Train2Game blog student interview special: Artist Fiona Stewart post-Scottish Game Jam

Last weekend, Train2Game Art & Animation student Fiona Stewart (AKA FeeTheGiraffe on the Train2Game Forum) joined a team of experienced game developers at the Scottish Game Jam. After the big event,  the Train2Game blog caught up with her to see how it went.

You can also see the pre-Scottish Game Jam interview here.

Train2Game blog: First of all, how do you feel Scottish Game Jam went overall?

Train2Game Artist Fiona: Fantastically well! We all worked brilliantly as a team with excellent communication. Even through problems and lack of sleep no one got irate. We just all got on with what we were supposed to be doing. It was an amazing experience and to come 3rd out of 16 teams is just the icing on the cake. This is what one of the judges (Square Go) had to say about our game:

Escaping an oil spill that is destroying your natural habitat, Shoal allowed you to take your fish to meet others, and hopefully a potential mate, in order to continue your species. With some differing moves to avoid obstacles your fishy friends should be saved.

A gorgeous looking game was slightly marred by being a little slow and having a control system that wasn’t as intuitive as it could have been. The glyphs to perform special actions were great and a final version with more levels would be wonderful.

Train2Game blog:  What did you contribute to your team?

Train2Game Artist Fiona: Initially I was going to do all the backgrounds but unfortunately the lap top I was using wasn’t coping with large file sizes so had to hand that over to Mike. I then did the plants, front end menu, logo, end screen and hunted around for all the sounds and music for the game.

Train2Game blog: What did you enjoy the most?

Train2Game Artist Fiona: That is really difficult to say just one thing… really it was the whole experience, everything!

Train2Game blog: What did you find the most difficult?

Train2Game Artist Fiona: Not being able to help the guys with flash and animation…. and living off junk food for three days.

Train2Game blog: Will it encourage you to take part in the Train2Game Jam next month?

Train2Game Artist Fiona: Oh I’m hooked! No way am I going to be missing any jam I can get to now!

Train2Game, in association with DR Studios and the University of Bedfordshire, will be holding a Game Jam at the end of March. For more information, see this Train2Game blog post or the Train2Game Game Jam Facebook page. Alternatively, keep an eye on the Train2Game Game Jam Twitter account.

Polycount contest winners work to become part of Team Fortress 2

Get with it indeed.

The Engineer Update is still very much a new thing, but even more new items for Team Fortress 2 are already in the works. This time however, it isn’t Valve who’ve been the creative force behind new weapons and hats, but members of Polycount – a video game art and resource community.  (Perhaps our Train2Game Artist & Animator students should join the site if they’re not already members)

Valve and Polycount teamed up to members of the art community the chance to create items that will actually be used in Team Fortress 2. The brief went:

“Pick a single Team Fortress 2 class and create a minimum of three custom items for them. These items can be made up of any combination of weapons (melee, primary, secondary), Engineer buildings and/or hats. These items must be cohesively themed and fit within the Team Fortress 2 universe and time period. Make sure your replacement item set maintains the existing functionality of the original items they’re replacing, specifically any Primary, Secondary or Melee weapons you replace in your set.”

The content received an overwhelming response with over 70 sets – that’s at least 210 items – submitted by artists and designers. Now, Valve have managed to judge the entries and have selected five item sets that will eventually be released into Team Fortress 2. That’s after Valve work out how they’ll “attach gameplay attributes (probably of a game destroying nature) to these items.”  – Yeah, that quotes taken directly from the Team Fortress 2 blog!

which Polycount item sets will soon be available to all Team Fortress 2 players then?  Well, they are a heavy duty Tank Buster pack for The Soldier, a Milk Man themed item set for The Scout, 1950’s Gas station attendant gear for The Pyro, a nifty Saharan get up for The Spy, and finally ‘The Croco-Style Kit’ for The Sniper.  All of the items look very impressive and you can feast your eyes on them by visiting the Team Fortress 2 Polycount Pack Winners page.

Of course this isn’t the first time Valve have encouraged other Game Designers, Game Developers and Game Artist and Animators to contribute to their projects. After all, Counter Strike started as a community run fan project, while Portal was originally developed by students. Aspiring designers have already seen their maps and items become official in previous Team Fortress 2 updates thanks the Contribute! initiative.

Regular readers will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve praised Valve’s scheme and encouraged Train2Game students to get involved. It really does seem like it would be a good idea for Train2Game Designers to produce something. After all, you could strike it lucky and end up seeing your hard work on display in a game played by millions of people worldwide. Even if your items don’t get into the game, time practicing designing items can only be useful to your future career in the games industry.

So, what do you think of Valve’s enthusiasm for community developed items? Do you think you’ll be getting involved? How many of you play Team Fortress 2?

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