Students from Pakuranga College describe the VR game they created as a collaborative project, and the skills they developed through the process.
Students worked as a team with specific roles including: planning the game, designing and creating 3D assets, programming, and marketing. "There are skills you can’t learn inside the classroom that we learn when we make a game....you’re not just trying to make the best programme, you’re trying to make a game. You want to finish the game and make it run well. We’ve had to work under a lot of time pressure.....You learn to solve problems."
Connecting with other game developers beyond the classroom was a factor in the success of the students' game, Totally realistic sledding VR .
Tyne Crow: So in the game development group, we’ve got around 20 to 30 students. The computer lab’s normally about half to two thirds full every lunch time and most of the students are from years 10 to 12 and they’re learning a wide range of different game development things, some 2D, some 3D, and quite a few different groups of students have had a go at doing some virtual reality stuff.
Yuwei: We’re making a virtual reality HTC5 sledding game.
Luke: It’s kind of like a high score chaser, there isn’t a real main goal, it’s more just start at the top, try get to the bottom as quick as possible.
Daniel: I’m in charge of all the urban environments, and all the urban models, and 3D assets we need for the game. I’ve had to learn a lot of skills, especially about the interface and how to use the programme Blender which we use for making all our assets. So I’ve had to learn a lot of spacial awareness skills and even art skills to make our 3D models and things look like they should. I’ve also learnt a lot of other skills with communicating with other departments in the school. For example, we’ve contacted the media department about making trailers and things like that for our game.
Yuwei: I’m mainly the lead programmer. I programme scripts for the game and bind everything together, all the 3D models and turn it into a game. We do learn programming in the NCEA course, however there are skills you can’t learn inside the classroom that we learn when we make a game in the actual software project because when you’re making a game, you’re not just trying to make the best programme, you’re trying to make a game. You want to finish the game and make it run well. We’ve had to work under a lot of time pressure, that’s something you don’t really learn in the classroom. You learn to solve problems with a variety of things like asking different department teachers for help and looking for online tutorials and forums.
Luke: So I’m in charge of the map design and the level design, kind of deciding where everything goes and how it best fits into a functioning level. I’ve had to spend a lot of time just learning basically the interface of the software that we use which is Unity because I have to learn how to effectively place the assets that the 3D modelling guys make into the level and do it quickly so that the whole process can run smoothly.
Matthew: I’m the organic nature style modeller, so I just make trees and rocks for the environment. I use research or images I’ve gathered myself from outside to make the assets just look a little bit better for the game player experience.
Yuwei: For our game to be successful, we’ve got to build community so people want to play our game. We’ve had to build connections with people all over the web and keep them readily updated about our game to keep them interested.
Daniel: We use a programme called Discord which allows you to create servers and chat rooms and announcement pages and things for your community. So we invite people to that through game trailers and Twitter posts and facebook posts and that invites people into our community and then we can share updates and get feedback.
Yuwei: You learn to cater for the audience which is not really something you learn in the classroom either. So what I’ve really taken out of this is learning the time management skills, problem solving skills, and optimisation, and of course working in a team. We learn to brainstorm ideas together so not just one person makes the decisions.
Daniel: So the thing that really gives me the buzz with working for this is when we go to places like AUT to show off our game at the conference, or put up a test version online, just seeing all the positive feedback we get from people. The main thing I’ve taken out of this is just my ability to manage time and get these things done on time. So we had to have a stable build of this game ready for our presentation last night. It was a really stressful deadline but things like that just help us to get better at meeting deadlines which is going to be incredibly useful through High School and University and even through all of life.
Yuwei: I really enjoy the problem solving associated with real-world projects. You’ve just got to think fast and well.
Luke: It’s a great experience to work with people who are similar minded to you and want the same end goal.