Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Level Up 2012 Experience

Level Up is an event where many universities around Ontario are invited to showcase games that have been developed over the year. UOIT was invited to this event as well and we were able to bring and showcase our games as well. My friend Moose has already talked about his Level Up impressions as well as going in depth into the testing results we got from our game, so instead of talking about those tests, I am going to talk more about my personal experience at the event.

At 12:00 pm, we left to take the bus and train to reach Union station in downtown Toronto. From there we walked all the way to the Level Up venue. We arrived by 3:00 pm, where we were then offered Pizza (my only meal for the next 7 hours) then a speech by Microsoft for recruiting university students. It was definitely something I noted, the process of getting into Microsoft was made much clearer after this speech and definitely became a possibility I could pursue in the future. The fact they are going for university students like this is a good sign.

One of the other University's games, Gentleman Explorer

Afterwards we set up our booth, which was only a table whereas other people had projectors and TVs. Apparently we had to bring our own, and I wasn’t fully aware because I wasn’t intending to go to the event at first, but a last minute decision on Monday led me and my group member Moose to Level Up. So all we had was a table and our laptops. Some of the other groups in UOIT got lucky and managed to snag some TVs, but we were unfortunately not so lucky. Here is a list of the 2nd year UOIT groups that I remember seeing...

Scorching South Studios (Moose and I)

A view of our table

Moose and I shared a table with fellow GDW group Team Overlord. There were only a handful of groups there from our year, I believe it was 5 total? Not many considering there are around 12 to 15 groups. I am not sure of their reasons for not coming, but game or not it was a good experience to go. Moose and I didn’t even have a fully complete game yet, our HUD wasn’t even working which is a pretty essential part of our game but all the normal gameplay was in at least so it wasn’t a total loss. Even so we got some good feedback and some impressed people from the fact we built it from the ground up. I think Moose and I can agree that made us pretty happy to be praised like that.

A four player, local area connected game

The rest of the schools consisted of U of T, OCAD to name a few, the others I honestly can’t remember but all of their games were really great. Gameplay wise, they were superior to ours and graphically as well. The thing is that most of them didn’t make an engine from the group up like we did, they used Unity game engine. Now their games are still all great, I am not going to put them down or anything. They were all legitimately very well designed and some had some rather unique quirks to them. In comparison to ours, since they were done using a built game engine, much of their time was focused solely on the design of the gameplay and aesthetics. Much of our time was preoccupied with learning to code new techniques and get them into our game. Had we used Unity, our game would have had much more time to look more polished and be on the same level of quality that the others had.

A game set up to use the Kinect

But nonetheless all the games showcased on the floor were good. Some even used Wii-motes or the Kinect for their controls. Most of them had controllers of some sort in any case, many of them using Xbox 360 controllers. There were some that stood out, such as a flight simulator (flying as a bird) and using your arms as wings to soar. All of the other games were quite polished and you could tell everyone had passion into making their game.

A zombie shooter using the Wii-Mote

Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to play all the games but I was able to look at them. Since it was only Moose and I from our group, we always had to have at least one person at the table to get feedback from players. We also had no chairs, which meant pretty much a good 6 to 7 hours of standing up. We only got maybe 15 minutes of sitting down each? Both of us stayed at the table for most of the time and only one of us wandered off every now and then. So by the end of the day, my back and feet were killing me. Also I got super hungry, not the best combo.

Team RAM'D 's Werebear game

Despite the fact we didn’t have a full game, like our professors said, it was a very good experience to just go to the Level Up venue. It was also a good bonding experience with my fellow GDW classmates, definitely worth it for even that. We got some insight into how other people are making their games, some experience in presenting our game (Other games had stands and banners for their game and only one of our UOIT groups had a poster), and a look into the fact many other schools use engines to build their game rather than hard code. People, like I said, were generally impressed with discovering it’s an engine built by us. If they didn’t discover that then it was mostly just a decent game.

Team Pandasaurus' "Pandausarus Rex"

Nevertheless everyone on the show floor was impressive and I look forward to participating in next year’s Level Up and other future events such as this. It’s definitely a great experience that I would like to attend again.


Of all my pictures, I didn't get a proper one of our game nor Team Overlord's. And sorry to any other groups I didn't get a picture of.

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