Advanced Games Development – Introduction

This post is the first post from my online blog for the Advanced Games Development module as part of my 4th (final) year at Teesside University studying BSc (Hons.) Computer Games Programming. I’ve added some additional content to clarify some points for this blog and my actual AGD blog can be found here!

The aim of the module is to gain experience of working as a member of a games development team that is as close to industrial practise as possible. It simulates the working criteria and inherent mix of development skills and experience required to produce a game from start to finish.

At the start of the module, students looking for teams to join posted in the main Facebook group (~200 students) with links to their portfolio, experience, skill sets and what their preference were in terms of game genres to work on and tool sets.

I found early on that there were quite a few groups that had already partly formed groups with highly skilled members. I closely looked into many of these groups and as they were being led by artists or designers, they were very persistent about using Unreal Engine 4 as their game engine of choice. While the artists, animators and designers had only used Unreal Engine 4 for their other work, most programmers and myself participating in the module had no experience working with it in any capacity. I didn’t think it would be productive for just the purposes of this module to learn how to use an entirely new game engine as well as the API, so I decided to only focus on finding a team utilising the Unity game engine. I also found that some of the teams already had programmers or had left out links to team members’ portfolios.

It got to the point where I was starting to think that I should start my own, small team for the module and I ended up finding someone that was also wanting to start their own team working on a game with the Unity game engine. After considerable time reviewing portfolios, skill sets, experience, preferences and personalities, we managed to assembled together a team we’re happy working with.

In the team, I’m working as a programmer as part of a 12 person team called ‘Team 8′ (yes, a very creative name!) composed of environment artists, character artists, animators, game designers and other programmers. I have also been selected as the team leader for the duration of the project and will be managing team communications and team members’ work for ICA submissions. Compared to other teams in our module, many members of my team have good experience in their skill-sets through combinations of industry experience, completed games from other modules or even game jam entries.

As far as the programmers go, we all have good experience working with the Unity game engine and some experience with shader programming as well so our own expectations for our work are high. The animators, artists and designers are all confident they can work with the engine and setup art and animation pipelines in a reasonable amount of time.

In the following posts, I will detail the work I have done for the game as well as the team management techniques, tools and workflows we are utilising to collaborate on development efficiently.