Archive for the ‘Fall ’13’ Category

Fall 2013 Final Presentations

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 posted by jiyoung

Our Final Presentations were on Wednesday, Dec 11th 2013. There were about 46 guests(!) in the audience. Most of them were EAers, ETC Alums and bay area industry folks. Each team did a 15 minute presentation about their project and progress to date, followed by a five minute Q&A session.

Videos of the presentations are below:

Click through to view the videos

Overview of Current Issues in Entertainment Technology and Design

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 posted by tianyili

Jiyoung’s Current Issues in Entertainment Technology and Design is a unique elective class only available in SV campus. This class is aimed at helping students to get exposed to the Bay Area entertainment technology industry and gain knowledge of their interested areas.

There are two parts in ETD class. One is independent study. Each student chooses one topic he/ she is interested in. Everyone sets up milestones and goals for this class when semester starts. Every two week, students present to the whole class sharing their progress and receive feedback.

This class provides a great chance for students to polish portfolio, practice presentation skills, and learn new things. Since each one has very different topic from others, we not only learn things from ourselves, but also learn from other students’ presentation. For example, a programmer can get a better understanding of modeling pipeline from a 3D artist’s presentation.

The other part of the class is to invite speakers to make presentation and visit major gaming companies. This semester, we had Lily, Antonio, and Cynthia talking about their life at EA. We had ETC alumnus, Vivek Jawa, talking about working as a development director at EA. We visited Kabam and got familiar with the company culture. We went to Telltale Games to get understanding of its “episodes” of games. We had a blast at Crystal Dynamics and received great answers to all our questions. At last, we had Alex Kowalski spinning us a tale of his experience working at EA, in particular The Sims 4.

This class provides us great chance to speak to professionals and builds up relationship between us and alumnus. We are learning from their story. Designers gain knowledge about the importance of writing design docs, providing feature support, hooking and tuning the game. Artists get idea of how to make industry ready portfolio.  The information we get will prove to be invaluable to us in the future.

We all had a great time this semester. At last, we provide suggestions and share our opinions on this class. Thanks for all the efforts everyone made.

Guest Speaker – Alex Kowalski

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 posted by rcano



Alex Kowalski, a game and UI designer at Electronic Arts was nice enough to stop by and spin us a tale of his experience working at EA, in particular The Sims 4. Alex is also an ETC alumnus and began by telling us how when he first started out at the ETC he didn’t know what he wanted to do; he just knew he wanted to be a game designer.

He thought it would be wise to first tell us what his job as a game designer entails. His main duties involve writing design docs, providing feature support, hooking and tuning, and actually playing the game. Providing feature support encompasses at least half his day. This process involves going over the design document with those involved line by line. During this time others in the room will try to poke holes in his design and talk about execution. In the end it creates a stronger design. Hooking and tuning is actually putting content in the game and balancing it out with the rest of the content. Finally playing the game to make sure the entire game flows correctly.

The other portion of his job is UI Design. His duties for UI design are wire framing, providing feature support, and again, playing the game.  Wire framing is creating the layout and flow of the UI buttons on the screen. He provides feature support by constantly talking to those involved in the execution of the UI and making sure he has accounted for any edge cases. Again, playing the game is important to make sure the UI is functional and has been executed correctly.

Alex finished off his presentation by answering question from the class. These questions ranged from what skills are needed as a designer to the difference between play testing in EA and in smaller groups. The class genuinely enjoyed his presentation and was glad to have him visit.

Soft Opening

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 posted by dorothy

On November 22nd, two teams of the this semester had our open playtest at atrium at EA 250 building. The Chimera team had their tablets and a big monitor available for several people to play their game at the same time while others can get an idea of the game by watching the big monitor. The zimension team set up two zSpace machines with 4 pair of 3D glassed so that two people can experience live stereo 3D with head tracking and 2 other people can watch them play from side. The zimension team also set up a big monitor with the “zView” application which allows people to see what the actual player on the zSpace can see by using augmented reality.


In order to attract people to play and watch our games, two team dressed up in their game-themed costumes. The Chimera team were a group of pirates from the center of the mysterious ocean carrying exotic treasures, while the zimension team were a group of cute bunnies and a giant carrot looking for people who can save their homeland.



People from EA , CMU and CMU alumni in bay area involved in the big events. Two teams really took the advantage of this open playtest and got over 50 playtesters in total. Teams took down notes carefully for future improvement of the games. Not only did we talked about the feeling of the game, we also gained advice on personal and professional development and career opportunities.


Visiting Crystal Dynamics

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 posted by dorothy

On November 7th, ETC-SV students visited Crystal Dynamics, which is a video game developer founded in 1992. Crystal Dynamic has grown rapidly and become the center of technology development for publisher Square Enix.


Crystal Dynamics is famous for Tomb Raider, Legacy of Kain and Gex. The project they are working on currently is Tomb Raider, which explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor.


We were hosted by Lindsey McQueeney & HR Team. After a brief introduction, five of Crystal Dynamic’s employees gave us great lectures about their job and how they got the job. They were Phil Therien(Lead Combat Designer), Josh Bapst(Lead Environment Artist), Matt Gaston(Lead Player Programmer), John Stafford(Senior Narrative Designer) and Mike Oliver(Technical Art Director). All of the speakers provide us with useful information. Phil Therien’s story was fascinating, because lead combat designer position was new to us. Phil told us that he really wanted to work in game industry when he was in film industry. He applied a lot positions and tried to convince game companies that his experience in film company is valuable to game development. He encouraged us to follow our passion and choose the job we really like. Josh gave artists some suggestions about portfolio. He mentioned that small environment assets are as important as a whole environment in portfolio. Matt talked about the differences between game companies and IT companies for programmers. John explained how and why Lara’s characteristics changed with age. Mike talked about how technical artists work in Crystal Dynamics and emphasized the company is always open to good technical artists.

crystal dynamics

Crystal Dynamics also provided us with a lot gifts. Some of us were able to get free video game and concept art book by winning a raffle, which is pretty fun!

Crystal Dynamics is hiring! Job description link is below: