I’ve reached Quarter 7 of 9 in my MFA Education, so the proverbial ‘light is at the end of the tunnel’.
Uncategorized on January 12th, 2013 by Alan Vallely
I started this MFA with the aim of switching to teach game development when I finished. However, the more I’ve been involved in developing games, the more I feel drawn to the idea of becoming a full-time developer! While my family and friends are quick to point out that a development job can’t come close to the salary or holidays I currently have as an educator, I still feel a pull in the direct of development. I think it comes from the following:
1) Producing a work - teaching is service-based, while development is product-based. While teaching and helping students is rewarding, it would be a nice change for me to work with others and produce a work – something that goes beyond those involved and out into the world for people to experience.
2) Community - I have a fantastic community of colleagues from a variety of interests and experiences. However, I do notice a distinct lack of gaming/game development colleagues here in Qatar. I’d love the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from those who are veterans of the game industry. This also adds to my interest of ‘lifelong learning’ – clearly evident by this MFA being my fourth degree in 13 years.
3) Practical Experience - If I were to teach game development, the only thing that would make me better would be direct exposure to the development process. Granted, I’ve developed on my own, but working as part of a professional team would provide the kind of insight I think students would really benefit from. It would also benefit me, as I’d experience best practice.
So what do I want to do in a game development capacity? I feel I’d be best at some juncture of Game Design, Narrative Design, and Production/Project Management. My passion, experience, and aptitudes seem to tie me most directly with these areas. For the past 10 years, I’ve been project managing my courses, and I have a natural instinct to structure and organize. My Communications experience provides me with strong oral and written skills, along with a good ability to relate and coordinate. There’s a lot more that I can say, but I suspect I’m rambling!
Thesis Areas of Focus:
I find I’m particularly drawn to narrative in games. This is likely due to my education/interests in English and Film, which carry over into video games. However, I find I’m fascinated by “non-traditional” methods of delivering narrative in video games. Avoiding cut-scenes and textual delivery, this would be through the environment and player discovery. I’m also interested in ways to deliver a narrative that is dynamic and promotes replaying of the game. This would embrace some kind of procedural or randomizing aspects, as well as allowing player impact on the narrative of the game.
While embedded narrative games still resonate strongly with me (Monkey Island or Star Control 2, for starters), I do also have fond memories were of games that provided a different experience in each playthrough. Often simulations (Civilization) or strategy (Warlords), I’m curious to see if this kind of experience can be captured in a narrative of some kind. A recent example of this is FTL (Faster Than Light), which randomizes the user-developed scenarios. This allows the player to play multiple times without feeling they are repeating themselves. Not enough games do this, and I think it’s worth exploring further.