Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Archive: Recursion

Recursion is a 2D platforming, puzzle game playable on the Nintendo DS. In Recursion, the player is allowed to travel through a level multiple times, triggering buttons to open gates and utilizing powerups along the way. At any point, the player may choose to end their current player and start a new one. However, the previous player still traverses through the level as they did before. If you push down a button with your first player, your second player will later be able to pass through the gate that the first player opened. Recursion was developed by Daniel Epstein (Director), Dan Andrino, Andrew Wilkes, and Sam Wilson (Programming), Matt Yu, Zhiyang Yu, Perri Gillon, and Tim Zhu (Design), and Christopher Hsing and Xu Weishun (Art).



You can download Recursion by clicking here.

End of Semester Report: Recursion

Recently, the Recursion Development team has been hard at work enjoying the holiday season and not thinking about a certain 6-letter word starting with "SCH", but at one point there was a lot of work being done. Hard to believe, I know... Here is where we're at after our first semester on the job:


There are a lot of improvements still left to be made, which will become our first goals when we resume work in the spring. Most noticeably: the logo is still from RGB-DS, it is impossible to tell the difference between recursions and your current player, and new sprites need to be included. You can download our progress so far here, and check back for our progress next semester!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Expo Recap

I just want to take the time to thank everyone who came out to the expo today. It was a lot of fun to see everyone's full games in all their glory for the first time. Congratulations to all the team members who have spent their sweat and tears working on these projects over the entire semester! Ace your finals, take a break, and come back ready to work on a new batch of projects next semester.

We'll be posting the games here in the coming weeks (most likely once finals are done), so everyone who couldn't make it out can have a go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reminders: End-of-Semester Expo, Smash For Cash

The Student Game Developers and the UVa chapter of the Association of Computer Machinery will be co-hosting Smash For Cash, a tournament in the hit Nintendo Wii video game "Super Smash Bros. Brawl", this Saturday, December 5, in the basement of Olsson Hall. The tournament starts at 2 PM and is expected to last until 5 PM. Entry fee for the tournament is $10, and prizes will be awarded. Registration for the tournament ends at 2:15 PM on the 5th, and the earliest registered participants will receive first-round byes, so be sure to be among the first to show up!

Raffle prizes will also be awarded, with raffle tickets available for $1 apiece. All money raised by the tournament and raffle will be donated to the Child's Play charity, which directly benefits children at the UVa Children's Hospital.

On the following day (Sunday the 6th), SGD will host its Fall 2009 End-of-Semester Expo. This event starts at 1 PM and will be held in Thornton E303. All projects that SGD has pursued this semester - Empyreal, Gladiators, Laser Lockdown, Recursion, T-Cubed, and Yggdrasil - will be on display, so come out and have some fun before exams start! Light snacks will be provided.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yggdrasil Mid-Semester Update

Yggdrasil is now "functionally complete" and v0.1.1 has been released. As it stands, the server architecture is all in place to support multiple people playing in a game together. While not optimized nor secured, the basic architecture is currently there.


If you would like access to Yggdrasil v0.1.1, contact Dan Magnusson or John Will, at dnm5z@virginia.edu and mw6gc@virginia.edu respectively and we will get you a copy right away.

For Yggdrasil v0.2.0 (the end of Semester Expo) we plan on adding the concept of "region servers" to allow for developers to have a concept of "regions" in their world to help balance the load of their game off of the world server itself.

v0.3.0 (winter break) is a general fixup / test / fill in the blanks of all features that were cut for v0.1.0 and v0.2.0. v0.4.0 and v0.5.0 (next semester) will focus on optimization and security.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

T-Cubed Mid-Semester Update

Here's a gameplay video demonstrating T-Cubed's progress so far this semester, and expanding on what we showed at the Mid-Semester Expo.


In the video, you can see the Tetris style gameplay working fully as well as our microgames and money system. In the coming weeks development will focus on adding powerups, more microgames, and balance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Recursion Mid-Semester Update

So Recursion has made significant progress since our last update. At the mid-semester expo we demonstrated the recursion component, the Mr. Freeze powerup, future level and object designs, and art to be integrated later. We now have this gameplay video that demonstrates recursion and animation:


Between now and the end of the semester we hope to have a minimap on the top screen, more powerups added, and integrated levels. We'll be working hard to reach these goals!

Empyreal: Progress Check 11/06/09

The Empyreal team has made significant strides over the month since our last update, illustrated and explained below.


Among the features illustrated in this video:
  • The first thing you'll notice is a new player ship model. Though it still needs texturing work, it's much better than it was before.
  • The next thing you'll notice is the afterburner shader effect. The effect is coded in HLSL, and the size of the afterburner is dependent on the throttle control of the player. You'll also notice at the end of the video, the afterburner gets utterly massive; this is the result of the "Awesome Button", which basically is an escape mechanism for the player if he gets in a hairy situation.
  • You'll also notice that basic weapons functionality is in; the player fires white cube placeholder projectiles. Though there's no clear onscreen indicators yet, weapons can have finite or infinite ammo, optional ammo recharging, and differing projectiles depending on what weapon is active. Projectiles have collision detection with other nonplayer ships based on whether the owner of the weapon which fired the projectile is friendly or an enemy; i.e. as of now friendly fire has no effect.
  • Every now and then, you'll see a purple box in the lower left hand side of the screen. This is for the Empyreal Event System, which is a main driver of the gameplay in Empyreal. The inspiration of one of our programmers, Nick Wasilewski, the event system is responsible for presenting challenges and story elements to the player. Events can include the appearance of new enemy ships, text messages, audio cues (for example, voice acting sound bytes to drive a story), and more. The event system is backed by a strong in-house level editing and event planning tool which allows for the creation of many varied and challenging missions.
Much still needs to be done for Empyreal, however. Notably:
  • AI for Nonplayer characters is still a work-in-progress and has not yet been implemented. This should arrive shortly.
  • Unfortunately, Empyreal is still sorely lacking in content in nearly every area at this point; there is some stuff in the works, however, but the game may need a second semester to flesh out the idea completely.
Though there is still much work to be done, Empyreal is making strides and should still be ready and playable at the SGD Fall 2009 End Of Semester Expo.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall 2009 End Of Semester Expo, Smash For Cash Announcements

The Student Game Developers' End Of Semester Expo has been scheduled for Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 PM. The Expo is currently scheduled to take place in Thornton E303. All SGD projects will be on public display at this Expo.

In addition, SGD and The University's chapter of the Association of Computer Machinery (ACM) are coscheduling the Fall 2009 "Smash For Cash". The event, which is scheduled for December 5 in the basement of Olsson Hall, is a fundraiser for the Child's Play charity, and is comprised of a tournament in the blockbuster Wii video game "Super Smash Bros. Brawl". The tournament requires a $10 entry, of which all proceeds go towards Child's Play. Prizes will be awarded to top finishers!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Laser Lockdown Update

The Laser Lockdown team has been hard at work over the last few weeks attemping to bend the Ox Engine to our will. I shot a short video of what we presented at the Mid Semester Expo this week; it should give you a good picture of where we're at now in development!



Friday, October 23, 2009

SRRN Games Presentation Recap

SRRN Games is a fledgling game development corporation, founded in Spring 2009 by Tyler Carbone and Aujang Abadi, both of whom are students at the Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia, as well as Nathaniel Givens. Carbone and Abadi made a formal presentation to the SGD body on Thursday offering a partnership between the company and the club. Below is a summary of the information presented.

SRRN approaches video game design as an art form; they aspire to "change everything" about the the industry. They aspire to make games that, while not necessarily the flashiest, or the most technically advanced, or the prettiest, are at their core the most original, most inventive, and most fun available.

SRRN has a few games of their own in development. Among them is a classic 2D RPG for the iPhone titled "Ash", as well as an iPhone mad-libs game. The company also has a few other projects waiting on the backburner, and is currently staffed by around 13 employees, focused mainly in the game design and content generation disciplines.

What SRRN is offering to The Student Game Developers is opportunity. SRRN desires to work directly with SGD members in any way possible to help get the company's first few projects off of the ground, and in turn the company provides experience within and a foot in the door into a video games industry career, whether that be at SRRN or otherwise. Opportunities the company is interested in exploring include: adapting and expanding previously-completed SGD games into full-featured and viable commercial titles to be published under the SRRN label; fleshing out game ideas for future projects, SRRN-related or otherwise; and finally working experience under SRRN on one of their project ideas. While no formal internship positions are being offered at this time, the opportunity to work so closely with a video game publisher is one that certainly can boost a resumé and provide live and applicable experience in the video games development field.

SRRN is open to contact from essentially anyone with some sort of game development-related inquiry, whether it be a game proposal, offer to help the company, or otherwise. For more information on SRRN Games, please visit the company's website by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SRRN Games Talk

On Thursday, October 22 at 6 PM in OLS 005, SGD will be hosting a presentation by SRRN Games. SRRN Games was founded by two Darden school students, Aujang Abadi and Tyler Carbone. They'll be talking about who they are, their current projects, and a potential collaboration in the Spring. Make sure you come on out to hear them this Thursday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SGD Resumé Panel Recap

This past Thursday, the Student Game Developers hosted a resumé workshop to aid SGD members in the creation and editing of their respective resumés. Panel members included SGD President Chris Dodge, senior computer science and economics double major Steven Mond, and University of Virginia computer science professor Aaron Bloomfield.

Following is a list of important points that came out of the discussion regarding resumé construction:
  • Items that are useful to include in your resumé are: your experience in the field; technical skills and qualifications; examples of projects you have completed, through academic pursuits or otherwise; what specifically differentiates you from other potential job candidates (i.e. "how are you special?"; and finally your education (referring only to your college education).
  • The first line of the body text of the resumé is by far the most important. In addition, place your most pertinent achievements close to the top of the document.
  • Place key terms on the left side of the document; typically resumé screeners will quickly scan the document for key terms, and putting pertinent keywords with regard to your qualifications on the left side are more likely to be seen.
  • Avoid poor grammar and spelling errors at all costs. In addition, do not construct a resumé that is longer than one page, and try not to be overly verbose or flowery with your writing.
  • Use action verbs. NEVER use passive voice.
  • Do embellish your qualifications a bit; however, don't go too far as you can be held accountable for anything you list on your resumé during an interview.
With regard to cover letters:
  • When writing the cover letter, keep in mind that the point of the letter is to interest the screener to read your resumé.
  • Sell yourself! Explain why you want the job and what you offer to the company you are applying to.
  • Be sincere in your cover letter, but sell yourself. Again, however, keep in mind that you will be responsible for anything you write down in the cover letter in an interview setting.
  • Use jargon from the field, and, again, avoid passive voice.
  • The cover letter should be all about you, all the time.
Finally, two useful websites were introduced:
  • http://gamedevmap.com ; this is a map of all game development companies world-wide, with links to each company's website provided
  • http://www.igda.org ; the International Game Developers Assocation

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SGD Resumé Panel

On Thursday, October 15th at 6pm in Olsson 001, SGD will be holding it's first Resumé Panel. This will be a panel of SGDers who all have had some form of experience tailoring their resumé's for the games industry, ready to answer questions you have for them about the best way to format your letters, stuff about cover letters, and how to make yourself stand out. This panel will be held exactly one week before the SRRN Games Talk, so if you want to make sure your resumé is top-notch so you can ever-so-casually hand it to them the week after, this is the perfect opportunity!

Of course, before we can hold this panel, we need some members to be ON the panel! Therefore, SGD, it is up to you all to nominate the panel members. If you have a nomination in mind, write back to me at dnm5z@virginia.edu (with [Nomination] as the first thing in the subject line, followed by the nominee's name) and tell me why your nomination is fit to be on this panel.

You can nominate yourself too, I guess, but that would kind of be a dick move.

I look forward to hearing your nominations, and we will announce the panel at LEAST by a week before-hand.

Laser Lockdown Engine Demo

The Laser Lockdown team has done some groundwork towards exploring the basic capabilities of the Ox Engine. Below is a video of a very simple level that the design team put together. I've also added a script to one of the models. While this isn't anything earthshattering, the impressive thing here is that we're integrating content between the design team and the programming team in the first week of development, which has never been done before in the club as far as I know.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Microsoft career talk

Microsoft will be hosting a talk on Wednesday, September 30 2009 detailing career opportunities within and information about the company. The talk starts at 5:00 PM, will run until 6:00 PM, and will be held in Room 223 of Rouss and Robertson Halls at the McIntyre School of Commerce. Food will be served and raffle prizes will be awards.

Empyreal: Progress Report

The Empyreal project has made significant progress since the engine proof-of-concept demonstration two weeks ago.



Evident additions in this video include:
  • new player ship model (another placeholder as our artists are producing multiple ideas to work from)
  • working radar (in the upper-right-hand corner; critical enemies show as red dots, NPCs to protect show up as blue dots, and non-critical enemies show up as white dots)
  • working collision detection (notice when the in-game cubes flash red as the player intersects each of them)
Improvements not evident in this video:
  • radar resolution is mutable (i.e. it can zoom in / out)
  • front-end UI is present
  • game can be paused, resumed, restarted, aborted to front-end UI
  • game has a start-up screen sequence
  • work on level editor is underway
In addition, a number of under-the-hood classes for entities such as weapons, projectiles, and environmental props are in development.

Notable topics to be addressed in the near future regarding the engine include weapons, enemy AI routines, and level success and fail conditions checking. Similarly, notable topics to be addressed in the near future on the development timeline regarding the game design are the final player model, the artistic theme for enemies, environment design, and weapons ideas, and the beginnings of implementing these ideas.

The development of Empyreal is on-schedule and the game is due for release in December 2009.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

SRRN Games Information Session

Local upstart video game company SRRN Games will be conducting a presentation hosted by SGD on Thursday, October 22. This presentation will be at 6 PM in OLS005. Topics of the presentation will include job and internship opportunities within SRRN Games during both the academic year and the summer and the potential commercialization of SGD projects.

SRRN Games is located in Charlottesville, VA and was founded by Aujang Abadi and Tyler Carbone, both of whom are presently graduate students at the Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gladiators Engine Test Video

Gladiators director Justin Holmes has posted the following demonstration of the work-in-progress engine that project will employ. The engine was originally to be displayed at one of the pitch meetings but due to technical difficulties with the projector this portion of the presentation was hindered.

The engine features support for two 2D sprite-based animated characters, melee attacks, projectile attacks, collision detection and resolution via hitboxes, and a working concept of player health. The video also demonstrates the WhiteCap visualizer effect, which is planned to be integrated into the game.

Check back soon for more information on Gladiators.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Empyreal: A Closer Look

Hi there gamedevs, I'm Chris Hooe, fourth-year BACS major and director of Empyreal. I'd like to take a moment to more thoroughly introduce the motivation for and goals of the project.

The goal of the Empyreal team is to take the game's spiritual predecessor, Skies of Fury, and expand on it in every way possible. The most evident expansions to the player to begin with will be the shift from 2D sprite-based graphics to 3D rendered graphics, and the freedom to roam this world on a 2D scale (in Skies, the player was locked to constant forward progression). Many changes are planned for the game mechanics as well; rather than extreme arcade-style gameplay, Empyreal will provide a more tactical slant of air combat, as players will have multiple choices of aircraft with clear strengths and weaknesses, choice of weapons loadouts (with great differentiation between available weapons), and enemies who (you guessed it) have their own strengths, weaknesses, and AI routines.

Another game mechanic to push towards this goal is the introduction of missions. Missions will consist of multiple pass/fail objectives that the player must complete to pass a particular level. Mission scenarios might potentially include: standard sorties, where either a specific group of targets or all in-range hostiles must be neutralized; escort missions, where the player must protect an NPC from being destroyed by hostiles as it navigates through a series of waypoints; base defense missions, where the player must defend a stationary target for a slew of enemies; and finally, assaults, where the player must take out a heavily-defended stationary enemy base. Ideally, several missions could be played in sequence for a campaign mode, and icing on the cake would be a story loosely tying all the missions together.

As one can probably tell, game options and variance is of utmost importance to this project; if this goal of clear differentiation and strategy beyond what was establised in Skies is not met, then this project cannot in my mind be considered a success. As such, making sure all gameplay additions add a clear, concise, and unique function to the gameplay will be mission-critical and emphasized through the development of the project.

There has to this point been significant work done on the base engine, and a preview video is embedded below:



Features showcased in this video include:
  • 3D environment generated from a heightmap, texture applied to generated mesh
  • 3D player character (the green cube) flies around the environment; player can turn, and player character model rolls to the side a bit during a turn
  • non-player characters (the larger two cubes) are present; currently they have no distinguishing features. Non-player characters can include enemies, NPC allies, NPC characters to be escorted by the player, and environmental props.
  • Culling of 3D game entities that are outside of the player's view screen; the camera is intentionally zoomed out too far to show this effect
  • Spritefont messages can be drawn on top of the 3D gameplay screen
Be sure to check back for updates on the development of Empyreal soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mid-Semester Expo Scheduled, Rosetta Stone Game Jam Info

Thanks to everyone that came out to the SGD Project Pitch meetings and signed up for SGD projects! We look forward to seeing what the end result of your collective work is at the end of this semester.

In the meantime, the SGD Fall 2009 Mid-Semester Expo has been scheduled for October 29th. Location and time will be announced when that information is available. Progress of all SGD projects will be displayed (or at least explained and elaborated upon at worst) at this event.

In addition, SGD is looking for members who would be interested in participating on an official SGD team in the Rosetta Stone Game Jam competition. The Rosetta Stone Game Jam is a competition between individuals and teams to produce a working video game with an educational component in 48 hours or less. The competition is scheduled for January 8, 2010 through January 10, 2010 and will be held in Harrisonburg, VA at Rosetta Stone's location in that city. For further information, please visit the Rosetta Stone Game Jam website by clicking here. If you are interested in signing up to participate in this project, let the SGD directors know by emailing us; the team signup deadline is November 16, so please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to participate.

Project Pitch: RecursiO(n^2)

A reimagination of the prior SGD project Recursion (which might appear in the archives eventually), RecursiO(n^2) is a puzzle game which requires that players think recursively to win. Players will utilize and manipulate several instances of their character through time to solve puzzles, defuse traps, and find a way out.

The project is to be completed over the course of one semester using C++ on the Nintendo DS platform. At least five and up to ten positions are available, focusing in the game design and programming facets of the project. RecursiO(n^2) is directed by second-year CS major Dan Epstein.

Click here to download the Powerpoint presentation for RecursiO(n^2) (which contains more information and a gameplay mock-up).

Project Pitch: Gladiators

Taking a step off of the tried-and-true path, Gladiators is a 2D fighting game with a twist: rather than placing the emphasis on close-quarters hand-to-hand combat, the game focuses instead on the unique supernatural abilities of its characters, with each engaging his respective opponent with spells, chants, and magic instead. The abilities players use will have a noticeable effect on the fight beyond inflicting damage, as each ability has a unique effect on the game's music and produces its own special effects.

The project is to be completed over the course of one year using the XNA platform. Up to five positions are available, focusing in the gameplay design / programming and content generation areas. Gladiators is directed by third-year CS major Justin Holmes.

Click here to download the Powerpoint presentation for Gladiators.

Project Pitch: The Yggdrasil Engine

One of the more ambitious projects the Student Game Developers has attempted to this point in its short existence, The Yggdrasil Engine is a portable engine intended for massively multiplayer online games. While no physical game will come out of the project this semester, this project will lay the foundation for future projects in subsequent semesters.

The project is to be completed over the course of one semester using the Ogre 3D graphics engine, the Raknet networking engine, the Boost libraries for multithreading support, and C++. The project is co-directed by fourth-year CS major John Will and third-year CS major Dan Magnusson.

Click here to download the Powerpoint presentation for The Yggdrasil Engine.

Project Pitch: Empyreal

The spiritual successor to last semester's Skies of Fury, Empyreal is a top-down view 3D shooter which returns the player to the fight for control of the heavens in an advanced tactical fighter. This time around, however, the player is free to roam the gameplay environment as he pleases, and he will engage in a variety of tactical gameplay challenges through various mission types, ranging from simple “kill everything” sorties, escort missions, base defense missions, and enemy base assaults.

The project is to be completed over the course of one semester using the XNA platform. At least three and up to six positions are available, focusing in the game design, programming, and 3D asset modeling facets of the project. Empyreal is directed by fourth-year CS major Christopher Hooe.

Click here to download the Powerpoint presentation for Empyreal.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reminder: Pitch Meeting II on Thursday

The second of two project pitch meetings is this Thursday, September 10, in OLS005 at 6:00 PM. Projects to be pitched at this meeting include Dan Epstein's RecursiO(n^2), a time-bending 2D puzzle game for the Nintendo DS, Justin Holmes' Gladiators, a 2D spell-based fighting game, Christopher Hooe's Empyreal, a 3D top-down shooter, and John Will's and Dan Magnusson's Yggdrasil, a game engine which will be utilized in a subsequent semester to produce an massively multiplayer online game. Detailed information on all of these projects will be posted to the website at 7:00 PM EDT after the meeting.

If you wish to participate in SGD this semester, you must apply to work on a project (or projects) of your choice at one of the two pitch meetings; i.e. attending this meeting is your last chance to sign up for the SGD project of your choice this semester. Team rosters are initially at the discretion of the projects' respective directors, though members wishing to participate in projects who either A) missed both pitch meetings, or B) were not initially accepted onto a project will be added to projects by club officers on a per-project need basis. If you fall into either of these categories, please email us notifying us of your desire to contribute to an SGD project, along with the top three projects you are interested in, and you will be placed onto the team most in need by an SGD officer.

Finally, if you are a current SGD member and have yet to pay yearly dues, you may do so during Thursday's meeting. Dues are $10 and should be paid in person directly to our Treasurer, Dan Epstein

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Project Pitch: Laser Lockdown

The second of several projects the Student Game Developers will pursue this semester, Laser Lockdown is a player-vs-player first-person shooter centered around a game of laser tag. Unique to this project is the use of Nintendo's Wiimote to create a head-tracking control scheme.

The project is to be completed over the course of two semesters using the Ox Engine in the XNA platform. At least three and up to seven positions are available, including Wiimote specialists, 3D artists, gameplay designers / programmers, and audio specialists. Laser Lockdown is directed by fourth-year CS major Chris Dodge.

Click here to download the Powerpoint presentation for Laser Lockdown.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Project Pitch: T-Cubed

Beginning...well, now, information about projects the Student Game Developers will pursue during the Fall 2009 semester will appear on the website. SGD intends to develop at least five games this semester, and by the end of next week overview information regarding all of these projects will be posted. The foremost project we are formally announcing is T-Cubed.

T-Cubed is a multilayered puzzle game based upon one of the most popular video games of all time, Tetris. Players will have to combine their reflexes and joystick jockeying skills with their quick-thinking Tetris skills, as players must compete in a variety of mini-games to earn money which can be used to blow up completed rows and purchase other useful power-ups to score higher and continue the Tetris game.

The project is to be completed over the course of one semester using the XNA platform. At least two and up to six positions are available, focusing in the game design and programming facets of the project. The T-Cubed project is directed by second-year CS major Andrew Gaubatz.

Click here to download the Powerpoint presentation for T-Cubed (which contains more information and a gameplay mock-up).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reminder: Pitch Meeting I on Thursday

The first of two project pitch meetings is this Thursday, September 3, in OLS005 at 6:00 PM. Projects to be pitched at this meeting include Chris Dodge's Laser Lockdown, a 3D Wiimote-controlled laser tag game, and Andrew Gaubatz's T-Cubed, a 3D puzzle game project. Detailed information on both will be posted in a future post following the formal pitch presentations to the SGD club proper at this meeting.

If you wish to participate in SGD this semester, you must apply to work on a project (or projects) of your choice at one of the two pitch meetings. Team rosters are initially at the discretion of the projects' respective directors, though members wishing to participate in projects who either A) missed both pitch meetings, or B) were not initially accepted onto a project will be added to projects by club officers on a per-project need basis.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2 Tips for SGD Members Looking to Get a Games Job

Getting into the games industry is more difficult than ever during this economic crisis. But there are a few things that aspiring developers can do to greatly increase their chances of getting a job offer one day.

The following two tips are taken from the BreakIntoGamesCareer.com article, "The Top 10 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Chances of Becoming a Game Developer"

1) Work on independent game projects.
One of the most important aspects of an application that game company recruiters look for in applicants is their experience. If they can’t make a small game on their own, how are they going to work with a team to make a multi-million dollar title? Team up with some friends and work on a game. It doesn’t have to be a full featured console title, just make sure you finish it. Unfinished projects don’t count. This is something that puts all SGD members way ahead of the curve.

2) Narrow your field of expertise.
While it’s good to be able to do many things at a small company or small project, larger more established companies will be looking for the best people in a given specialty. If you’re an artist, pick characters or environments and focus on that. If you’re an engineer, focus on artificial intelligence, graphics, or whatever your passion is. Decide what you’re going to do and become an expert.

If you focus on the core aspects of an applicant that recruiters are going to be looking for, then you'll have a great shot at nailing that job offer.

For more tips, resources, articles, and other information pertaining to getting into the video game industry, be sure to visit BreakIntoGamesCareer.com

Best of luck everyone, and have a great semester!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

SGD XNA Library Information

To all directors whose projects will be developed in XNA Game Studio 3.0 or later, I have compiled (and I am continuously adding to) a code library for SGD specifically targeted for the XNA development environment. If you wish to use this, please email me for instructions as to how to obtain it.

Here's what the code library currently contains:
  • Keyboard management class; useful for reading input off the keyboard. Can test for presses of a single key, whether a key is being held down, and also for a series of keystrokes (useful for programming cheat codes, for example).
  • Controller management class; useful for reading input off of up to four XBOX360 gamepads.
  • Mouse management class; useful for reading input off of the mouse.
  • Resource pool class; useful for initializing a set amount of objects that will be used repeatedly, such a projectiles from weapons; correct implementation saves time and memory.
  • XML reading and writing capability with any user-defined class
  • Sound effect management class; useful for managing and playing sound effects.
  • Game state management classes; useful for (obviously) game state management.
Planned for future implementations:
  • A simple menu system implementation.
  • A class to create a textured 3D mesh from a 2D image (i.e. a height map)
Any feature suggestions and code submissions are welcome as well; just drop me an email. If you submit code, you will obviously be credited for your work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

8/27 Meeting Wrap-Up

For those of you who missed today's Introductory Meeting, the Powerpoint presentation shown at the meeting, which includes background information about the club and a rundown of club protocol and expectations, can be downloaded by clicking here.

Highlights of discussion at the meeting:
  • Pitch Meetings are Thursday, September 3 and September 10; the projects which SGD will pursue this semester will be detailed at these two meetings by each project's respective director. If you wish to work on a project with SGD during the Fall 2009 semester, you should attend both of these meetings, which will be in OLS005 at 6:00 PM on both dates.
  • Yearly dues for SGD are $10; if you do not pay, you are not eligible to participate in SGD events after Pitch Meetings have concluded until you do so. Dues should be paid directly to SGD Treasurer Dan Epstein.
  • For returning SGD members: t-shirts promised at the end of last year should arrive sometime next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pitch Process: Pitch Meetings Scheduled

In addition to the previously-announced club meeting this Thursday, the Student Game Developers will meet the following two Thursdays (September 3 2009 and September 10 2009) in OLS 005 at 6:00 PM for the formal pitch proposal meetings for the semester. If you plan on pitching a project for this semester, you are expected to present your proposal to the SGD body proper at one of these two meetings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pitch Process: Fall 09 Deadline

To add to the general project pitch process guidelines seen here, all pitch proposals are due to SGD officers no later than Tuesday, September 1 2009. You can submit a proposal by following the guidelines at the link above and sending the required design document at that link to the contact email address provided at the top of our home page (all email to this address gets forwarded to all SGD officers).

Finally, if you plan on pitching a project, you should attend the first director's meeting of the semester, which will occur on Thursday, August 27 2009, in MEC 216. This meeting will commence immediately following the more general SGD club meeting announced previously on the same day at 5 PM.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fall 2009 First Meeting

Hey gamedevs! I hope all of you had a great summer.

The Student Game Developers at The University of Virginia are holding our opening meeting for the 2009-10 academic year on Thursday, August 27 from 5-6 PM in MEC 216. Please stop by if you're interested! Also, feel free to check out our booths at the Student Activities Fair this upcoming week.

Archive Index

This blog entry serves as an index page for all projects that the Student Game Developers have completed. This page will be updated at the conclusion of each semester as projects are completed.

Date of last archives update: January 2, 2012
Fall 2011


We had four SGD projects in Fall 2011. Currently one of them is available for download--Kinect Pong. This will only work if you have XNA installed and a Kinect plugged in via USB.




Spring 2010


Spring 2010 was a good semester for the student game developers, featuring four total projects, including Impact!, RecursiO(n^2), Dual and Laser Lockdown. Three of these projects are currently available for download right here!






Laser Lockdown

FALL 2009


The Fall 2009 semester saw the development of six projects, three of which will be continued into next semester. Projects were once again developed for the PC and Nintendo DS platform and implemented using various tools and different programming languages. Below is a list of projects available to download from this semester (click the banners to navigate to view information about a project).







SPRING 2009

Six projects were completed by The Student Game Developers at The University of Virginia during the spring 2009 semester. Projects were developed mainly for the PC platform, but were implemented using various different tools and programming languages. Below is the complete list of these projects (click the banners to navigate to view information about a project).













SPRING 2008




FALL 2007

Archive: The Imperium Project

The Imperium Project is a 2D isometric strategy RPG developed in Python for the PC. The game was designed by Dai Yang (director) (additional credits unavailable). Players take control of a party of unique characters, which can be developed over time to the player's liking, and take on a variety of enemies in an attempt to save the world.

You can download The Imperium Project by clicking here.

Archive: Skies of Fury

Skies of Fury is a 2D top-down arcade-throwback plane shooter developed using the Microsoft XNA Framework 3.0 and is intended for the PC only. The game was completed by John Will (director, programming), Matt Beattie (testing), Charles Gibson (art, programming), Chris Hooe (art, programming, music/sfx, level design), Steven Mond (programming), Nick Wasilewski (programming, level design), and Matt Yu (programming, programming [intentionally redundant]). Players take control of an advanced fighter pilot looking to take back control of the skies from a plethora of enemy aircraft who are occupying them. The player has two weapons available, and one is continuously upgraded as the player increases his score. This game employs the Mercury Particle Engine for 2D particle effects.



You can download Skies of Fury by clicking here.

Archive: Shark Attack

Shark Attack: World Tour is a 2D side-scrolling time trial game developed using the Microsoft XNA Framework 3.0 and is intended for the PC only. The game was completed by Dan Magnusson (director), Brian Stascavage, and Andrew Gaubatz. Shark Attack places the player in the role of a shark with the goal of eating as much as possible within a two-minute time limit. The player is limited in what he can eat by his size (he can only eat things smaller than his shark character) and his shark grows as he eats more. Players can also search for edible items inside of destructible objects at the ocean floor. Two playable venues are available.



You can download Shark Attack: World Tour by clicking here.

Archive: Robot Thesis

Robot Thesis is a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up game developed using the Microsoft XNA Framework 3.0 and is intended for the PC only. The game was completed by Chris Dodge (director), Jordan Allen (programming), Perry Gillon (programming), and John Carr (programming). Players travel through various worlds, attacking waves of various enemies using two different attacks. This project features the artwork of a 7th grade class taught by Ms. Kathy Gust at an Arlington area high school.

You can download Robot Thesis by clicking here.

Archive: Robot Invasion

Robot Invasion is a 2D tower defense game developed using the Game Maker PC game design suite offered by YoYo Games. The game was designed by Dan Epstein (director, programming), Andrew Wilkes (programming), Dan Stalcup (programming), and Keaton Monger (art). Players must completely vanquish increasingly more challenging waves of enemies using towers which the player places on the game map. Power-ups are available to the player as he scores more points, including rapid fire, higher damage, faster projectiles, and homing projectiles.



You can download Robot Invasion by clicking here.

Archive: RGB-DS

RGB-DS is an inventive 2D puzzle platformer intended for the Nintendo DS console. The game was developed by Jeffrey Gaither (director, game concept, programming), Nick Parisi (programming), Dan Andrino (programming), Akshay Joshi (programming), Matt Yu (level design), and Steven Mond (programming, level design). RGB-DS takes advantage of the DS' unique dual-screen feature by placing two connected worlds on either screen, with gravity reversed in either world. Players must take advantage of this reverse gravity concept, conservation of momentum, and various other power-ups to navigate the puzzles each connected set of worlds offers.



You can download RGB-DS by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shark Attack: World Tour Promo Video

The promo video for Shark Attack: World Tour is now available. Link after the jump.


The video is embedded below. You can also use the direct link.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Skies of Fury Promo Video

The promo video for Skies of Fury is now available. Link after the jump.


The video is embedded below. You can also use the direct link.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Robot Invasion Promo Video

The promo video for Robot Invasion is now available. Link after the jump.


The video is embedded below. You can also use the direct link.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

RGBDS Trailer Available

The trailers for RGBDS is now available. Link after the jump.


The trailer is embedded below. You can also use the direct link.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Useful XNA Resources

Below are some useful resources to reference for developing projects in Microsoft XNA Game Studio, one of several platforms used by Student Game Developers to develop projects (by no means the only platform, however). I personally have used all of the resources listed below and have found them all to be helpful in some form or another.

Note that all resources listed (particularly the books) assume a functional understanding of programming concepts, particularly with regard to C#, but in my experience if you are comfortable with C++ and Java you should have no problem picking up C#.

Full list after the jump.


BOOKS

Microsoft XNA Unleashed by Chad Carter
Focuses on how to do lower-level tasks, such as shading, controller input, sprite and 3D model drawing, etc.

Microsoft XNA Game Studio Creator's Guide, 2nd Edition by Stephen Cawood and Pat McGee
Like XNA Unleashed, but also provides overview of mathstuffs pertinent in computer graphics concepts such as vectors, matrices, etc. and how to use them in the context of XNA

Professional XNA Programming: Building Games for Xbox 360 and Windows with XNA Game Studio 2.0 by Benjamin Nitschke
A higher-level overview of XNA, featuring tutorials that have the reader implementing complete games such as Pong, Breakout, and Rocket Commander.
(note: written for XNA Game Studio 2.0, and code samples are out-of-date)

INTERNETS

GameDev.net
A general-purpose game programming help website; doesn't necessarily focus on XNA, but lots of useful stuff all over the website and forum.

Ziggyware
Like GameDev.net, but more focused on XNA. Features XNA tutorials, help forum, and a 3D model database.

XNA Creators Club Online
Official website for XNA Game Studio; features games developed in XNA, programmer blogs, tutorials, and help forum.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Matthew Yu receives 2009 SGD Exemplary Contribution Award

Student Game Developers' member Matthew Yu was awarded with a Jefferson Cup for his work with Student Game Developers during the 2008-09 school year.  Matt put a great deal of his personal time into the success of many projects developed over the course of the year, including Recursion (developed in Fall 2008), RGB-DS (developed in Spring 2009), and Skies of Fury (also developed in Spring 2009).  Matt is currently enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at The University of Virginia. 

The Student Game Developers Exemplary Contribution Award, fondly dubbed by some members of SGD as the "I Am A Beast" Award, was created by the presiding SGD officers during the Spring 2009 semester to acknowledge the contributions a non-director member who went beyond the call of duty for his or her team and also demostrated exceptional motivation towards the success of multiple projects developed by SGD members and ergo the success of SGD as a whole.  The accolade is awarded on yearly and takes into account the contributions of the candidates to Student Game Developers over the course of the entire academic year.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Release: Shark Attack: World Tour

Took us long enough, but we finally got it up! Shark Attack: World Tour is now available for download / installation. Play through Miami and Venice!

Shark Attack requires the Microsoft .NET Framework to be installed to play.

Link to the game included after the break.

http://www.student.virginia.edu/gamedev/games/SharkAttackWorldTour.zip

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Release: Robot Invasion Director's cut!

The director's cut of Robot Invasion has now been released! This release comes a ways ahead of schedule, but all of the requested changes were made and the game is now in a fun, accessible, and polished form. Link and description of changes after the jump.

The game can be found here. Here are the highlights of the changes that have been made:
*Resolution was changed to 640x640 to make the game accessible to people who don't have high-end PCs.
*The game limits where you can place towers. You can no longer place a tower on the path or on the menu frame. The build tower appears green when hovering over an acceptable location and red when hovering over an unacceptable one.
*A "score" feature was added as well as a high score table.
*You can now sell towers and individual powerups by right clicking on the tower or the boxes on the right side of the menu.
*The game caps out at 50 waves, at which point (if you make it that far) you enter a high score to the table. You can also enter a high score if you die before 50 waves.
A more complete list can be found in the readme file.

I hope you enjoy the game! I had a blast directing Robot Invasion, and I highly recommend pitching a project to anyone considering it in the future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Release: Imperium

Next in line is The Imperium Project. Imperium is a 2D tactics style RPG directed by Dai Yang. The project was developed in Python over the course of the entire year.

The game is available here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Release: RGB DS

RGB DS is now available for all to enjoy. Although it has been designed for the Nintendo DS, you can also play it on a PC with an emulator (which is provided).
Download link after the jump.

RGB DS was developed using PALib and C++ for the Nintendo DS. It's fairly simple to figure out, but hard to master - be sure to check out the readme if you need help setting up.
Download RGB DS here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Release: Robot Thesis

The third out of six to be released, Robot Thesis is now available for download. This version is a slightly modified from the one presented at the expo. Like Robot Invasion, I'm also planning some sort of Director's Cut version with some more polish and content.

Link after the jump.

Robot Thesis was developed using Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 and is intended for use on Windows computers with the latest version of the Microsoft .NET Framework installed. This means that if you don't have the latest version of .NET installed on your computer, the game will not work.

Make sure you check out the readme, as it contains all the control information and other useful tidbits.

You can download it here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Release: Robot Invasion

Following the example of Skies of Fury, Robot Invasion is now released to the general public. The version currently available for download is the same version that appeared at the expo a few weeks ago. At some point during the summer a "director's cut", featuring additional content and various bugfixes, will be released.

This game was developed using the GameMaker 7.0 engine, available off YoYo Games here. The director of Robot Invasion has purchased a license, and thus is entitled to the free distribution of the game for non-commercial use. However, the game cannot be modified, disassembled, or altered in any way under penalty of violating GameMaker's EULA. All of the art, animations, music, code, and algorithms were designed by members of this project for the purpose of the game.

Sorry for all of the technical jargon-- you can download the game here.

Release: Skies of Fury

After a bit of a delay caused by The University requiring us to partake in minor technicalities such as final exams, we now are rolling out the release builds of all six projects developed under SGD this past semester. Skies of Fury is the first such project from this past semester to be released.

Download link and more after the jump.

Skies of Fury is a top-down 2D shooter in which the player takes control of an advanced tactical fighter and takes on the continuing swarms of enemies that approach him. To take on the enemy, the player has two weapons: a standard laser, and a charge weapon which can attack multiple enemies at once. As the player scores more points, the primary weapon receives upgrades; these upgrades are necessary as the waves of enemies the player encounters become progressively more difficult.

Skies of Fury was developed using Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 and is intended for use on Windows computers with the latest version of the Microsoft .NET Framework installed. Players can use either the keyboard or XBOX360 gamepad for input.

All games posted by Student Game Developers are provided "as is". Skies of Fury is being released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License unless otherwise noted; in the case of SoF, see the readme file for more details.

Without further adieu, you can download Skies of Fury by clicking here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Skies of Fury: Post-mortem

Skies of Fury was the first project I've worked on with Student Game Developers. While I can't speak for our director, John Will, I figure it'd be good to chronicle what I thought went well and what didn't with the project so that other could learn from our successes and failures.

WHAT IS SKIES OF FURY?

Skies of Fury (herein: "Skies" or "SoF") is a two-dimensional, top-down shooter that harkens back to the days of sprite animation and simple yet intense and addictive gameplay. The player assumes control of an advanced military fighter jet, taking on wave after wave of enemies, preparing for a challenging boss encounter at the end of each level. The goal simply is to make it through alive.


WHAT WENT WELL?

  • We finished the game.  While very brief in length (more on that later), every feature we wanted to implement into the SoF game engine was implemented.  We consistently hit our targets every week with few exceptions, and as such we were able to stay on or in rare cases ahead of schedule throughout the development process.  We did have a bit of a crunch near the end of our dev cycle to get final tweaking and game balancing done, but this was expected.
  • Our team performed incredibly well.  The most vital component to the completion and success of this project was the ability of the team to work together to get stuff done and meet weekly targets.  Our team was comparatively large compared to other teams at the outset of the project, but effectively half the team dropped from the project over the course of the semester.  The guys who did stay on (Matt Beattie, Charles Gibson, Steven Mond, Nick Wasilewski, Matthew Yu, and myself) in my opinion did an incredible job of communicating with John and each other about changes made to the game, upcoming targets, bug-squashing, and everything else that came about related to the game.  Along the same lines, each person at some point took some initiative to implement some critical feature into the game.  Such features that were originally added by the efforts and initiative of but a single person (and tweaked by the team from there) were: the backbone of the entire game engine, the entire first level, music and sound implementation, the boss fights, offscreen tracking arrows, and particle effects.
  • The game is fun!  Thanks in part to being able to implement all of our features, the game turned out as good, if not better than we hoped for.  Everyone who played it at the Expo yesterday gave us positive feedback with regard to the fun factor of the game (alongside some constructive criticism and/or whining about dying too often -:) ).

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER?

  • Testing.  Throughout the design process, we struggled to get extensive feedback on our various builds of the game.  Our team at the outset had three testers, but by the end of the development cycle the only one who had ever contributed any feedback whatsoever was Matt Beattie (who contributed much useful feedback himself, but one tester can only be expected to do and find so much).  Many bugs in features were discovered weeks after the fact by our designers, who had to take up roles of testers as well to make up for the lack of feedback from two of our three listed testers.
  • The game isn't quite as long as we wanted.  Our original plan was to have at least three levels in the game, each with five unique enemies and a boss.  Time constraints due to engine development bugs, lack of testing, and the rigors of being full-time students on top of participating in this project quickly cut into our ability to meet this goal, however.  The final game does have two levels with five shared basic enemies and two unique bosses.  Adding more content would have made this game significantly better, in my opinion; that said, we knowingly traded off content amount for having a stable and good game engine underneath all the content, and I firmly believe that SoF benefitted from this trade-off.
  • Sloppy code and inconsistent documentation.  This is more of a personal gripe of mine that no one else may notice (and probably everyone on the team is guilty of, myself included), but throughout the game, memory is constantly being allocated and deallocated during gametime.  Given the fact that our game is a 2D shooter, this isn't a huge issue as any current hardware should handle our game no problem so long as we didn't try to do anything ridculous (like draw 500,000 particles at once), but this is still very poor practice; anything that we needed for a level should have been initialized in a single Initialize() call rather than in the main loop of the game.  Another gripe of mine is inconsistently commented code, which sometimes made it difficult to tweak the game or squash bugs.
  • The game is sometimes too hard.  My personal thanks to Nick (our lead level and boss designer), you are evil :)


OVERALL IMPRESSION

I personally would call Skies a successful project.  Not only did we finish the game, but we made a fun enjoyable one.  It's not without flaws, but for my first full-fledged game project with SGD, I personally am very happy with how the game turned out.  The success of this project has me looking forward to working on a new project with the club (perhaps even some of the guys on this same team, should the chips fall that way) next semester.

Daily Progress covers SGD End-of-Semester Expo

A representative of the Charlottesville Daily Progress was on-hand for our End-of-Semester Expo yesterday and wrote a recap article for that publication. You can view that article by clicking here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Expo Trailer

Well I figured it should be posted here at some point, so here is our expo trailer in all of its glory.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Robot Thesis Lives!

Hey everyone! I'd like to call your attention to a project that hasn't been mentioned on here yet: Robot Thesis! Our game is a 2D beat-em up in the style of Streets of Rage and Final Fight. We've spent most of the time building the engine for our game, but it's mostly complete now. We'll be focusing on content and minor tweaks from now on. One of the things we accomplished recently was the addition of a title menu.

Screenshots after the jump.



The title menu.

Gameplay screenshot. On the right is the temporary guy we're using for the player. He probably won't be the main character at the end, though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skies of Fury: Progress Video Update


More after the jump.

There are a few new elements in this video. Most readily apparent are:
-yellow offscreen tracking arrows that notify the player of the presence of an enemy just outside the play area
-the player's alternate weapon; player charges up weapon by holding left trigger / tab, and when this is released orange projectiles are launched in a spreading pattern. The number of projectiles launched is dependent on how long the player charged the weapon. Also note the the player can apply 'english' to the launched orange projectiles by using the RightThumbstick left and right / A and D.
-several new enemy attacking patterns displayed in this video
-on Easy and Medium difficulties, the player possesses a shield to designate that he can take a hit without dying. When the player gets hit once while the shield is active, the shield disappears and the player enters the "Danger state".

Not shown in this video is the level transition screen, which calculates player score bonuses at level completion based on what percentage of the level's enemies he killed and his accuracy, and the SoF Formation Editor, an in-house development tool which more easily allows for the creation of enemy attacking formations.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Introducing Shark Attack: World Tour

Shark Attack: World Tour is a game that introduces a different kind of gameplay to this years SGD line-up. While RGB is a lightning-fast reflexes puzzle game, and SoF is a lightning-fast reflexes flight shooter game, and [insert tower defense game name here] is a strategic lightning-fast cognitive ability game, and Robot Thesis is a lightning-fast reflexes beat 'em up, and the Imperium Project is a not lightning-fast (seeing a pattern?) turn based fighting tactics / strategy / interactive novel of goodness, SAWT takes a slower more casual approach to gaming.

In Shark Attack you have no enemies. At least, none that can kill you. You are an almighty shark, and your drive is to kill and destroy and get bigger so you can kill and destroy more! That's why in Shark Attack your only nemesis is time - can you beat the clock and get as big as a submarine in less than two minutes? Well that depends on what you eat and destroy.

As a shark, you view everything in the world as one of two things - either an edible or a destructible. Edible's, like fish, dolphins, seals and people are things that you can attack with your bite, and eat. Destructibles, like rocks, coral, shark cages and submarines are things you can destroy by smashing. Many destructibles will have a bunch of edibles hiding in them, too.

As you advance through the game you unlock different levels. The first level is, of course, Miami, the place everyone associates with sharks. Then, by getting a high enough score in the given time limit, you can unlock the next level, and so on, until the very end.

The SAWT team is currently working on a few polish things and adding in support for a world map and a second level.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

RGB DS Mechanics 1 - The 4 colors

This is the first of a few posts in which I will outline the different mechanics found in RGB DS. In this post I'll outline the basic mechanic behind the game - the 4 colors of objects and how they interact with the two different worlds.
RGB takes advantage of the 2 screens on the DS, placing the blue world on the top screen and the red world on the bottom screen. Objects in the blue world fall downward, following gravity as you would expect in any other platformer. On the other hand, objects in the red world have gravity pull them upwards, causing them to "fall upwards."

Video and more after the jump.

A green object will perform just as you would expect - it will fall down in the blue world, and fall upwards in the red world. However, a blue object will continue to fall down even when in the red world, and a red object will continue to fall upwards even in the blue world. There are also yellow objects, which are "neutral," meaning that they are not affected by gravity, no matter where the object is.


This video gives a brief demo of how the player, a green object, can make use of traveling through the two worlds to reach the goal of the level, a shiny star. In particular, notice how speed is conserved when traveling through the two worlds, allowing you to reach higher locations by not touching the floor.
Stay tuned for the next update when I'll talk about blocks, buttons, and doors.

Skies Of Fury: Progress Report and Feature Breakdown



Breakdown of all new features displayed in the video since last website update about the game after the jump.

This video comprises about half of Level 1 on the default difficulty setting. Level design is credited to Nick Wasilewski and Steven Mond.

0:04 - though not very readable due to the low quality of the video upload, the player now has a heads-up display in the lower-left and lower-right corners of the screen. This HUD displays lives remaining and score on the left (in green), and the amount of available Overdrive on the lower right (in yellow-orange; Overdrive will be elaborated upon below).

0:05 - any time the player starts or respawns after death, he is given a brief grace period of invincibility. This lasts for a little over three seconds and is indicated to the player by the background fluctuating to a turquoise color.

0:06 - explosions added into the game. The game chooses at random between sixteen different explosion spritesheets.

0:10 - a new enemy type, the Scout. Low health, but has a rapid-fire laser cannon as its weapon rather than the standard purple blob. A bit of an aside, one of the things we're currently working on is adding more variety to the in-game projectiles.

0:11 - by holding down Left Shift (or A on the XBOX360 controller), the player enters "Overdrive" mode. While in Overdrive, the player moves twice as fast and his primary weapon fires twice as many shots. In addition, the background color fluctuates to orange to give the player a visual cue that he is in Overdrive mode. The player begins the game with no Overdrive, but earns Overdrive by killing enemies.

0:17 - when the player is hit by an incoming projectile, he becomes vulnerable to being killed. This vulnerability is made evident by the loud warning horn, flashing "DANGER" text at the bottom of the screen, and the fluctuation of the screen color to red.

0:18 - the player's primary weapon receives upgrades as the player scores more points. Currently the points threshold is squished for debugging purposes. Here we see the player fires four forward shots simultaneously.

0:25 - another upgrade, this time sideways-firing shots.

0:29 - two more upgrades are visible (remember I said the points scale for upgrades was squished; I wasn't kidding, heh); the player fires shots backwards from the reverse of the ship, and a single orbiter circles around the player's ship. The orbiter fires shots at a slow rate, but the orbiter's shots will home in on the closest enemy.

0:32 - another new enemy, the Heavy ship, makes an appearance. Its behavior, however, is not yet final.

0:36 - the player now has two orbiters as the result of another upgrade. The second orbiter behaves the same as the first orbiter.

0:43 - a third new enemy, the Doom Rocket, appears. The Doom Rocket flies in a single predetermined direction, dropping bombs off as it flies through the scene. The bombs explode and generate a massive number of projectiles in all directions.

1:00 - a fourth new enemy (if you can catch a glimpse of it, it moves incredibly fast), the Net. The Net enters the screen based on the player's current x-position and flies at a rapid rate towards the player. The Net can harm the player with either the electric beam that exists between the two subship pieces it is comprised of, or simply ramming the player. The Net has no projectile weapons, however.

1:01 - when the player dies, the background color fluctuates to black until the player is revived.

1:28 - just before the video fades out, we see the fifth new enemy at the top of the screen on both sides, the Cloud Cannon. This is a stationary enemy which constantly fires projectiles in a single direction.

With this update, most of the key gameplay features of SoF are implemented, the notable exceptions being the player's alternate weapon and a finalized boss enemy (or enemies, if times allows). Once these is implemented, level design, game balancing, and bug-squashing will become the primary areas of focus.

SoF remains on track for completion by the SGD End-of-Semester Expo.

Spring Election Results

Below are the belated results of the Spring election, which was held after the SGD Mid-Semester Expo on March 11, 2009:

President: Chris Dodge
Vice-President: Dan Magnussen
Treasurer: Dan Epstein

Note that Dan Epstein has assumed his duties effective immediately, given that his position is new for the upcoming academic year. The other newly-elected officers will assume their positions at the beginning of the Fall 2009 semester.

Also of note, Chris Hooe was effectively appointed to the position of webmaster.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How-To: Pitch a Project to SGD

Have a good idea for a game that you'd like to develop with a team of SGD members backing you? Below are some guidelines for turning an idea in your crazy head into a full-out project for the group to develop (and get you rich and famous and deliver unto you everlasting fame and glory and all that good stuff).

The first requirement, one of which is obvious, is that you must be a member of SGD to pitch a project to pursue using SGD members and resources. Immediately following that, SGD policy dictates that you must have experience with at least one prior SGD project before you are eligible to pitch any of your project ideas to the to the club. This rule ensures that anyone pitching a project will have some sort of experience on a prior project team and has an idea of what is expected of him or her as a project director (note that if your pitch is successful, you assume the role of director of that project, meaning you are ultimately responsible for its completion).

If you meet this requirement, you're eligible to make a formal pitch to the club. To do this, the foremost thing to do will be to fill out a design document. The design document is a formal outline of what your game is, what features it will entail, specific gameplay mechanics, list of resources need, etc. etc. With regard to resources needed, you (and/or someone in a high-ranking position on your team as laid out in your design document) should be familiar with the resource(s), API(s), etc. that you wish to use to implement the project; for example, if you want to make your game in XNA, you and/or someone else on your team should already be familiar with XNA. The design document should also include a week-by-week timetable listing project goals for each week of development en rout to its completion. The SGD design document template can be found here (click).

Upon completion of the design document, you should promptly submit it to the SGD officers for review. The SGD officers will go over the document with you and help you nail down your game concept, provide constructive criticism to improve the concept, and firm up your proposed development timeline to follow for the completion of the project. Don't be surprised if you end up going to the officers several times before your project is approved; in particular, given the fact that anyone working on an SGD project is a student at The University first and foremost, time constraints will be a constant factor in any project you propose; you may be ask to cut some features from a broader concept, or spread the project out over multiple semesters. Ultimately, your design document must be approved before the conclusion of the club's pitch meetings, which occur during the first few weeks of the semester.

Once your project is approved by the officers, you are expected to pitch your project to SGD as a whole at the aforementioned pitch meetings. You'll meet with officers to set up a pitch presentation date, upon which you will present your project to the entirety of the club. The pitch itself typically involves explaining your game concept, elaborating on some of the key particulars and play mechanics of your game, and relaying other pertinent information from your design document to club members. This presentation is typically backed by a Powerpoint and lasts about fifteen minutes; more ambitious presentations might show off a functioning game engine, or in general have some sort of base to show off to give the club a better idea of what exactly you're going for with your game. Upon completion of the pitch, you'll pass out sign-up sheets for your project and offer positions to SGD members who do sign up.

Ultimately, successfully pitching a project to the club isn't overly difficult, but it requires a fair amount of dedication and work to complete and receive approval. The same amount of dedication will be required to complete your project over the course of the semester, however, so getting through the pitch process successfully is a necessary step in proving that your idea is worth developing and that you are in fact capable of leading the project to its completion, the rewards of which are eternal and everlasting. :)

Again, click here to download the SGD Design Document.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tower Defense Update

Our game is going well, everything is right on or ahead of schedule. All of the powerups have been implemented, so we're working on putting in multiple levels, background art, and balancing the game to make sure it's fun to play. We recently made our first draft for the title screen-- nothing too fancy yet, but we're making progress. Without further ado, here are a few screenshots:As you can tell, we still haven't picked a final title. There are more important things to work on, though.

Here's the whole game. Looking good so far!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

RGB entered in Neoflash Competition

RGB DS was entered into the 2009 Neoflash Spring Coding Competition, where it will compete against 17 other DS games. Prizes will be given to the top 10 games, and we hope to win a DS flash cart for SGD to use for future DS development.
Check out the entry post here.

Since entering the competition, we've received a lot of feedback for RGB DS, which is a great thing! There are many complaints that the game is too hard, but they like the idea behind the game. It certainly gives us something to consider as we wrap up development.
Reviews will be coming in shortly (they're open to the public), and prizes will be sent out April 20th.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Skies of Fury: Progress Screenshots

SoF Content Manager Chris Hooe has submitted the following progress screenshots of Skies of Fury, a Spring 2009 SGD project.  The project is led by John Will and is currently on schedule for completion by May 2009.

Pics after the jump.


Welcome

Welcome to the Student Game Developers Webpage!

Student Game Developers is a CIO at The University of Virginia. The group was established in 2006 by Brice Morrison and Scott Geiser. Having gone under several changes since its founding, the group continues to support the creation of several original video games each semester and provides industry resources and contacts for aspiring game developers at The University.

SGD is always looking for new talented contributors in all areas of video game development, including game design, game programming, 2D and 3D graphics and artwork, and music / sfx composition. If you are an active student at The University of Virginia and wish to contribute to our projects in any of these areas, please feel free to contact us via email by clicking here.

Current project directors, for content-publishing permissions on this webpage:

  1. Send an email to the current webmaster (found via UVa People Search) or the SGD email address listed above; be sure to detail who you are and for which project you are the director.
  2. The Webmaster will then send you the appropriate access information.

Due to Blogger restrictions, you must use a generic GMail account (and NOT your UVa GMail account) as a login for the webpage. Thus you will either use a generic GMail account that you own or set up a new one; either way, you should use your UVa GMail address as the contact address listed for the Blogger account you use to publish on this webpage.

-The Webmaster

Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in its activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization which is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts or omissions.