The students were grouped into five teams of around 10 students per team, and worked to a brief set by MPG.
We put the teams onto our internal training project, AUBERGeNE ROBOTICS, to give them a taste of working on a live game.
At the end of the module, the students presented their team’s work to Harvey Parker, Head of Art, at The Multiplayer Guys. Harvey had the pleasure of critiquing the students’ the work, and chose the winning team.
Team Hydra were selected as the overall winners, demonstrating great team collaboration in answering the brief.
Harvey caught up with Adam Cain, Games Art Course Leader at Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies to talk about the collaboration and what’s next.
So how did this collaboration come about?
Harvey: When I returned to the UK and joined MPG I was keen to see what was going on within the universities and colleges of Nottingham, so I reached out and arranged some visits to relevant courses. Confetti struck me as an institute with a similar energy and tenacity to MPG and was an obvious choice to focus on. Confetti is very industry focused, making engagement for me all the easier and I found the students to be passionate and knowledgeable about games.
Adam and I met for a Covid-safe chat outside a cafe in the city during Summer 2020 to discuss the possibilities. We settled on creating a module based on MPG’s internal training programme, a rolling game in production that many of our staff roll onto when in between projects, or if they need to up-skill in a particular area.
Adam loved the brief I set so we extended its time within the curriculum and including more students than originally planned.
Adam: As the Course Leader for FDA and BA Games Art, I’m always on the hunt for ‘live’ client briefs from industry professionals or companies. It’s actually really hard to find a brief that’s suitable for the students, useful for the external client and available at the right time during the academic calendar.
So when Harvey reached out to me I was really excited about the possibilities for our students. The relationship with MPG kicked off with Harvey kindly agreeing to review some of our final year student portfolios. From there we discussed the possibility of an internal game design/concept art brief. The level of detail and scope for this project really blew me away and I was really eager to introduce it to our students.
Tell us more about MPG's internal training programme!
Harvey: AUBERGeNE ROBOTICS is a game we designed to allow engineers and artists to focus their learning and development on a single project. The team size and dynamic changes frequently with each person contributing to the making of the game in a small or large way, depending on their individual training needs and availability.
It’s kinda like a looong game jam. It’s actually a really fun game design and has a strong visual direction – so perfect to use for student modules too!
How did you set the brief for the students?
Adam: The brief was so cool. AUBERGeNE ROBOTICS has cute critters, giant mech robots, telekinesis, rockets and alien worlds – what isn’t there to love about this project?!
We treated this as a concept art project for our 2nd Year students. We placed the students into teams of around 5-10 members. We usually work in smaller groups, but I wanted them to experience a larger team dynamic, similar to that found within industry. This would also allow them to concentrate on areas they felt stronger in, allowing them to create mini “departments” e.g. critter artist, mech artist, environment artist. In the end I’m really happy with how this turned out.
How did the students respond to the module?
Adam: I introduced the brief to the students at the beginning of the year as a precursor to what was to come. They were really excited about the project from the start, not just because The Multiplayer Guys is a cool local games company, but also because the AUBERGeNE ROBOTICS brief just ticks so many interesting boxes for them to explore.
Harvey: I kicked off the module with AUBERGeNE ROBOTICS’ Lead Game Designer Tom Goodchild, via a great Zoom meeting with the students. I was curious to see how it would be received, and I could see the students were engaged and energised. They asked great questions at the end of the presentation…which is always a good sign!
And how did the module go?
Adam: I’m really pleased with my students and the combined efforts of their teams for this project. This was a really daunting brief for them as it had so much more games design detail than they are used to. Many of the students have gone above and beyond the taught lectures to produce work out of their comfort zone and all of them have learnt new ways of working for a professional industry client.
The project has also influenced my teaching practice and informed how I’ll plan future projects and lessons – one of the things I’ve really enjoyed has been creating little demonstration pieces for the students, to give them things to consider in their own work. They didn’t get to have all the fun!
Harvey: Wonderfully! The volume and diversity of work the students produced was a delight to see. It was a great idea to work in teams as this gave me a good sense of how the individuals collaborated as part of a creative collective.
I always say quality of thinking is just as important as the quality of the art, if not more so. I saw some great ideas that took the brief to new levels and wonderful artwork was produced. I put in a couple of stretch goals within the brief and was amazed to see each team tackled these, while some students went further and presented animations and GUI designs.
What's next for MPG and Confetti?
Harvey: I see our relationship with Confetti growing, with MPG getting more involved with the courses and tapping into what Confetti has to offer, as an incredibly well set up media facility.
Community engagement is an important part of our culture at MPG. We love to support the game developers of the future, from students to more grassroots – connecting with people who may be underrepresented in the industry or struggle with access to it.
Adam: Whatever the future holds and whatever we in Games Art can be a part of with Harvey and The Multiplayer Guys we will be up for it. The wider institution of Confetti has connections to so many areas of the creative industries through our various organisations such as Metronome, Antenna and Constellations, I’m sure the collaboration will continue to grow!