Master Classes

Master Classes are free for IMGD majors. While they don’t count for credit, they also don’t count toward the class load. The intent is to let students learn from masters in the industry in a small, casual environment limited to 10 students.

The classes are offered the first three weeks of each term, from 7-9 p.m., in Fuller Labs 222 (unless otherwise specified).

Intro to 3D Printing

In this Master Class, IMGD Art professor Josh Rosenstock will help you get started with printing using our Makerbot Replicator 2. The workshop will cover preparing your model for printing, using the MakerWare software, and tips for working with the Makerbot. Bring a 3D model of a character or object that you'd like to work with. Each participant will receive one miniature print of their model.

Instructor: Josh Rosenstock. In 2005, Josh joined the faculty of WPI as one of the first hires in the Interactive Media & Game Development program and as the first studio art professor in WPI's history! He has greatly enjoyed helping the IMGD program grow and mature.

Portfolio Development

This Master Class covered making print and web portfolios. Most importantly, critiquing and improving everyone's work, pushing students to ask the big questions of "why am I doing this" and "what do I want to do" (just getting a job is not enough of an answer).  Working with a small group of students over three weeks, they will take away a professionally presented web and print portfolio, a primary focus to their work and the ability to sell yourself.  

Instructor: Britt Snyder currently working as a Professor at WPI, Britt Snyder has a video game development background spanning 13 years. Past clients include SONY, Blizzard Entertainment, THQ, Demiurge Studios, Liquid Entertainment, Mad Doc Software, 745 Studios, Subatomic Studios, Hitpoint Studios, Higgins Armory Museum, Mapleloft and Markosia Publishing. Britt's artwork has been featured multiple times in ImagineFX Magazine, Previews magazine, the Birmingham Eccentric and many others.  A sample of Britt's artwork can be seen at brs-portfolio.com

Creating Effective Combat Animation Assets  

In this course, we will discuss what the particular needs are for animation assets designed to work within a state-driven game engine. We will look at methods to ensure that animations have solid weight and force, while still adhering to the timing considerations that game assets require. By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding of how to get great performance out of your  animation assets while still creating movement that feels powerful and works solidly within your game.  

Instructor: Ron Friedman comes from a performance background with over 21 years of experience as a Character Animator. Starting in traditional 2-D animation, Ron made the conversion to 3-D along with the rest of the industry and has never looked back. Ron has worked in Feature Animation (Pagemaster, Swan Princess), Visual Effects Animation for Film (Van Helsing, Lemony Snicket, The Mist, Snakes On A Plane), and Videogame Animation (Robot Rising, Immortal City, City Of Heroes, Adam Blaster). Ron was Animation Supervisor for the Academy Award-winning film “Pan’s Labyrinth” and was Animation Director on the Namco/Bandai videogame “Afro Samurai”. Ron is Lead Animator at HitPoint Studios in Amherst, Massachusetts on a series of titles for Microsoft and Disney. He teaches animation at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline, MA. Ron also provides one-on-one animation tutoring online via his website Toonimations.com.

Forensic Debugging

Some say it's a rite of passage, that it separates the weak from the strong. Some say the suffering is a necessary evil; an unavoidable part of the transition from the academic to the professional realm. Still others, some lucky few, are given the right tools from the start and avoid the pain altogether.  

Complex debugging can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your professional career. When properly prepared, it is like a game, a fascinating puzzle waiting to be solved. When unprepared, however, it can be daunting, stressful and lead to burnout. Learn the skills to work with a code base orders of magnitude larger than most college projects; learn to take impossible problems, strip them bare and learn their dirty secrets. Learn to love the thrill of the chase.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortably with C++. Some exposure to OpenGL and/or Lua wil lbe helpful, but is not required.

Instructor: Chris Cenotti is a software engineer with over a decade of experience in embedded and graphics applications. He has worked on several educational hand-held gaming systems at LeapFrog and is currently a member of the Direct3D graphics driver team at AMD.

Narrative in Art

Every art piece you create has the potential to be injected with an unspoken backstory, a clever mechanism, or a "big idea". Your skill with a tablet, brush, or pencil will no doubt increase over time, but honing the standout, feasible ideas are what sell you over the next guy or gal. Ideas have to be worked on just as much as physical skill and in this course we'll attempt to get you out of your comfort zone and get you thinking much deeper about your concepts and executions.

Instructor: Jonathan Elliott came from the graphic design world, entertaining clients such as Lucasfilm and Hasbro before making the luxurious leap into 2D / UI art for (indie) gaming. He currently hails from Watertown, MA working as Art Director for Defective Studios and the sole artist for Dejobaan's upcoming title "Monster Loves You". He enjoys good beer, metal music of all varieties, board games, and owns a gigantic cat (not a result of beer).

Small-Team Project Management

Project Management is a critical discipline for making games - it is also often overlooked, done poorly, and misunderstood. In these classes you'll get a crash course on several valuable useful project management techniques, learn when and how to apply them, and several traps that new game developers often fall into.

Instructor: Scott Macmillan has been a game developer since 2002, and spent most of those as a project manager. He's also started his own company, taught himself how to code in order to make his own games, helped found Boston Indies and the GameLoop unconference, and shipped many, many games. You can find him on Twitter.

Building Casual Games with Web Technologies

Students will learn how to use basic web technologies to build web-server-based and browser-hosted casual games. The class involves building a server-based multiplayer Blackjack game that’s cross-platform, cross-browser, and uses AMP, which is stack central to modern web programming.

Instructor: Jeffrey Kesselman, chief technology officer of three online casual game startups. He’s worked for 20 years in the computer games industry and has a deep understanding of the “hows” and “whys” of the way it operates.

The Six Steps of Cinematic Production: Concept to Execution

From concept to execution, students will learn methods for planning and creating cinematics. Learn all six steps of production, with particular attention paid to storyboarding, shot blocking, and animatics. The main focus of this series will be the production process and how to efficiently produce the assets--with a lesser focus on asset and content creation. By the end of the course, you will have learned how to effectively plan and deliver cinematics and produce a 15- to 20-second flat shaded animation.

Prerequisite: A basic working knowledge of 3ds Max interface and camera controls would be helpful.

Instructor: Mike Malone has more than 16 years’ game development experience and has worked on more than 22 shipped titles in a multitude of production positions.

The 4096 Secrets of the Game Development Industry

After years of college, your game development chops are finely honed--you can traverse a link list with your teeth or create a UV map via telekinesis. But there’s more to learn about the important roles design, business, and networking play in the industry. This class will take you through exercises on brainstorming, design, and critical analysis. Feel free to bring in your own projects to discuss, and you’ll be able to apply all 4096 secrets to them when you’re finished with the course.

Instructor: Ichiro Lambe (WPI’98), founder and president of Dejobaan Games LLC, a Boston-area indie game development studio. He’s worked in the industry for two decades, cofounding Worlds Apart Productions and Dejobaan.

Storyboarding and Storytelling Workshop: For Film, Graphic Novels, and Comic Book Art

Explore the elements of setting up characters and environments, situations and conflicts, and mix in cinematic elements from masters like Alfred Hitchcock to learn how to tell an exciting story--then learn how to board the work in an illustrated manner for film or comic art.

Instructor: Andy Fish, a freelance illustrator, comic book artist, and graphic novelist. Fish is currently an adjunct professor at Emerson College, where he teaches storyboarding and sequential art. He’s worked for DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and is the author of the graphic novels Fly and The Big Sleep.

Playing the Game Development Game

Is your creative game development career a golden road stretching out before you, or is your fate going to be a labyrinth of crunch pain and missed milestones? This class will explore how to create a game in an environment that can be highly unpredictable and an atmosphere in which creativity and business commitment must learn to live together.

Prerequisite: Students should have taken at least two of the core IMGD courses.

Instructor: Linda Currie, an independent game design and project management consultant. She has been credited on more than 20 published titles and holds a BS in economics from the Wharton School of Business.

Making a Scene Come to Life in Unreal

This class provides students with an opportunity to work with and learn from a videogame industry professional as they face common art-centric problems, processes, techniques, and tricks from the games industry. Topics of discussion include advanced game lighting, advanced modeling techniques, advanced layout materials/shader creation, basic normal mapping, and advanced-level layout.

Prerequisite: Students should have a basic-level understanding of Photoshop and Unreal, as well as either Maya or Max. Please bring your own Wacom tablet (or other similar brand) to class.

Instructor: Joe Mirabello worked as a senior environment artist at 38 Studios, where he was responsible for concept art, modeling, texturing, layout, lighting, and technical art. Mirabello’s been involved in game development for five years and has shipped four titles: Titan Quest, Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, Depths of Peril, and Kivi’s Underworld.

Personal Branding

How will you stand out among the crowd of people trying to land jobs at game companies? Learn clever tricks to impress every game developer you meet.

Instructor: Darius Kazemi (WPI’05) runs Orbus Gameworks, a company that’s building gameplay data metrics tools to help developers keep track of what their players are doing in-game. He is also a technology officer for the IGDA Education SIG, a committee member for Boston Postmortem, and spends a good deal of his free time giving advice about how to break into the game industry. Kazemi was the executive officer of WPI GDC from 2003 to 2004.

Dissecting a Graphics Application Using AMD’s GPU PerfStudio

This course introduces students to the GPU PerfStudio tool from AMD, and demonstrates how it may be used to deconstruct a graphics frame from a 3-D application such as a PC video game. Following a high-level introduction to the graphics pipeline, we’ll show how engineers at AMD use this tool for performance analysis and debugging of graphics applications.

Prerequisite: Students should have some familiarity with 3-D games and graphics concepts. Some ability to program may help with advanced topics, but isn’t a requirement for participation.

Instructors: Callan McInally is a senior manager at AMD, responsible for leading the development of tools to aid game developers using DirectX and OpenGL API’s for ATI Radeon Graphics.

Peter Lohrmann (WPI BS ’05, MS ’07) is a senior software engineer at AMD. On the side, he’s continuing to evolve his thesis research on real-time ray tracing on the GPU.

Balancing Units for Real-Time Strategy Games

Examine the unique problems that you’ll encounter while designing a real-time strategy game. Start out looking at unit attributes, and the basic “rock, paper, scissors” school of thought, then branch out to new rules and attributes. Students design a set of units and go through the basics of composing a design document for each unit.

Instructor: Brian Sullivan is one of the most successful game designers ever--he cocreated the Age of Empires series of games. In 2003, he cofounded the company Iron Lore Entertainment and is its president and lead designer. He was also a founding partner of Ensemble Studios, which developed the Age series.

A First-Person Shooter AI from Start to Finish

How do nonplayer characters navigate from points A to B in complex simulated environments? How do squads of nonplayer characters coordinate their movements to surround a hapless player? How do computer opponents decide whether to attack or retreat? These are the kinds of questions that motivate our exploration of the AI behind today’s advanced computer games. In this class, we’ll explore a possible set of answers and along the way, build a functioning AI for a first-person shooter game.

Instructor: Kevin Dill currently works for Mad Doc Software, helping to develop the boss AI for a next-gen console title. He graduated from Carleton College with a BA in computer science in 1992, and then completed a master’s degree at Northwestern University.

Experimental Game Design

Innovation is dead, and it’s up to you to resurrect it! This class introduces you to methods that will help you turn an innovative eye toward all aspects of the game development process. Working in pairs, you’ll design and use a simple experimental game in the environment of your choice--Flash, Java, Game Maker, PyGame, Torque, or even pencil and colored paper. Flesh out your prototype so that you can focus on what’s most important in developing an unbelievably creative core concept.

Instructor: Ichiro Lambe (WPI’98), founder and president of Dejobaan Games LLC, a Boston-area indie game development studio. He’s worked in the industry for two decades, cofounding Worlds Apart Productions and Dejobaan.

Making Licensed Games

How do you make a game out of something that isn’t a game? Can you boil a movie, TV show, or book down to an essential mechanic that’s interesting, fun, and true to the source material? We’ll examine some thorny issues in game design and UI, and you’ll work together to come up with some designs of very unlikely IPs.

Instructor: Brian Moriarty is a senior producer at ImaginEngine. He has a long history in the gaming industry, and along the way he’s created many extremely successful titles.

 
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