Video Game Art and Desgin student Darcy Fisher helps classmate Marshall Harrington with his latest project. Conway photo.
I-phone game development is a growing industry in P.E.I. and students at Holland College are taking full advantage.
Video Game Art and Design is a two-year course, which gives students the chance to get a feel for the video game industry by taking part in the development of games for the I-phone, said student Marshall Harrington.
“The Video Game Art and Design program gives a broad coverage of the different sides of the gaming industry.”
Harrington said one of his best strengths is modeling 3D environments such as interiors and exteriors.
“It means creating the area where the game takes place.”
The program challenges students everytime there is a new assignment and there is always a motivation to work as hard as we can, he said.
“The program instructor has experience in the industry and has a pretty blunt opinion when it comes to criticizing our work. So it helps motivate us to try harder.”
Marshall is currently working on art for an I-Phone game, which is a collaboration between Holland College students, he said.
“Holland students will create the art for the game and then send the art to students from UPEI who will program the game.”
The game is a tribute to a Super Nintendo title called On the Ball, which Marshall said is just simple fun stuff.
“The player tilts the I-Phone to roll the ball around brick textures.”
Not only do students work on developing games but they also develop their own personal work to show to potential employers.
“They are stuff like still renders and character animations. This is your own work and is not part of a game and would be part of your portfolio.”
Darcy Fisher, who is a classmate of Marshall’s, said his strength is in creating concept art.
“It is pretty much all hand drawn and I also scan my drawings and use Photoshop to colour them.”
Fisher said he had been drawing for as long he can remember and had always been a fan of video games and after learning about the program. It seemed like the right fit for him.
He said he inserts his original artwork in the background layer, then he draws a layer of an outline of what he did .
“Then I add a layer for all the different colours, depending on what I am drawing now.”
He said as an artist, he has gotten into the habit of taking his sketchbook with him whereever he goes.
“I take my sketchbook book everywhere and draw different things. Anything that pops into my head. I also do a lot of fan art of some of my favourite games as well.”
Fisher is currently working on a retro themed gamed, much like Harrington’s project.
It is based on the game Geometry Wars, he said.
“The game is pretty basic. You’re a spaceship at the bottom of the screen shooting at whatever enemies come up on the screen and getting different power ups.”
Even if the game is simple, it still a game, which players will enjoy playing, said Fisher.
“The artstyle of game will have the characters in neon colours. Even if the game is simple there is still a lot going on and it catches the eye and draws in your attention.”
The program has helped Fisher improve his skills as an artist and has motivated him to go beyond just drawing for the fun of it.
“Ever since I have started, I have been trying to make my drawings the best they can be before I try to break into the gaming industry.”
Fisher credits the model drawing portion of the course as being helpful towards sharpening his skills as an artist.
“We draw stuffed animals such as crows and dragonflys, and take the pictures and put them on a 3D surface. Life drawing also helps us learn proportions.”
After graduating from the program, Fisher would like to work for one of the developers in P.E.I. or at least somewhere in the Maritimes for the next five years or so, taking any job he could get in the industry.
“I would take anything at first. With a lot of people competing to break into the industry, you can’t be picky. You need experience before breaking into one of the bigger companies.”
Harrington said he would really like to be a digital artist.
“A digital artist who works with 3D mostly, maybe some animation but mainly a digital artist.”