It took three months of pre-production, nine months of production and more than 40 students: including students from four diploma programs, but the result was two impressive games and an unmatched collaborative student experience.
On March 18 the Toronto Film School hosted a party to celebrate the launch of two new video games, Mark of the Moon and Last Year. These games were created by the Toronto Film School’s graduating Video Game Design and Development and Video Game Design and Animation students using scripts by the Writing for Film and Television students and featuring voiceover work by the Acting for Film, Television and the Theatre students.
“What you have got here is the result of months of hard work, a lot of sweat, a lot of tears,” said Term 6 Video Game Design and Development student Rob Borghese, who was the Lead Programmer for both games.
“So far, from reviews from people who have played the game… it seems like this has been a pretty great success,” Borghese said. “It was a pretty great experience working with the writers and the voice actors. It really helped to make a much more complete game then if we had just been making the game without the assets.”
Borghese said the process of creating the games was a tremendous learning experience.
“This worked like a real business. One of our teachers acted as the publisher, so he made the hard calls. If we didn’t make deadlines he was going to cut games,” he said.
Mark of the Moon is a first-person Science Fiction Shooter game, where the main character explores his newly found super powers.
Last Year is a survival horror game where players must ensure they have food, water and weapons to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
Term 6 Writing for Film and Television student Dominic Licorish is the Lead Writer for game Last Year. Licorish said he has always been interested in video games. So, when his instructor at the Toronto Film School brought the opportunity to write a script that the video game students would use in creating a game he jumped at it.
“One of the reasons I wanted to come to film school is because writers are pretty much isolated all the time and I wanted to work with directors and producers,” Licorish said. “The fact that I was able to work with something I didn’t expect, video game creators. That was a big plus.”
Licorish said he was able to work with the video game students to plan and adapt his script for the game. He said he learned from the experience that the game and the story are connected.
“You have to have the game in mind when you are writing the story and you have to have the story in mind when you are making the game,” Licorish said.
Voice actor and Term 6 Acting for Film, Television and the Theatre student Nicole Vezeau explained when the opportunity to voice one of the video games came up she had already taken a voiceover course at the Toronto Film School so she decided to audition. She was cast in the role of Ashley in the game Last Year.
“A lot of people think of acting as being just on stage or film and television, but there are a lot of opportunities with video games especially now that you can do the mocaps (motion capture), which is the motions and the voice for video games,” Vezeau said. “I think voice is a huge part of the industry that people don’t really think about.”
Vezeau said she has learned a lot at the Toronto Film School, but one of the greatest things is the connections she has made and the people she has met in the other programs.
“Being able to work together has been really valuable,” Vezeau said. “I don’t know of any other schools (where actors) get to do video games. The fact that I get to put this on my demo reel is amazing.”
Michael Jenkins is an Acting student at Toronto Film School and is one of the voice actors featured in the game Last Year.
“The nice thing about acting in this type of thing is that you get to stand in a booth and you get to use so many physicality to over exaggerate your voice,” Jenkins said. “When you are acting for the camera you have to be very subtle and your eyes do the job. But, with the voiceover acting you get to use your body as much as possible and it really gets things going.”
The opportunity to collaborate with other programs at the Toronto Film School, Jenkins said, teaches valuable lessons in networking.
“It teaches you about the business and how you have to socialize and go and meet people,” Jenkins said.
This collaboration brings an experience to students, which mirrors the industry, explained Brad Furminger, a Videogame Design and Production Instructor at the Toronto Film School. Today’s video games have a high production value and use professional voice actors and scriptwriters, Furminger said.
“Getting this rare opportunity, that a lot of other schools may not be able to provide, to interact with students who are learning to be writers and learning to be actors, really brings that professional experience to the classroom,” Furminger said.
During the launch party there was a panel discussion. You can see what the students said was their inspiration in this video: