As I have always said, “Phoenix is a great town. If you’re willing to drive a little you can do just about anything.” A perfect example of that is the NOOB Workshops on Gaming. This weekend’s workshop was hosted by University of Advanced Technology (UAT), Retora, and Future Is Games.
Located in Tempe, AZ on Baseline (conveniently near Fry’s Electronics), UAT is a small campus that offers twenty undergraduate degrees, most in emerging tech fields including cyber security, artificial intelligence and robotics. This weekend was mainly about video games. Yes, video games.
A few months back I got it in my head to create a simple video game. It was a very lame platformer where you jump from one object to the next (think very low quality Super Mario Brothers). Wanting to up my game from low quality to not-so-low-quality, I jumped at the chance to attend the weekend NOOB Workshops after seeing an advertisement.
The workshops were taught by a mix of students, grads, teachers and outside developers. Centering on video game design, digital art, and programming, the weekend courses where a bare bones overview of concepts needed to succeed in a rapidly changing environment. Classes varied as well as the instructor’s level of knowledge and speaking skills.
Tim Winsky (TwinSky Productions), a local independent videogame designer, spoke on a class about achieving a focus for your video game. Using note cards, he had everyone write down their favorite video game and attempt to decrypt the main focus of the game. This simple exercise made you step back and re-examine old games, take the narrative out and focus on design. A convenient example that stood out was the question of what made Super Mario Brothers so great. We found the focus wasn’t the narrative itself but rather the physics of the game that made Mario so intriguing, leading to its longevity.
Scott Gladstein (Little Red Goblin Games) spoke on the development of Hobby Games. Hobby Games are also known as Pen and Paper, Miniature War Games, and Card Games (to name a few genres). The best example of a Hobby Game is Dungeons and Dragons™. Some of the best advice of the weekend came from his lecture. Even if you don’t like Hobby Games, take an hour and listen. It can apply to any project.
Follow link below to listen to lecture by Gladstein:
To say I’m a programming NOOB is a bit of a stretch. I’ve always learned enough to get the job done. I have created a few horrible, small video games and I once helped an employer on a book about RealBasic. I know from experience that my programming is not the strongest, but after this weekend I think I will download and fire up a copy of Love2D*. Who knows? Maybe in a month I’ll have a not-so-low-quality video game.
*Love2D is a free game engine you can use to make 2D games.