It Takes a Village to Make a Game

David Lam, Bioware's Outsourcing Art Director, talks to University of Alberta students about the value of teamwork. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

David Lam, Bioware’s Outsourcing Art Director, talks to University of Alberta students about the value of teamwork. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

There aren’t many industries more multidisciplinary than video game creation. Musicians, artists, programmers, animators, writers, and people from pretty much every other skill set work together to develop games.

With that many different types of people and personalities in play, you’ve really got to be able to share your toys and play nice. This is why BioWare is such a big supporter of the University of Alberta’s CMPUT 250 course, which takes students from every faculty and teaches them how to work together.

Students in the CMPUT 250 course work in groups of six to develop games over four months. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

Students in the CMPUT 250 course work in groups of six to develop games over four months. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

The course on computers and games requires students to take a game from concept to release in four months. Each team includes a writer, musician, artist, and three programmers. Vadim Bulitko, who teaches the course, chooses each term’s students from a stack of applications to ensure an even distribution from the different disciplines.

“The greatest thing they learn in this course is how to work in an interdisciplinary team,” Bulitko says. “Now days, a lot of projects are interdisciplinary, and wherever you are, you’ll be working with people of different backgrounds and educations. Being able to work and be successful in that kind of environment is a great asset.”

Each year, the university hosts an award ceremony for the games the teams make, celebrating excellence in art and design, writing, audio, and technical achievements, as well as a Game of the Year.

The overall winner this year was a stealth-action game called The Day I Died, where players must use both corporeal and spiritual forms in tandem to solve puzzles and escape purgatory.

BioWare's Associate Recruiter, Shanda Wood, poses with the game of the year winners. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

BioWare’s Associate Recruiter, Shanda Wood, poses with the game of the year winners. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

“The games I’ve seen are very diverse: everything from first-person combat to stealth and logic puzzles,” Bulitko says. “Because there’s no commercial aspect, the exploration costs are very low, so they can just explore what they think is artistically and creatively interesting.”

The U of A Video Game Club visits BioWare

Aaryn Flynn- VP, Studio General Manager

Aaryn Flynn- VP, Studio General Manager

The University of Alberta Video Game Club made a visit to our BioWare theatre to hear and learn more about E3’s launch of Dragon Age: Inquisition and speak about getting into the game industry. It was a great event and we hope to meet again in the fall.

Neil Thompson- Director of Art and Animation

Neil Thompson- Director of Art and Animation

Cameron Lee- Producer in Dragon Age Inquisition

Cameron Lee- Producer in Dragon Age Inquisition

Alex Lucas – QA Lead

Alex Lucas – QA Lead

Nathan Matichuk - QA Team Lead

Nathan Matichuk – QA Team Lead

CAPS: Your U of A Career Centre

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BioWare had the privilege to host the U of A Career Centre CAPS team who came to explore and learn more about our studio and our culture. Fernando Melo Director of Online Development and Alex Lucas QA Lead spoke to the group about their career goals for their teams as well as how to prepare yourself for the industry. It was a fantastic event and we are dedicated to maintaining our strong relationship with the University of Alberta.

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The 5th Annual CMPUT 250 Game Development Awards

By: Shanda Wood, Recruiter and University Relations Specialist

For the past 6 months I have had the great opportunity to attend the CMPUT 250 class during presentations and lectures, and I have witnessed the student’s desire and passion for the gaming industry.

For years, BioWare has helped to inspire and educate game design students at the University of Alberta. Numerous members of the BioWare staff participate in lectures, Q&A sessions, studio tours and panels for students interested in this industry.

The CMPUT 250 class is a multidisciplinary course that brings student teams together to create a video game using BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights engine. Each semester, groups of six students from different backgrounds (art, writing, programming, audio) produce an original game design.

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On April 23, 2013, the class celebrated their achievements at the 5th Annual Computing Science 250 Game Development Awards. The teams showcased their products to a panel of judges who chose winners for various categories: Excellence in Art and Design, Excellence in Writing and Story, Audio Achievement, Technical Achievement, and finally, Game of the Year.

Edmonton’s General Manager Aaryn Flynn, said the studio has only enhanced their support for the course as it helps students from different programs, get involved with all aspects of game design in a team environment. Aaryn added, “We really like that CMPUT 250 has adopted that approach because it is representative, more or less, of what you’d find in a studio like ours. All the challenges you guys face are almost identical to those you’ll face building multi-million dollar games like we do with Dragon Age and Mass Effect.”

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Team Platypus, pictured below, won the prestigious Game of the Year award with their game “Morph.”

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The team took home collector’s editions of Mass Effect 3 signed by the game’s developers.

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BioWare recognizes all the hard work and passion that the students have put into their games and we want to congratulate them on their achievements this year.  We look forward to many more award ceremonies to come.

BioWare Goes to School

Today we had the great opportunity to meet at the University of Alberta for the CMPUT 250 panel. We had a fantastic turnout, where our BioWare team was able to speak to a large multidisciplinary group of Computer Science students for a little over an hour. The students were eager to ask and learn about BioWare, and they addressed everything from project management to internships.

All in all the event went very well, and it was great to see the enthusiasm and excitement from the students. Vadim, who is the Professor and organizer for the class, said that this panel was by far one of the best events he has had with BioWare, and added that he couldn’t be more pleased with how great BioWare has been for these sessions. We will continue to work closely with Vadim in the future to ensure we are continuing to build our strong relationship with the University.