In the last year and a half, everyone’s life has changed, the working methods, the way of relating and even education. The university also had to adapt by organizing distance classes and online exams. The University Center for Technology and Digital Art (U-tad) prepared in three days the necessary infrastructure to continue with the classes in a virtual way so that hardly any teaching hours were lost and more than a hundred daily classes were taught online every day, from nine in the morning to nine at night and sometimes with up to 500 students receiving training simultaneously, among them the students of the Masters in Programming, Game Design and Art and Visual Design of Videogames who continued working on their projects following the U-tad method, that groups students of the three master’s degrees to create multidisciplinary teams that work on a video game as if it were a commercial project.
More communication channels and online reviews
The worst of the pandemic passed and another course began, with different sanitary requirements, and the university to adapt to the new conditions. In January the students of the master’s degrees in this course began to work on Ronin-Hood Sisters Y Steelbound, which should have a playable demo in October. The experience of these past months of combine face-to-face training and online work has left some teachings for you. “We have adjusted e introduced some improvements we learned, oddly enough, thanks to having to work remotely last year. Now we have more communication channels and we integrate many reviews on demand in a remote way “, Explain Francisco Javier Maki Soler, director of Videogame Projects at U-tad and CEO of the Fakto studio.
The teams formed by students of the master’s degrees must in meeting the milestones established by the university for the projects in which they work; It is the students who make the decisions regarding the characteristics of the game, although they have the support of the teachers, as Soler explains, the teachers “only recommend, we do not impose. Except on rare occasions, normally students decide 99% of the properties of their games. We only make sure that they are valid decisions and that they can carry them out in the time and resources available. “
The U-tad method is the rendering of an educational model based on preparing students for a real world of work, Hence, the students are divided into a few teams of between 15 and 20 people who must organize themselves so that the work goes ahead. Smaller groups are not created because, he says Maki, “replicating the conditions of a study requires several departments and pyramidal structures (not in all cases). Having these conditions with teams of 4 or 5 people would be very difficult. The reality is that, in most cases, it is what they will find when they exercise the profession professionally “.
Adapting to a graphic style is important
The sanitary conditions are not yet those of a normal course, but the students have been able to receive the training thanks to this adaptation of U-tad to each moment of the pandemic. The students of the master’s degrees are developing two games. Frozenham Studios works at Ronin-Hood Sisters, a Turn-based strategic role-playing roguelite with an anime look and set in a fictional Japan. The game is very reminiscent of the visual references that its creators have chosen, but Soler considers that it is not a problem, “one of the fundamental conditions of a professional artist is adjusting and adapting to the style of the game he is developing. You can find styles totally opposed and except for those who end up dedicating themselves to Art Direction, it will be the usual. We always try to make it their own but they cannot always develop an innovative and efficient graphic style in the time we have, leaning on an established style is always a good option. “
If in the artistic aspect, the most important thing to innovate is to stay true to the chosen style, in the gameplay we can expect it to be an experience with personality; According to Soler, the most promising of Ronin-Hood Sisters is the combination of elements that the studio has chosen: “As in a kitchen plate, We do not pretend to invent “new ingredients” simply to combine them in an original and efficient way to give a new experience to the cooperative player based on terms and concepts that they already know, “he says.
An interesting proposal that must be attractive too
Ishtar Studios is creando Steelbound, a cooperative game in isometric view which starts from a promising but complex premise: two very different characters must share the same sword exchanging their roles, so that the one who carries the weapon attacks and the other supports him with magic. This requires the two players to coordinate; as the character who wields it is losing his life little by little but you cannot pass it on to the other until he claims it, which guarantees intense games. This formula is demanding as it can only be played in multiplayer, “the proposal must be sufficiently interesting and attractive to bear this cost”, you accept Maki, who also points out that the value of the study when it comes to taking risks is one of its main values with the main mechanics, “which is is more innovative and risky than usual “, Soler says although he adds: “once again, I think that the whole is what prevails.”
The university has been adapting to the sanitary conditions of each moment, but what about the students? Are those of this year like those of previous courses? Soler argues that the change that has been perceived in the students is not the result of the pandemic, but rather that those who come to U-tad have clearer objectives: “Each year the students come with more basic training. They are more aware of what they are going to face and have a more evolved knowledge of the environment. For the rest they continue just as passionate and dedicated as in previous editions “, he says when asked about it.