ATEC School’s Game Design Programs Rank Among the Nation’s Best

Animation lab
The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication has been recognized by The Princeton Review for its game design programs. UT Dallas has made the Princeton top 25 list every year since 2010

The University of Texas at Dallas has been included in The Princeton Review’s latest assessment of “Top Schools for Game Design,” with theArts and Technology (ATEC) graduate program making the top 10.

Based on a survey of administrators at 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad offering game design degree programs or courses, the ranking puts UT Dallas’ graduate program in the ninth spot and its undergraduate program at 11th on the list.

“For students aspiring to work in game design, the 58 schools that made one or both of our 2016 lists offer extraordinary opportunities to learn and to hone one’s talents for a successful career in this burgeoning field,” Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, said in a news release.

“The faculties at these schools are outstanding. Their facilities are awesome. And their alumni include legions of the industry’s most prominent game designers, developers, artists and entrepreneurs.”

The Princeton Review started ranking video game design programs in 2010 after recognizing a surge in the amount of options available, and UT Dallas has since ranked in the top 25 every year.

“ATEC’s strength in gaming is its interdisciplinary nature,” said associate professor Dr. Monica Evans MA’04, PhD’07 who helped establish ATEC’s Game Production Lab.

“We specialize in things that don’t quite exist yet. There’s a great deal of untapped potential in games as an expressive medium, which we explore through collaboration with our colleagues in education, science, technology, business and the arts,” Evans said. “ATEC is an outstanding place to pursue impactful, groundbreaking work in games, and I’m extremely proud of our school, our students and our faculty in game development and game studies.”

The ATEC program began in 2004 under the auspices of the School of Arts and Humanities, and it quickly grew into one of UT Dallas’ most popular programs. It moved into a new home with the creation of theEdith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building and was established as an independent school with the Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) program in 2015.

PhD Student Receives Publishing Fellowship

IMG_0540 2

 

Charles Lilly, a PhD student in the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication, has received a Society for Scholarly Publishing Fellowship.

The Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) is a nonprofit organization formed to bring together the scholarly publication community and to facilitate new developments in the field. SSP members represent all aspects of scholarly publishing — including publishers, printers, librarians and editors.

Lilly, who is researching experimental publishing platforms, credits the fellowship to his advisor Dr. Roger F. Malina, who holds the Arts and Technology Distinguished Chair.

“Dr. Malina is a pioneer in the publishing field. Through his many years leading the reputable journal Leonardo, published by MIT Press, he has always looked for ways of reinventing scholarly communication,” Lilly said. “He has challenged me to identify emergent trends and new problems in how the academic community shares and communicates about research.”

Lilly is a member of Malina’s ArtSciLab, where students produce a podcast called Creative Disturbance, which features discussions on art, science and technology.

“Creative Disturbance is an example of how scholarly communication is leaving the printed page, the static form. Research findings, scientific breakthroughs, artistic invention might be better expressed in multimedia, images, sound, gaming or interactivity. As technology advances, it’s important that the academic publishing community isn’t trailing behind in using new tools,” he added.

The ArtSciLab is also in the process of building a new publishing platform called ARTECA with MIT Press and Leonardo. Lilly said the digital aggregator will bring a number of resources – over 200 books and 300 journal issues – into one place for students and researchers who are interested in the intersection of arts, humanities, science and technology.

“ARTECA creates a digital environment for a community of practice. It will feature not only resources, but tackles some contemporary problems in academic publishing like open access or the best way to feature multimedia-based scholarship, for example,” he said.

Lilly, who is former editor-in-chief of UT Dallas’ literary journal Reunion: The Dallas Review, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in literature from UT Dallas.

As part of his fellowship, Lilly will attend the SSP Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, this summer where he will be assigned an industry mentor and connect with other fellowship recipients.

EMAC Graduate Caps Stellar Career in Basketball, Academics

Madi Hess
Madison Hess

When Madison “Madi” Hess crosses the stage at UT Dallas commencement ceremonies this week, she will be participating with magna cum laude honors in theemerging media and communication (EMAC) program.

But she also leaves a legacy as a standout student-athlete. At an institution more known for academics than athletics, Hess has excelled in both — and she has the championship ring to prove it.

As team captain and point guard, Hess led the women’s basketball team last season to its winningest season ever (26-5), the American Southwest Conference (ASC) title and its first appearance in the Sweet 16 round of theNCAA Division III National Tournament.

After transferring here her junior year from Concordia University in Austin, Hess racked up numerous accolades. Last season, she was the conference tournament MVP, and named to the All-ASC first team and the All-South Region second team. Hess also was UT Dallas’ first nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year.

During her senior year, she led the Comets with an average of 12.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, and led the ASC with 5.1 assists per game. She ranked third in NCAA D-III from the three-point range, shooting 45.9 percent from beyond the arc.

And all the while, despite a heavy practice and game schedule, and frequent travel during the basketball season, she maintained an excellent academic record, carrying a 3.8-plus GPA and making the ASC’s All-Academic honor roll.

“She raised the level of intensity for us,” head coach Polly Thomason said. “Madi was committed to being the hardest worker both on and off the court, and she brought a competitive fire for both academics and athletics. She took us to the next level and brought some national exposure for the University.”

 

Madi was committed to being the hardest worker both on and off the court, and she brought a competitive fire for both academics and athletics. She took us to the next level and brought some national exposure for the University.

UT Dallas women’s basketball head coach Polly Thomason

Basketball fans took notice. During her two seasons with the team, Hess saw a surge in campus support for athletic events as she helped ignite Comet fever among students, staff and faculty.

“I remember playing here at UT Dallas during my sophomore year at Concordia, and it was just really empty. It was mostly parents, not the student body,” Hess said. “By my senior year, people were filling the stands and waving ‘fat heads’ (poster-sized images of players’ faces).”

Fans started to set attendance records two seasons ago, when the men’s team nabbed its conference championship and made it to the Sweet 16. The women’s team did the same last year.

Hess put her EMAC talents to work by helping to design the silver conference championship ring for the team, which features an orange gemstone and the team’s hashtag slogan #allin. Then she helped raise money so her teammates wouldn’t have to pay for their rings.

“One donor ended up paying for all the seniors’ rings,” Hess said.

Team members have kept a close bond off the court. For her senior capstone project, Hess developed a documentary about the journey of teammate Amber Brown, who is the first in her family to graduate from college.

Hess hopes to work in a sports-related industry someday. Her dream would be to emulate the career of Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews, but she’s also interested in designing logos for sports companies.

She’s already had a few “cool internships,” editing reports on the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers for CBS Radio, and interviewing coaches for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

With her winning combination of athletic and academic accomplishments, Hess said coming to UT Dallas is one of the top decisions she has ever made.

“I’m not a small-town person,” she said. “Having more opportunities for academics was really important for me. I saw everything the [Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology] Building had to offer, and it was awesome. Everyone was so welcoming. It just felt right.”

She has one more basketball-related goal. Hess hopes to travel with her parents and Thomason to Knoxville, Tennessee, to see her All-American jersey, while it’s still hanging in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. It will come down in June.

Though Hess admits she sometimes finds it antagonizing to sit in the stands now rather than play on the court, she will always take great pride in what the Comets accomplished during her time here.

“We did so well. I’m just glad for what we did. It’s such a great notch in our belts,” Hess said.

 

Minecraft’ Mod Offers World of Scholarships, Learning Opportunities

Current, Future Students Can Win $5,000 in Online Competitions; Video Game Becomes New Tool in Classroom

Polycraft World
Get in the game and win a scholarship. Each week the team behind “Polycraft World” is unveiling new challenges in which UT Dallas students and future students can compete for $5,000 scholarships. The challenges can be found on the game’s YouTube channel. Learn more about the competitions in the video above.

Video games are not just for fun anymore. By winning weekly challenges on a UT Dallas-developed game, students can earn scholarships to attend the University.

Last year, a team of faculty, students and alumni launched “Polycraft World,” one of the most comprehensive modifications, or mods, available for the popular video game “Minecraft.” Earlier this year,access to servers hosting the beta version of the mod was free for the first 10,000 users.

The team, led by assistant professor Dr. Walter Voit BS’05, MS’06, who teaches in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, is calling on students to showcase their skills.

Each week, new competitions are unveiled on the game’s YouTube channel. Whoever completes the challenge best is named “Polycrafter of the Week” and receives a $5,000 scholarship.

Competitions last 12 weeks each and are open to both current and future UT Dallas students.

Polycraft World student

It’s not all play in this class. This semester, students are using “Polycraft World” to develop online teaching methods and educational video games that balance fun with learning.

“We may ask users to design the most efficient chemical processing plant within a limited space that produces a certain amount of plastics each hour,” Voit said. “Or, we may challenge students interested in journalism to build a jetpack and fly around the server and publish a weekly newsletter on what’s happening.”

The first competition? Get the most unique visitors to your private property in “Polycraft World” during a timeframe that began Sept. 3 and ends Nov. 26.

“How you attract visitors is up to you. That is the challenge. Share with your friends, family, post videos or tweet to your followers — advertise. We want to see how you spread your message,” Voit said.

With assistant professor of chemistry Dr. Ron Smaldone, Voit is teaching a class to help students develop online teaching methods and educational video games that balance fun with learning. The students are playing “Polycraft World” as a case study.

“We’re treating the class like a startup company,” Voit said. “Students come from different disciplines, and we have tracks in computer science, chemistry, social media and engineering. It will be heavily project-based.”

Voit and Smaldone are using the extensive world of “Minecraft,” hoping to create a unique educational experience for those interested in learning more about science and economics in new ways. Users are encouraged to experiment with and create new tools as they mine, build, refine and grow their communities.

‘Polycraft World’

“Polycraft” is free and available to the public. To play the game, click here.

For full details about scholarship opportunities, click here.

Access more information about the “Minecraft” modification at polycraft.utdallas.edu and instructional videos on YouTube.

“The first thing you can do in ‘Polycraft World’ is collect a polymer — natural rubber,” Smaldone said. “You get it by tapping a tree. You can make bouncy rubber blocks, a pogo stick, things like that. It gets people introduced fairly early on into actual polymer chemistry.”

From there, Smaldone said players can build machines to make rubber grips for tools, which makes the tools already in the game better and last longer.

“There’s pretty advanced chemistry built into the game. If users are dedicated enough, they can fuel their jetpacks, but they have to refine crude oil down to propane first,” he said.

Connor Cone, a junior physics major, is taking the “Polycraft World” course.

“I took AP chemistry in high school, but other than that I didn’t have much background in the subject. I knew a little organic chemistry,” Cone said. “In the game, I’m using real-life processes to make plastics and I understand the science behind it. I own and operate oil refineries. I can tell you how the oil becomes plastic and I can name the chemical formula for polyethylene off the top of my head now.”

Voit said that additions to the game are constant. The team has recently included an electrical engineering component where users can build a clean room.

“We included ways to build silicon wafers and solar cells, and other components that you can use to build solar arrays, walkie-talkies or cellphones. Users can find a better way to communicate and make the game more efficient,” Voit said.

Voit said that as the game grows, users will be able to focus on many aspects, such as electronics, chemistry, economics, agriculture and food or architecture.

EMAC Alumna Starts Fashion Magazine

laila-courtesy-1050x700A recent graduate’s passion for publication and her religion has led her to start a full-fledged magazine about the lives and fashion of modern Muslim-American women.

Laila Mir, who graduated in May as an EMAC and marketing major, wanted to originally film short documentaries on Muslim women with a focus on fashion for her senior Capstone Project. This proposal changed to working on a fashion and lifestyle publication called Demure, which tackled the lack of media expressing the issues that young Muslim- American women deal with.

“You don’t see Muslim women on the cover of magazines,” Mir said. “I wanted to show a side that isn’t in the media.”

Senior EMAC lecturer Lisa Bell said one of the reasons the project was successful was because Mir was able to build a network of people across the country that were involved in a small segment of the fashion industry. She said Mir presented subjects in the magazine that don’t conform to the stereotypes attached to Muslim women in the media.

“She showed modern Muslims that retained their identity,” Bell said. “The subjects were very approachable and likable.”

The publication explored what it is like to live in the United States for someone who is balancing a Muslim American lifestyle.

“I haven’t dealt with stigma, but many sources I talked to have,” Mir said. “Kaz Kouture, a Turkish jewelry store that started in Dallas, made it [their] mission to get rid of negative aspects of Islam in the media.”

On the cover of the first issue, Mir featured Dalia Kassem, a Muslim model. She also interviewed Aleena Khan, a fashion designer whose work was displayed at New York Fashion Week.

“I carried the principles of Islam into my work,” Mir said. “I featured women who wanted to dress modestly because that’s how we were raised.”

Mir said the magazine was too big a task for a single person, so she enlisted the help of writers and photographers to produce the publication.

“One of the difficulties was doing it all on my own,” Mir said. “My strengths weren’t in all aspects, so I needed to bring in other people’s talent as well.”

Zahra Sandberg, a Chicago-based fashion blogger, wrote about her interracial marriage, a rare ordeal in the life of a Muslim woman.

“This story about mixed marriage is not common because a Muslim woman usually won’t marry a man of another race,” Mir said. “Muslim men will marry women of other races, but not Muslim women.”

Visiting assistant professor of EMAC Mona Kasra, who served as Mir’s primary advisor on the project, said that Mir had an interdisciplinary approach to her project.

“In EMAC we really try to have all these aspects,” Kasra said. “It’s not about just the technology, the media, the social media or the Internet. It’s about having a wholesome idea about, ‘I need to achieve this. I want to use the technology to get the word out and have a bigger audience and a bigger impact.’”

She said Mir’s biggest strengths were her organization skills and flexibility through the process.

“She was very open about the process – she had an idea, she wanted to get something done and as time went by she organically adjusted what’s achievable,” Kasra said. “She was also very organized, and in the world of publication and any media production, that kind of structure is necessary.”

Mir has been putting out content on the magazine’s website since the beginning of April. 14,000 people have viewed the site and her work has reached 34,000 people through circulation on Facebook.

At the launch party for her magazine, members from Southern Methodist University’s Fashion Media Program reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in other projects that dealt with the lack of media representation of minorities. She’s considering their offer as one of her future projects.

Her work was recognized at the Capstone Celebration on May 13, in which it won the Outstanding Capstone Award in the undergraduate category. Faculty advisors nominated nine out of the 35 students in EMAC to audition to be chosen to formally present at the Celebration. Five out of the nine, including Mir, were chosen to present on stage.

“EMAC alumni who came to the celebration were blown away by [Mir’s project],” Bell said. “At a simple level, it was because of the breadth of the platform she used to develop it. She crowdfunded and promoted through social media and incorporated writing and photography. There was a lot of buzz at the event about how beautiful it was.”

Mir plans to keep producing more issues of Demure magazine and is working on an issue to be released in December 2015. She has even had some people show interest in interning for her. She hopes to turn the magazine into a quarterly publication starting next year.

“I’ve always wanted to work for a magazine, but I never thought I could start my own,” Mir said. “I got a very positive response, way more than I’d expected. [Everyone’s] pushing me to keep going with it.”

 

This story was written by Nidhi Gotgi and originally appeared in The Mercury

Freshman’s Design of Gravity-Powered Superhero Draws Scholarship

Quasar, a researcher who can create pockets of intense gravity, helped pull in a $1,000 scholarship for ATEC freshman Emma Mathes, who created the character with fellow student Daniel Colina.
Quasar, a researcher who can create pockets of intense gravity, helped pull in a $1,000 scholarship for ATEC freshman Emma Mathes, who created the character with fellow student Daniel Colina.

Emma Mathes, an arts and technology (ATEC) freshman at UT Dallas, has always loved art, drawing and science fiction — from literature to movies to comic books.

So when she heard about a contest to design a superhero, she was all over it. Never mind the contest deadline was just three days away.

“Basically, I worked on it 24/7 over one weekend to meet the deadline,” said Mathes, a National Merit Scholar from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who drew a character she developed with fellow ATEC major Daniel Colina.

Her design of Quasar, a researcher who can create pockets of intense gravity, earned Mathes a $1,000 Clark Van Pelt Scholarship from Element X, a motion design studio in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas.

“We spent way too long nerding out over this guy and deciding what superpowers he would have,” said Mathes, who is taking classes in 3-D computer animation processes such as modeling and texturing in her second semester. “Daniel came up with the rough idea, and I ended up drawing it out.”

The scholarship is for any student enrolled in a college degree program for 2-D/3-D animation, visual FX, motion graphics or game design, said Chad Briggs, president of Element X.

“While we had several good entries, Emma’s stood out in in terms of simplicity and overall design of her character and the backstory. The composition of her image was well laid out and did a great job of demonstrating comic book tension,” Briggs said.

Emma Mathes
Emma Mathes

Mathes even came up with a backstory for Quasar, aka Quinlan “Quinn” Black, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland as a teenager, earned a doctorate in quantum physics and led a team of scientists in black hole research while still in his 20s.

As he was testing a gravitational containment unit one day, an electrical storm compromised the device and killed all except Quinn and his assistant. Quinn became trapped as the unit overloaded, altering him beyond repair.

Now, he lives in self-exile inside a containment suit to protect others from the mass destruction that would occur from “the nearly inescapable gravitational pull and concussive blasts of force he can create,” Mathes’ contest submission reads.

“He can create rifts in space, relocate objects and slow down time — like what happens when you get close to a black hole,” Mathes said. “I should have studied up on the physics more.”

Should the containment suit fail, bad things would happen, she said.

“It would be a total meltdown,” Mathes said.

Mathes said she was surprised to learn she’d won the competition.

“I got the email at 3 a.m. — I may have still been up drawing — and called my mother right then,” she said.

In high school, Mathes used her skills to create Web comics after she and some friends dreamed up a steampunk universe, complete with time travel and aliens. “The really nerdy part is the alien language I created to use in the speech bubbles,” she said.

Mathes hopes to work in animation or another creative field someday. For now, she’s enjoying her creative pursuits both in and outside the classroom.

“I’m a nerd who loves sci-fi, comics, art, computers — definitely a good fit for ATEC,” Mathes said.

ATEC Meets Korean Wave

ateckoreanwaveheader

Overview

Propose a creative idea that uses Art and Technology that inserts it into the art forms of the Korean Wave to further empower it.

What is Korean Wave?

Korean Wave is the cultural phenomenon of Korean entertainment and popular culture being adopted all over the world in pop music, TV dramas and movies.

CNN reported in December 2010 that Korea has become the “Hollywood of the East” over the past decade. Korean TV dramas first made their way into the Asian continent and K-pop, Korean pop music, is gaining momentum worldwide. For example, Psy’s Gangnam Style became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views.

More information about Korean Wave can be found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Wave.

Challenge and Scope

The Korean Wave surge began with TV and music as cultural exports. In an effort to further the creativity of the Korean Wave, we are asking ATEC students to combine technology with pop culture as an artistic expression. The objectives are to find ways to connect ATEC to Korean Wave and new ways to express and interact with it.

Let your imagination flow, and be creative.

Your proposal submission format may be in the form of any of the following:

  • PowerPoint or Keynote
  • Word document or PDF

If you have any questions regarding the contest, please send them to moonkim@utdallas.edu.

Award

There will be three awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place respectively.

  • 1st place will receive a $1,500 scholarship.
  • 2nd place will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
  • 3rd place will receive a $500 scholarship.

Winners will have the privilege to be involved in the development of their proposal, where as needed.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Is the proposal feasible?
  • Is it creative?
  • Does the proposal adhere to the challenge and scope?
  • Does the proposal feature more than one way to enhance or empower the Korean Wave?

Eligibility

To be eligible for this contest, you must be a currently enrolled student (undergraduate, graduate or doctorate) in the Arts and Technology, Emerging Media and Communications, or Arts and Humanities program at The University of Texas at Dallas. You must also agree to transfer by assignment any and all rights you may have in the proposal to The University of Texas at Dallas and The Board of Regents of the University of Texas System,

You may submit your proposal as an individual or group. Group awards will be distributed evenly among the group members.

How to Enter

  1. Download and fill out the Korean Wave Assignment Form.
  2. Scan it in and include it with your proposal files in the zip file.
  3. Upload your submission to the  ATEC Meets Korean Wave Contest Entry Form.

Fill out all the fields and make sure you submit your proposal files via a ZIP file. The ZIP file should include both the proposal files and assignment form.

Having Trouble Entering via Website?
If you are experiencing technical difficulties entering via the website. Then, you may also email your submission to moonkim@utdallas.edu.

Please include the following in the email:

  • Subject: ATEC Meets Korean Wave Submission
  • First and Last Name
  • Phone
  • Preferred Contact Email
  • Major
  • Expected Graduation Date
  • Proposal Title
  • Your zip file attached (Proposal files and assignment form should be in the ZIP file)

Contest Entry Deadline

All entries are due by March 23, 2015

Student Creative Projects Featured in Undergraduate Research Journal

Arts and Technology students displayed their creative talents in the newest edition of The Exley, UT Dallas’ undergraduate research journal.

Creative projects published in the journal include poetry, game design, comics and an animated film.

The Fast and the Fjorious

Cara Curley and Kelly Padgett were among the 15 students who created The Fast and the Fjorious, featured in The Exley. The project is a 3D, two-versus-two racing game that features spring cartoon Vikings on a mad dash to obtain Thor’s hammer. The game was developed in the fall 2013 session of Game Production Lab taught by Monica Evans and supervised by Kyle Kondas and Skylar Rudin.

Curley is a junior arts and technology major. As a proud Bryce Jordan Creative and Performing Arts scholar, she aspires to become a professional graphic artist and illustrator.

Padgett completed a bachelor’s degree in arts and technology with a focus on game production in December 2013, graduating summa cum laude.

Bird in a Cage

Also featured is Bird in a Cage, a 3D animated short film that tells the story of an inventor who creates a set of wings enabling him to fly, only to realize that he is trapped inside his laboratory. Work for the short began in August 2011 and was completed in summer 2013.

“While the original creative team consisted of a mere handful of students, the final product is the cumulative work of more than 20 students,” said Greg Slagel, director for the short.

Slagel was a founding member and first president of the Animation Guild at UT Dallas, as well as one of the first members of the Undergraduate Dean’s Advisory Council. In his senior year, he was awarded the Presidential Achievement Scholarship, and upon graduating cum laude, received major honors for his senior thesis film, Bird in a Cage.

Projections and Reflections

Desirée Alicea-Aponte and Joseph Castillo’s piece “Projections and Reflections” explores identity and isolation.

“The comic revolves around the idea of who a person is versus how the world sees them. The final product, we hope, is something that the audience will be able to readily interpret and relate to,” said Alicea-Aponte.

Although he originally planned a career in biomedicine, Castillo changed course during high school and chose to pursue his dream of creating video games. Currently, he aspires to become a game writer but states that “becoming any sort of writer would be pretty great, too.”

Alicea-Aponte is a freshman majoring in arts and technology, with aspirations of becoming a storyboard artist and animator.

About The Exley

The Exley is named after UT Dallas supporter and former staff member Elizabeth Exley Hodge. She began work in the University’s administrative offices in 1967, when the institution was called the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies.

When the center became UT Dallas in 1969, Hodge transferred to the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, where she assisted faculty members in preparing research grant applications.

After a number of years in grants management in the school, and later in the Office of Sponsored Projects, she retired in 1986. She currently resides in Dallas.

The Office of Undergraduate Education manages the journal and publishes each issue in collaboration with theOffice of Research and the Office of Communications.

Preview Games During Spring Arts Festival


roll-SpringFestival14

As part of the Spring Arts Festival, Arts and Technology students will showcase game projects on Friday, May 2 from 6:30-8:30 pm in ATC 3.101.  The games were produced in the fall 2013 and spring 2014 Game Production Lab  (ATEC 4350 and ATEC 6345), a course structured to simulate the game development industry.

Games to be showcased

Comrade Quest 

Comrade1 The vision of Comrade Quest is in two parts: one, to provide gamers with the chance to play a game together in person, and two, to offset all the games with negative portrayals of Russians.

Although many games feature multiplayer experiences online, there are few games that feature local multiplayer. Comrade Quest is a game in which a group of friends or strangers can play cooperatively in the same room. Local multiplayer is special, because it gives players a reason to invite friends over. Rather than just sitting alone in a home, chatting or typing to a screen, local multiplayer requires people to invite friends over to play. In a society where social isolation is becoming increasingly common, creating more games that foster face-to-face human interaction may help reverse that trend. For many, having genuine social interaction helps combat depression and anxiety from isolated living.Comrade2

Secondly, Comrade Quest provides a counter a market saturated with McCarthyism. So many games currently on the market portray communism and Russians, as inherently bad. Video games, and Western culture in general, tend to relegate Russians to villain roles. Popular Western films, such as the James Bond movies and many other action movies, depict Russians as power-hungry villains with a thirst for blood. Instead of shoehorning Russians into villainous roles, Comrade Quest casts them as heroes.

Solar Rim

Solar1In the vacuum of open space, Freelancers make their fortunes by collecting rare minerals from asteroid fields and collecting bounties on the less savory of their kind. This demo of Solar Rim puts the player in the boots of one such Freelancer and pits them against up to three other players across a network. The pace of the game shifts drastically when Freelancers meet each other and fight to the death. Multiplayer, full six-directional movement, and randomly generated asteroid fields keep players coming back time after time, and that’s only the beginning.

Unlike other mining simulators, Solar Rim is more about adventure than it is discovery. While it maintains the casual pace of similar games when players explore, mine, and build (not yet implemented), the pace of the game turns completely on end when players are pitted against their worst enemy: other players. Nothing in Solar Rim tells players that they have to kill each other, but the nature of having a gun and mining blocks that become ammo instantly pits players against anything that moves. The type of block used as ammo alters how this combat plays out, allowing players to choose between a “spray-and-pray” method or a skilled assassin at a moments notice, provided that have the resources to do so or the time to find them.

Solar2The essentials are in place to build an adventure upon. The pace shift and ammo mining system lay the foundation for a larger game that will muddy the line between cooperative and competitive multiplayer. The last piece of the puzzle is a task which unifies players against a common foe, but will they turn on their “friends” once the dust settles? How do you hold digital players accountable for their actions? What sort of story will develop when life and death–peace and war–hang on the building blocks of the world?

 

Shroud Shroud1

Shroud is a game designed to push the limits of player coordination without being overly punishing. The player controls two characters with an organic time limit meant to push the player to a solution within those constraints. The project takes common puzzle game conventions and subverts them by manipulating the way the player interacts with the environment, as well as applying cooperative gameplay to a single player experience. The game presents thematic undertones that propose the social issues such as big business and pollution, but handle them from a casual platform.

Fissure

Fissure is a game where the player is able to navigate a space in unconventional ways. The game gives the player the experience of a tribal orc who has gained sacred powers and who must now escape the rocky terrain he has been trapped in. During the game, the player is given two powers that must be blended together to traverse the level. The player is given a magic bubble to float inside, which is useful for those less experienced and a teleporting power for the speed runners of the game. Our level shows both how the environment can be built around the use of the powers and the potential that these mechanics give for further development of Fissure.

fissure1

The full list of games to be featured includes

Fissure
Spring 2014 Semester
Comrade Quest
Spring 2014 Semester
Shroud
Spring 2014 Semester
Power Stone
Spring 2014 Semester
Solar rim
Spring 2014 Semester
Castor and Pollux
Fall 2013 Semester
The Fast and The Fjorius
Fall 2013 Semester
Body Shop
Fall 2013 Semester
Control Room
Fall 2013 Semester
Zarathustra
Fall 2013 Semester

The Student Arts Festival features the work of over 600 students from more than 40 courses. The festival takes place over five days, offering audiences the opportunity to roam from one building to another, taking in classical, jazz, dance, guitar, piano and vocal performances, as well as an art exhibition and reception. View the full schedule for the Student Arts Festival.

The Dallas Contemporary Features Student Installations

New Media is the topic for The Dallas Contemporary’s upcoming exhibition featuring student work from UNT, SMU, and UTD. The Contemporary is featuring two UT Dallas student pieces in its Student New Media exhibition that will be presented on Friday, April 25.

Arts and Technology MFA student Spencer Brown-Pearn is one of the students whose work is featured in the exhibit. His Apparatus for Synthesis of Digital Gesture attempts to entirely remove the artist’s hand from the historically emotive mark-making process, synthesizing gesture through a purely digital means. Using simple sensors and algorithms to generate gesture from environmental cues, like sound or motion, these apparatuses strive to question the process of digital mediation and the role of gesture in anDSC_0511 increasinglytechno-centric culture.

Spencer Brown-Pearn is a new-media artist who uses a combination of traditional media and technology: scanners, printers and projection, to create two-dimensional works, multi-media installations and interactive sculpture.

Jay Ray (EMAC) and William Broderick’s (Arts & Technology) ‘Self vs Other’ installation incorporates thoughts that are submitted anonymously and are attached to participants through a technique called projection mapping. William, who came up with the concept of the piece, was originally inspired to construct ‘Self vs Other’ based on Sartre and Camus and their examination of the self versus the other – more specifically, influence that others have on an individual’s sense of identity.

SelfvsOther

“Our mixed media piece incorporates user-submitted, anonymous thoughts that are attached to participants in 3D space through projection mapping.  The thoughts are randomly assigned to participants from a collection stored in the website’s database as they interact with the piece by walking through the mapped space.”

ATEC Clinical Assistant Professor Cassini Nazir has been working closely with Will and Jay over these last couple of months on the development of the piece and as an advisor for ‘Self vs Other’.

“This project allows a deeper exploration of emerging media due to the nature of the students’ philosophical approach.”

Jay Ray, an EMAC student who is graduating this May,  was given the opportunity to work on ‘Self vs Other’ for his capstone project.

“What interested me the most about the project was the opportunity to make something that is subjective, but provides a platform to gather objective information. Through user submissions, we are collecting innocuous data—browser type, device type, operating system, etc.—that allows us to make absolute observations. Contemplation on thesignificance of the data will be subjective, but there should be some interesting patterns.”

SeflvsOther_2

While studying EMAC at UTD, Jay credits the program for allowing him to explore his passion while equipping him with the tools necessary to evolve that passion into a relevant application of skills useful for his desired career in web design.

“There is such a diverse pool of talent in EMAC; I see it as a program where students of various interests—writers, graphic designers, fine artists, etc.—learn how to apply their talents to new media. This is interesting because we can become equipped with skills that are in demand, while still pursuing the things we are passionate about— and also pursue opportunities that might never have occurred to us.  It’s like being an artist without the starving part.”

Through this experience, Jay has been able to explore more complex programming languages and technologies that have structured the technical aspects of ‘Self vs Other’.

While I’ll never be a gifted back-end developer, I think the extended exposure and struggles have made me a better front-end web designer.”

Through this exhibit, the Dallas Contemporary seeks to introduce North Texas to the growing diversity in art mixed with technology.

If you would like to attend, please visit the Dallas Contemporary site for more information on the upcoming exhibition.

Related Courses offered at EMAC:

EMAC 4325 – Digital Writing

ATEC 3363 – Basic Interaction Design

ATEC 3361 – Internet Studio I

PSY 3331 – Mass Communication and Behavior

ATEC 4361 – Internet Studio II