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.
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.
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.
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.
Josue Espinoza Beltran (Game Programming) is an avid horror game player fascinated by the hair-raising environmental change effects that many horror games have. This has always mesmerized Josue for its ability to spin a game’s story and make the player question reality.
One day while playing, Josue got to thinking about the possibility of changing a whole character model as players approached non-player characters (NPC). Specifically, Josue wanted to bring a mind-bending aspect to monsters — players can see monsters in the distance, but as they approach one, the NPC morphs into a human form.
Once he got the concept down, Josue started experimenting within Unity, which led him to use the Level of Detail (LOD) technique to accomplish the character model change.
LOD is used with several game objects. Sometimes it’s used for the scene, like when trees, mountains and other non-moveable objects transition into the player’s field of view. It can also be used to update character models into better looking versions with more detail, as the camera focuses on the character.
The LOD technique allows the number of triangles rendered for a game object to be reduced, based on its distance from the camera. To use it, a game object must have a number of meshes with decreasing levels of detail in its geometry. These meshes are called LOD levels. The farther a game object is from the camera, the lower-detail LOD level is rendered. Game objects appear and disappear as the camera comes closer or moves away from the game object.
Josue made use of Unity’s LOD system not only for the traditional use of updating the triangles, but also to transition the 3D characters to different models as the LOD levels change.
For game programmers, polygons and the high level of detail required for character models are not easy to create, understand and change. Speaking from experience, the LOD system makes it easier and more efficient for game programmers to facilitate changing character models in video games. Last summer Josue proved it — he tried the same transition with programming before innovating the use of the LOD system. The results? He’s been more comfortable using the built-in LOD system — with three character model changes, the LOD system was time efficient and easier to maneuver.
In the future, Josue would like to work to deliver more polished transitions between character models, implement his prototype into a game and make Project Transition available for interactable objects in addition to character models.
Ready to take the game industry by storm? Check out UAT’s Game Programming degree.
For years, Michael Nicholson (Game Design, Game Art & Animation) has had the goal to better connect games with the streaming industry, and through his Student Innovation Project (SIP), he saw the opportunity to create that bridge.
Creators of the Dark is a co-op horror game built for interactive streaming through live interactive features. Users on streaming platforms, such as Twitch or Mixer, can connect their game, allowing viewers to participate and play alongside the streamer. Each viewer has a role and ability based on their status and ranking within the streamer's chat.
Where it All Started
Creators of the Dark started as a project geared towards helping partnered Mixer streamers earn more through Mixer’s monetizable currency, Ember. Each Ember is worth approximately a penny and partners keep roughly 10%, leaving little to be earned from Ember patronage. To earn a greater percentage, streamers need to reach certain milestones each week and increase viewer engagement, which requires viewers to watch for long periods of time. This also created competition amongst partner streamers for viewers.
Throwing a wrench in Michael’s project, Mixer shut down abruptly on June 22, 2020, forcing him to switch everything to Twitch, a different streaming platform. Mixer’s functionality had everything built in as a party plugin, used within Unreal, but Twitch doesn’t have the same functionality. Even though Twitch was more complicated to work with, Michael wasn’t fazed. He quickly jumped into learning about databases and plugins, integrating casting with blueprint actors, rewriting code from scratch, and redesigning aspects of the game.
There are only a few interactive games that support Twitch interactivity currently, but sadly, most of these games rely primarily on viewers voting and inspecting the results. Michael knew that he wanted viewers to participate rather than just spectating from the start. This is where the original design for Creators of the Dark came from.
Based on legends from around the world, Creators of the Dark is designed to be an interactive, four-player horror game where users try to escape a monster. Once streamers connect the game to their Twitch account, an array of options are unlocked for the viewers, allowing them to play alongside the streamer.
How Does the Game Work?
In each session, users are given a primary goal and two optional objectives to complete by using the stream chat to activate commands at the start of the game. These commands include abilities, AI prompts for each user, and participation in rituals, such as banishing the monster. The primary goal is modified depending on the status of the match. Once an objective is completed, active participants will be notified of what their next objectives are.
The viewer also has a set amount of spare energy that depletes with each activated command and also has the ability to use bits, a paid digital currency on Twitch, to multiply the effects of abilities or temporarily boost player stats. Alternatively, viewers can sacrifice their spare energy to activate these effects. One user’s action, or lack thereof, does not prevent another user’s action.
This supports the streamer by keeping their chat engaged and active, giving viewers a meaningful role as they launch and control their commands. This also encourages collaboration and individual effort among viewers.
How is the Game Different?
By allowing viewers to control the game’s AI remotely, they are no longer influencing the game's world or voting on what happens next, a common issue with interactive games on Twitch. Along with the streamer, viewers are directly engaging and completing gameplay objectives as if they were in the game.
There is a lot more to come from this project! Michael’s goal is to release Creators of the Dark to the public in the near future.
Take your passion project to the next level with a degree from UAT in Game Design!
Alessandra Caballero Sosa (Game Art & Animation) has always loved art and learning about art history. She has been fortunate to attend lectures on this topic, but that’s not the case for everyone. To create a more immersive learning experience for art and accommodate different learning styles, Alessandra created In Art.
In Art is a 3D environment created from famous paintings that enables the user to move around the 3D model painting and gather knowledge related to the artwork. To bring this vision to fruition, Alessandra recreated everything from the layouts, lighting and mood to matching the art style by imitating the technique through texturing.
Inspired by “the particular ambiance” in Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night (1888), Alessandra chose Impressionism for the prototype.
First, Alessandra had to conceptualize a 3D environment out of the 2D painting and used Google Maps to view the actual location to get a better idea of the physical layout. After drawing a couple of sketches, she used Maya to start creating assets and arranging the scene. She also decided to texture the objects with a base material she created to simulate brush strokes.
One of the trickiest aspects was getting the textures right. Impressionism has thick, heavy brushstrokes that appear as if done quickly. Using Substance Painter, Alessandra tried to recreate this in her material creation and integrated it into the 3D environment following the layout she previously created. She also limited the environment by using blocking volumes and a plane with texture that matched the original painting. Material creation alone didn’t emphasize the painted effect accurately enough, so Alessandra found a tutorial on post-processing effects, which gave the environment an enhanced brushstroke look that better mimicked the original painting.
Next, Alessandra developed the educational aspect of the project. She chose to create text pop-ups that would appear as the user moves around the scene, showing information and interesting facts about the artist and the painting. For this, she created a blueprint to make the pop-ups. At first, text appeared in the game, but post-processing made it hard to read, so she moved the text to the user interface.
Finally, Alessandra created a menu to navigate start, options, and quit to have a more complete prototype. Here, the user can choose different artists and paintings to view. She also created a start sequence to cinematically showcase the scene before the user enters around the painting.
Alessandra learned many new skills during the course of this project, including blueprints, user interface, menu functionality, and object interaction. The future ahead for this project and Alessandra is bright! This project can be used in K-12 schools, post-secondary education, and wherever art history is taught, such as museums.
Do you dream of creating the next best game? Check out UAT’s Game Art and Animation degree.
Alayna has loved gaming since the Atari days. Luckily, this love led to great skill and success as a professional esports player. Wanting to experience the other side of the industry, Alayna decided to pursue an online degree in Game Design.
Advances in online schooling allowed Alayna to live her longtime dream of attending UAT — originally intended to come in the late 2000s after graduating high school.
From designing a level for Unreal Tournament to making her own game in Unity Engine, Alayna has already accomplished things in gaming that she never dreamed of doing. “I loved gaming as a player,” Alayna says, “but there really is something magical about designing and building games from nothing.”
While she is no longer working in the industry, Alayna still really enjoys esports and watching competitions. In fact, she is the president of the UAT Esports Club. Outside of gaming, Alayna is a fan of cars, fashion and hockey.
Alayna finds creative inspiration from Andy Warhol and Alexander McQueen, whose artistic expressions have left an impact on this world. Alayna is also inspired by her grandma, who was caring, kind and helped shape Alayna into the person she is today by pushing her to do anything she put her mind to.
Alayna is a strong supporter of various change movements in the areas she is passionate about and states, “Being a transgender woman in this field isn’t necessarily uncommon in 2021, but I have to acknowledge the ones that came before me and dealt with adversity and discrimination and strived forward so I could be here today. I am proud of how far we have come and there is still so much more to do.”
Check out more game degrees at UAT!
Jake Fusco loves storytelling and has always been fascinated by how stories and lessons change as they are passed down. Combined with his interest in technology, this resulted in Jake triple-majoring in Game Design, Game Programming and Business Technology.
Jake chose UAT for the game development programs — he was instantly drawn to Game Design because he believes games are the best suited medium for storytelling and helping people learn. One of Jake’s goals is to teach others how to think in different ways about situations and hopefully change society for the better.
Jake also chose UAT for Synchronic Learning, which has resonated with how he tries to live life. While attending UAT, Jake learned that drive, teamwork and communication are paramount to the success of solving problems. Time and time again, these three qualities helped Jake succeed at work and in his classes.
While attending UAT, Jake has worked on numerous innovative projects along with making many lasting friendships. During his second semester, he joined the production studio class and is still working with the same team on a mobile AR game. Jake is the Geek Rho President, an RA at Founder's Hall and is in the midst of another project with BunchOfNerds, a student-run multi-media production company.
Jake’s hobbies include gaming with friends, being the Dungeon Master for Dungeons and Dragons, cooking and studying philosophy. Down the road, Jake intends to pursue his Master’s degree in Game Production and Management.
Jake draws inspiration from many noteworthy sources — George Lucas for his creative vision, Abraham Lincoln for how to deal with people coming from different worldviews and perceptions and Hirohiko Araki for his philosophy when writing stories.
Get the most out of your education with Synchronic Learning.
Morgan Kitay is creatively driven and has a deep passion for technology. Loving a challenge, she decided to pursue the digital realm of art and chose to study Game Art and Animation at UAT. Always having access to the latest tech to work with, build, create, and do anything else she could dream up, Morgan love, love, LOVES fiddling around with all types of technology.
She decided to attend UAT because of the degrees offered, the University’s long-standing history and the informed University reps at college fairs who originally introduced Morgan to the University. Morgan exclaims, “[UAT is] something I can trust, and I definitely love being here (and also working here :D).”
Enjoying her time at UAT so far, Morgan feels that she has learned so much from both her classes and job. While attending UAT, she has grown confident in her Photoshop skills, is working with 2D and 3D creations, building games and attending game jams. Morgan believes UAT is a great place for undergrads because her schoolwork is building out her portfolio.
Morgan enjoys creating traditional art, playing video games (PC, console, all of it), painting her nails, custom knife work, hiking and trying to fix items that would otherwise be thrown away.
Morgan looks up to her mom because she is inspired by her motivation, determination and work ethic. She is the heart and soul of why Morgan is here. Her mom loves her work and truly believes in what Morgan wants to do.
Discover your inner creator with a Game Art and Animation degree from UAT.
During this year’s Global Game Jam (GGJ), you couldn’t find various gamers crashed out, sleeping on the floor around campus like in years past, but of the 70 jammers who worked tirelessly over 48 hours to create new games, many were likely passed out at their own desks!
For 2021, not unlike most events, the Global Game Jam was completely remote. Organized via Zoom and Discord, UAT was one of 585 virtual game sites across the world. Participants were not required to have experience, and they were not given the theme until the Jam kicked off on Friday, January 29, at 5:00 p.m.
Gamers were treated to a Keynote address from Australian gamer Guy “Yug” Blomburg of GIG (Games Industry Gathering), a virtual networking event that functions to replicate connections with industry friends and strangers in real life.
Watch the Keynote and Theme Reveal Video:
The 2021 theme chosen by a panel of industry professionals was Lost & Found, and jammers from across the globe all created fresh new games with this same idea in mind. The UAT Jam Site participants submitted 18 games, with 15 presenting live via Zoom on Sunday for judging. See the full UAT site and all uploads at https://globalgamejam.org/2021/jam-sites/university-advancing-technology.
Here are the winners for the UAT site!
Friendship lost? Grab this game and show your friend you need more attention, because you are the only one who knows the secrets of his or her mind. Find the path, find the true answers about your friend and find the lost friendship.
Whodunnit?!? You are a lost soul trying to find your murderer! Help solve the murder of the great general by giving thoughts and ideas to the detective. Ideas are items scattered around the mansion, but don't get distracted by all the false evidence! WASD to move. Spacebar to interact. Backspace to exit pin board. All art and programming created by my lonesome.
Miss Fallalaelune is an ingenious magician specializing in moon magic and illusions. She decided to have her apprentice test a new spell, but it didn't work as planned and teleported him into the dream realm! You have to help her find him, so she doesn't get fired by the magic association and lose her research funding!
A lost friend needs to be found. (Be sure to play again after you win.)
Lost Friend is a game about you, the player, going on a journey to save your friend, who has crash-landed on a foreign planet surrounded by enemy ships and meteors! But be wary, once you depart on your daring rescue mission to save your friend you will have to manage your own fuel to make sure you can get to your friend's location safely! Dodge countless meteors and enemy ships that won't hesitate to shoot you down!
We finished our game but, we lost it. Control Adam Moore and save the Dev team in order to win the game.
In this table-top board game, you play as pirates trying to complete different missions and collecting treasures as you get through. Battle your friends and monsters to earn more cards to gain points to win!
Professor Derric Clark, UAT Game Studies Chair, was pleased with all of the participants and their submissions. “It was amazing work by everyone, and one of the best game jams I have been to,” he said. “Quality projects, great scope, great ideas, and professional completeness. They all should be proud of what they accomplished.”
Find all of the games as well as the team members who worked on them at
For those with an interest in future game jam events, they won’t have too long to wait. According to UAT Professor Adam Moore, the GGJ Regional Organizer, “We may try to set up another jam in a couple months since we're still pretty early into the spring semester. There will definitely be another jam over the summer, and we also always do one in September to celebrate the founding of UAT.”
Professor Adam Moore during the GGJ 2021 presentations.
Find all you need to know about the Global Game Jam at https://globalgamejam.org/faq.
Considering a career in gaming? Check out the following for more information about UAT gaming degrees.
The new console generation is officially underway. Gaming has seen a huge rise in engagement since this pandemic started. It has lead to more people having more time to sit at their house and game, since many of them cant/wont go outside and socialize that. And while global shutdowns have effected gaming in a way through delayed games and low stock on new consoles. It still saw record breaking growth even in this pandemic. Now with the release of the Xbox Series X/S and the PS5 the new generation has finally kicked off.
With that being said some people have obviously let their loyalties know. whether that's in an acceptable way or a more toxic one, this time is a time to just celebrate gaming and all it does to bring people together through the love of the artform.
Ill be kicking off this gen by playing through the newly released Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memories. As a long time Kingdom Hearts fan, I'm super excited to delve into the nostalgic music of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Please remember that gaming is a way to bring people together, not separate them. It doesn't matter which platform you prefer. We are all gamers so lets enjoy gaming together!
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.”
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!
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
We are still working from home.
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.
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. 🕹️
Learn more about degree options for the gaming industry!
Email an advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
A good portion of Game art students who attend UAT have at least some experience with 3D modeling suites like 3DSMax, Maya, or even Blender, whether they are self taught or have experience from highschool or another college. Thats not to say a new artist will be at a disadvantage if they don't have experience with these programs, that's just the tip of the iceberg and offers a good base to start with, if you want to do any kind of character or organic modeling you really should give a nice little program called Zbrush a try!
If you have ever done any sort of clay sculpting, Zbrush will trigger that portion of your mind. As it is essentially digital clay sculpting. If you haven't had a chance to try clay sculpting, then fear not. One of UAT’s game art faculty, Professor Lynn Understiller run a clay sculpting class every summer, and is a great way for organic anatomy study. But what you learn with clay sculpting can also be used with Zbrush.
This is an example of an anatomy study that I worked on using several techniques I learned from clay sculpting. Zbrush isn't just a tool for digital sculpting. It can also be used to create micro details on a hyper detailed sculpt that can then be projected onto a more optimized model, say a game model.
As show in these screenshots, there is a plethora of micro details like skin pores and cracks that usually would be painstakingly painted on a texture, now can be easily added to a high poly sculpt that would then be projected onto a game optimized model.
These are just a few capabilities an artist has when using Zbrush, there so much more that can be done, from hard surface modeling, PBR texturing, to hair simulation. Zbrush is an amazing addition to a digital artist toolkit. One more thing. Students at UAT get access to Zbrush when attending on campus. Meaning you don't have to buy a license to make use of it while on campus! Thats a great opportunity to get your hands on it and see what you can make with it!
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.
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.”
Check out all of the games at https://itch.io/jam/uat-summer-game-jam-2020, and see the full list of winners below!
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.
Check out past Jams!
UAT was named one of 8 Best Online Schools for Bachelor's in Animation Degree Programs in 2020!
For more information about UAT gaming degrees, check out the following:
When students leave UAT, they typically aren't heading out to search for an entry-level opportunity. Our grads have invested their time here creating and innovating (on their own and through internships) to such a degree that a great job or entrepreneurship venture is a natural next step.
Such is true for Randall Tatum, UAT alumni and Founder & CEO of Titanomachy Studios, LLC. Randall is an excellent example of how our students take what they learn and really go for it in the "real world". With a Bachelor’s of Art Game Design as well as a Master of Science in Production Management, Randall is not only achieving his dream, he is also helping others by advocating for independent developers in the game industry.
Randall Tatum, CEO of Titanomachy Studios
We caught up with Randall to ask what it's like owning his gaming company, plus to find out why he feels getting an education in an often do-it-yourself field helped him get to where he is now.
Titanomachy Studios is a fully remote indie studio based out of Avondale, AZ and Stroudsburg, PA but with a team from around the globe. We are made up of people from all walks of life and backgrounds from Canadian pixel artists to English writers to UAT alumni programmers. We focus on creating game development. Our focuses are creating our own titles, like the upcoming SRPG, Condors Vs Ocelots, and Indie Publishing. We strive to make games that are fun and memorable experiences for everyone.
Titanomachy Studios has a very diverse team from all walks of life and experiences. From the top: Ben S. – Web Developer; Tyler S. – Programming Lead; Tyler T. – Programming; Garrett H. – Programming; Merlin C. – Programming; Hunter D. – Programming; Michael M. – Art Lead; Alethea H. – Artist; Peter G. – Artist; Yoorina S. – Artist; Ibrahim A. – Writer; Max S. – Assoc. Producer/Game Design; Jeremiah B. – Level Design; Colt B. – Level Design; Box Monkey Studios – Audio and SFX; Wayne D. – Finance/Legal; Randall T. – Project Lead/Producer
Hunter Derrick, Programmer at Titanomachy Studios
My education has simply enabled me to not only think in new ways, but also to give me a baseline on how things should or should not go based on my resources and effort. I used my degree to work in the field, but it wasn’t until I pursued my Master’s at UAT that I began to think about disrupting markets and being an entrepreneur and really just making my own path instead of following others. If it was not for the things I learned in my education, I would have been sorely prepared and educated on how to start and operate a business.
I think that, an education is important for many reasons. Obviously the technical instruction in your desired field is possible, but more than that, learning new ways to think about and solve problems and situations has helped me immensely. Videogames, like any other technical field, is just that--technical. Having an education not only facilitates learning new ways of thinking, but it also instructs on at the very least the basics, so that doing your own skill polishing and “leveling up” is possible.
A degree in the game industry is important for the same reasons a degree in the medical field is necessary. Not to say that making video games is on par with saving lives; however, I certainly wouldn’t hire a career plumber to be my lead game designer when his education is in plumbing. It applies here. When I interview people to work with us at Titanomachy, a degree doesn’t get you the job. Merit does, however, when two applicants are equal, the game degree wins out in most cases. I know that that person is instructed and SHOULD know what I’m saying when I say it.
If you have a dream, follow it. No one is waiting for you to pursue them so follow your heart and use your head to navigate. Otherwise, stay organized. School is hard work and preparedness cannot be underrated.
Your portfolio is the single most useful thing you can offer any place you apply to. Make it big, make it varied and make it good.
Five years ago, we released our first ever title, Stacker. It was an abysmal mess of spaghetti code and disorganization. It was also the proudest moment of my career, because I had a dream, I took the steps, and I achieved it. That feeling is irreplaceable.
I had a dream, I took the steps, and I achieved it. That feeling is irreplaceable.
We started out remote, if for no other reason than to keep our overhead costs down. There are a lot of learning curves and communication barriers that are easy to forget, but critical issues arise from them often. There was a learning curve that I think would give most people a shiver or two, but after 5 years, when Covid came around, we were ready to stay safe, healthy and developing.
Michael Monchamp, ORU lead sprite artist at Titanomachy Studios
I am biased here because I think Condors Vs Ocelots is my favorite, but I have been enjoying Terraria, Legends of Runeterra, and Valorant.
I think what I look for the most in games is a compelling story and interesting mechanics. I come for the narrative, but stay for the awesome gameplay.
Thank you Randall for your inspirational words! If you are a student or alumi and would like to share more about your experience, comment and let us know!
Want to know more about our Game Studies Degrees? Learn more about our options below, and ask us any questions you have about UAT!
For the past 18 years, Scott Velasquez has worked Gearbox Software in Frisco, TX, where he resides as a Lead Programmer. He’s had the pleasure of working on a number of different titles such as Counter-Strike, Borderlands, Brothers and Arms, Halo and many others. Most recently, he put his talents forward as the Online & Social Product Owner for Borderlands 3 which released on PS4, PC and Xbox One. Scott wore many hats on this project ranging from project manager, designer, programmer and a smidgen of business development. He was involved with the ECHOcast Twitch extension, vault hunter profiles, photo mode, player pinging and most elements relating to online and local player interactions.
Scott believes technology is important because it can scale to reach a large number of users to solve many types of problems. Scott likes tackling different problems each day and is a lifelong learner. Technology is always evolving and keeps him on his toes!
When Scott was researching colleges in 1996, he noticed that most colleges were teaching old languages like COBOL, FORTRAN, etc. As an avid reader of PC Gamer, Scott came across a UAT ad advertising courses in languages and techniques specific to game development. He applied immediately after visiting the school.
Moving from a small town in West Texas to Arizona, he appreciated the next gen UAT facilities (he was using 486DX and dial-up back home).
UAT’s curriculum and professors challenged Scott in the best way possible. He was extremely impressed that the faculty had game industry experience and unique industry experience, such as his ex-NASA scientist Calculus professor. Scott enjoyed the way UAT professors taught, because they did a great job of explaining not only the how, but the why. Working full-time at Compuware and later Rhino Internet, Scott attended school in the evenings.
While at UAT, Scott made many great friends, some of which he is still friends with to this day. Pushing each other to learn more, Scott and his classmates had fun trying to outdo each other on assignments.
Scott encourages UAT students to meet other students and staff and put themselves out there. UAT is a great place to foster connections—you never know who you’ll meet—they might become a co-worker, friend or someone who will help down the road. Scott urges students to dig deeper and go above and beyond what the professor is asking on assignments. He also recommends joining or creating a group and building projects that can be highlighted and shared with your resume.
Scott advises students to find companies in the area where you can shadow or intern. “Getting a better understanding of the role you want to have someday will help you start preparing sooner rather than later. Attend some game development conferences and meetups,” recommends Scott, and finally, “Enjoy yourself, college will be something you look back on fondly when you get old like me.”
Scott feels that UAT absolutely prepared him for his career. Before UAT and just for the heck of it, he applied at 3drealms (he was a huge Duke Nukem 3D fan at the time). He knew it was a long shot—the programming he taught himself and learned in junior college didn't involve 3D. As expected, 3drealms turned him down due to his lack of 3D experience.
UAT taught Scott many things about programming, 3D development, data storage and manipulation, mathematics, web development and working with others. The greatest thing UAT taught Scott was how to logically approach problems and formulate solutions.
While working full-time and attending UAT, he made time to help a friend create a 3D engine in Java, soon after Java added 3D support. They were both programmers, so the 3D models were created by hand in notepad! Scott created a DirectX/OpenGL engine in C++ with networking support and built demo apps like a multiplayer 3D checkers game, a chat client, etc. Later, when Half-life and Unreal Tournament came out, he started learning how those engines worked and built mods.
After graduation, Scott landed a job at Cinematix Studios in Tempe. There, he could immediately apply programming concepts and Calculus while creating an audio engine and complex camera systems for two platformer games on PS2.
Scott encourages students to contact him with any questions about UAT or if they need advice as they prepare to enter the game industry (@thereal_scottv on Twitter).
Meet other UAT alum!
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.”
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.
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
Jonathan Campbell, Game Design, Game Art and Animation
Kieli Adkins, Game Art and Animation, Game Programming
Andrew Van Winkle, Game Art and Animation
Miguel Hernandez, Advancing Computer Science, Virtual Reality, Game Design
Ethan Page, Game Programming
Tyler King, Game Design
Kyle Davis, Game Design
Alex Schlegel, Game Design
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
Abdulai Sallah, Game Programming
Nathan Scott, Game Programming
James Fisher, Game Programming
Sean Murphy, Game Design
Amanda Kimball, Advancing Computer Science
Peter Tibbals, Game Design
Nicholas La Macchia, Game Programming
Tousean Woodard, Game Design
John Kvassey, Game Design, Game Programming
Alex Pabon, Game Design
Renee Grauberger, Business Technology
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.
During the first week that our nation was dealing with the spread of COVID-19, and while many were unsure of what to do for higher ed to continue on schedule, UAT students responded by not only easily converting to all virtual classes—they jumped at the chance to use their skills to be part of the solution.
Brad Snyder, CEO of CRADL, a Children's Research and Design Lab, brought the idea to UAT knowing our students would have the skills to complete the task—a contest to design videogame web apps that could help school-aged children learn strategies for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The contest turned into a full game jam called “Combating COVID-19: Videogames that Empower Kids,” and UAT students quickly came together with a challenge to create serious video games, meaning games that serve some primary purpose other than entertainment—and in this case tackling the difficult subject matter of how to help stay safe from the conoravirus. Snyder explained that the media coverage of COVID-19 can be quite frightening for kids, especially to children who are trauma-sensitive, so they students set out to create games that empower kids to help.
The students began on March 20, and they were given nine days for their videogame development. The two game themes to choose from were encouraging children to properly wash their hands for 20 seconds or more, and educating children in strategies to prevent or slow the spread of contagions, such as social distancing. The UAT team of professors Jill Coddington, Derric Clark, and Adam Moore conducted the Jam through an entirely virtual game jam format, hosted at https://itch.io/jam/combating-covid19. The students were able to team up on UAT’s student Discord to create their games, with a virtual presentation on Sunday afternoon.
itch.io submission page
The presentations and judging for the game jam were held on Sunday, March 29, with four teams that presented. “We organized via Zoom using camera and screen sharing to display the work,” said Professor Moore. “We used a breakout room within Zoom for the judges to deliberate privately after the presentations, and we all livestreamed to the UATEDU Twitch channel through OBS Studio.” The students housed their submissions at itch.io, still available to view at https://itch.io/jam/combating-covid19/entries.
Screenshot from Clean Knight game
One of the most exciting aspects of the Jam were the judges in (virtual) attendance, with professionals from the Cartoon Network and Andrews McMeel Universal among them. Judges included: Adam Moore and Brad Bowling from UAT; Brad Snyder from CRADL; Chris Waldron from Andrews McMeel Universal; James Paul Gee, author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy; and Eric Cook, Angel Sisson, Beau Teague, and Brad Merritt from the Cartoon Network.
The judges chose Team Awesomesauce as the winner, comprised of Jake Fusco, John Pratt, Aaliyah Lasker, Marissa Williams, Rhiannon Holloway, and Jacquelynne Heiman. Their game, called Cootie-19, included several different fun ways that kids could learn about both hygiene and social distancing, led through the games by a friendly physician. “I thought it was really fun,” said Jacquelynne. “I got to make five minigames in four days and they all were teaching kids about this [COVID-19]. I’ve actually been wanting to make a kid’s game lately because my daughter has been playing games more, and I’m really interested in seeing the types of games she likes and what kinds of games are out there for kids… I feel like a lot of us make games for people who are like us and not little humans that don’t know how to do things or may not understand things in the way that adults do. What we did was have to figure out how to abstract the scary truth about the coronavirus and turn it into a fun ‘I’ve got this’ game feel.”
Screenshots from Cootie-19 game
Watch the discussion on YouTube:
Even though the Jam has ended, students have continued work on their games to get them ready for distribution. When complete, the games will be completely free, and dissemination by the Cartoon Network is a possibility. All involved are proud of the participants and all who volunteered. “It’s a tribute to the students and UAT that on the first week of distance classes, UAT hosted a distance game jam to create an educational game to help with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Professor Coddington. “The teams got together and created some really cool edutainment web apps, with judging by some highly esteemed people. UAT really rocked this and showed how we can be fast, fun, wicked smart, and helpful to our community!”
Play the games now and https://itch.io/jam/combating-covid19!
Find out more about UAT’s gaming degree programs, including Game Art and Animation, Game Design, and Game Programming. And look into our Advancing Computer Science Degree, too! Start your future at UAT!
And check out the coverage from the Phoenix Business Journal: