Arts & Entertainment, Higher Education, and Technology

Gaming firm partners with college

January 8, 2015
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Gaming firm partners with college
KCAD students created artwork for the mobile game concept “"Kaiju Beat" by the game developer Underbite Games. Courtesy KCAD

A digital game developer has partnered with a college to give students hands-on experience designing concept art for a mobile game.

"Kaiju Beat"

Students in the Concept and Production Design class at Kendall College of Art and Design, or KCAD, worked with Underbite Games in Grand Rapids last semester to create visuals for the game idea known as "Kaiju Beat."

"Kaiju Beat" is a gaming concept incorporating a rhythm-based attack strategy, where the characters’ movements are encouraged to synchronize with the beat of the music.

The game also features three characters: “Gorillazilla,” “Humongous Fungus” and “Bogdog.”

Underbite Games’ studio is located on KCAD's campus in Grand Rapids, and the firm has worked with students in the past on a contract basis for artwork, according to the firm’s owner and creative director, Cory Heald.

“Once in a while, we need some artwork done, so we have contracted with them — mostly, it is graduates that we work with,” Heald said. “This last semester, we worked with a couple of different classes with some of our projects. We have some really good ideas for a game that we want to pitch, so we leveraged the classes to help create some visuals, so we can pitch our game ideas.”

Although the "Kaiju Beat" game is not in production, the students of Susan Bonner, an assistant professor of Digital Media and Illustration, worked with Underbite Games’ design document, which explains the gameplay and direction for artwork.

KCAD students developed the concept art, game renderings, character animations and marketing materials for the Underbite Games team.

Production goal

“It is a game that we had a great concept for and there was some initial interest from publishers,” Heald said. “We took the game concepts to the class, and they helped visualize it, and now we can go back to pitch the idea — with the hopes that someone will be interested in the game and some of those students can be involved in that project.”

With a number of conferences coming up in the next couple of months, Heald said he’ll be going to some of the events to pitch the idea, and if everything goes well, the game would begin production later this year.

“Work experience”

As a former instructor at Ferris State University within the Digital Animation and Game Design program, Heald said he likes helping students gain real-world experience at the game firm he started.

“Being part of education has been something that has been interesting to me, because I realized having more work experience is something that was very important,” Heald said. “It has kind of been a passion of mine to combine professional game development with helping a student gain a better understanding of actual production.” 

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