New SGD Course in 3D Data Capture


SGD 210 – 3D Data Capture is one of the new courses that you can expect from the SGD program.

This course introduces students to the tools used to capture data in a 3D environment. Emphasis is placed on capturing data from motion capture and/or 3D scanning devices for use in 3D models and animations. Upon completion, students should be able to capture data from a 3D environment and import for use in 3D models, simulations, and animations.

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact our instructors or advisers. More info here!

Game Developers Conference is Looming!

The week long world known conference for game developers is on the horizon. Those who have shelled out the $1500+ or signed up to be volunteers are booking flights and hotels. One of the best AND worst things about GDC is that it has so many lectures and tracks for every facet of game development, it is impossible to go to all of the lectures. Though if you did attend, you can access the GDC vault. A magical repository where they have all the lectures on record so that if you did attend GDC that year, you can log into the vault and watch what you might have missed.

LoveIT Tv


Simulation and Game Development has several series of videos showing off what is going on in the IT department, student videos in SGD, and anything related to the gaming industry. Come check us out!

Latest videos are with Christopher Totten:

Part 1 video here

Designing Better Levels Through Human Survival Instincts

The experience of users in a space is something that architects have understood for centuries but which has been lost with the Postmodern focus on building forms. In a work that evolved from his Architecture Masters thesis, game design professor Christopher Totten set out to understand how buildings and games make better user experiences. What he learned was how to make better levels. Through case studies and building analysis, this presentation shows how video game environments can learn from architecture in ways that begin with human survival instincts. Shelter, shadow, shade, and vertigo are all explored to discover how levels can be both thrilling and fun.

Christopher Totten:

Chris Totten is a Washington, DC-based professor of game design and 3D animation. He has also participated in several independent game projects as an artist, animator, and project manager. Chris has written articles featured on both Gamasutra and Video Game Writers. He is currently writing a textbook called Game Character Creation in Blender and Unity, which will be released by Wiley Publishing in the summer of 2012. He has a Masters Degree in Architecture with a concentration in digital media from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Chris wants to help shape a new generation of game designers who look deeper into their designs. He works with students and other designers to challenge gaming conventions through cross-disciplinary research.

Overgrowth and their in-house engine

Overgrowth and Wolfire’s In-House Engine

A great friend who loves looking for new engines to play with recently showed me this gem of a game that is being made for the pc market. Overgrowth is a third action adventure fighting game where you play as anthropomorphic animals in a world littered with other animal hybrids trying to kill you. The game looks amazing and I cant wait to play it, but the real fun is their in-house engine that they are using to develop Overgrowth. The developers have multiple videos showcasing every step of the progress for Overgrowth, showing texturing, quick rigging, terrain development, blood splatter trajectory, 2D art assets, lighting, new ways of vertex weighting in action, etc. They keep blog updates about every aspect of how they are developing the game that make you think about how you would develop games using the same techniques. Either way if you are looking for cool new games, new engines, or great articles about game development, you will need to check out Wolfire Games and their upcoming game Overgrowth.


Click Here for Wolfire Game’s website!

Embrace Change

Some of the very first game design classes I took were courses on 3d modeling. The software we used was 3ds Max. Version 2008, if memory serves. Those who are familiar with 3ds Max and it’s particular legacy know that it’s a program that was heavily derived from engineering software of the same vein as AutoCAD. The interface was obtuse, to say the least. The terminology the user was presented with on nearly ever level of the modeling process made very little sense unless you had a master’s degree in geometry. Max 2008 still had it’s roots firmly planted in a prototyping lab somewhere and didn’t make any apologies about it. Of course, if I had to pick one part of the program that was particularly impossible and frustrating, the one part of the whole baroque mess that made you want to pull your hair out more than anything else, it was the materials editor. By a mile.

Putting together a material in 3ds Max meant scaling walls of Windows-NT-grey interface gibberish three miles high with nothing but your bare hands and a prayer. Empty, unlabeled blanks accompanied by uselessly technical flyout menus and what seemed like hundreds of tiny, tiny little buttons emblazoned with icons that might as well have been words in a dead language for all they told you. As if that weren’t bad enough, you can add to that some truly ludicrous design decisions on the part of the developers. I vividly recall Nic asking me, after a particularly vitriolic meltdown, if I’d “hit the checkerboard button.” I of course had not hit the checkboard button, no one ever hits the checkerboard button. The reason for this is because the “checkerboard button” is this tiny little thing about 32 pixels by 32 pixels tagged onto the lower left-hand corner of the material editor. Please note that in the history of all user interfaces that have ever been made by anyone at all anywhere, nothing important has ever gone in the lower left-hand corner of a window. Ever. This may lead you to the entirely reasonable assumption that the “checkerboard button” isn’t all that important. However its purpose is to make the materials you’ve just spent the last seventeen hours of your life cobbling together and applying to your model actually show up. That this is off by default makes me want to kick somebody in the crotch.

So now that I’ve got you cued up to that image, let me change course here with the understanding that I’ll bring all of this around full-circle and it’ll all make some kind of sense.

If I were to say “X-COM,” what would that mean to you? If you’re my age (35 at the time of this writing) you might have memories of this game on old 386 PCs or possibly something like a Commodore Amiga. X-COM is held up as this paragon of PC gaming. It was almost a perfect balance of blowing things up, gun-porn, survival horror, and fetishistic strategy-game micromanagement. To really understand what kind of game it was you kinda have to see it. (Bear in mind that this a crazy OP drop team being run by a guy who’s found all the holes in the system, knows where all the boss aliens are standing, etc)

Of course if you’re a little younger, then X-COM might bring to mind something more like this.

That’s footage of the new X-COM that’s being developed by 2K Games, of Bioshock fame. You would not believe the kind of hate this game is getting from the old-schoolers. The initial complaints were based on the supposition that the whole game was just going to be an FPS that used the X-COM license (which would have admittedly sucked) but I had enough faith in  2K to believe that they aren’t going to just make some attempt to cash-in on an old license at the expense of the people who are most likely to buy the game. Sho’ nuff, I was right. Now fair warning, that’s a link to a 20 minute video that’s hung on several Kotaku articles that you might not have the patience to read after wading through this, so I’ll just go ahead and give you the sharp edges right now.

A) The new X-Com is not “just a shooter.”


I won’t spare any words reasoning why having an FPS as your central gameplay element is better than an isometric turn-based strategy game. That’s not the issue here.


So 3ds Max 2012 was released ealier this year, and one of the really neat things they did with it was a total re-design of the material editor. Now instead of blanks with little buttons that don’t tell you anything, they have this graphical interface that lets you wire texture files into a final product that goes on your models. I think they even got rid of the checkerboard button. It’s not a total walk in the park to use just because it’s a complicated process, but now at least it’s not absolutely impenetrable. They were able to make an interface like because these days the devlopers can count on having the processing horsepower to make something like this run. They bothered because they knew what they were using had some serious problems because of the technical limitations that it was build under in the first place.

So what’s the first thing I heard someone say about it? No lie: “This isn’t like the old editor. I don’t like it.”