Train2Game Student Diaries James Bouckley EMPLOYED BY UNITY!

Train2game student James Bouckley has been on the T2G Work Placement scheme and has now found FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT – Well Done James!!!

James picks up the story:

Week 20 w/e 20/7/12

Why leave the good news until the end, I got a full time job at Unity!

This means my diary entries will be coming to a close soon but I’ll keep anyone who reads them updated until the end.  So apart from the amazing news had a fairly good week in terms of work done too.

In the game there was a bug where if all the spawn points for the enemies were on the camera at once then it threw and exception.  I fixed this by, if all of them were on the screen at once, the enemies spawn from the one furthest from the player.

Previously we had a system where power packs needed to be put on a dispensing machine whilst you fought off enemies.  When the energy of the machine was full it would dispense items.  I’ve changed it now so that instead there are waves of enemies and the last one you kill dispenses items.  There was also a fairly major memory leak in the script that made items between you and the camera invisible which I have now fixed and also made it so that multiple things at once can become invisible.

Aside from the game Graham has asked me to write a beginners guide to asset bundles.  I finished the first draft on Friday but I am yet to hear people’s opinions on it.

To sum up: new job! YES!

Train2Game Student Diaries Jonny Robinson Diary 27 July

This is my last diary; on average I think I must have written about 10,400 words which is stupidly crazy. With DR Studios playing such a vital role in my career path, what can I really say to my colleagues, mentors and even friends besides the stereotypical crap of thank you…To me a thank you isn’t enough, it needs to have more worth than that. As selfish as this sounds my only true way to repay their wisdom is to teach people what I know, and make successful games along the way.

But I’m going to say it anyway thank you, thank you and thank you for helping me gain respect in being happy at work. I used to hate all of my previous jobs with a passion as I always felt like an outcast in the group, the dreamer, the lad who lived in his head and a guy who ranted on Youtube. If it wasn’t for any of those things, I wouldn’t be here today. I left school with terrible grades but this didn’t stop me one bit, I retook all of my modules, did online learning in my spare time whilst working full-time. I have slapped haters in the face with hard work and persevered with pure determination to make it into the game industry

Since being here I have attended Develop twice, once as a representative of Train2Game/DRS and the other was with Epic Games. I have won 48 hour game jams; I was the leader of the winning team of the Make Something Unreal Live 2012 winning the Unreal 3 licence. I have also got my name on at least 4 games and I have done it all with a smile on my face. Now do I think it will be easy out there in the cold and harsh world without DRS holding my hand; of course not but that hasn’t stopped me before and it won’t stop me now!

What would my advice be to anyone trying to make it into the game industry, just don’t ever stop dreaming and working hard to make your dream a reality and of course join Train2Game 🙂

So, with this being my final DR Studios diary I want to say to anyone who has followed my year long journey into the game industry, thank you and I will catch you on the flip side.

Here is my Portfolio

and my Twitter

if you want to keep in touch or just ask for some advice!

This is Jonny saying goodbye just for now

Train2Game Student Diaries Ezekiel Morris weeks 9 and 10

Ezekiel Morris week 9

Working on a new project so it has been a busy week, we have till Wednesday to get this pitch document done in time so my task was to finish  off  five characters  in 3 days.

I ending up having to stay late with the guys who were collaborating on the project,  we discuss  about the art style to go forward, lucky enough  in my spare time  I  have done quick thumb nails sketches  at weekend then the guy at studio can decide which thumb nails are we going with.

So the first part was easy now  the next part was to  get  some feedback, the guys were loving the characters, I was copying the same art style from the original concept that rod had drawn.

Rod  is in charge of  art style  for this project, he’s shown me some tips  in Photoshop that can be handy to use to speed up my workflow, Anyway I was burning these characters so fast  if there  needs to be any changes I can then  go back to them later.

Staying late working till 10:00 but some Chinese food takeway on the side it’s all good baby.


Ezekiel Morris week 10

Previously this week I have been renaming layers in Photoshop. Didn’t get the chance to rename the layers as the art assets for this pitch document has to be done in the week .

The pitch document is finished and the next step is the production stage. My schedules were to create more characters and begin animating them, that would be my job and for the other artist  doing asset building etc.

So as I‘m the character artist on the project the scenario is this ,animate the characters using  Maya, separate  the character’s body parts  in Photoshop then go into 3d max open the PSD or Targa file and  then apply the texture on plane mesh using the cut tool to cut out the shapes.

Now I might have to learn Maya considering I haven’t had any experience in Maya before  so I’m working closely with Matty  who has an understanding on how to use Maya. Using Maya is not that bad, it’s just like using 3d max in  a way but the setup is a bit different just show me the tools and I will know what to do, alternatively unity 3d doesn’t support some of export settings when exporting  from 3d max, looks like maya is the way to go bro.

Train2Game Student Diaries Matty Wyett Simmonds weeks 33 to 35

Week 33

So as My Sea Park is now out and getting updates constantly with upped level caps and more items to get, we have been working on a new project, similar in a few ways but completely different in many. It will definitely be an interesting process, as we aren’t using the same game engine anymore, which means none of the Sea Park stuff is reusable! I’m sure the T2G students will enjoy this when it’s out in the open.

I’ve been kept busy with setting up a pipeline and making things workable, it’s been a hard process but the payoff seems worth it.

Not long left for two of the students here, as they will be leaving soon, making us down by one designer and one artist. The new artist has started recently though (staff not student) and he’s been great so far, learning a lot from him already! And it’s nice to have a definite person in charge of art now, as it’s giving us some direction that has been needed for a very long time. He’s worked at a few other studios that vary in work flow, giving insight into how other studios work differently to each other, which is interesting.

Week 34

Another week passed now, and last Friday we had some interesting news from Clive which basically meant we were in crunch for this week! That’s not too bad though, crunch time for me means staying late, listening to music on the sound system and getting free pizza/curry. It’s hard work but lots of fun, especially with mine and Craig’s DR play list that we setup on Spotify, anyone can join in and vote for songs to be played next, so we had a few students logging in and choosing what we listened to during crunch and it was a lot of fun!

During the week I have been working closely with Rod, the new artist, to make the art style work and to produce a lot of content that could be used quickly. The other student artist Ezekiel has been working on character art, while I was working on building art. There’s not much else I can say really without giving too much away, so I shall leave it at that, as I have to be off early this Friday because I have to go to a christening and graduation over the weekend (Obviously not for the same person).

Matty Wyett Simmonds week 35

This week I have had a few days off for the events which I mentioned in the last diary, so I started this week on Wednesday and got straight back into it, there is not too much to say about this week since being off for half of it! We had a meeting on the Wednesday that I got back and everything has basically been the same since I was away (as you would expect from two days off). I have just been starting off where I left off on Friday.

This week however is an unusual week, as today (this Friday) is the last day of two of the students, Ben and Johnny (Johnny as in Ironcore on the forums) Ben has been here a good few months now and Johnny has been here even longer. It’s a shame to see them leave, although when ben leaves I get an entire desk to myself at home but that’s beside the point.

I wish both of them good luck and I hope they both grab another job in industry quickly, too long out of the loop may leave you out of the loop permanently and I hope that doesn’t happen to them, they’ve both worked hard and have done well to stay here longer than their original contracts, so they must have been doing something right.

Train2Game Student Diaries Craig Moore Weeks 34 to 36

Week 34

We are now pretty much in full swing with the next title.

The beginning of the week was fairly run of the mill, building up concepts and fleshing out documentation. Having a much larger art resource available this time around I am having to prepare a lot further in advance. It is no longer the case where I can simply do a quick sketch for Matty just as its needed and we run from that.

A little bit of a change of pace but it is all for the want of a better process.

As the week went on there was a pretty big surprise that has really kicked things in to gear, a massive opportunity that we have to take with both hands. While it is going to be a lot of work over the next few days it’s going to push the project in to overdrive and really get some work done.

So for the next few days I am going to be putting some heavy hours into collating a document as well as doing some concrete UI concepts to help push the project forwards, and we shall see what we have at the end!

See you on the other side….


 Week 35

Well that was busy!

After clocking up close to 40 hours work in 3 days we managed to get the work done and I think we were all incredibly pleased with the result. It was a great experience to come together with 3 artists to build a really impressive and important document. It’s been a fantastic learning experience for us all in both regards of creating such a high profile document, and working to a very tight deadline.

I would like to say we did a great job, worked well together and produced a great piece of work.

And now it feels like we are properly in full swing, documenting mechanics and processes. Collating everything that we have spoken about internally over the last few weeks and making sure it is all somewhere and exists so that it doesn’t get forgotten.

We are on an incredibly tight schedule for this next game, hopefully we can deliver. My big worry is simply not having enough time, I want this next title to be so much bigger and better than My Sea Park I have learnt so much, we all have, and with the right time we can certainly do it! Unfortunately, as always, time is money so we will just have to see how we get on I suppose and hope for the best.

I couldn’t ask to be working with a better group of people though, so I will keep my faith.


Week 36

After the hectic push of last week it’s been nice to get back to a relatively normal pace. It is officially “on” though so we have a lot of work to do in a comparatively short space of time, essentially making the next game in half the time we did for My Sea Park; puts a lot of pressure on us all as a team.

However the ground work is there, we need to be incredibly clever going forward so that we don’t waste any time and that we take advantage of every possible outlet we can.

It is a sad day today; Jonny and Ben are finishing their placements. It’s been fantastic working with them especially Jonny whom I have had the pleasure of working with for quite some time now and he has become a very good friend of mine. Thankfully he will be staying in the area so we will surely be keeping in contact and I will keep a close eye on his movements as he surely finds himself some amazing role in the games industry! He deserves it for working so hard.

So tonight we are going out to celebrate, it’s fantastic to work with such a nice group of people who I can enjoy at both work and in a social environment.

What’s it they say, work hard, play hard?


Train2Game News BAFTA Masterclass

A BAFTA Masterclass with LA Noire BAFTA-Nominee Simon Wood on Tuesday 31 July at 19:00.

Join BAFTA at The Hospital Club with Simon Wood, an award winning Production Designer and creator of Rockstar Games LA Noire. Simon started as an Industrial designer before crossing over into films and working on The Phantom Menace, Tomorrow Never Dies and Thunderbirds. He then settled in as the Production Designer at Sony Europe (PlayStation) on The Getaway series. Haven spoken extensively at conferences around the world, Simon will be describing his role on projects and then discussing ‘good art’, ‘good design’ and the creative processes as a whole.

Tickets are £5.00

Thanks to BAFTA for the heads-up

Train2Game interview: Ian Livingstone OBE on Make Something Unreal Live, Fighting Fantasy and game design

Ian Livingstone OBE is Life President of Eidos, co-founder of Games Workshop, co-author of the popular Fighting Fantasy novels and one of the most respected figures in the UK games industry.

He also judged the Train2Game and Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live contest, which saw Commando Kiwi and their Warlock of Firetop Mountain game named winners.

We sat down with Livingstone at Develop Conference, where the games industry legend discussed Make Something Unreal Live, the changing games industry and what it takes to be successful in it, his upcoming brand new Fighting Fantasy novel and more.

You were involved with Train2Game and Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live contest at The Gadget Show earlier this year, can you explain what your role was for those who weren’t there?

My involvement was to be supplier of the intellectual property, Steve Jackson and I allowing the whole initiative to use our intellectual property in terms of Fighting Fantasy. The development teams were able to use whichever titles they wanted – they used Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Deathtrap Dungeon, The Citadel of Chaos and Armies of Death – and imagine them in any way they wished to create a brand new game using Unreal Technology.

The winners of Make Something Unreal Live were Commando Kiwi with Warlock of Firetop Mountain, how is the game coming along ahead of its upcoming release?

The other part of our function was to help judge the final which was held at Gadget Show Live in Birmingham. That was really good because it was so close with deciding what game would be the winner, but in the end we decided on Warlock of Firetop Mountain because we felt that they’d achieved the most in an original way, a fun way, a very creative way and mostly importantly, something that’s a really fun game to play.

The team since then have been working hard, it’s incredible what they’ve been able to achieve effectively as a virtual team, only having met for one week to work together. Student teams with a lot of ambition, a lot of drive, a lot of creativity. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final game, and I’m sure it’ll be a very proud moment for them when they finally see Warlock of Firetop Mountain on the iStore.

The games are running using the Unreal Engine on an iPad which is a feat in itself, looking very good for what are mobile games.

Yes, it just shows their ability to develop fantastic content using a great piece of technology which is the Unreal Development Kit.

The future of iOS and mobile looks very bright, with analysts claiming it’ll overtake console gaming, or even make it obsolete. What are your thoughts on the issue?

Undoubtedly the smartphone is going to be the largest – or shall we say the biggest number in terms of being the most available platform – but that doesn’t mean for one second that Triple A console gaming is going to disappear, they’re going to live together.

And whilst the platforms of the consoles might change with their technology ended up embedded in a smart TV, or their business model might move from a premium to a freemium model, people will always want a very rich, cinematic, very visual gaming experience. Whilst at other times they’ll be happy to play games on their smartphones or social networks like Facebook, I think most core gamers will want that very rich, visual experience.

So, one is not going to be at the expense of the other; sometimes you want a big gaming experience, sometimes you just want a snack and some light entertainment like watching an indie film or watching a Hollywood movie.

You mentioned blockbuster games; many nowadays seem to focus on style over substance. But what do you think game designers can learn or adapt from old-school RPGs and board games?

You’ve got to create a strong storyline, a great narrative, have a great a great emotional engagement. But above all, with a game, the gameplay has to be fantastic because people will always buy a game which has great gameplay and poor graphics over something which has great graphics and poor gameplay. So when people ask what are the three most important things in a game? I will say gameplay, gameplay, gameplay.

You have a new Fighting Fantasy book on the way; firstly, can you tell us a bit about it, please? And secondly, why is now the right time for a new entry in the series?

Well, August 2012 is the 30th anniversary of Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and it just seems like yesterday when Steve Jackson and I saw it first appear on shelves at book shops around the country. Fighting Fantasy really touched a nerve at the time; pre-digital, the very first interactive entertainment albeit in book form, it resonated with a very wide population resulting in nearly 17 million copies of the series sold, translated to 28 languages.

I always wanted to celebrate the 30th anniversary, especially when nowadays so many people who grew up with those books, who are now in their late 30s or early 40s, and as soon as you mention Fighting Fantasy they sort of revert to childhood and have such fond memories. For me that’s very gratifying and almost humbling that people liked what Steve and I did way back when, and it’s still as relevant today as it was back then.

So I decided to write a new one and the title is Blood of the Zombies. It’s also going to be available on iOS and Android, so hopefully it’ll appeal to ten year olds of today and ten year olds of the 1980s.

How do you go about the process of writing a Fighting Fantasy book?

It’s a very complicated process! It’s a nightmare in parts; it’s like writing several books at once, because you have to keep track of several different parts of the branching narrative. So, it’s effectively writing a computer programme, a flowchart where you allocate numbers as the path branches, and keep track of all the items you can find and the inventory and make sure everything balances in combat, making sure the monsters, there aren’t too many of them or they aren’t too hard to overcome.

So there’s a lot of balancing required, but at the same time it has to be story driven. So, it’s part book, part game, part puzzle, but hopefully Blood of the Zombies will resonate with today’s audiences and will be a worth inclusion in the series

Back to game development if there’s one piece of advice you could give those aspiring to break into the industry, what would it be?

Be true to yourself, do something that you want to do, make something original, be creative, express yourself in your own way and hopefully you’ll find an audience that appreciates what you do. If you spend your life copying other people, I suspect that will never lead to monetary success and nor will it satisfy your soul. So, be true to yourself, that’s the most important thing you can do.

Thanks for your time.

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game News: Danny looks back at his favourite interviews in his final day as Blog Editor

After over two years in the role of Train2Game Blog Editor, I’m leaving for pastures new after accepting a job at a major publisher based in London.

This role has allowed me to attend industry events including Develop Conference, Eurogamer and Gamescom as well as enabling me to interview some of the biggest names in game development.

With this being my final day with Train2Game, it’s a great time to revisit some of my personal favourite interviews from my time in the role of Blog Editor.

 26th August 2011 – RAGE Creative Director Tim Willits

Speaking to me at Gamescom, the i D Software boss talked about creating RAGE, his role as creative director and the huge benefits of modding to those looking to break into the games industry.

2nd September 2011 – Far Cry 3 Narrative Director Jason Vandenberghe

An interview recorded at Gamescom, in which Jason talks about game design in Far Cry 3, using motion capture technology and actors, improvements for Far Cry 3 and more.

27th September 2011 – Valve writer Chet Faliszek

Speaking to us Eurogamer Expo, Chet discusses development of CS: GO, beta testing and modding.

31st October 2011 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution writer James Swallow

In a huge interview, James Swallow talks writing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, game design, what makes a good games writer and more.

14th November 2011 – Brink Lead Writer Ed Stern

Splash Damage’s Ed Stern spoke to us in-depth about the design and art of Brink, narrative in games, what makes a good designer and breaking into the games industry.

24th November 2011 – Bioware co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka & Dr. Greg Zeschuk

Recorded before the BioWare Lecture at BAFTA, Muzyka and Zeschuk talked about games as art, the history of BioWare and how they transitioned from working in medicine to working in game development.

22nd February 2012 Remedy Head of Franchise Development Oskari Häkkinen

Oskari Häkkinen talks game design and development of Alan Wake, life at Remedy and digital distribution, among other things.

27th March 2012 – SoulCalibur V game director Daishi Odashima

Speaking to The Train2Game Blog at a SoulCalibur V tournament, Odashima discusses development of SoulCalibur V , the importance of community feedback and what makes a good game designer.

July 11th 2012 – QA Veteran and Cheat Mode Author Dan Jacobs

In what must be the longest Train2Game Blog interview, Dan Jacobs talks about his book, Cheat Mode, QA Testing, life in the industry and much more.

20th July 2012 – Ian Livingstone OBE

In my final piece for The Train2Game Blog, Ian Livingstone discusses Make Something Unreal Live, Fighting Fantasy, what makes a good game developer and more.

Thank you to everyone who has read The Train2Game Blog over the last two years, commented on here, or on the Train2Game forum. Be sure to keep reading The Train2Game Blog for more great insight into the industry once my successor takes over in the role of Editor.

Danny Palmer – Train2Game Blog Editor April 2010-July 2012

As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum

Train2Game News: The three most important things in a game are “gameplay, gameplay, gameplay” – Ian Livingstone

Gameplay, gameplay and gameplay are the three most important things for a video game to have.

That’s the view of games industry legend and co-author of the Fighting Fantasy series Ian Livingstone OBE who was speaking to The Train2Game Blog at Develop Conference 2012.

“You’ve got to create a strong storyline, a great narrative, have a great a great emotional engagement.” said Livingstone.

“But above all, with a game, the gameplay has to be fantastic because people will always buy a game which has great gameplay and poor graphics over something which has great graphics and poor gameplay.” he continued, emphasising the important of gameplay over graphics.

“So when people ask what are the three most important things in a game? I will say gameplay, gameplay, gameplay.”

Livingstone also suggested that being original and creative are key factors in becoming a successful game developer.

“Be true to yourself, do something that you want to do, make something original, be creative, express yourself in your own way and hopefully you’ll find an audience that appreciates what you’do.” he said.

“If you spend your life copying other people, I suspect that will never lead to monetary success and nor will it satisfy your soul. So, be true to yourself, that’s the most important thing you can do.” the Fighting Fantasy author added.

Ian Livingstone was one of a number of industry figures who aided in mentoring Train2Game students taking part in Make Something Unreal Live last April. The Games Workshop co-founder said he was “delighted” to be part of the initiative, which saw teams creating games based on Fighting Fantasy novels.

The full interview with Ian Livingstone, covering everything from Fighting Fantasy, to game design and Make Something Unreal Live will be published later today.

In the meantime, there’s more Ian Livingstone news here on The Train2Game Blog, while you can also catch up with last week’s Develop Conference coverage.

Do you agree with Livingstone that gameplay is by far the most important thing in making a good game?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or here on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game News: L.A. Noire production designer Simon Wood to host BAFTA masterclass

L.A. Noire Cole Phelps Train2Game blog image

L.A. Noire production designer Simon Wood is hosting a BAFTA masterclass at the end of this month, giving you the chance to learn about game design, art & animation and more from the BAFTA-nominated former Rockstar man.

He’ll also be discussing his role on projects including The Getaway and L.A. Noire in what would be a very interesting event for Train2Game students to attend.

Simon started as an Industrial designer before crossing over into films and working on The Phantom Menace, Tomorrow Never Dies and Thunderbirds. He then settled in as the Production Designer at Sony Europe (PlayStation) on The Getaway series.”

“Haven spoken extensively at conferences around the world, Simon will be describing his role on projects and then discussing ‘good art’, ‘good design’ and the creative processes as a whole.” reads the statement from BAFTA.

BAFTA Masterclass: Multiplatform Production Design with LA Noire BAFTA-Nominee Simon Wood takes place from 19:00 on Tuesday 31st July at The Hospital Club in central London. For more information, and to buy tickets, visit the BAFTA website.

There’s more about L.A. Noire and its impressive motion-captured facial animation here on The Train2Game Blog, while be sure to keep reading for the latest from BAFTA.

Will you be attending the production design masterclass?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

BAFTA’s public events and online resources bring you closer to the creative talent behind your favourite games, films, and TV shows. Find out more at, or