Digital Media Academy
Teaching has always been a passion of mine and in 2008, Digital Media Academy contacted me to teach one of their summer technology camps on next-gen asset creation. Unreal and the UDK was to be used as the game engine and students were expected to know how to create their own assets, import them into the engine, and design a level featuring their asset in one week. A second week was used for taking their skills further by developing a custom character to be used in-game.
The students were great. I believe that if you give people the tools they need it's best to step back and let them create but being present to answer questions and add to add a little fuel to their creative fires. Once we started pulling assets together into a level you could tell their motivation increased as they devised what they saw as perfectly crafted levels of doom suitable only for their friends. The art path was brutal and very "particular" teaching the students many things about "production" and how one often needs to fight through bugs to finish a product.
In the end, the students created some fun levels and enjoyed blasting their friends or using a variety of carefully placed traps/powerups to give them advantage. The great thing about the final products was that they were different. I didn't impose a style guide or force them to work on the same level. As a result there were flying levels, "pinball" levels, crazy jumping levels, etc.
The second week only had two students so there was plenty of time to help them personally. Throughout the week we modeled faces and custom characters for UnrealEd. My favorite was "Shadow" from the sonic universe. He looked really bad-ass when placed in a space marine suit. Although, the Taro character was pretty cool too rocking a weather cat head on a Krull body.
All in all it was a fun experience and one that I would enjoy doing again despite Unreal's issues at the time. Digital Media Academy ran a good camp.