USC Games Expo is back this year on Thursday, May 12th, 2022 at 2PM PT. It is a special occasion because each year, both Trojans and non-Trojans participate. We are delighted to highlight our partners at Otis College of Art and Design and California State University, Fullerton. The efforts and enthusiasm of students from these two renowned visual art programs have synergistically made our games come to life in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without them.
USC Games reached out to the students taking part in the program and their respective professors, who generously shared with us their thoughts on the collaborative journey. Their work on Advanced Games Projects (AGP), including Impasto, Skylost, Spookulele, Social Moth and That’s Not How It Happened, will be featured at the 2022 USC Games Expo on May 12th at 2PM PDT at uscgamesexpo.com.
Students from Otis and CSUF were excited to participate in the game design projects for a number of reasons, but the leading one was how closely AGP mapped to industry: during their conversations with USC Games, they unanimously mentioned that the experience was similar to working at a real job within a games studio. Students appreciated the partnering opportunity, noting the differences that they picked up as part of the learning process. “At Cal State Fullerton, it’s more like you’re a generalist,” explained Aidan Ecker, a student in animation, “I had to learn how to fit into the pipeline and do one specific job.” He was also pleasantly surprised to have found friendship with the USC students. “Something that surprised me was that everyone at USC was really nice,” reflected Billy Deloe. He had been concerned about the pressure-cooker environment with expectations to meet a series of deadlines during game production.
Teamwork is another highlight frequently brought up. “The biggest lesson I learned was what it takes to work with a team, the experience of working with a team and an idea of what it takes to complete a game. The experience is priceless,” says Jordan Rodriguez. Jordan is majoring in computer animation with a game art concentration in entertainment arts and animation at Cal State Fullerton. This year is his second time participating in the Expo.
Gethsy Gonzalez at Otis found themselves connecting with the project they worked on, That’s Not How It Happened, through their personal preference of games played growing up: “I found more love of gaming with story-based games, such as my favorite, the Professor Layton [series]… I chose That’s Not How It Happened because it has very interesting storytelling.”
Deanna Kloppel, a student from Otis who worked on concept art of Social Moth, said: “I was very surprised at how many people it took to make a game.” Having played many video games growing up, she was excited to take a look up close into “the making of the sausage.” It sounds simple, but game development requires a much greater number of functions than merely art and computer engineering, such as animation, narrative and audio. Another concept artist of the Social Moth team, Alan Xu was particularly looking forward to showing people the final game: “Usually my art is 2-D. When I passed on my work to the animators on the team, it got me really excited to see all the pieces come together.”
Carol Ashley, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Computer Animation & Game Art at Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) explained: “We run it through a capstone class and it’s a yearlong project.” Since CSUF does not have a game development program, the opportunity for students to see their art coming into fruition is very exciting. Many students also repeat the program. “Maybe they’ve made a couple of props and then the next year they get involved, they start making environment pieces, or they start animating as their skills build. So I think we just want to see a continuation of that.” said Prof. Ashley.
Gary Geraths, Professor of Digital Media at Otis, pointed out that it was rare to see intercollegiate student projects in the field. Students have to take ownership of their work and learn to interact with peers from other schools with expertise in various disciplines or as Prof. Geraths calls it, “making the recipe of a soup”. As opposed to regular class assignments, students do not have full control over the process, as they have to revolve around the demand of the development. “(This is) as close to the real world as it gets,” noted Prof. Geraths, “Students take on tasks they did not ask for and become really successful at problem solving.”
To experience the USC Games Expo and view the outcome of the hard work these students invested in their AGP projects, tune into the livestream at 2pm PDT on May 12th, 2022 at uscgamesexpo.com