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TWU student-designers launch videogame

student designers launch videogameOn June 30, after an intensive yearlong collaboration, a team of students in Trinity Western University’s Game Development Foundations Program will launch an educational video game they built from scratch: Dyeworks: A Commerce of Colour.

“One of the great things about this game project is not only that we were creating something from nothing, but we were also allowed to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them,” said fourth-year communications major Heather Cerny, who was the writing team lead and served on the PR team for the project. “We were able to ask questions and play with ideas. That is one of the great things about learning in an unorthodox environment that I don't think you can get anywhere else, and one of the main reason I wanted to get involved in the first place.”

TWU’s Game Development Foundations Program is and intensive course designed to simulate a real life work environment in which a multidisciplinary team collaborates on the game process from conception of the original idea; design implementation; composition of original music; artwork production; deployment; and marketing. The multidisciplinary team of students involves programmers, artists, writers, designers, marketers, musicians, testers, and project managers.

When the course was first offered in 2008, students produced a video game about the music industry titled, Label: Rise of the Band. This year’s cohort, led by Kevin Schut, Ph.D., Department Chair of Communications, Alma Barranco-Mendoza, Ph.D., CIO and Assistant Professor of Computing Systems and Informatics/Biotechnology, and Sean Ho, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computing Systems and Informatics/Mathematics, was inspired by chemical engineering and chose to investigate the textile industry.

“Originally the course was six months; this time we planned it over a whole year,” said Schut. “Before the semester even began, the programmers took a software engineering course and the designers took directed study courses to plan the look and feel of the game.” Due to the size and nature of the project, many dedicated students continued to work on it even after the last class, to finalize the game and offer it to the public.

With a growing number of small to mid-sized media companies engaged in creating apps, online videos, and independent game making, this program is ideal preparation for small-team new media production.

“We need people to be thoughtful professionals who critically engage in the work they’re involved with. This project is a crucial opportunity for students to make that connection before they have a paycheque attached,” said Schut. “Presuming that we have the student interest and student ability, we want to offer this course again in a few years.”

Dyeworks is an educational game simulating the late 19th century post-Civil War American dye and textile industry. Targeted to grade four to eight students, Dyeworks puts you in the role of a textiles tycoon, producing and selling dyed fabric. The gameplay is carried by a variety of mini-games within an ongoing game narrative. On June 30, Dyeworks will be available to download for free at: dyeworksgame.com.

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