Despite all the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to remote learning for all classes, Brookdale Community College students are still exceeding expectations.
“I am extremely impressed and proud of the work the students have done this semester given the unique challenges we are all facing,” said Dustin Milotte, Brookdale’s GAME 105: Introduction to Unity instructor. Unity is a game engine that is free for students.
“This class is designed to be accessible to students who have never opened Unity before, and I welcome all skill levels and areas of interest,” Milotte explained. “Unity is a vast program and can seem daunting, but it is extremely fun and rewarding, bringing together a wide variety of skill sets from coding and physics to 3D art and sound design,” he said.
Two Brookdale students, John Sochacki and Marilyn Avila, excelled this semester in Milotte’s class. For the final project, students had to create a playable video game. Avila and Sochacki went beyond the requirements and created unique games with advanced features not covered in class.
“John created a unique, artistic vision for his project and followed through by delivering Vertex Ball, a complete game with excellent art design and solid coding,” Milotte said. He explained Vertex Ball is a Pong style game with added features that make it unique and challenging, such as the ability to play against an Artificial Intelligence (AI) opponent.
Once Sochacki finished the game, he published it to the indie game site itch.io . He also created a trailer for the game which can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4nM9JhV1NM&=&feature=youtu.be .
“The game incorporates additional mechanics, such as a randomly rotating camera perspective and flashy background effects to increase the level of difficulty,” Sochacki said about Vertex Ball. He explained the game has a single player mode or can be played against friends.
A game design major, Sochacki said he has been interested in game design for some time. “My interest in game design comes from my love of games and other forms of digital entertainment,” he explained. While he has been interested in gaming and game design for a while, he was not always certain he wanted to major in it.
While studying at Brookdale, Sochacki discovered his passion for game design. “I find the freedom of creativity and the challenges to be overcome in game development to be immensely fulfilling,” he explained.
Sochacki said he would encourage all Brookdale students to try new things to try to find their passion. “You may find an unlikely subject or field that you end up enjoying quite a bit,” he said.
The Introduction to Unity class was something new for Avila, an honors student at Brookdale, who also exceeded Milotte’s expectations with her final project for the GAME 105 class. Having no previous knowledge of Unity, she used the game engine and created Mission Unknown, a 3D game in which the player awakes in a maze unaware of how they got there. “They must search through the maze and collect notes that reveal a piece of the narrative,” said Milotte. “She exceeded expectations by creating an inventory system for the notes, something we did not cover in class, and writing her own story,” he said.
“My game tells the tale of an adventurer who wakes up in a strange cavern maze filled with luminous stones,” said Avila. “He has no memory of what happened to him so his main goal is to find the exit.” While trying to discover the exit, players discover hidden journal entries that provide information about the adventurer’s past. The game includes enemies as well as clues while players attempt to find the way out of the maze.
“Since I was young I enjoyed playing video games, and when I became older I became interested in how games were made,” Avila said. Similar to Sochacki, while she was interested in gaming, she did not immediately think of majoring in game design.
Initially planning on majoring in computer science, Avila changed her major to game design right before she registered for classes her first semester at Brookdale. “Since I didn’t know what career to pursue and since I was intrigued by games, I thought I should give game design a try,” she said.
“I am very fortunate to have a college with such an excellent game design program so close to where I live and work,” Sochacki said about Brookdale.
This was the first year Brookdale offered game design as a major, and there are currently 23 students in the AAS Game Design program. “Our goal is that graduates will finish this program with a portfolio of simple games and game assets,” said Claire Smuga, associate professor in the fine art department.
Once graduates have completed the game design degree, there are many different employment opportunities. “Game engines are being used by major companies word wide to create interactive experiences of their products, especially in the realm of virtual and augmented reality, much of which is made in Unity,” said Milotte. “It’s a real 21st century skill,” he said.
“While people tend to hear ‘game design’ and think of web games, cell phone games, or console games, there are a host of other possibilities,” Smuga said. “These days, many training facilities are using game-style simulators to enhance or speed up training time for everything from medical simulation to crime labs. This is a field that is only going to get bigger,” she said of game design.
“From what I learned so far during my time at Brookdale, I think game design can become my career if I am willing to put in the effort,” said Avila.
If like Avila and Sochacki you are interested in gaming, the game design major at Brookdale Community College is the place to start your journey to an exciting and growing career. For more information about the game design major at Brookdale, please visit https://www.brookdalecc.edu/humanities-institute/game-design/
Photo caption: Brookdale student Marilyn Avila created the game Mission Unknown where players must find clues to escape from a maze.