It's an end of an era, after 11 years and 6 months, I am leaving The Academy of Interactive Entertainment, I would like to express my thanks to everyone whom I have worked alongside me over the years, I am very much grateful, for being part of AIE’s success's and seeing my students I have taught over the years enter the industry, it all has been ever so rewarding and I feel very proud to have been a part of it all.
I also just wanted to specifically thank Lea Michael as my boss for all these years, as her leadership and guidance over the years have been invaluable, she gave me a chance to prove myself all those years ago and I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her.
11 years, is a long time, I've seen quite the snapshot while being a teacher here. Opening of new campuses, Restructuring of AIE, new onboarding of staff, the departure of the old staff, new students, changing industry trends, new software and skills being taught, new technological advancements and the list goes on.
Ultimately as the chapter with AIE closes, this does not mean I will be leaving this industry, I will still be very much still involved in Games/VFX education, but more as a freelance and a sole trader. I also have some goals and objectives I have been wanting to pursue for years, and leaving AIE unlocks this potential. I can't exactly go too much into it right now, and everything right now is in work in progress, but you can check it out by heading to www.levelbump.com
It should forward you to a Youtube page for the time being called "Level Bump". It's empty at the moment, But I'll appreciate a subscriber. However, watch that space for more updates.
Other than that, that's all from me. I am very optimistic and excited for the future, and can't wait. I'll post back here once I am ready to do so.
Hey everyone, Just a quick update on what the students are up to this year while teaching at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, in Canberra Australia. The students had the chance to experiment recently with virtual reality for the first time, using the oculus quest headsets that AIE provided. This is great, as in previous years we could only use google cardboard, although the con for that is most students who study online had to rely heavily on on-campus students to test the games as not all students had access to headsets while studying remotely.
For context... the subject duration for the programmers and designers was 10 days, stretched over 4 weeks, and the artists join in the last 2 weeks of the subject for 5 days to develop the art. The students were given some simple deliverables they had to meet, but they got to pick the theme/setting. They designed and programmed in preparation for the artists who would join in at a later date as previously specified.
It's important to acknowledge the teachers, Cliff Sharif and Enrique Klein for heading this subject, additionally Kay Bird, Tony Oakden, and Sean Fenemore as support teachers. As they all were essential in ensuring things were running smoothly before the artists and I joined the subject.
Please note! keep in mind, that these games are more considered prototypes, not finished complete products. They had a very tight turnaround, in terms of a deadline. And it was likely the first time students were getting experience working with Virtual reality, so art design and programming might need some additional passes to be considered something else than a prototype.
Beat Street is a VR, first-person, rhythm game where you drive a car using drums to get to the end of a highway while playing to the beat of a song! while avoiding oncoming cars in sync with the beat.
“Fly High Fishing” is a VR fantasy bow-fishing game set within a hot air balloon high above the clouds. The player’s task is to catch as many fish as they can with their bow & arrow before the timer runs out.
Open Haus is a first-person VR puzzle game where players push, drag and carry the furniture to set up a small house interior based on a reference photo. Players must do their best to match the position and orientation of the furniture in the provided photo before clients arrive for the open house viewing.
Thanks for reading and checking out this article so far. Make sure to check out the student blogs and portfolios linked. Students are still working on their portfolios, and have till December to work on them. So there might be a few more links ill add as they come through.
During AIE's 25th birthday celebration in Brisbane earlier this week, I was recently awarded an 11-year service award from "Academy of Interactive Entertainment". It has been a fun bunch of years teaching art to inspiring game developers and filmmakers and witnessing firsthand, my graduates of mine entering the workforce. Although credit is shared with all the hardworking individuals under the AIE banner that have worked tirelessly alongside myself and teachers over the years to make it possible.
Writing up another annual post for the Canberra First Year projects for 2021 @ AIE. If you are interested you can check out the previous First-Year Projects from the last year.
My responsibility this year was to share the art delivery for the diploma, I was lucky to work alongside some really great artists/teachers. Ryan Ware, Cezar Brandao, Tom Magill, and Meg Groeneveld throughout the year we taught various skills and techniques across the 3d art pipeline in both games and VFX. This year ran a little differently, due to Covid-19 changing the landscape we typically teach in, we had the introduction of an online division of the class. So we had a blended learning situation, with students in a physical classroom in Canberra and a bunch of students online from around Australia on ZOOM. During the Production subject, we experienced a snap lockdown due to the spread of Delta strain of covid-19 which all students attended classes online till the remainder of the year. This did affect the student's output and mental health, but they all got it across the finish line.
For 6 weeks, 2-3 days a week, I myself along with the help of Tony Oakden, Kay Byrd, Justin Cragg, Meg Groeneveld, Cezar Brandao, Sean Fenemore and Enrique Klein, have been mentoring the students of first-year AIE Canberra Campus (Designers, Programmers, and Artists) develop a small video game production. Because this is the first time the students were working in groups on a production, we divided up the class into teams. Each team was randomly given a genre and a pre-defined brief of deliverables to meet. We did this, as we have in the last 3 years here at AIE Canberra to allow the students to come up with a game concept around the brief. The brief mentions design/art/programming deliverables that must be met and holds the students accountable, it also allows us to direct and mold the student's work more towards a commercial/releasable product. You can see some of these brief requirements mentioned next to the games below.
Although these first-year projects, these students still have a year of study to complete, before they graduate. This was the first time they were doing a production together for a long period of time across disciplines. There are some bugs and problems visible in these projects but all n all for them to pull this together in 6 weeks with working online and in-person they did really well, congratulations to all. I just hope they listen to the feedback given during the production and update their portfolios and various social media accounts to reflect the new work they want to show off.
Rust to Dust
Elevator Pitch: "Rust to Dust is a wave-based onslaught FPS set in a fictional steampunk recreation of the American Western Frontier in the 1800s. Players will shoot their way through an industrialized Wild West, fighting off hordes of robotic enemies, relying on unique weapon augmentations and their own skill to come out on top."
Elevator Pitch: "KAIDA is a 2.5D top-down, bullet hell game. You play as a young Quetzalcoatl trying to rescue your unhatched siblings. You must fight waves of enemies and defeat the goblin king to save your siblings from becoming a less than delectable goblin cuisine"
Credits: Art: Ace Davison, Adrian Carter, Anais Robert, Azshwyn Sibley, Jesse Lazzaro, Marc Ginman Design: Brodie Maddren, Caleb McGlashan, Corey Barendrecht Programming: Jazmin Fazzolari, Lewis Comstive, Nghia Do, Nicholas Connell
Teacher brief requirements: Top-down Shooter Game, 2x Enemies (1x horde enemy) with AI, Single Player (1 Player character), Angled perspective view, Real-time, 2 x weapons/attacks (Both ranged, can be separate weapons or one can be a power-up), Health mechanic, Death/respawn system/Ending, Power-up with meter mechanic, Sound, Menu + Credits
Elevator Pitch: "Velocitas is a 2.5D single-player side-scrolling precision platformer where you play as a prisoner and must make use of the magical rune on your hand to escape from a mysterious underground magical dungeon"
Teacher Brief requirements: Side Scroller Platformer, 1x Enemy (with at least 3 x observable AI behaviors), Clear end goal/exit, 1x Power up, Health mechanic, Death/respawn system, 1x Weapon/Tool* (Has Primary function as a weapon and secondary function as tool e.g. Flame weapon, that also burns plant obstacles) *No straight damage-dealing gun, Sound, Menu + Credits.
Elevator Pitch: How's It Growing is an educational, fixed perspective point-and-click puzzle game set during the first plantings of the Australian National Botanic Gardens in the 1940s. You play as a budding botanist, learning about plant life cycles by manipulating plant environments to grow 3 native plants and disperse their seeds through interactive challenges.
This game was completed as an end-of-first-year project and was a collaboration between the AIE and the Australian National Botanic Gardens. 'How's it Growing' followed brief requirements that the ANBG developed, with the purpose of creating an educational game that can be used by teachers as a part of their curriculum, teaching students about Australian plants and their life cycles. Low-end hardware and the ability to be deployed in the browser were a must.
Thanks for reading this far if you have, it will be interesting to see what they get up in their second year of study. Next year, there will be a post showcasing their final Major works for this cohort. Although you can check out the 2021 Second-year students' work here. And if you are interested you can check out the 2020 first-year final work as well.
Once again thanks for reading this far, big congratulations to all students/staff involved, See you all next year.
Writing another annual post for the Canberra Second Year final major projects 2021 at AIE. Show off what the students have completed in 2021. You can see previous year's Major Projects posts here: 2020 & 2019.
Major Production is a large milestone for these students, as it's them concluding 2 years of study before they graduate. It gives them the chance to showcase the skills they have learned over the duration of the course and put it on display. Additionally showcases their ability to work in teams and execute a game production in a team.
My responsibility this year was to share the art delivery for the advanced diploma second-year students. I was privileged to work alongside some really great teachers for the art delivery. Ryan Ware, Cezar Brandao, and Meg Groeneveld were all very much involved with the student's development. They all were extremely helpful when I went on long service leave at the beginning of 2021 for 6.2 weeks, they were all able to jump in and pick up the helm and run with it. I couldn't be more appreciative of what they have done for me in my absence with their skillsets and experiences they brought to the table for the students to learn from.
Before students embark on their final year Major production we have a subject called 'Proof of Concept' which runs for 5 weeks prior to Major Production. Students in teams prototype and pitch concepts that they would like to take into the Major Production. They go through multiple culling processes within the duration of this subject, but the students are typically a part of two teams. Which they have to create documentation, schedules, prototype risky game mechanics, develop a Kickstarter-style presentation with a sell sheet and a questionnaire for the final culling process. We have chosen the two-group method, to keep students on their toes and not attached to their idea, And if one of their ideas gets culled they do have a backup plan. Additionally, students in the past cohorts found it difficult to join other teams later in 'major production' if they put all their eggs in one basket or in our case one game idea.
This Year we had 10 concepts. be approved for Proof of concept.
Magical Spell Masters
The Perfect Shot
Bad luck Bad Cat
The documentation and pitch are then handed off to a virtual industry panel, (Historically in previous years, was in person but due to covid-19 we had to change it to virtual panel). in which critical feedback is given and another grueling culling process takes place. At the end of this process, we end up with the final games that make it into Major production for development for the next 15 weeks.
In conclusion of the subject, ended up receiving 72 pages of feedback across all 10 teams in Proof of Concept from a 25 person industry panel. This feedback was given anonymously to the students, which helped assist the final culling process to take place. And to reduce the games to only just 4 games.
Major production, unfortunately, had quite the rocky start, with the students experiencing another snap lockdown due to the spread of the covid-19 variant delta in late 2021. So teaching and production once again transitioned to online learning. It wasn't a huge transition for the teaching side of things. But I could see the mental toll it took out on the students once again like they had last year for the first year final production. There were quite a few ups and downs throughout the production and a lot of hard lessons the students had to learn while under these special circumstances. Managing expectations, encouraging clear communication, regular builds, testing and gathering feedback, reiterating gameplay/assets. The students were able to retain enthusiasm which allowed these projects below to exist.
Elevator Pitch: Splatacle is a wacky 2D action platformer where you can't use any of your limbs. Instead, you've got to make use of your giant tentacle appendage to grapple and bounce around the map, dragging your useless body along as you go. Swing, bounce and splat your way through the lab, avoiding a scientist's dastardly pet cat as it tries to thwart your attempts to escape!.
Elevator Pitch: "Magical Spell Masters is a turn-based strategy game about spelling words to cast spells. Using a grid of magical runes, the player must spell out powerful words, combining elements to defeat dangerous foes across a series of battles"
Elevator Pitch:"Bad Luck Black Cat is a top-down 3D farming adventure game for the PC where you play as a Black Cat who has moved to a small village called Bastion in hopes of curing their ever-present bad luck. They must work with their new neighbors to grow and trade crops, overcoming their bad luck along the way".
Elevator Pitch:"The Perfect Shot is a first-person narrative-focused adventure game where the player must recreate photos from an old photobook unlocking memories of a long-lost father figure, reliving the memories they had".
Hey, everyone just a short post. Academy of Interactive Entertainment, the campus I teach at here in Canberra just won the ACT Small Training Provider of the year for 2021. We were lucky to win two years in a row, making 2021 the second year. Congratulations to everyone involved Here is the announcement below.
Huge congratulations to my art students of 2019-2020 who graduated today! After many countless delays due to covid, it's great to see all of you finally putting on those graduation caps and robes and concluding your two years of study with me. Even though I couldn’t make it in person due to being on long service leave, I was able to record my graduation speech from the beach and impart some advice on entering the industry. Best of luck with the future and can't wait to see what they get up to.
This picture was snapped by Saxon, (Thanks for sending it to me!)
If you were interested in the speech it's self it wasn't something amazing, Just a short video I recorded on my phone on the beach during the first weekend of my Long service leave of 6.2 weeks. This was the second take, not scripted but what was on my mind at the time.
I wanted to express that, getting a job in the industry is hard. And that if they break down their goals and keep at it, They can break down any nearly impossible goal. They can do it if they put the time and energy into it. The important thing is persistence, things won't be easy. Keep at it, and keep pushing forward.
You can check out their final year major productions for 2020 here in a previous blog post.
Writing up a blog post for the Academy of Interactive Entertainment Canberra First Year projects for 2020, my responsibility was to teach the art students along with the assistance of Ryan ware over the duration of 2020. If you are interested in the second-year projects click this link.
The First-year of AIE is about teaching all the basics, 3d art pipeline, Modelling and texturing, character sculpting, Animation principles, Digital Lighting and Composting, Storyboarding, and finally... Production. We had a rocky start to the year, Australian Bushfires, Hail Storms, Dust Storms, and from March Covid-19, which threw the entire class into an online setting within ZOOM.
Overall teaching-wise, not a whole lot changed for me. I previously worked at AIE's online campus for 5 years delivering Advance Diploma Art courses online and about 3 years ago I moved to in-person training at the Canberra campus. I continued the tradition, of recording lectures and sessions and everything I did in class which I typically had to do for an online classroom. When covid hit and Canberra went into lockdown, I still had to attend on-campus due to terrible internet connections at home, because I had to compete for bandwidth with housemates and just wasn't feasible to teach a class.
Although my overall my covid experience has been okay, it wasn't for the students. I could see a lot of strain on the students... anxiety, depression, the isolation you name it. It has been incredibly difficult for the students and such a momentous task for them to all overcome. As lockdown restrictions eased, it was a very long time before we started seeing students come back to school. My biggest concern from an educational perspective for the students was the students missing out on the typical bonding experience they get when in a physical classroom/campus. (Which for final year projects is invaluable). From teaching online for such a long time previously, I always noticed teamwork and group dynamics are always on a thin knife-edge when working remotely. If communication and expectations aren't clear among the team. A promising successful team can easily tumble and fall within a week when previously they were going really well.
For these students, for a lot of them, it was the first time they had to work in teams. A common problem from a teacher's perspective when students work in teams is some students work incredibly well solo, but when in a group scenario they might not perform as well. And require a lot of mentoring and practice to improve these soft/team skills. This was a challenge this year but they all overcame that obstacle.
For 6 weeks, 2-3 days a week, I myself along with the help of Tony Oakden, Rik Lagarto, Kay Byrd, and Sean Fenemore, have been mentoring the students of first-year AIE Canberra Campus (Designers, Programmers, and Artists). Students were divided up into teams and given a genre and a pre-defined brief of deliverables to meet. We had 3 games this year, FPS, Hack'n'Slash, and a Sidescroller. We also had one VFX team doing a production at the same time headed by Ryan Ware. Ryan shared the load of the teaching to the art students over the duration of 2020 (Both Games and VFX), without him I don't believe it could have been pulled off. Thanks again, Ryan.
Below are the projects, keep in mind these students still have a year of study to complete. And this was the first time doing a production together for a long period of time across disciplines. There are some bugs and problems visible in these projects but all n all to pull this together during a global pandemic, they did really well. Congratulations to all.
Elevator Pitch: "Project Red is a wave-based first-person shooter, where the player must survive the onslaught of evil cultists inside a decrepit Castle".
Elevator Pitch: "Project Latch is a 2D, pixelated, side-scrolling, puzzle-platformer for the PC. The player uses a magnet to beat enemies, solve puzzles and traverse the harsh environment of a post-apocalyptic world".
Hey everyone, While I am still teaching at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Canberra, I like to do an annual Artstation post for the final year graduate major project. You can also check out the 2019 student graduates post I did last year here and additionally, you can also check out the first years of 2020 here.
This month we see another bunch of students concluding their study here at AIE Canberra. We had quite the start this year, with the crisis of Australian Bushfires, Hail Storms, Dust Storms, and from march Covid-19, which threw all the students online for a large portion of the year. Luckily Canberra wasn't hit as bad compared to the rest of the world for Covid-19 and the students were able to resume face2face study for the majority duration of the production.
For 15 weeks, 2-3 days a week, I have been helping mentor the students for their final year major projects along with Tony Oakden, Rik Lagarto, and Kay Byrd. The Students developed pitches that were presented to a digital Industry panel, which then went under multiple culling processes before it arrived at the 6 games we have today. Tim Duck collaborated with us with CIT, to provide music and sound effects from his wonderful students. And finally a huge shout out to Ryan Ware, who covered me throughout the entire year and provided additional art support to the students when needed.
It was great to see these students, improve and overcome the challenges they faced during the 15 weeks, it was a pleasure seeing them evolve and develop these 6 little titles. Be sure to click on the itch.io links as there is more content/screenshots to check out. If the group included a public version of their developer commentary, I also included that under the trailer for each game as a separate link to check out.
Other than that, check out the games below.
Elevator Pitch: "Bosky is a relaxing PC & Mobile game where the player creates miniature forests in a personal plant pot ".
Elevator Pitch: "Me Myself & Die is an isometric puzzle game where the goal is to orchestrate and manipulate your death to progress.Each time you die, you leave behind a block. Arrange these blocks to solve the puzzle."
Martin has written a fantastic blog post breaking down me myself & die over the 15 weeks, Check out Part 1 and Part 2.
'Malfunction on the Orion Express'
Elevator Pitch: "Malfunction on the Orion Express is a Hidden Object & Text Adventure Game. Agatha Christie meets Firefly in this thrilling Sci-Fi detective story. Solve mysteries by interacting with compelling characters and investigating the luxurious carriages aboard the Orion Express."
Elevator Pitch: "Planet Unknown is a retro-inspired Sci-Fi 2D pixel platformer. Play as a stranded adventurer who has crash-landed on a hostile alien planet that must find their ship’s missing hull to escape. Traverse the strange environment, solve puzzles, fight enemy creatures, and gather as many ship pieces as possible with the aid of special abilities. ".
This year we had a collection of interesting games developed for multiple platforms. We had more groups compared to last year with more students shared across multiple groups. Project management and task distribution were the major things a lot of the teams struggled with, Especially when the pandemic hit, Everyone did pretty alright but there was some room for improvement for all the games posted above. However watching these students come from their very first day to the last day here at AIE, proud to see how far they have all come. Look forward to catching them at their graduation.
Congratulations to all the students involved, and best luck with the future.
Hello Everyone, This is blog post is Part 2 of 2, if you would like to see Part 1 click here.
Back in 2018, I had the opportunity to work with Questacon through AIE on an exhibition called Born or Built. Questacon is Australias national Science and technology centre with more than 200 Interactive exhibits.
"The Born or Built exhibition is all about what is it meant to be human. It examines the similarities and differences between humans and machines, explores our overlapping shared future, and questions the choices we will make to get there."
You can check out a visual summary of the exhibition in the video below:
So more or less it is an exhibition for kids exploring ethics regarding AI and machines, with a whole bunch of interactive displays, and I was brought in to finish a project that was already in development.
The installation was an interactive LCD display using augmented reality, which allows whoever is interacting with the display/webcam feed to switch out different body parts with Human or robotic features. Works very similar to how Snapchat filters work, with the 3d Mesh or shapes being tracked ontop of a live video feed. You can check out more about the technology from the company's website Magic Mirror. The Idea is as you replace body parts, you will be prompted with the question "Are you still human? Yes? or No?".
Here is a short video from Magic Mirror showcasing it in action:
Having not a lot of time allocated to it during the week while teaching full-time, it was a tight deadline with only a few weeks to pull it off. I was also picking up the project from a former colleague Dylan Young, who moved on from teaching to greener pastures. Dylan made an awesome 3d model of a robot leg that ended up in the final product which was used to flesh out the rest of the character in the end.
My responsibility was to deliver 6 remaining body part assets. to which I modeled, retopo'd/baked, textured and rigged. I ended up using , Substance Painter, Maya, and Marmoset toolbag 3 for this project.
I also utilised some free models from Turbo Squid which were a great help: