Sharon Kho and Gwen Guo are two audio designers from IMBA Interactive, a company in Singapore specializing in creating sounds for games. Being GAMBIT graduates – a collaboration between the Singapore govt and MIT to create future game dev professionals – they talk on their journey from their personal interests up till becoming co-workers in this unique setup.
Here they talk about the development of their company IMBA: on how it was conceived, their progress from starting with very little capital, to a view of the foley setup they have in their studio.
Dear Canon G7X. You’re an awesome camera. Your tendency to auto-focus based on your whim instead of what’s right in front of you is a tad annoying though. The blurred interview subject is unfortunate and is something I won’t let happen again.
The interview subject is solid though, and the audio is clear. Kris Antoni of Toge Productions (Indonesia) talks about his journey being a game developer and also becoming a publisher to serve a need he noticed in Indonesia.
Kris was also instrumental in creating physical gamedev gatherings in Indonesia and pushed to make them bigger and bigger…. until it became the Game Prime event in Jakarta. That event was one I was invited to attend and met people like Kris.
I did this interview for KDU’s Interplay Symposium early this year. The Symposium was trying to tackle the negative perspectives the public has on gaming activity, so I went out and compiled video interviews of people whom gaming has been very positive for them. A good change from doom-and-gaming-addiction-gloom.
Sam here talked about what players knew regarding the storytelling app Episode. In the video she details how a fan can evolve herself or himself into a superstar by recognition from their peers – and eventually earn an income – due to how Episode is designed.
Lecture from SEA Connect 2017. As he puts it, he was the guy that learned Photoshop before it’s called that, and has been guiding its development since. He was quite proud to point out the Grass and Maple brushes in the Brushes set: “That’s my brush.”
The history talk was fascinating as he was telling it as he lived it. Here, upon discovering the Mac, he created a Clip-Art like package of human parts. Continue reading →
By 2015, using the Cerny Method the design students were able to create evolved prototypes of their game design. For example, the student above was able to create a Beat-Em-Up/RPG game within 10 weeks, and was able to showcase the game as a portfolio item along with other deliverables. Another problem then appeared: art. Or rather, designers forced to consider art issues. So this was the problem I tackled from 2015 till now.
This is MAMJ reviewing Light Up, a game by an all-designer team for their FYP. Having no programmers or artists on their team – which was the worst case scenario I was concerned would happen – they had to figure out how to deliver a fun, playable game. They settled on using RPGMaker and was able to deliver a horror game hacked into the engine.
The game was playable, created memorable responses among testers and MAMJ seemed to truly enjoy trying it out. As a proof of design, the game worked. We did however get a comment from the industry that the art is not impressive. This was settled by explaining the designers had no ability to work on the art, but it did made me realize that in the end, games are still judged by their art. Design, unfortunately, is obfuscated; you won’t get it until you play it.
Now, if art blocks people from playing a game, is it possible for a designer to do something with art? Especially if they’re stuck in a situation where they have no access to artists?
Should designers even consider dealing with art?
Design student prototypes circa 2014.
The fact is, design students do come with varying abilities in art. Sometimes we do get ‘purple unicorns’: design students who can do art and programming thus are able to create a very tight integration of all three aspects in their prototype. Andrew Sin’s Geminate (Image:right) is an example of this. However, we can’t rely on students coming in as all-rounders and an educational program should be catered to an average expectation of what students can do. Expecting design students to be able to do art on their own is unrealistic. Furthermore, game design is best proven with prototype art. If a game is proven fun with ugly art, then good art can only make the game better. Benny Chan’s Rect-y 2 (Image: center) and Tyle Ooi’s Ponch (Image:left) are good examples: they both have serviceable art that allow players to test the game to see what the game can offer.
If there is one good reason to get designers to do art, it is because it will allow them to not wait for artists in order to prove their designs. The design students cited above were able to convey the experience they wanted by generating their own assets. This ability has two advantages:
Artists can be freed to work on other art assets needed.
Designers can confirm their designs without needing an artist to be available.
So if it’s good for designers to have some art ability – but not be able to learn to do art by themselves – what should they learn in order to do a good game design?
I am a lecturer teaching Game Design in KDU UC Malaysia, and about four years ago I undertook the task to train game design students. While the School provided various forms of training for the design students – student projects with artists and programmers, classes on various aspects such as World Creation, Level Design and Systems Analysis – there was an issue regarding training designers I had to address.
The Problem Statement
There are three problems I found with training design students:
Group projects could fail in ways that a designer couldn’t control. The designer could do good work and the game could still fail due to ineffective management, lack of resources or team conflict. The opposite could also be true: a good game may not be the result of a good designer, but intervention from the other members. The success of a team game project is not a reliable way to measure the ability of the designer.
Regardless of what a University student studies, a Degree graduate is supposed to graduate alone.It simply will not do to have a design graduate that says ‘I’ll need a programmer and an artist to prove my design will work‘. As a former IGDA Chapter Coordinator, I have met designers who cite that exact statement as a reason for why they couldn’t find work. That’s not an acceptable situation for a game design graduate.
I have noticed that our local game dev students I’ve had generally are inexperienced presenters. Richard Carrillo in his GDC2015 talk on designing design teams clarified what I realized over time: only a subset of game designers – termed by Carillo as Salespersons – can sell ideas to others. The rest will struggle. Designers are required to be articulate – they have to explain their work to their fellow developers – thus design students have to learn to communicate on a higher level than their fellow classmates. Obviously, they’ll have to learn to communicate on that level, but it is possible to have students who have a good design in mind but could not communicate it properly, thus being unable to prove their design works.
In summary, I will have students who have to graduate alone, show expertise in creating work that can only be proven by others working on it, and may be unable to communicate what he and she can do.