Train2Game News Sheldon Gilmore in The Advertiser

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Train2Game student Sheldon Gilmore featured in local newspaper

Iron Man enthusiast interviewed in Herts Advertiser newspaper and online video

After originally appearing on the official Train2Game blog, Train2Game’s resident Iron Man has received a write up in his local paper and a video interview on the paper’s website.

Sheldon Gilman has featured many times on the Train2Game blog and even contributes regular blog updates charting his progress in creating awesome Cosplay. His local newspaper in Hertfordshire has now featured him in the newspaper in a story all about his cosplay ambitions and also interviewed him at his family home for the paper’s website.

Sheldon has been working with the Train2Game Communications team who are regularly charting his progress on the blog. The Train2Game team bought the story to the attention of The Herts Advertiser as part of Train2Game’s ongoing commitment to supporting students and their development as professionals in the video games and related industries.

If you would like to hear more about Sheldon and his progress creating the ultimate Iron Man suit, make sure to keep an eye on the Train2Game blog.

Read the full interview and watch the video here

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Train2Game is a proud supporter of www.plasisgamesportal.com

Train2Game News Interview with resident Iron Man

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In recent weeks Train2Game has been documenting Sheldon Gilman’s pursuit to create the ultimate Iron Man suit.

He’s working on a collection of costumes and hopes to create a pair of Iron Man costumes for next year’s MCM Expo.

This week Train2Game caught up with Sheldon to hear more about the man inside the costume, including his professional and personal ambitions. 

Please tell us about yourself?
“My name is Sheldon Gilman, I am 35 and currently live in a small village called Redbourn in Hertfordshire with my wife and one year old daughter. I was originally born in Jamaica and moved to England with my parents when I was six months old. We lived in south London till I was seven then moved to Luton and now I live in Redbourn with my Wife and daughter.”

“I should also mention it was my very patient, loving and understanding wife who initially got me interested in cosplay and is constantly having to dodge Iron Man parts and tools that are all over the living room.” 

What cosplay does your wife enjoy, do you have photos of you both in cosplay?
I haven’t quite convinced Parveen to dress up yet but that’s soon to change as she’s told me she “MAY” consider dressing as Pocahontas next May. 

What is your regular job?
“I work in the IT department at Aldwyck Housing Group. A housing association.”

How much does the suit cost to create?
“Well I’ve never kept an accurate tally of how much it cost but my last suit was in the region of £200. This current suit, so far has cost me around £400 – £450 and there’s still more things I need to buy like electronics components and paint. However, when it’s completed, I expect it to have cost me £700 – £800.”

Would you ever sell a suit and if so, how much would one cost to buy?
“I definitely would sell my suits. I’d sell them in whole or in part (i.e. just the helmet) Prices would depend on detail. For a raw suit in foam, no paint, animatronics or electronics I’d say around £600 for a fibreglass suit all painted with full animatronics and electronics £1500.”

When will your latest suit be finished?
“I have set my finish date for May next year because I want both the Iron man Mk 20 and the War Machine to be completed for the MCM Expo in London where myself and a few others visit twice a year.”

Do you have a photo in the suit you at MCM Expo last year?
“I attached a pic of me with Rob Ledsom at MCM a few years back. I have to admit I haven’t worn this suit to MCM Expo time. I have also attached a pic of me in my Assassins Creed/ Jango Fett mash-up Costume.”

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What does your daughter understand of what you are doing?
“My Daughter Inara is very curious little monkey and likes to be involved in whatever everyone else is doing. My friends at Armour up have made her first costume to wear at her fancy dress party later this month.”
 

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What do you have planned in the future?
“I plan on getting a large shed built in my back garden this summer so I can create more costumes. I have many in mind like Sam Wilson aka The Falcon from Captain America – The winter Soldier, Heimdall from Thor, Batman – Arkham Knight Armour, Jager Pilot Suits from Pacific Rim and some crossovers too like Iron C3PO and Iron Tron. I will most definitely need help with some of these so I will be working with my younger brother and a very good friend of mine who is starting her own company called Armour Up.”

Would you see costume design as a future career?
“Very much so! The course I’m doing is useful, in that it’s showing me design techniques that speed up my design process greatly. However, as I am pretty much a one-man-band, production would be slow. I’m currently working on Iron Man mark 20 and War Machine simultaneously, and hope to have them finished by May 2016. I also have a Heimdall costume to make by May 2016 so I’m already a very busy bee.”

Which course are you studying with Train2Game?
“I am studying Games Artist and Animator.”

How are you finding the Train2Game course?
“The course is great! I actually started learning 3D animation on my own, watching YouTube videos and playing about with the different options in 3DS max but I thought it was time I got a qualification in the industry. The flexibility of the course has allowed me to continue working full-time, take care of my daughter all whilst studying to change to a career that I’d love.”

What are your thoughts on T2G?
“Train2Game have been a godsend. Courses of this type are very hard to find, As I work full time to support my family, I cannot afford to take three years out to get a bachelor’s degree from a normal university and no other university in this country has a program where you can study 3D animation totally from home, in your own time and get a portfolio as well as a recognised qualification out of it.”

Can you tell me more about your friend’s venture, Armour Up, and how you will be involved?
“I am getting James and Serena to write a few lines about what they do for you, but just briefly, they are both cosplayers. Alongside Serena’s regular job, she is an awesome seamstress and is very good at making period clothing. James and I both work for the same housing association but he is also a part time actor.”

“At the moment we’re just exchanging creative and business ideas and sharing expertise as I know nothing when it comes to cloth and Serena is eager to learn how to use the harder materials. James is the brains behind the operations and has good business head on his shoulders. He’s almost finished putting the Armour Up website together. I’ll update with more shortly.”

Further details of Sheldon’s project will follow on the Train2Game blog
Train2Game, bringing City & Guilds to the Games Industry

Train2Game is a proud supporter of www.plasisgamesportal.com

Train2Game News Meet the Students

Train2GameWhilst at the 2014 Train2Game Game Jam there were several students who got interviewed about their time with Train2Game.

You can now view the students opinions in the document below! Enjoy what the Train2Game students had to say.

Train2Game News Andy McCartney on Train2Game

Andy McCartneyMicrosoft Ventures Andy McCartney was interviewed at the recent Game Jam that Train2Game held.

Andy is CEO of the Microsoft Ventures intiative which gives independent games development studios the help and support they need throughout the course of developing an app.

You can enjoy the video interview with Andy below and found out more about Microsoft Ventures at https://www.microsoftventures.com/

Train2Game News: Train2Game Radio – Ryan Mitchelson

Rage Quit GamesI spoke to Ryan Mitchelson recently about his position with Train2Game, his new game and his feelings on the Unity engine.

The site mentioned in the interview is still under construction but does have links to their social media if you would like to learn more about the company.

You can listen to the interview here: http://audioboo.fm/boos/1422444-train2game-radio-talk-to-ryan-mitchelson

Or read the following Transcript:

Hi I’m Ryan from Fife.

Hiya Ryan, how you doing mate?

I’m doing good, how about yourself Mark?

I’m not to bad ta muchly! So what have you been up to lately Ryan, what sort of things have you been doing?

Recently I’ve been working on getting prototypes put together for a game that I’m trying to establish, along side trying to set up a company for myself and the people that I work with.

What game is it that you’ve been working on? If you can say.

The game is called Bounce. The aim of the game is to keep a ball bouncing throughout the entire level. There’s going to be several different levels to the game with obviously getting more and more complex as they go by. Oh and it’s a physics based game as well so hopefully it will be an interesting game for people to play.

You said you were working with other people, who is it you’ve been working with?

Recently I’ve been working with Laurence Kinane.

Yeah he’s a Train2Game student isn’t he?

He’s currently a Train2Game student, at the moment he is trying to finish off his course so that we can work full time on games together.

So what’s your position now with Train2Game?

Well I decided to, after a while, not continue with the Train2Game course mainly due to financial reasons, but I have learned a lot from them and I’d like to say thank you for the knowledge I have gained from Train2Game, but at the moment I don’t really have any position with them, I am just trying to establish my own company.

Fair enough. Do you have a name for the company?

It’s called Rage Quit Games.

Something every nerd can get behind!

Oh yeah definitely! That’s why we decided to go with that name, we thought it would be appropriate.

Yeah we have all had a Rage Quit at some point or another!

Oh yeah, I think it happens daily for me to be honest.

So what is it you are making Bounce with at the minute?

We are using Unity.

You’re using Unity are you? How are you finding using that?

Using Unity is absolutely amazing! To be honest the thing I love most about Unity is being able to build extensions on top of it. One example being that I use Visual Scripting system, one of them called Playmaker which is an incredible powerful extension that allows me to essentially script the entire game just using little boxes that I connect together, each box has a certain amount of information in it.

Excellent! So yours is a coding background then I imagine?

Not so much, I am much more of a designer at heart. That’s why I decided to go with a visual scripting system because I did try to learn coding but I found it just wasn’t for me. I eventually just ended up really stressed out with it.

Yeah, I have tried learning code myself a couple of times and it does just look incredibly daunting whenever you look at it.

It is! I mean, it does make sense when you actually look at a sheet of code you can understand and edit it, well for me anyway I can edit things and make them work as I see fit, but writing code from scratch and remembering everything is the most difficult part for me personally.

Did you say you have a website in design at the minute or is out and about with people to see?

It’s almost out and about, I reckon by the time this interview goes up, it will probably be ready and available to the public to go and have a look.

Perfect then so if you’d like to give me a link so everyone can go and have a look at it?

It’s www.ragequitgames.co.uk

That’s perfect.

Is that ok?

That’s perfect and excellent so everyone can go and have a look see at that now.

Excellent

Well thank you very much for your time today Ryan and I will talk to you soon.

Not a problem, thank you for having me!

Train2Game News: Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel on getting into the industry – “Mods are a great way to start”

Gearbox Software co-founder and company CCO Brian Martel believes modding is a great way for aspiring game developers to gain the skills needed to break into the industry.

“Mods are a great way to start; because that way you can build a community, figure out what it’s like to work with other people.” he told The Train2Game Blog at a recent Borderlands 2 preview event.

“It’s one thing when you’re on your own in your bedroom, garage, whatever, and you’re doing your own thing. But once you start working with people, collaborating and understanding how to make those compromises you have to make, sometimes some of the best things come out of those compromises, they come out of the discussion, because two different people have disparate ideas and you can’t get that on your own.”  Martel continued.

“I think that’s where small teams are really great to do that, and even in large teams, having really great experienced leaders can help that, and the only way to get there is by doing it and getting through it and learning what to do.” he added.

Our full interview with Gearbox Software co-founder Brian Martel will be published shortly, with more from the studio here.

DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall also recently spoke to The Train2Game Blog about the benefits of modding.

Modding is a great way for Train2Game students to practice and show off their skills, and there’s a lot more about it here on The Train2Game Blog, including what ValveUbisoft and  id Software told us about it.

What are your thoughts on Brian Martel’s advice?

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

Train2Game Interview: DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall on getting into the industry

DayZ is the hugely popular zombie survival mod for Arma II. Produced by Arma II game designer Dean “Rocket” Hall in his spare time around full-time work at Bohemia Interactive, DayZ has demonstrated the huge potential of modding.

The Train2Game Blog sat down with the DayZ creator at Rezzed to discuss the advantages of modding, his unconventional path into the games industry and advice for those looking to get into game development. 

Tell us how you get started in the games industry. You haven’t taken a conventional route through it.

Yeah, it’s sort of a bit bizarre really. I left the New Zealand air force and did some odd project jobs, and then I decided that, as I was doing a lot of modding, that I wanted to get into the industry and I landed a job as an associate producer, working on console development for movie licensed games. Did that for a couple of years, didn’t really like the industry that much, particularly the console development style, and particularly for movie license stuff, so I quit and joined the army. After awhile, I decided I’d go back and have a look at Arma III.

Landing that first games job as associate producer, modding was a big part of it, they saw the community website I’d been running and the mods I’d been doing, and it was obviously a way to prove I was passionate and that I have a basic understanding of the technology. So I think that was a real benefit, approaching the industry from that angle.

So modding is a great way for aspiring game designers to show off their skills to potential employers?

Yeah, absolutely, definitely, and I think you can show your passion, that you can understand someone else’s code and stuff like that and get good familiarity.

Which toolsets do you use when modding?

3D Max. I guess when I was working as a producer I had the advantage of the project going well and having a lot of downtime. So I used that downtime to learn how to do art and how to do programming and all those kinds of aspects from my team leads, so that meant I ended up with a really good overview, I think if you want to be a good game designer, if you want to work in design, that’s the best way to approach it. Just learn as much as you can about all disciplines.

What other advice would you give to anyone looking to break into the games industry?

You need to be passionate and persistent, and I guess you need to have an idea of what you want to do, what are the areas of game development you really want to focus on? I think the best thing, particularly if you want to get into design, is understand how games are made. That means production, that means how much it costs to make games, that means the different aspects of it; how do you make 3D models? How are those rendered in games? What do programmers need to consider?

And I think the most important thing, even more than raw skills is social skills, you need to have social skills, you can’t just be good. If you’re very good it probably doesn’t matter, but if you’ve got social skills than you can be a real asset to the team.

Thanks for your time, Dean. 

Keep reading The Train2Game Blog for more on coverage from Rezzed, modding and advice from the pros on getting into the industry. 

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

Train2Game interview with games industry consultant Nicholas Lovell – Part 1

Train2Game recently caught up with founder of Gamesbrief and industry consultant Nicholas Lovell. In a wide ranging interview he discussed subjects including the different types of game development studios, advice for small independent developers, social gaming and the business side of the industry.

The Gamesbrief founder also told Train2Game about a special offer on his book, How to Publish a Game. The 200 page book is available for half price until December 7th.

In part one of this three part interview, Nicholas Lovell tells Train2Game about the games industry in general and gives tips to independent developers.

You can read part two of the interview hereand see part three here.

Train2Game: Can you start by giving a general overview of how the games industry works please?

Nicholas Lovell: There are three types of companies. There are massive triple-A companies, those guys need to invest a lot of money. Modern Warfare 2 cost $50 million to develop; it cost $200 million on top of that in marketing, distribution and manufacturing. That’s a total budget of $250 million. If Wal-Mart doesn’t pay within four months – which it doesn’t – and you want to have three games of that size out at Christmas, that’s a $750 million capital requirement. If you then want to have other games in development at the same time, you’re nearer a billion dollars.

The number of people who’ve got a billion dollars a year to put at risk making triple-A titles is declining. In my opinion there’ll only be six to eight of those in the entire world of which Activision, EA and Warner are likely to be three. The other slots are up for grabs for people like Ubisoft, THQ, Take Two, those kinds of people.

But the number of them is declining and what we are unequivocally seeing is people who aren’t making blockbuster games – who are making nearly blockbuster games – they’re suffering, they’re definitely suffering.

The second group of companies make persistent social online games, games which you can release relatively cheaply and then grow over time. The interesting thing is that World of Warcraft is essentially a triple-A game, but it has that persistent element.

So, at one extreme you have games like Farmville and We Rule and the other games on Facebook. In between you’ve got games from companies like Bigpoint and Gameforge, which are either client based or browser based relatively hardcore MMOs or RPGs free to play with microtransactions.

And then the extreme, you have your traditional subscription based MMOs like World of Warcraft. I think we’ll see much fewer subscription based stuff, as the market is moving strongly in the direction of the free to play browser based games.

The third category is what I call independent developers. Those are teams of  less than fifty people – usually less than ten people – who can because of the existence of PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, iPhone, Android, the browser itself – are able to make and distribute games themselves with no publisher and make a living, a decent living. Not enough of a living to be really threatening to triple-A and the persistent social world, but drawing time and money from particularly the triple-A market, which is one of the reasons why its harder and harder for the also-ran triple-A guys to make money.

So if you’re trying to work out where to work in the games industry in the future, there will be many fewer jobs at the triple-A companies than there were this year. There will be many more jobs in the persistent social world stuff – The Bigpoint’s, the Gameforge’s, the Zynga’s, The Playfishes – and there is a new opportunity to create, launch and make games, just two or three of you making games for fun, distributed via PSN, Steam, the web itself, Kongregate, any of those kind of things. And of course iPhone and Android.

Train2Game: What advice would you give to a small two or three person team who want to make and publish an independent game?

Nicholas Lovell: The first thing is as you go through your game design document – do the first part with a lot of excitement in the pub, that’s fine – but after that take lots and lots of stuff out. Ernest Hemingway famously said about writing, ‘write drunk, edit sober’ and I think that idea could probably apply to game development. I wouldn’t necessarily be certain about that, but the principle goes that what you need to do above all things is release a product, that’s the most important bit.

Until you’ve done that you can’t make any money. So what I see often is people going ‘This is going to be the best game ever’ – That’s the end of your career, not the start of your career.  At the start of your career, you’ve just got to have a game. To be honest, what we’re seeing from employers is that they want to see people who have on their own initiative launched something, anything.  They want to see that people can see something through from the beginning to the end.

So, have your napkin with a gazillion different races and structures and plans and everything else. But then start boiling it down to go ‘What is the core of this game, what is the heart of it, and how can I get that out’

I’m a big fan of agile development methodologies and of agile business processes, and a great description of agile I’ve heard is it’s ‘half a product, not a half arsed product’ So, everything you leave in has to be good. The secret is to take stuff out that doesn’t matter.

So, the first thing I would say is as you’re trying to work out what’s in your game, try and reduce it to something which is fun – which works – and save a lot of the extra stuff for the sequel. Because you don’t know until you’ve got your first game out if anybody likes it, so why waste time building a whole load of stuff?

For example, I see a lot of people building anti-cheating mechanisms into relatively simple multiplayer games which they’re trialling. You haven’t got any cheaters until you’ve got any customers,  you don’t have any customers and the way you’re going you’re going to run out of money building the anti cheat system before you launch, at which point, what was the point of having an anti-cheat system?

Anti-cheat systems are the kind of thing you should build after you’ve launched in this indie world; the world is different if you’re Blizzard trying to launch a new mega title. But in the indie world, minimum viable product is the absolute heart of it.  That product needs to be fun.

There are a couple of other wrinkles with that; it does depend on the platform. So, with iPhone and Android, it’s pretty easy to update content, Facebook it’s easy to update content. If you’re building for PSN it’s harder, if you’re building for Xbox Live Indie Games it’s harder. Those businesses expect you to create content which feels more like a finished product.

I’m much more excited about platforms where you start off with something if people like it, you keep building it.

Part two of the Train2Game interview with Nicholas Lovell can be seen here. His book, How to Publish a Game, is available for half price until December 7th.

You can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.