Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Selection

I've been asked to select a textbook for the next semester of the Level Design Concepts course. The current book is Level Design for Games by Phil Co. I requested a review copy of Mastering Unreal Technology: The Art of Level Design by Jason Busby, Zak Parrish, and Joel Van Eenwyk. It is pretty good but comes with an older version of the Unreal Engine 2 Editor and Runtime than the current book. It also has Maya 5 Personal Learning Edition. Unfortunately Maya 5 PLE requires an activation code which I'm not sure you can even get any more.

Mastering Unreal Technology has now been updated in a 2010 edition (published July 2009) as a three volume set (the third volume to come out in 2010) by Jason Busby, Zak Parrish, and Jeff Wilson. I requested review copies of the first two volumes (Mastering Unreal Technology Volume I: Introduction to Level Design with Unreal Engine 3 and Mastering Unreal Technology Volume II: Advanced Level Design with Unreal Engine 3). Each of these volumes comes with a Steam Code for Unreal Tournament 3. This should work out well providing the SourceU subscription I asked for gets installed.

At this point I think I'm going to ask for the first of the two new volumes and let the lead instructor know that those Steam accounts will be required to use the software. I'm currently waiting for Steam to finish downloading to verify that the Unreal Tournament 3 software works.

The current students turned in their first crack at level templates this week. I had them each give a tour of their level. Next week they will need to include movers and triggers.

- Gadget Man

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Level Design diagramming

Between the start of the semester, a trip to DC, my full-time job, teaching four classes, and whatnot, it appears I missed the month of September.

So far in Level Design we have done some diagramming and made lists of various things. Soon we will be making a template or rough draft of our levels. We will be using a demo version of the UnrealEngine2 editor. I'll let you know how that turns out.

The Department head has asked me what I want to change for the Level Design Concepts course for next semester. I suggested a couple of books I'd like to evaluate. I also reminded her that I want to use the SourceU, Valve's Academic Licensing Program.

There are also Level Design resources on the Valve Developer Community Wiki that I will try to use.

- Gadget Man

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Disappointment

According to my department head, the technical staff will not be able to get SourceU installed on my classroom computers this semester. They'll try to get it done for the Spring semester. Evidently since this software has to be commercially licensed ($10 per student) it has to go through our technical staff, we can't just do it. I guess I will have to make do with the UnrealEngine2 Editor demo that came with the book.

The good news is that another student signed up for the Level Design Concepts course. If we get one more I'll get paid at 2/3 the normal rate instead of the current 1/3 rate. Now I'd better get busy with my syllabi so I'll be ready to teach next week.

Here is a link to content I may need later:

- Gadget Man

Monday, August 17, 2009

Game (Company) Development

Z is working on his collection of tools (he doesn't like the term "Game Engine"). TelevisioN is doing art for a commercial game with actual funding. Chex is doing art for a natural food/wellness website. I am going to document my progress (or lack thereof) understanding everything needed to make a viable video game -- and a video game company -- here in Oklahoma. I teach some game development related classes at a local university branch, so whenever something I'm doing for a class relates to my goals here I'll post my accomplishments accordingly.

This weekend my wife, Junie, and I saw Julie & Julia. Naturally, as a computer geek with literary aspirations, I was inspired to actually start contributing something to this blog.

Currently I am preparing to teach Level Design Concepts for the upcoming semester. The class has three enrollees at present, and may not actually make, but I want to be prepared in any case. Our textbook will be Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences, by Phil Co. So far I have read the first two chapters: How Do You Make a Game? and Defining the Game.

I also contacted Valve Software's academic licensing program (known as SourceU) to find out how to participate. Valve's Academic-Education coordinator told me what information they need about our university's program in order to write up a licensing agreement. I passed this information along to my department head who told me she would "see what we can do." Does that mean "don't hold your breath?"

I proceeded to download the Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools and so far I have completed the first three steps of Left 4 Dead Level Design Basics. I'll let you know if I make anything really exciting.

- Gadget Man

Saturday, April 11, 2009