Hello everyone! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry for suddenly disappearing, the reason is I’ve been quite busy because of a Game Design course that I’ve been going to since late April. As I promised on Twitter, I’m going to talk a bit about it!!
Around the beginning of this year, I had this urge to do a game-related course because I felt like there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t know (and there still is) about what’s necessary to make a game. Of course, I’m still proud of my visual novel Tail Me and am very happy with the progress I’m making on my other project, Panacea, but I still felt something lacking inside of me “game dev-wise”. That’s when I remembered a short course I did on Image Campus (an Institute in Argentina with technical careers on game development, animation, among others) in 2018 about Narrative in Video Games that I really liked. That’s when I found out that Image Campus was doing a Game Design course with professional training from late April to early December and I just HAD TO APPLY.
To put it simply: BEST DECISION EVER. Okay, the course is far from cheap and there are some little things that can be criticized about it (I’ll talk about this later), but essentially it’s pretty much AWESOME.
One of the biggest surprises I received at the start of the course was the fact that game design isn’t really about programming. In fact, we won’t be having programming classes at all. What game design is about is, well, design, of course, but mostly about being able to communicate with others. COMMUNICATION. A game designer that doesn’t know how to communicate with their team is a horrible game designer. They’re the only ones that know how the project will be from start to finish. They’re not the “idea guys”. Anyone can have a good idea, but it’s the designer’s job to put that idea into practice. That and being a sort of “mediator” between the different areas of the team; which is why it’s so important for game designers to have a wide range of knowledge. Basically, you need to learn a bit of everything. The more you know, the better; even stuff that you feel may not be so important can actually be very useful. As Extra Credits’ video puts it, you don’t need to be an amazing artist or a pro at programming, but you have to understand the terms if you want the game to progress as smoothly as possible. To put an example: even if you’re no artist, you still have to understand the difference between a JPEG and a PNG file.
Now, let’s talk about the classes themselves!
So far, we’ve had classes on Design Fundamentals, Game Analysis, Ludic Culture and Ludic Practice. The first two, especially, were very interesting and I feel like I learned a lot. Design Fundamentals taught us about the process in which a game first comes to life. And I’m not talking about the actual production stages but all of what comes before you get into that. For instance, I learned that, as silly as it sounds, anyone can have ideas, but not everyone can put that idea into practice. We learned cool ways to implement brainstorming, among other things. When it comes to Game Analysis, this subject gave me a whole new perspective on how to look at game genres plus a bigger understanding on the MDA (mechanics-dynamics-aesthetics) framework (though I admit I still have a bit of trouble in distinguishing certain mechanics from dynamics). As for Ludic Culture and Practice, we learned some interesting stuff regarding the story of board games and this professor certainly made me appreciate board games much more (so far, I’ve played like 25 this year); however, he did tend to go off on a tangent so we didn’t cover as much content as I would’ve liked to (and many of my classmates agree on this matter). The next class we’re supposed to have, if I’m remembering right, is Video Game Prototyping, which I’m really excited about!!
As for the assignments for each subject, they’re okay. Difficult, but okay (though the one for Ludic Culture felt a bit pointless). There are also 2 others that are independent from the subjects: the weekly and monthly assignments. Once a week we need to write 5 ideas for games (the topic changes every time), and once a month we need to write a review for a board game we’ve played recently (this one is right up my alley). The main problem with the assignments, though, is the fact that the way in which we have to send them to our professors is through the institute’s virtual classroom (called IWALP) which
I hate with passion doesn’t work very well. The thing is not intuitive at all and sometimes even makes mistakes like not sending the files properly and whatnot. It’s shit. Luckily, the supervisors for the course are very kind, helpful and responsive, so these issues are being solved. What all of this does is teach us a very important lesson: if there’s trouble, you’d better voice it!!
Still, believe it or not, the best thing about this course is the people I met. The professors are very knowledgeable and they all work in the gaming industry so, apart from the game design content we’re learning, we’re lucky enough to hear about some of their experiences and mistakes. As for my classmates, they are great!! I admit that, at the beginning, my whole body was 100% nervousness and fear (cause’ I didn’t know anyone) but I eventually managed to get acquainted with them and even made some friends!! In fact, this is the first time I ever got on so well with a group from a school / university / institute / whatever you wanna call it. It may not look like a big deal to others, but it is to me. A very big deal. Never mind high school, I know a whole lot of people who struggled with that shit but, from college onwards, it’s really depressing when you go somewhere to study something you’re super excited about only to find that your group fucking sucks. I can take bad professors, those are everywhere, but when you feel alone in a group that’s supposed to share things you love? Even worse, a group that deliberately leaves out people that “are annoying” to them? That shit right there is awful and I don’t wish it on anyone. It’s partially one of the reasons why I suffered so much when I was studying Animation at University (though I at least got on well with one of my classmates, who is super cool and I’m still in contact with).
At this course, however, it’s the complete opposite. Never in my life have I ever felt so at home, so happy, so welcomed. True, I may get on better with some classmates than others, but that happens everywhere and it has to do with how compatible you are with different kind of people. Seriously, it’s so good. We have a group on WhatsApp where we chat lots about games and other random stuff. We also help each other with assignments and there was once when we even got together to hang out after class. Recently, there was also a “board-game encounter” at a cafe (organized by one of our professors) where a lot of us showed up to. Okay, actually, this professor of ours has an agreement with the owner of the cafe and he does this “board-game encounter” every month; plus, anyone can join. Still, it was a great experience!! Another great thing is that I teamed up with one of my friends from this course to participate in game jams. In fact, we tried to make a game for Extra Credits’ latest jam but, since assignments ate up our time, we decided to finish it afterwards (I’ll make a post about the game when it’s finished).
That’s what I’ve been up to during these months, more or less. I’ll be adding a new category in my game reviews called “board games” so that I can share the monthly reviews I make for the course (plus the blog won’t be so inactive that way). There’s also a review that I gotta do sometime soon about SoulSet, since I received a Steam key from the dev. I’ll do my best to play it as soon as possible! As for Ashen Hawk’s and London Detective Mysteria’s reviews, they will have to wait for a bit since the games are quite long, sorry about that! (´；Д；｀)
That’s all folks! Thanks a lot for reading until the end, feel free to comment and see you next post!! (≧∇≦*)/