Video games out of college classrooms have improved a lot in the last 10 years. Today’s graphics engines have lightened the work of creating and university centers have polished teaching systems. One of those who has created his own way is the Digital U-tad Technical Center, that I decided to create what has been called mtodo U-tad in which students create a video game as if it were a studio working on a commercial development, with multidisciplinary teams with autonomy to decide what game they want to play and that they are solving the problems that arise by making the necessary decisions to deliver each milestone on schedule and with the necessary quality.
Using this method, U-tad students have won more than 60 awards. The U-tad method started in the three masters in videogames taught at the center (in Game Design, Programming and Art in Videogames) although in the last courses it has been adapted and extended also to the Degree in Design of Interactive Products.
An academic producer to coordinate student projects
Although the groups that work on each project are the ones who decide what the game will be like, they always have the advice of teachers and, a differentiating element of U-tad, an academic production company that coordinates students’ projects, is in charge of making students see the importance and role of production in the development process, teaching them the processes of production and recreate the atmosphere of a real studio. The latter implies following rules: projects have a delivery time and, if the teams are not able to reach each delivery milestone, “they have to rethink things or some features are cut “ of those provided, indicates Olga Zhuravleva, productora acadmica de U-tad, although he adds that, unlike in a “real” study, there is no financial consequence to study in college.
Zhuravleva explains the differences between this university experience and that of a real study, a position she knows well since it is also a producer at Tequila Works: “Although we try to get closer to the reality of a real study, we know that the risks are lower, and the influence of tutors on students is not the same as an employment relationship between the management of a company and its workers: the motivation is different. On the other hand, a significant portion of the production work is undertaken by the students. My responsibility is to teach them what to do, when and how to do it, and then monitor the outcome. Could compare it to the work of a Head of production in a study. The one who oversees various projects and does mentoring to the junior producers “.
It is recommended that in the development of any video game the producer is present as soon as possible, and U-tad decided since the figure of the academic producer was created that he was present since the students of the three masters are divided into multidisciplinary groups, they work about the ideas of the games they want to develop and start prototyping. The students of this year’s master’s degrees are working on two games and the academic producer believes that The distribution of students influences the types of projects that each group has chosen: “The number of programmers is greater than the number of artists, which leads us to the need to define very well in the production phase how far can we go in the visual part and what the end game is going to look like, probably sacrificing the more complex ideas for avoid at all costs a possible crunch“. At the same time, the advantage we have in the code part allows us try technically ambitious things they couldn’t be done with a small team of programmers, “says Zhuravleva.
The students of this year’s master’s degrees are working on two projects
The first of these two projects is Ronin-Hood Sisters, where you work Frozenham Studios, a turn-based tactical RPG in which the four anime-looking protagonists battle in fictional Japan; each one of them has a different weapon and different abilities depending on the suit they wear. Zhuravleva highlights from this project that she has “a lot of style and charisma, and I’m sure that many players will fall in love with it if the team manages to make it intuitive and very user-friendly. “
Ishtar Studios is working on Steelbound, a cooperative adventure game for two players in which the two protagonists they share the same weapon, a cursed sword, which are passed from one to another so that the curse does not consume their lives, an approach that for the academic producer is “very attractive.”
The U-tad method aims that students are prepared from the time they leave the University to integrate into large studios learning both to solve the problems that occur and to coordinate with a large team. Zhuravleva believes that the training system works: “I am very convinced that the things they are learning will help them a lot when it comes to starting work, because the experience we share with them is what we live every day in our studies and we teach them the real processes that are being used successfully in the industry today, “he says.