In The Lead

by Mary Martialay on February 13, 2013

Zineth, developed by Rensselaer student game design group Rust Ltd.

Zineth, developed by Rensselaer students, and an winner at the 2013 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase

With a mix of electronic arts, computer science, and one of the best game design programs in the country, Rensselaer students produce a regular fount of polished, professional video games, and we hear regularly from students and graduates of the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program who’ve made good in the game design world. (To see some of those games in action, save the date for this year’s GameFest, April 26-27 at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center.) Ben Chang, co-director of the GSAS program, reached out to me recently with some of the latest accolades. Here’s the low-down:

-Zineth, designed by Rensselaer students, was selected as one of the eight winners of the 2013 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase.  The student competition received over 300 entries from around the world, Chang said. The winners will be exhibited at the IGF Festival and will compete for an additional Best Student Game award.  The IGF, known as “the Sundance of Indie Games,” is held at the Game Developers Conference, which attracts over 25,000 attendees from the games industry and academia each year.

Zineth was created by The Arcane Kids: Russell Honor, Jacob Knipfing, Tom Astle, Sylvia Forrest, Tom Lanciani, Evan Gonzalez, and Dan Spaulding.

-Electronic Arts MFA candidate Anton Hand and his team Rust Ltd. won the Unity3D DX11 Challenge, a competition run by Unity to showcase the latest version of their engine. On the competition website, their winning entry, Museum of the Microstar, is described as “stunning.”

According to Chang, Unity is one of the most popular game engines in the world, particularly in small studios and indie games, and “drives over half the games in the App Store.”  Chang said Museum of the Microstar “combines advanced DX11 effects and massive GPU particle simulations with a critique of mankind’s drive for technological advancement.”

-Students from the Rensselaer Game Development Club won ”Best Game” in the local branch (or “Albany Jam”) of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Global Game Jam 2013, a 48-hour event that takes place simultaneously at hundreds of locations around the world, with teams creating games on a pre-determined theme. The Rensselaer Game Development Club took part in the Albany Jam through the IGDA Albany Chapter at SUNY Albany. This 2013 theme was “heartbeat.”

-Red Candy Games, founded by Julian Volyn, Class of 2011, released “Tin Man Can,” through the App Store. Tin Man Can is the followup to Red Candy’s 2011 Xbox Live Indie Game ”Tic”.

-Electronic Arts MFA alumni Paolo Pedercini received the Grand Jury Award at IndieCade 2012, the International Festival for Independant Games, for “Unmanned”, an experimental game about a day in the life of a drone pilot.

The GSAS program was launched in the fall of 2007 to provide comprehensive understanding of interactive digital media, a balance of disciplinary competencies, and the mastery of a self-defined set of interrelated disciplinary challenges at the nation’s oldest technical institute. Six years in, they’re hitting the mark.

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