Cow Tipping Meets Graphic Gaming Programming
CONCORD, NH - Greg Walek is a professor of Animation and Graphic Game Programming at NHTI in Concord, New Hampshire. Greg joined NHTI’s faculty after working for major developers in the games industry, including Raven, and now spends his days mentoring game development students (as seen in photo 1) through creative projects like Tip The Cows (as seen in photo 2). thalo had the chance to talk with Greg about his work and experiences.
thalo: Tell us a little bit about the Animation and Graphic Game Programming department at NHTI.
Greg Walek: In “Animation and Graphic Game Programming”, the last two words, “Game Programming” are the most important. In the two years students go through our program, EVERY major course has our students doing programming work. That’s 15 courses. A number in the ball park range of some four year programs. What we teach is like the Who’s Who in game technology: C++, C#, XNA\MonoGame, Unity, Flash & ActionScript, Unreal Engine, 3ds Max, Photoshop...
In addition to the technologies we use, we have an AGGP course devoted to Math and Physics for game developers. That’s taught using ActionScript. We have several courses where we force them into team. Two of them have a major presentation that takes place in an auditorium. It’s as much an E3-style presentation as I can get. Then there are two AGGP courses devoted for our student’s portfolios. The focus on skills, team projects, and portfolios puts our graduates in a great position to transfer to complete a four year program or to compete for jobs in the industry.
th: An interested game development student can learn new programming languages, new software, and other technical skills from a good teacher, but there are also other qualities that make a good game designer. In addition to technical skills, what strengths and qualities do you look for in students?
GW: A good work ethic trumps talent. Every day. Every time.
th: What do you wish your incoming game development students knew?
- This is a Programming degree. Not an art or design degree.
- A good work ethic trumps talent. Every day. Every time.
- Work your behind off
- Go to the game jams at NHTI.
- You’ll NEVER get an opportunity like this ever again.
th: You’ve mentored students developing indie games. What advice would you give to aspiring indie developers?
GW: Focus on your experience of your game. You are vying for the player’s attention, if you can’t hold, then they’re going to go off and do something else.
th: What do you think is the biggest challenge indie game studios are facing?
GW: The major challenge that all indie studios have is a two-fold problem, both getting noticed and building a community. It’s not easy, but if you can do those two things, then you can get what you need to make your games.
th: What are you working on now?
GW: I’ve just started working on a concept I’m calling “Space Bucket”. The game is a humorous take on multiplayer spaceship games. Ideally, you should be too busy to fight anything because something on your spaceship needs your attention... something very important, like killing your evil clone.
Thanks so much for your time, Greg! I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of your students’ work in the future!