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Portal 2 Review

by Student
January 4, 2012

By Guest Blogger

Joseph DelFranco
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Developer: Valve
Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360

Portal 2 is a first person puzzle game that puts you in the shoes of a silent protagonist. As you try to make your way through a testing facility, you find yourself taking sides with the most unlikely of characters. Plot twists galore and awesome voice work make this a fun game from beginning to end.

The premise of Portal is simple; use portals to escape whichever obstacle is in your way. In practice, this works extremely well. You are given a portal gun that shoots out two portals, once you've used both portals, you can traverse them at you leisure. Eventually, you will have to take physics into mind. Building up speed and shooting through one portal will make you fly out of another, allowing you to reach a place you couldn't before. Eventually, the game introduces a host of new mechanics that allow for interesting gameplay segments that keep you guessing!

The voice work is absolutely delightful. The voice actors are spot on, and they do a wonderful job of making you laugh. The characters are vivid and all display their own unique sense of humor that will make you wonder which character is your favorite. I tend to lean toward Glados, but that's just me. Throughout the game these voices guide you through different parts of the story mode, allowing for a fun play through from start to finish.

If the single player were the only part of Portal 2, it would still be a great game, but there's more!!! Portal 2 has a cooperative mode that allows two players (online or off) to complete a full multiplayer campaign that is completely separate from the single player. None of the levels are borrowed from the single player, allowing for even more replay value. Instead of thinking with two portals, you and your team mate have 4 portals at your disposal. This allows for even crazier puzzles, but you'll definitely need coordination and cooperation to get through.

Portal 2 is absolutely amazing. The level design, characters, sound effects, and gameplay mechanics are terrific pieces of a video game developer's ingenuity. Valve has outdone themselves with this unique experience.

Final Score: 9.5/10

by Student
January 4, 2012
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More Than Meets the Eye

by Student
December 29, 2011

By Guest Blogger

Bethany Crowley
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

I have a job for you:

Stand in heels for ten hours in a noisy convention center while you try and grab the attention of every person walking by. They’re probably going to all be male. Half will want to talk to you while the other half will not. Either way, sell this product. You might not get a full half hour for lunch, and that will probably be your only break, but you can certainly keep the provocative outfit we’ve given you to wear. Oh and, one more thing, don’t forget to smile. The reason this other half won’t care enough to talk to you about this product is because they don’t think you know anything about it. To them, you’re just another girl who has been hired by this company to stand in front of their booth, look very attractive, and hand out t-shirts or blinking stress balls. And, actually, they’re right.

At its core, the “booth babe,” as she has come to be known, is a promotional model, hired by companies to attract clients/customers in order to gain sales, offer promotions, and educate the convention’s population about their product. More often than not, these girls know nothing about the product they’ve been hired to “promote.” They’ll admit this to you, then offer you a chance to win an iPad 2 or that car over there. While I know nothing about car shows, IT conferences, or many other conventions that are held each year, I do know about those events centered on the video gaming world. Why? I’m a promotional model for this industry.

I’d like to think that they’re all the same though, these mass conventions. Even the smaller promotional opportunities harbor the same need – to sell their product by someone who can hold your attention. If you want to attract potential customers or clients, who are mostly all male, an attractive female will almost always do just that. While it can be considered a stereotype, it is a fact that these companies hire promotional models for this very reason. And while I could divert into a novel, large blog rant, or thesis project that may argue whether this position objectifies women or not, there are already one thousand and one that do just that floating around out there.

I wandered into this controversial industry of promotional modeling only recently. After reading an article on a different kind of promotional model in a gaming magazine so sweetly delivered to me every month, I became curious. After further research, I nearly fell in love with the idea that my now agent built upon. It is true that the women I have the pleasure of working a gig with are hired as promotional models. The catch to this position, however, requires that these girls possess a vast knowledge of and experience with video games.

While I’m limited in what I can tell about the companies I have worked for, for confidentiality purposes, it has been proven that hiring us for any promotional gaming needs will enable you to be a bit more successful than that other booth over there. Why? Because we know what we’re talking about. There are still some uncertainties to the controversial world of promotional models. We are often viewed as objects, props that have a single use in this role.

While I keep my opinion to myself, I’m still reminded at every event that we are all different, therefore we view the world and its people, male and female, differently. I have my own reasons for being there too.

I love to play video games. Ultimately, it was the passion for art and concept that drove me to enroll at the Art Institute in pursuit of a Game Art and Design degree. I am excited to be here, but I am also excited to share with others that I have had some amazing opportunities come my way already through my line of work and my persistence in the Game Art and Design program. I am an active member of our chapter of IGDA, helped create and host an event that featured the Lead In-Game Animator from God of War II and III, and have even done some background work on a feature film. Do I have an advantage? No more than anyone else does. In most ways, I prefer going to school online – although I am faceless, my name means more, in a way. I have accomplished these things not through my looks, but in my drive and dedication to this field. All of these things manifested through my own network connections, and those began through being a diligent student online and simply keeping in touch with the right people.

I began the journey into promotional modeling because it gets me that much closer to possibly working for a major game development studio. If you had a chance to get your foot in that door, I am willing to bet you’d take it as well. Mingling with the gaming gods is something that appealed to me. It just so happens that I am female. It would probably take me five more years just to have the means to get to these conventions myself if I were not promotional modeling. Even then, I’d be just another lone female waltzing around with stars in her eyes when she chanced to happen upon her favorite game’s Art Director and the booth they were at. By being front and center, I have the opportunity to talk with the masterminds behind some our favorite games.

Ideally, I’ll end up devoting my time and talents to a development studio as a Character Artist, Quest Designer, or by being on the Concept team. How will promotional modeling tie into these dreams? I’m sure that meeting and greeting gaming companies up close has some merit. In this way, I’m creating initial, professional relationships with heavyweight names. Perhaps I’ll have a demo reel with me at a show. And perhaps the right person will be wanting to see it since I’ve already established that I possess some knowledge of their product. Rubbing elbows with these gaming industry giants has to mean something when I arrive at that level, and I’m at that booth to find out exactly what that something is.

by Student
December 29, 2011
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Resistance 3 Review

by Student
December 28, 2011

By Guest Blogger

Joseph DelFranco
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Developer: Insomniac Games
Platform: PS3

Resistance 3 is a first person shooter developed by the world famous Insomniac Games (Also creators of Spyro and Ratchet and Clank Series). In this third installment, you play as Joseph Capelli, a different protagonist from the first two games in the series (Previous protagonist was Nathan Hale). Joseph must battle the chimera across the United States, the chimera have all but won, and Capelli is the world's last hope. Starting in Oklahoma and ending in New York, Resistance 3 has some awesome set pieces along the way!

There are some pretty huge boss battles that don't feel extremely shoehorned into the game like they were in Resistance 2. These enemies flow seamlessly into the experience, creating a realistic feeling threat throughout the game. Beside bosses, new enemies have greatly enhanced the gameplay as well. Some of the new enemies include long legs (Enemies that jump hundreds of feet into the air to move to a different location), invisible snipers, and leeches. Each of these enemies make you choose a new strategy when playing your game. You also find yourself wondering which gun you should use for each encounter, this creates a diverse set up that always keeps you on your toes.

I can't review an Insomniac product without mentioning the insane weaponry. Some of the newest additions to this installment are a blast to use. All weapons have a primary and secondary fire that allows for different tactical options. The Cryogun freezes enemies in their place and it's secondary fire shatters them with a powerful gust of freezing wind. If you simply use the secondary fire, you can freeze enemies and/or halt them momentarily. I think my favorite addition to the weapons isn't any specific weapon, but the upgrade system Insomniac Games incorporated into the game. The more damage you do with each weapon, the more it will level up. This made me use all weapons to see what happens when they upgrade to their full potential!

The story isn't on par with games like God of War or Uncharted, but it has a comprehensive story that will definitely keep your attention. Once you finish the singe player, you can jump onto the multiplayer! The multiplayer lets you slowly unlock weapons from the single player and allow them for use against other players. The more you play, the more skill points you will get. You can use these to level your weapons and abilities up. The multiplayer mode greatly increases the replay value of this game. Also, there is a co op mode for the campaign. Here, you can team up with a friend and tackle the single player experience together!

Resistance 3 is an awesome first person shooter and definitely worthy of being an Insomniac game. The game play is smooth, the guns are great fun, and the campaign and multiplayer will keep you hooked for some time to come! Definitely a must buy for fans of first person shooters.

Final Score: 9/10

by Student
December 28, 2011
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Project OTIS Update: Concept Art

by SouthMarketing
June 6, 2011

By Guest Blogger
Karlo Valencia

Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division
IGDA (International Game Developers Association) Member

Members of IGDA are currently in the process of developing their own 2D RPG. In this entry, Valencia discusses where they are in the process.

Project OTIS is moving right along! As of now we have settled on a game idea and story, and are officially finished with the springboard phase. The game is a 2D RPG set in the Steam Punk era. The project, titled as code name: Otis, is about a rugged world that is hastily drying up - specifically the water wells, which is a significant resource not only for survival, but for the steam era. A young mechanic/inventor named Elijah and his robot Otis, which possesses special abilities, are set out to discover what is going on when their city well suddenly goes dry. Along the way they will meet increasingly difficult foes and new characters that will join their party and help advance the story as they find out who is behind the pandemonium.

Currently we are reinforcing the story and working out the major milestones that will transpire throughout the game. At the same time we have begun the character and prop concept drawings and are moving along with the initial designs. We are also pushing forward with the XNA Starter Kit to create our game for the Windows operating system, but we would like to eventually publish this on Xbox also depending on our resources and capabilities. The XNA game engine will allow us to build the RPG by replacing the default assets with our own. It also allows us to add our own animations and tweak player stats using the build parameters. Scripting and programming is by the SDK. But there is plenty that we can pursue with this alone. We are in the testing phase and trying to publish a prototype just to see what the capabilities for the SDK are. I hope to have more results by our next IGDA meeting.

Are you an Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division student interested in writing for this blog? Check the Welcome Center in the Campus Common to find out how!

by SouthMarketing
June 6, 2011
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