making friends with all the pigs, and ultimately having both ripped away from me suddenly by hounds and Deerclops (Okay, maybe not so much the last part, but it did give me an adrenaline rush to keep trying).

    Even as they added more content to the game and made it harder to survive, I still always found myself enjoying the game. With the inclusion of insanity in The Insanity! Update, new seasons in the Reign of Giants DLC, and a whole ton of other content that was added in, I found it harder to survive. But, in the end, despite the constantly increasing difficulty, I still kept on coming back and having fun.

    But then how did Klei make it to where the game was this fun? What keeps bringing people in?

    Our first stop in figuring this out would be the character select screen. Don’t Starve has grown a lot over the years, creating characters that have provided different things to the player. However, we are going to go to the simpler time of the Don’t Starve early access beta, where there were only 5 characters to use.

    Each character provided something new that the player could use, but none of them were better than each other. This provided an asymmetrical dynamic within Don’t Starve, which allowed for players to pick any character they want and have experiences for each playthrough, while still being able to have access to a lot, if not all, of the same opportunities in each world.
    On that note, to understand how Klei made this character choice matter, we would have to look at how they designed each character.

    Take, for example, Wilson, the first character that the player could choose. During the beta of Don’t Starve, he was the only person who could have grown a beard, which made it easier for the player to keep warm and not freeze to death when the in-game season changed to winter.

    In the case of Willow, she was the only person who had an infinite lighter, which allowed her to ward off Charlie - an enemy in the game that would strike the player if they stood in darkness for too long.

    For Wolfgang, he was the only person who could change his max stats, allowing him to increase his health and strength to survive longer. Wickerbottom had access to books that allowed her to activate in-game events ( plant growth, Lightning, etc) and a higher tier of knowledge, which allowed her to get quicker access to stronger survival tools.
    Lastly, for Wendy, she could summon her ghost sister, which attacked enemies for her automatically.

    While each character did something great or sometimes better than other characters, it was not like a character was completely stronger than the last. After all, it’s not like Wolfgang can grow a beard like Wilson, and it’s not like Willow has instant access to stronger weapons. Outside of Wilson - the beginner character of the game-each character had their downfall that made the playing field equal in some way. For example, Willow would light fires at her feet when it gets too dark, which would cause the structures of the surrounding areas and items to catch on fire and be destroyed. Wolfgang would need to eat a lot of food to boost his stats, thus making resources scarce in the world. Wickerbottom could not sleep, locking her away from gaining health via sleeping items. Lastly, Wendy had lower health and strength, making survival in fights harder to pull off. earth-1617121_1920

    Another thing to consider would be those opportunities that I mentioned beforehand. A world in Don’t Starve has a lot of items that the player can create, alongside a lot of natural events that the player could benefit from. A character a person plays as does not affect the availability of either of those things. Whether you play as Wilson or Wendy, you will still have access to some items that can keep you warm during the winter. And whether you play Wolfgang or Willow, you will still have access to some form of a light source to ward off the darkness. If anything, the availability of an item or event would be based around the world generation settings, which I will speak about later.

    Overall, the choice between characters was based around preference and wanting to try something new in the game. Anyone could play any character and have an equal chance of surviving or failing within the game.

    That was all within the beta, however. Again, we had more characters added to the game, with each providing their pros and con. As of right now, we have a total of 22 unique playable characters. We have a lot of other content and scenarios that allow for each character's ability to shine, while still maintaining that asymmetry that makes these characters interesting and fun to use.

    On a side note, the asymmetry seen within beta Don’t Starve and current-day Don’t Starve/Don’t Starve Together is completely different. While the choice of characters was based on preference beforehand, it is now sometimes based on preference, skill, or both. This started to happen around the time Wes was introduced to the game. Wes was designed solely around providing a challenge for the player, having little to no advantages ( unless you consider him starting with a Pile o’ Balloons item as an advantage, despite how it can quickly drain sanity and having a low damage output), having weaker damage output and being able to starve faster than the rest of the cast.

    While future characters were not as difficult/skill driven to use, a lot of them had similar designs applied to them. We currently have a few characters - Wigfrid, Warly, and Wurt- designed in a way that locks them out from eating certain foods, forcing the player to find new means of keeping each character's hunger up while also managing their other downfalls. However, if the player can find ways to overcome these challenges, then a lot of benefits would naturally come to them. For example, if Warly could get a decent farm at their base and consistent food supply, and if they can make a variety of filling foods for themselves, then they can easily keep their hunger up to comfortable levels while also creating stat-boosting foods for the rest of the team ( if playing Don’t Starve Together). Wigfrid can use her strong armour to easily hunt down enemies that provide a lot of meat, which not only makes hunting/farming easier but also makes her a good fighter for the harder bosses in the game, Lastly, in the case of Wurt, she can save the fish that she can not eat for the spawning of a Merm king, which automatically boosts the stats of Wurt and any other Merms in the world.

    In other words, the newer, harder characters, have a lot more risks compared to other characters, and some items are locked away from them in some way. However, they also have huge rewards to make overcoming these challenges worthwhile, thus maintaining the asymmetry, but for mostly skilled players.

    photo-1500220959218-81a28e9292d0However, while the asymmetry gets maintained with each individual character, team combos do break that. In the case of team combos, a Warly, with his stat increasing foods, and a Wolfgang, with his high damage output, completely makes any other team combo irrelevant, as the Wolfgang can now dispatch enemies quickly without taking a lot of damage. No other team in the game will ever match the damage output that this team provides. I do have a problem with that as that does make the game somewhat unbalanced, but it’s not like Don’t Starve is competitive in any way. It’ll be multiple players working together, so, maybe, having the choice of creating such an overpowered team might be okay if everyone agrees with it. Plus, again, it’s all up to preference; players do not have to play these extremely strong teams if they are not interested.

    Overall, I believe that one of the reasons for Don’t Starve being fun is due to the ability of the player to choose different characters that can fit their playstyle. Another reason would be due to how these characters provide unique challenges that force the player to find unique solutions, which creates a lot of room for creativeness and open-ended gameplay. Lastly, the game is fun due to how there isn’t a wrong answer when it comes to these characters, providing differing experiences that are no worse than the last unless it is simply something that the given player does not like.

    Click here for information on our degrees in Game Studies or schedule a virtual tour with me in Discord.

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    IT’S HAMMER TIME:Using Valve’s Hammer To Create Portal 2 Maps - Part 2


    Welcome back to another entry within this series. Let’s just jump right into it. As with any form of game development, we would need documentation to keep track of concepts, current work in progress, what is needed, etc. At the moment, you already created a piece of documentation - the papermap. This will help you envision...

    Welcome back to another entry within this series. Let’s just jump right into it. As with any form of game development, we would need documentation to keep track of concepts, current work in progress, what is needed, etc. At the moment, you already created a piece of documentation - the papermap. This will help you envision your project and give you a reference for how you want your map to look like in the end. However, we need more. Now, we have to create the design document: This document is one of the most important things that you would have for your map. It outlines the theme of the map, the assets that the map will use, and an idea on how the map will be completed. Due to the flexibility of the design document and the project at hand, you can say that you can not fully complete a design document. However, to get a document that is useful for development, you should flesh out the following pieces of it.

    4Player

    1. Number of Players (subjective): The intended amount of people that can play on this map at a single given time.
    2. Engine Being Used: It is the engine that you will be doing most of your production on.
    3. Concept: What you are trying to aim for with the map and what you want the player to experience.
    4. Objective: The overall goal that the player will need to achieve to beat the map. There can be multiple objectives, but make sure to make the main objective as fleshed out as possible. See how the other objectives help or lead the player in beating the main objectives.
      530-90_hammer_
    5. Tools used within the level: Basically, what items and interactables that are available within the entirety of the map.
      assetlist
    6. Asset List: The items that you, as the developer, would need to create to build the entirety of the map. When we say assets, we mean things such as textures, whiteboxes, particles, items, character/enemy models, etc. Think of it like this - every individual piece that makes up the physical level is an asset.
    7. Function List: Scripts or any sort of code that you will be making
    8. Map Size: Just how big your map will be in the possible final build. Try to use some sort of unit of measurement that is easy for you to use as a reference while sculpting out the map within the editor.
    9. Story Placement: Some games do have some sort of single-player mode or story mode that you can play through. The maps that you will play through will change in some way during different parts of the story. Some assets might be present/not present during certain parts and some mechanics might be present within only certain parts of that story as well. If you want your map to make sense within the context of the games' story/if you are trying to develop a map for the main campaign, you have to indicate where this map will appear within the main story. Make sure to use visuals from previously created maps to capture how that map should look at that part of the story. Doing all of this helps make your map much more consistent and believable to the player, which helps with the immersion.
    10. Audio Effects List: Similar to the Asset and Function Lists - you’re just going to outline what kind of sounds that will be present on your map, where those sounds will be played, and under what circumstances.
      mapsize
    11. Walkthrough: A step by step instructional on how to 100% complete your map ( get all the collectibles, reach certain parts of the stage, defeating certain enemies, etc). While you can publish the walkthrough and allow players to follow it to help them get through the map, this is more so for you, as the developer, to use as a reference for understanding the flow of your map and where certain events will occur. It also will help in the creation of your pacing chart, which you will use in tandem with the walkthrough section of your documentation to balance out your map so that it makes sense gameplay-wise.
    12. Pacing chart: The pacing chart is a numeric chart that quantifies how hard a part of a map is compared to the other parts. As said before, this would be used in tandem with the walkthrough section of your map so that you can go back and balance the gameplay so that some parts are not too hard or too easy. I feel like the pacing of the map should grow in the shape of a hill - difficulty starts very low, but gradually gets harder as time goes on. It will then reach an apex - or the highest difficulty of the map - and then it will start declining in difficulty until it is easy again. This helps build up the player so that they can grow and be prepared for the challenges that they face.
    13. Milestone log: This log helps with separating the tasks that need to be completed before a certain date. It helps with keeping everyone on track, and ensuring that a product is made by a certain date. This is not necessary if you are an independent developer just doing this for fun or on his or her own time, but it is vital when you are in a professional setting and trying to get a product out to a stakeholder. To create a milestone log, create tasks that will help you develop pieces of your map. Then create a set of time windows ( It could be a week, a month, or a year. But make sure you get solid dates down for these time windows), and then place these tasks into those specific windows. If it seems like these tasks are too much to handle within a window or if a task needs to be completed before another task can be completed, organize them in another window. You’re just creating a list of things to do, and giving yourself a deadline to complete them all.

    If you want an idea on how a design document should look, check out the design document that I made for my Portal 2 map.

    If you want an idea on how a pacing map should look, check out the pacing map for my portal 2 map as well!

    That’s pretty much it for this week! Next week, we’re going to jump straight into Hammer and start developing something great. Until then, be well!

    UAT offers the following Gaming Degrees; Game Art and Animation, Game Design, Game Production and Game Programming

     

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    S#!T—Watch Your Language!


    Playing online video games is like running through a minefield of curse words. Watch Your Language is a tool kit trying to make the gaming experience more family friendly.   This Student Innovation Project (SIP), created by duo Rocky Vargas and Michael Shepherd, monitors what players are saying and flags...

    Playing online video games is like running through a minefield of curse words. Watch Your Language is a tool kit trying to make the gaming experience more family friendly.

     

    This Student Innovation Project (SIP), created by duo Rocky Vargas and Michael Shepherd, monitors what players are saying and flags inappropriate words. Rocky explains, “Our innovation claim is that gameplay is intensified by turning to foul language gamers use into a mechanic for punishment.”

     

    There isn’t anything for gaming that uses speech recognition this way. If Watch Your Language detects vulgar words, alarms sound and the monitor will display the word. This mechanic is meant to monitor in real-time and can be universally used because there is a coded element that can be written for any word.

     

    Because of the code, this technology can expand into more than just the gaming industry. Software and other technologies written in code can apply Watch Your Language if it’s compatible with a microphone.

     

    Rocky wrote the original code to detect specific words and activated the streaming portion of this SIP. Michael polished the code and hooked it all up.

     

    Do you want to drive the future of games? Check out UAT’s Game Programming degree.

     

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    Experience a True Player Vs. Environment Game


    Looters of the Arcane is a post-modern survival horror game where players travel to past eras to find mysterious objects. With the use of a Time Sphere, players can collect these objects for the antiquities company they currently work for in the distant future. The purpose of the game is to find the arcane objects and sell them to the highest bidder. Because the lost...

    Looters of the Arcane is a post-modern survival horror game where players travel to past eras to find mysterious objects. With the use of a Time Sphere, players can collect these objects for the antiquities company they currently work for in the distant future.


    The purpose of the game is to find the arcane objects and sell them to the highest bidder. Because the lost objects are things that shaped the current world, the game has a surreal effect.

     

    Creator Regis Jerry says this game is an “environment with a personality.” Also known as True PVE, this sets the game apart from other PVE games and gives it an innovative factor. The game’s AI gives the player a completely immersive experience through environmental challenges thrown at the player.

     

    As a player levels up, the environment becomes more difficult to beat. This sense of differing personalities gives the player the ability to use the environment or let it hinder them. Visit places like Ancient Egypt, The Asylum, Ancient Greece and Feudal Japan.

     

    Players can use guns and crosses found within the different environments to fight off elements of the environment that is trying to kill them.

     

    You can play Looters of the Arcane on Steam for free.

     

    Are you interested in the gaming industry? UAT offers degrees in Game Design, Game Programming and Game Art and Animation.

     

    UAT-blog-Looters

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    Gamers Galore


    University of Advancing Technology (UAT) students love unwinding with video games after a long day of classes and studying. Students thrive when they have a healthy school-life balance and playing cult classic video games is one way they relax while out of class.   Find your friends...

    University of Advancing Technology (UAT) students love unwinding with video games after a long day of classes and studying. Students thrive when they have a healthy school-life balance and playing cult classic video games is one way they relax while out of class.

     

    Find your friends at UAT and chill out while playing the hottest, or longest running, video games. UAT is chock full of gamers, on and offline, physical and digital, with favorites like League of Legends, Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls.

     

    Check out our Game Studies degrees!

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    Hey… Suite Games!


    University of Advancing Technology (UAT) is known for innovation—students take that to heart and are even inspired to rearrange their dorm rooms because of it. Ross Hall, Kevin Albregard, Darren Palermo and Andrew Weisenberger are a group of suitemates who decided to convert their connected bedroom suite into a sleeping room and...

    University of Advancing Technology (UAT) is known for innovation—students take that to heart and are even inspired to rearrange their dorm rooms because of it. Ross Hall, Kevin Albregard, Darren Palermo and Andrew Weisenberger are a group of suitemates who decided to convert their connected bedroom suite into a sleeping room and a game room.

     

    They moved all four desks into one room and the beds into the other room to create a paramount lounge and gaming space. The game room is filled with gaming systems and computers, making it the ultimate gaming man cave. They’ve set up an unmatched gaming experience that everyone on their floor wants to be a part of.

     

    Interested in a future with gaming? UAT offers degrees in Game Programming, Game Design and Game Art and Animation.

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    The Importance of Conveyance in Game Design


    For many years, game developers have run into the same problem over and over again: How do we explain our game without boring the player to death? Nobody wants to read a manual on how to play your game and nobody wants to play a 30 minute tutorial. A good game should be able to teach you how to play the game naturally in a fun and engaging way. This idea of how you teach the mechanics of your...

    For many years, game developers have run into the same problem over and over again: How do we explain our game without boring the player to death? Nobody wants to read a manual on how to play your game and nobody wants to play a 30 minute tutorial. A good game should be able to teach you how to play the game naturally in a fun and engaging way. This idea of how you teach the mechanics of your game is called conveyance and it’s a big part of what separates a mediocre game from a good one!

    In classic video games, conveyance was much easier than the games of today. With games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the controls were limited to the hardware, only having access to a 4-directional d-pad, start, select, A, and B. Because of these limitations as well as the far simpler game mechanics of that era, they often didn’t require tutorials to teach the player how to play. You would just start the game and figure out how to play. A game like Super Mario Bros. could just drop you into level 1-1 and let you push buttons until you figured it out. Today, however, controllers are much more complicated and the mechanics of games have expanded heavily and because of that, this method doesn’t really work anymore.

    null

    Players need to have an idea of not only how to control your game, but the mechanics that drive your game. A great example of how to do this is Portal. In Portal, the mechanics of the game are unlike any other and could be extremely overwhelming to a new player. To address this, as well as teaching you in a creative, story-driven way, the game has the artificial intelligence ‘GLaDOS’ guide you through a few simple test chambers that teach you all of the mechanics of the game one piece at a time. This not only helps to avoid boring tutorials, but also gives context to the situation, provides entertaining dialogue, and allows you to learn the game in a legitimate way. They are conveying the same information as a boring sign that says “place portal on the wall and go through”, but in a way that entertains and keeps players interested in the game.

    null

    Another game that I love that makes great use of conveyance is the first Dark Souls game. Dark Souls is a game that rewards exploration and experimentation. After players have learned the basic mechanics and controls of the game through the game’s admittedly mediocre tutorial level, they are left in a big open world and left to wander in any direction they choose. As the players explore, they will slowly be pushed in the right direction, not by the game forcing them, but by the limitations of their own skill. A new player may head in one direction, but find that it is far too difficult, so they choose the more common path. As they go along this common path, they will encounter new enemies and learn the ways to beat them one at a time in a controlled environment. There are no tutorials on how to defeat the enemies; learning that past the initial controls is up to the individual players. Once again, rather than having a big sign that points them in the right direction and tutorial popups on every enemy, Dark Souls conveys the same information through clever design and allowing the player to experiment and discover solutions on their own.

    Dark-Souls-Remastered-Screenshot-3

    So, as you can see, being creative in the way you teach your game’s mechanics can make the difference. Every game is different, however, and you’ll always need to be consciously thinking about how you can teach your game to the player. For some games, less is more, and having a simple level that allows your player to experiment may be the best course of action. For others, your game might be very complex and you’ll need a way to teach them whether it be a tutorial sequence or something more creative and story driven like portal. Either way, no matter what the game, always try to avoid having a boring, time consuming tutorial like many that are far too common in games today.

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    UAT Ranked Top 20 Nationally for Game Design


    The Animation Career Review has been researching and ranking the nation's top schools for aspiring animators and game designers since 2012. UAT's Bachelor of Arts in Game Design is ranked in the ...

    The Animation Career Review has been researching and ranking the nation's top schools for aspiring animators and game designers since 2012. UAT's Bachelor of Arts in Game Design is ranked in the top 20 game design BA programs nationally, top 10 in the Southwest and #1 in Arizona.

     

    The goal of the Animation Career Review is to "give students and their parents access to ample information so they can make an informed decision about the school they choose to attend and the program they pursue."

     

    The criteria for the rankings encompasses:

     

    • Academic reputation
    • Admissions selectivity
    • Depth and breadth of the program
    • Value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness
    • Geographic location
    • Employment data

     

    One of UAT's top game design grads is 2018 alumnus Eric Fernald, who landed his dream job and bought his dream car immediately after he graduated. Eric works as a game scenario designer at CGI, where he works with the latest software and hardware in game development such as VBS3 and Unreal Engine 4 to create training video games, battlefield visualizations and battle scene reenactments for the United States military.

     

    {% video_player "embed_player" overrideable=False, type='scriptV4', hide_playlist=True, viral_sharing=False, embed_button=False, width='640', height='360', player_id='9751700385', style='' %}

          Eric Fernald's Demo Reel

     

    "I choose UAT because of the intimate campus setting and constant addition of new technologies on campus," Eric said. He cites hands-on classes such as Game Production Studio, tough-love professors like Matthew Marquit and solid support from the Career Services team as reasons for his success. 

     

    UAT game design alumnus Tyler Feddeler recently landed his first job at a AAA studio as a lighting artist at 343 Industries, where he works on a little game called Halo. Even though his degree is in game design, Tyler got to take art and animation classes during his time at UAT too. It took him a while to discover his niche in lighting, but once he did, he went all in on it. 

     

    Electronic Arts (EA) assistant producer Brandon Kidwell graduated from UAT with his bachelor's degree in game design in 2013. He has worked on multiple AAA titles, including the mobile game Madden NFL Overdrive. He built the 2018 Madden Feast program, which lead to high player sentiment and one of the highest revenue days of the year. 

     

    Want to be like Eric, Tyler and Brandon? Check out our Game Design program today!

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    UAT Ranked Top #3 In Game Design Degree Programs for 2019


    According to the Bachelor’s Degree Center Organization, a free guide to traditional and online bachelor’s degree programs in all disciplines, recently announced four rankings of the best Game Design bachelor’s degree programs in the US.   PRNewswire reported that the four ranking categories are:   ...

    According to the Bachelor’s Degree Center Organization, a free guide to traditional and online bachelor’s degree programs in all disciplines, recently announced four rankings of the best Game Design bachelor’s degree programs in the US.

     

    PRNewswire reported that the four ranking categories are:

     

    course-game-design

    25 Best Bachelor's in Game Design Degree Programs for 2019 
    (https://www.bachelorsdegreecenter.org/best-game-design-degree/
    15 Best Online Game Design Bachelor's Degree Programs for 2019  
    (https://www.bachelorsdegreecenter.org/best-online-game-design-degree/
    10 Fastest Online Game Design Bachelor's Degree Programs for 2019 
    (https://www.bachelorsdegreecenter.org/fastest-online-game-design-degree/
    10 Most Affordable Online Game Design Bachelor's Degree Programs for 2019 
    (https://www.bachelorsdegreecenter.org/affordable-game-design-degree/)

     

    In the category for Fastest Accredited Online Game Design Bachelor’s Programs for 2019, the University of Advancing Technology was ranked third. UAT was also ranked #6 for Best Game Design Degree Online.

     

    According to the BDC, "Enthusiasm for video games has created a global industry projected to reach $140 billion by 2020." Game degrees also reach further than just the Xbox, PC and Playstation. "Game art, design, and development are becoming central to all kinds of industries, from medicine (with doctors and nurses training on simulations) to education (with the gamification of learning) and even the military (with simulated training and drone warfare becoming key to protecting forces). Students learning programming and designing today will be transforming industries in ways we can't even predict tomorrow."

     

    UAT continues to be regularly recognized as one of the top Game Design and Game Production degree programs in the country, offering accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.

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    A Game Developer, Classical Singer and Slot Machines


    When Holly Sheppard graduated from the University of Advancing Technology with a degree in multimedia and digital animation, she immediately started working as a 3D artist—in a lab. She used her skills in Unreal Engine to create simulations and...

    When Holly Sheppard graduated from the University of Advancing Technology with a degree in multimedia and digital animation, she immediately started working as a 3D artist—in a lab. She used her skills in Unreal Engine to create simulations and models of restricted areas of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

     

    Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 1.42.45 PM

    Phoenix Chorale

     

    After spending a year working in the Laboratory, perfecting her portfolio and applying to jobs across the country, she returned to Arizona to work as an environment artist at Rainbow Studios (formerly THQ), where she worked on a variety of games for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. When the studio closed, she didn’t want to leave the people and patios in Arizona, so she spent some time taking on small freelance gigs and pursuing her other passion: classical singing. She still sings with the Grammy-award-winning Phoenix Chorale, the Phoenix Opera and the Arizona Opera Chorus!

     

    Just when Holly resolved to start applying for out-of-state game art jobs, she got a call from a slot machine company in Scottsdale. She didn’t know anything about slot machines but was excited by the chance to stay in Arizona and take on a new professional challenge. “I was also excited to find out that the development is very similar to the game development I was used to,” she said. And she gets to work on a lot of cool projects such as Kooza and Amaluna, two Cirque Du Soleil slot machine games. She even got to meet Billy Gibbons when she worked on a ZZ-Top slot machine.

     

    {% video_player "embed_player" overrideable=False, type='scriptV4', hide_playlist=True, viral_sharing=False, embed_button=False, width='640', height='360', player_id='8509667594', style='' %}

    Scientific Games

     

    Holly’s current role at Scientific Games is "somewhere in between technical artist and graphic artist." She spends a lot of her time in After Effects and Photoshop doing motion graphic work. She also dabbles in 3D modeling, animation, concept work and graphic design. She collaborates with the Unity engineers on a daily basis to make sure all of the artwork gets implemented and functions properly.

     

    Like many game developers, Holly had a tough time with her job search. “But I felt like I had a leg up when sending applications to studios because of my experience at UAT,” she said. During her time at UAT, Holly learned how fast tech moves. “New techniques and tools come out regularly, so being able to adapt quickly is important. But the fundamentals of art, color theory and composition stay the same.” she said. Her time at UAT taught her the value of both.

     

    Holly capitalized on every opportunity to learn and improve while she was a UAT student, attending tech forums with industry professionals, completing internships, working on projects and participating in portfolio reviews. “You can build up a lot of experience that will help you get your foot in the door, but try to go beyond the basic requirements of classwork,” she said. “And always check to see how your portfolio looks on other computers!” she added.

     

    Want to become an environment artist like Holly? Check out our Game Art & Animation degree program today!

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    The Truth about Being a Female Game Developer


    For the first 15 years of Lynn DiGiacomo’s illustrious career in the gaming industry, she was the lone woman on the dev team. Then in 1995, she accepted a job at Sony Imagesoft, where she met Holliday Horton, the art director for the leading...

    For the first 15 years of Lynn DiGiacomo’s illustrious career in the gaming industry, she was the lone woman on the dev team. Then in 1995, she accepted a job at Sony Imagesoft, where she met Holliday Horton, the art director for the leading franchise title NFL GameDay. “Holliday paved the way with pipelines and processes for nearly all of the professional franchise titles that Sony produced at the time.” Working with Holliday spurred a streak of inspiration and innovation in Lynn. Now, she is surrounded by inspiring female game developers at the University of Advancing Technology, where she teaches game art and animation.

     

    Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 4.49.41 PM

     Lynn (center) and other UAT faculty. Art by UAT alumna Ashley Casarrubias.

     

    Lynn worked on several other franchise titles and a few original IP titles for extreme games during her tenure at Sony. “During this time, Holliday was a consistent presence and leader in innovation,” Lynn said. Holliday’s support and mentorship helped Lynn climb the ranks to become a key innovator in Sony’s pipelines and processes too. Then, with Sony’s support, Holliday launched RedZone Games, but Lynn and Holliday remained friends.

     

    After 7 years at Sony, Lynn moved back to Phoenix to join Arizona’s leading game dev studio Rainbow Studios (formerly THQ), where she did a little bit of everything. She worked on exciting titles such as Untamed and Reflex and used her skills in animation, modeling, rigging, concept art, pipeline optimization, tools integration and project management.

     

    Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 4.07.07 PM

    Rainbow Studios

     

    Lynn never forgot Holliday’s role in her professional and career development, which inspired her to start teaching. “Now we both enjoy opportunities to give back to the community through instruction and mentoring,” she said.

     

    The 2018 viral article about the toxic culture of sexism at Riot Games sparked candid conversations online and on campus at UAT. Throughout Lynn’s 40-year career, she has heard many stories of injustice. She believes the key to professional success is how one responds to these circumstances. Lynn recommends “having a voice for positive change and ethics when needed, speaking to the circumstances with integrity and positive influence in a professional manner,” she said. Lynn recognizes that speaking up doesn’t always lead to change. “If you speak up and are not satisfied with the outcome, then you can always look at other options,” she said.

     

    Photo_DiGiacomo

     

    Lynn encourages female developers to embrace the power of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. “Do not lose who you are in the chaos of competing. Know that each woman has a unique perspective,” she said. Femininity is only part of the equitation, but Lynn views it as an underestimated advantage because a lot of people in the industry do not understand it fully. “The best career advice I can give female developers is to just be you and enjoy your journey,” she said.

     

    Want to learn how to make video games with Lynn? Check out our Game Art & Animation degree program today!

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    Global Game Jam Winners: ‘Transmissions’ Well Received


    Last weekend, the Global Game Jam (GGJ) took place around the world with UAT listed as the home base for Arizona. UAT students, alumni and local game developers attended the Phoenix Global Game Jam revving out 48-hours of game development and judges said they were impressed!   The theme for the 2018 Global Game Jam was “Transmission,” sparking lots of ideas...

    Last weekend, the Global Game Jam (GGJ) took place around the world with UAT listed as the home base for Arizona. UAT students, alumni and local game developers attended the Phoenix Global Game Jam revving out 48-hours of game development and judges said they were impressed!

     

    The theme for the 2018 Global Game Jam was “Transmission,” sparking lots of ideas of how to create a game around this.

     

    From UAT’s Game Jam location, 29 games were submitted to the website with 17 playable games on display for judging on Sunday evening in the UAT Commons.

     

     

    Global Game Jam at University of Advancing Technology - Monster Vault Entertainment
     

    Global Game Jam at University of Advancing Technology – Monster Vault Entertainment

    “We saw completed games developed for PC, 2D, 3D, mobile, and VR including Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. The variety was inspiring and great to see,” said judge and Program Champion Derric Clark.

     

    You can check out the submitted games here.

     

    Best Overall:
    GigaBlast (VR for HTC Vive)

    Best Theme:
    Spooky Business

    Best Art:
    Weaponized Walkie Talkies

    Honorable Mentions: (strong in the voting discussion)
    Carrier Pigeon
    Choreo-Mania
    Hell’s Kitchen
    Huntia
    Malware
    O2 Critical

     

    Professor Clark said, “An amazing amount of content was produced in just 48 hours, seeing months of work completed over a weekend is extremely impressive. These were really great submissions, with many, many completed games. It was difficult to narrow the field down for the awards.”

     

     

    Developing for Virtual Reality at the Global Game Jam
    Developing for Virtual Reality at the Global Game Jam
     

    “From a content standpoint, this was one of the best Arizona Game Jams thus far, amazing work completed and shown to judges,” Clark said.

     

    A lot of different perspectives were taken on the theme, it was great to see the creativity kick in to produce a diverse set of games, both in content and play style.

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