It takes a village to raise a video game vagabond. From artists to programmers and designers, the capstone project of Toronto Film School Video Game students, Vagabond Home, was a collective effort.
On June 17, the Toronto Film School at RCC Institute of Technology hosted a Video Game Design and Development Diploma and Video Game Design and Animation Diploma showcase at its campus in Concord, Ontario, where students unveiled the game they created during the past six months.
Jean Paul Amore, the chair of the Interaction Design Programs at Toronto Film School, explained that a dozen graduating students played a part in making the 3D game. Amore said this approach of collectively creating a final game is one that the program has employed for years.
“Students get to practice everything they have learned throughout the fifteen months in the program,” Amore said. “They get to pour all of their knowledge into three months of development.”
At Toronto Film School, the Video Game Design and Animation Diploma focuses primarily on art for video games while the Video Game Design and Development Diploma focuses on programming and design as the primary disciplines.
For the creation of Vagabond Home, students in their final term, from both streams, came together to create the video game.
“The differences in everybody here are astounding, we all come from different backgrounds, different levels of experience, different ages,” said student Joe Rout. “But everyone is just so good at what they do, it is a great environment to work in.”
Rout, who just completed the Video Game Design and Animation program, was the character model on Vagabond Home.
“I think it turned out exceptionally well, even better than most of us anticipated,” he said. “The game is interesting, which may not sound as exciting, but I feel a lot of games these days lose that. The game is exciting because there are new things to see. It is beautifully done, beautifully rendered. The art is of a high enough quality to really catch the eye.”
The character in the game, Rout explained, jumps around on floating platforms made of rocks, up in the clouds.
“We have got some very nice art for our backgrounds. The models were all very well done. The rest of the people I worked with were very diligent at making sure it turned out looking great.”
Mike Schmidt, was the student lead creator on Vagabond Home.
“Vagabond Home is about a man who wakes up and finds he has no memory,” Schmidt explained. “He doesn’t know where he is, who he was and has found himself in an unfamiliar place.” Through the course of the game, he discovers what this strange world is and what it means to him.
The creation of this game, Schmidt said, was very much a collaborative process. From its inception to the fundamentals of the game, concept art and game play mechanics.
The process of building the game runs a gamut of emotions from exciting, frustrating, engaging and nerve racking.
“It is challenging, but it is really, really rewarding,” Schmidt said. “When you see your final product, the thing you imagined so long ago, and it actually looks like a game, it is awesome. The feeling is just fantastic.”
Eric Coutu, a Video Game student and one of the programmers for Vagabond Home, said the process of creating the game was much more challenging than he expected.
“I got to push myself a little bit to reach the next milestone, just to grow as an individual as well,” Coutu said.
“It is a nice relief to have finished the project over the last six months. I got to collaborate with a bunch of great people,” Coutu said.
Ahsan Sajjad, who did animations programming for Vagabond Home and designed the game animations to respond to user input and player behaviour, agreed with his classmate’s praise for the collaborative nature of the project.
“I definitely learned a lot about programming, but overall, I learned how to work with teammates… helping each other out, saving each other and solving each others problems. And I think that these are very valuable skills in the field.”