*Featured Company: Complex Games and LevelUpMonday, January 18, 2010 11:45
LIV interactive and Noah Decter-Jackson sat down to discuss his Winnipeg company Complex Games and the new addition of LevelUp:
LIV: Tell us a little bit about yourself and Complex Games?
NOAH: I completed a Master’s Degree in Art & Technology in Sweden with a focus on gameplay analysis and design, though I’d been passionate about videogames and game design since I was very young.
I started Complex Games Inc. with my business partner and tech lead Adrian Cheater way back in 2002. Back then we were young and full of ideas, and thought we could do things better than the rest of the game development industry on our own in Manitoba.
Several years and a lot of hard lessons later, we’ve managed to build a relatively small, and agile company that we hope to grow to a world-class game development studio.
LIV: How did the thought about ‘Level Up’ come about and what do you hope it will do for the game development industry?
NOAH: Over 9 years ago there was a privately run game skills training program for youth in Winnipeg called RP4K. My business partner Adrian developed a lot of the courses and was the head of R&D there as well as being an instructor. The company moved its operations to Toronto and shut down in Winnipeg, and we always felt that it left a big gap in Winnipeg for providing kids with a real chance to focus on a possible career in game development.
Over the years, we’ve often been approached by parents who want to harness their children’s passion to play videogames into something more productive.
LevelUp is our attempt to address this gap in Winnipeg. Though there are starting to be programming classes in schools that let students focus on developing games, we felt we could offer something much more by providing students the opportunity to learn game development from professionals who’d already worked in the field with us at Complex Games.
LIV: Is there an age requirement or a prerequisite to be part of this program?
NOAH: For the Novice Level classes and above we’re generally looking for students at a minimum Grade 6 level all the way through the end of High School. Naturally we’ll place students in age-appropriate classes.
We also have a Master’s Level mentored course for Computer Science students at a University-level, as well as those with industry experience looking to brush up their understanding of Unity.
LIV: What can someone expect from taking this course?
NOAH: From the Novice through to Advanced Levels, each LevelUp course is designed to take the student through the development of one new type of game from start to finish, while at the same time learning the essential computer programming skills they will need along the way.
At the end of each course, a student will have a completed game that they have been able to develop and customize for themselves, with the skills to build games of similar complexity with the Unity engine.
As the student moves through more advanced courses, they will develop the skills they need to build more complicated games.
The focus is on helping the students, even at an early age, to build their own portfolio of games, and encourage them to develop other games on their own free time. The more a student can show the results of his game development efforts, the better off he will be when looking for a job with a game development company down the road.
LIV: In 5 words or less, tell us what you think are what students will love most about this program?
NOAH: Designing their own games!
LIV: Anything else to add?
NOAH: The technology we use to teach our courses is called Unity 3D, which is a game engine that is fast becoming the industry standard for 3D web-based videogames. Unity is the platform we most often use in our studio, and it has recently been released for free, so that our students can download, install and develop games with the program on their own at home without any additional cost.
The website for the LevelUp Game Training can be found at http://www.levelupgametraining.com and hopefully we can get Noah to share with LIV some updates of their success in this program.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to LIV Noah!