Archive for August, 2012

August 28, 2012

Getting your Flash on with Ludum Dare!

Looking at getting into gaming using Flash or HTML5 technologies? Want to see some great examples of gaming using these and other tech? Want full source code for all these examples to learn from or adapt to your lessons? If any of this interests you – you’ll be happy to have a look at the 1400+ games developed during Ludum Dare #24 this past weekend.

With the current Flash Platform emphasis on gaming, an event like Ludum Dare is the perfect opportunity to get up to speed on some of the neat libraries and techniques offered by the platform. I did a lot of warm up excercises previous to the start of this event using Starling, Away3D, and some other gaming engines. Flash offers a TON of options no matter what type of game you are developing – so be sure and check a few of them out before making a decision. A bunch of GPU accelerated Stage3D engines are listed on the Adobe Gaming site.

Ludum Dare (Latin: “to give a game“) is a regular accelerated game development event which takes place over 48 hours. A theme is voted on in the days following up to the event and the chosen theme is revealed at the event start time. Participants basically are going into these 48 hours with nothing prepared since the theme is secret… and all assets and code (aside from external libraries and such) must be created during those 48 hours. Anything that isn’t must be declared beforehand – making for a pretty intense experience for the participants.

This was my first Ludum Dare (although I have contemplated joining previous ones) and I really enjoyed the experience. Ever since I had the pleasure of tech editing Christer Kaitila’s “The Game Jam Survival Guide“, I’ve been wanting to give something like this a shot.

My motivation for this round was to force familiarity with a specific ActionScript gaming engine. I wasn’t sure what I would use until the theme was announced and settled on the popular Flixel engine. I’m happy that I did – as this engine really makes everything quite simple when throwing a game together. Initially I was put off by the theme (“Evolution”), having absolutely zero ideas on where to begin, but that all worked out as I put time into developing the concept. I learned a ton about Flixel – which was my main goal. Picked up a lot of other new experiences and had fun doing it!

Some of the final game is a bit rough… I know there are some spelling errors, for instance. Some of the game logic could be fixed and there is certainly room for cleaning up the code. here could also be a bit of challenge added to the game as right now it is COMPLETELY story-driven in a minimalistic fashion. The soundtrack could also be cleaned up as well as the sprites.

I’m really happy with the way it all came together.

Tools used:

  • Adobe Flash Builder 4.6
  • Adobe Flash Professional CS6
  • Flixel
  • DAME
  • FL Studio
  • Native Instruments Komplete 7
  • Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6
  • Adobe Media Encoder CS6
  • Adobe Audition CS6

Had a great time doing this even with limitations imposed by family, clients, publishers, and the rest. I’d encourage anyone to give it a go – even if they don’t think 48 hours is enough time.

Check out my game – D’evilution!

5:38 PM Permalink
August 2, 2012

IT and Creative Design Education in China

Hi All,

I am a new member of this community.   Thanks for Professor Tom Green who introduced me to the AEL program, and I’d like to share some experience with other members across the globe.

I am a lecturer of AnimationSchool, Shenzhen Polytechnic.  Our college is currently ranking at the top place in China’s polytechnic education system.  Every year, during the summer vocation, we hold training camp to teachers from other colleges across China.  So I believe what’s happening in our college is typically what’s going on in the whole ofChina’s college/Polytechnic education.

China is currently upgrading it’s industry.  Big cities like Beijing,Shanghai,Guangzhouand Shenzhen have moved manufacturing industries far away from the city.  More new spaces are rebuilt for IT, culture and creative industries.  The trend has driven colleges/universities to train more high quality students to satisfy company’s needs in human resource and skills.  The key question we keep asking ourselves is how our student can adapt the company’s need after graduation. 

I’ve summarised the method into the follow key points.

1. Investigate company’s need, establish connection with companies, particularly the leading companies of the industry.

2. Invite company staff to get involved in course syllabus design, to make sure what we teach is what companies wanted.

3. During teaching terms, we invite company technical key staff to give presentation to student on what’s happening in their daily work.  Sometimes we lead students to visit the company, experience the atmosphere. 

4. When designing a course/program, we try to design it as an integrated one rather than small pieces.   Teachers must work together to make sure the knowledge they teach is able to put together to workout something useful.  So when the student complete the whole program, they will be able to finish a completed work.   

5. Encourage students to find job/internship early.  Pay attention on their feedback.  To know if what we taught to them is useful or not.

I remember 4-5 years ago, many teaching staff here were highly focused on teaching the tools command by command.  The teaching content was largely functional oriented.  Student can only learn bits and pieces in the curriculum and they have to put the knowledge together by themselves.  The students by then were not interested in learning the software, and they were not sure what they can do with the software packages.  Later, the college authority realised this is not a very good way to teach, so they pretty much forced teaching staff to change to the new way of teaching. 

Looking back, I think inviting the company staff to join the development of new courses helps a lot.  First of all, they can give good suggestions on what’s useful and should be taught.  When the students doing their coursework, it has to simulate some typical work scenarios, so they understand the how and why.  The ultimate goal is to let student’s work be close enough to the real-world task. 

This type of teaching is becoming popular across China, but I think still the majority schools/colleges are sticking on the old way of teaching.  It needs time to promote.  

But nothing is perfect.  Many Chinese students lack of independence and novelty.  I think this is a very critical issue.  Partly it’s because of the Chinese culture, but more importantly is to do with the social atmosphere and some industry’s old traditions.  After all, Chinais still heavily relying on outsourcing project from overseas.  Imagine when you take other’s money and do the actually work under command, it doesn’t allow you to raise many ideas, no matter good or bad.    

So, I hope to do my work to patch it.  To lead the students look around the world, exchange ideas with other academics, and find more creativity via collaboration.   I guess the way I am doing is pretty new in China’s IT and creative design education.  Welcome to give any suggestions. 

Thanks for reading.

2:54 PM Permalink