June 23, 2018

How to Become a Video Game Producer at EA

Brandon Kidwell is 50% fantasy, 40% anime and 10% knight. As soon as Brandon discovered D&D, he began dungeon mastering (AKA DMing), breaking systems and improving designs. He drew maps of imaginative levels, wrote characters and crafted his own ways to play. His passion for making and breaking games led him to pursue a game design degree at the University of Advancing Technology.

 

Video: EA SPORTS

 

Now Brandon makes video games at Electronic Arts (EA), where he currently creates content for the mobile game Madden NFL Football as an assistant producer. He designs and builds items, players, events and levels every day. Outside of his work on Madden Mobile, Brandon spends a lot of time playing around in Unreal 4, developing porotypes for mechanics and trying out new ideas. He also writes short stories, dabbles in UI, occasionally creates digital art and still makes time to play games.

 

 

Before Brandon made his way to EA, he owned the indie grind at Project Polish Productions and Neon Chasm, where he pitched, designed and documented mechanics, enemies and weapon systems. He also wrote and directed narrative beats and maximized the horror experience.

Brandon also made a few mistakes along the way. “Never enter an interview without playing their game and being familiar with it. When asked ‘Do you play our game?’ You cannot answer ‘No’ and expect to get the job,” he said.

His advice for students?

“Be humble and respectful. Fail forward, and never give up on your goals, even if they seem like they are not in reach. Work a little at a time to climb the mountain, rather than all at once. The game industry is small, and you will be facing a lot of talented people throughout your job search. You need to get in engine, make some things and get them up for people to play. It’s just not practical to get into the game industry from ONLY playing games and not making them. Nothing is stopping you from opening up Unity or Unreal and making something that can go on a phone or web.”

Want to make games like Brandon? You can request more info about our game development program here.

4 Industries AR is Shaking Up

Augmented reality is much more than Pokémon Go and cool tattoo apps. It’s changing the way we do business and making work smarter. In 10 to 15 years, AR will transform nearly every industry. Everyone will rock AR glasses. Cellphones will become obsolete. But a few industries are leading the charge, including logistics, healthcare, automotive and sports.

 

 

Image: INKHUNTER

 

#1 Logistics

Major companies such as General Electric are already reaping the benefits of AR. In 2017, GE attributed a 46% performance increase in warehousing and logistics to the use of smart glasses. DHL rolled out a global AR program in 2016 to streamline the picking process and reduce error.

Professor Matthew “Hue” Henry proposed this scenario to students:

“Imagine you’re a warehouse manager, moving and managing thousands of shipments a day. You put on your AR glasses. All of a sudden, packages headed for one truck glow orange, and packages that are supposed to go on another truck glow blue. You can easily spot a blue package getting loaded onto the orange truck and fix it. When they’re just cardboard boxes, it’s a lot harder to tell.”

Now we can visually understand how AR enhances the transportation of goods, but it can also make receiving shipments and managing inventory easier. AR glasses can help warehouse personnel identify the best place to store merchandise and the quickest route to get it where it needs to go, sort of like a real-life game of Tetris

 

 

#2 Healthcare

Fewer than 20,000 Americans donate their bodies to medical research and training every year. Med schools can purchase synthetic cadavers, but they cost an arm and leg at $40,000 a pop. More hospitals and schools are turning to AR to enhance training and make surgery more precise. Imagine being able to poke and prod a 3D beating heart instead of just viewing a picture in a textbook.

AR is also improving patient education. Multi-sensory experiences can help patients and family members better understand how diseases affect the body, and virtual healthcare assistants can help patients remember which medicines to take and when to take them.

 

#3 Automotive

Don’t feel like driving to the car dealership and dealing with pushy salesmen? AR allows you to test drive cars without actually getting into the vehicle. AR applications like Mobileye are making the driving experience safer by providing real-time collision avoidance.

AR makes things easier for manufacturers too. Ford’s product designers can now test out all their crazy ideas on virtual vehicles, which streamlines the design process, saves money and encourages innovation. Porsche also implemented the use of AR glasses in its “Tech Live Look” system to help technicians reduce repair time by 40%.

 

 

#4 Sports

Professor Henry presented students with another real-world application of AR:

“Imagine you’re at a sporting event and everyone in the stands has their AR glasses on. They’re all doing real-time photogrammetry of the game, so when the game is over, you have a 3D model of the game from every angle. Now those players, instead of simply watching footage, can go back and walk through the field.”

He added: “Imagine as a fan, being able to stand behind the catcher and watch a ball game from that point of view.” How cool is that?

Want to develop real-world AR applications with Professor Henry? Check out our VR degree program, which encompasses AR and other mixed reality technologies.

How to Create an Android App from an iOS App

The Android platform is taking over, or at least accounts for a pretty huge chunk of the mobile user market. In a perfect world, all apps would have cross-platform potential, but this isn’t the reality of app development. Even today’s biggest app development market leaders have shown the definite lag time between the release of an iOS app and the Android version. If you have apps to convert, you can follow a few steps to make it happen.

Converting App Layouts and Buttons

The Google Play app marketplace is very particular about which apps it shows on its featured list. These apps don’t look like they belong on an iPhone. Android icons tend to have square, clean-looking app thumbnails, while Apple likes to cut the corners, so to speak.

Top Android apps follow the same set of navigation rules. Some characteristics worth noting include the look and feel of the close button, a left-aligned title bar and a search function embedded in the title bar itself. Android apps are made for easy use and aren’t designed to re-teach the user how to navigate, which makes for quicker and simplified app access.

Other unique Android variant elements include:

  • Tabs located at the top of the screen
  • Physical navigation buttons
  • Widgets
  • Date/time selectors

Generally, if you’re interested in creating an Android app, you should just avoid using iOS design tools entirely and take design inspiration from the top-ranking Android apps to develop your own designs.

Prepare to Account for Multiple Devices

iOS app developers have one glaring advantage over Android app developers—the device pool is extremely small. Over a given cycle, Apple might release a handful of new iPhones and iPads. Sometimes they roll out new devices, but nowhere near as many devices that run the Android platform.

For instance, Android-powered devices are generally lighter and cheaper, which means they are capable of operating on slower networks. This factor contributes to a need to reduce text size and number of PNG files used to avoid slow-moving apps. On the other hand, iOS apps actually require a PNG splash screen, which is a significant contrast to Google’s requirements.

In conclusion, posting an iOS app to the Android platform takes subtle yet extensive design considerations. While the Android platform continues to increase its sizable lead over the iOS market, bringing in-demand apps to Androids from the iOS app store just makes sense. One day soon, the tables might tilt in favor of Android rollout first, then iOS conversion on a large scale, but we still have plenty of work to do on existing apps in the meantime.

 

What is an Ethical Hacker?

Ethical Hackers are talented hackers who use their superpowers for good. In essence, hackers are smart people who want to understand how things work. They tear things down to their basic components—a process known as reverse engineering—to get a deep understanding of something.

The term hacker is often misused or misunderstood in the media and in the community. There are actually three different types of hackers: white hats (the good guys), black hats (the bad guys) and gray hat (the guys who ride that good guy/bad guy line).

If companies and organizations don’t understand how hackers can get into their systems, then they will have a hard time securing them. That’s why smart companies hire ethical hackers to identify and fix vulnerabilities, therefore preventing exploitation by malicious hackers. White hats help these companies save a lot of time, money and headaches.

We hammer ethical concepts into UAT students throughout their time in school. UAT students work through penetration methodologies, risk assessments and social engineering tactics. Then they analyze their findings to determine impact on “the customer” and recommend ways to improve their security posture. Students also learn how to explain their findings through extensive report writing (just like in the real world).

Check out this short clip to learn more about our cyber security program:

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. We’re always exploring collaboration and educational opportunities with our friends in the cyber security community.

5 Advantages of Private Education

Some students excel at public universities, where they can tailgate at football games, experience Greek life and attend class in lecture halls with thousands of other students. Students who prefer small class sizes, one-on-one attention from professors and niche educational offerings might do best at a private university.

Here are five advantages of choosing private:

 

  1. No Scripts

UAT Student Services recently gained a new team member, who previously worked at a large state school. He was shocked to learn that our academic and career advisors don’t use scripts. “At my old school, advisors were given scripts when they started and were told that they couldn’t deviate from them,” he said. He was also surprised to learn that we don’t constantly monitor phone calls between students and their advisors. We simply hire good people and trust them to do their jobs.

At a lot of smaller, private schools, students don’t have to take a number and wait in line to get one-size-fits-all advice from an overworked advisor. “If a student has an idea, then she can just walk into the provost’s office. How cool is that?” UAT Provost Dr. Dave Bolman said.

 

 

  1. Real Relationships

Advisors who have 3,000 students don’t have much time for proactive outreach. UAT students hear from their advisors at least twice a semester, even if they are crushing it. Our academic advisors will reach out faculty—whom they know by name—if they notice a student’s grade dropping in a particular class. They might even walk over to the dorms to check on a student who hasn’t been attending class.

“I know all of my students!” exclaimed English Professor Maureen Beam. Class sizes at private schools typically run small, so teachers often see the same students in multiple classes. “Since I had most of my English 102 students in my 101 class, I know their strengths and weaknesses and can dial in my approach to help them grow,” Beam said. “And we’re super accessible,” she added. UAT professors do not hide in offices or labs. They sit in the common area where students work on homework and play games.

 

 

  1. Unique Offerings

“Football is awesome,” Dr. Bolman said. “But not having to spend the time or money on sports or Greek life lets us focus on what we do best: technology,” he said. Students who want to study niche fields outside of business, liberal arts and engineering, can find often more focused programs at private universities. For example, UAT students can take classes in blockchain, VR movie making and HoloLens development. And many private universities focus on hiring industry pros, instead of ivory tower academics who lack real-world experience.

 

  1. Strong Culture

Building a shared culture that all students can participate in is tough when there are 30,000 students on campus. We hear from students, parents and community members all of the time: UAT is different. (And by different, they mean nerdy.) We have anime club, eSports tournaments and cosplay contests. A lot of our students used to feel like the black sheep—or rainbow unicorn—in high school. But our carefully curated community feels like home. Even though it feels like one big family, students engage in tough conversations and professors push them to examine other perspectives.

 

 

  1. Greater Agility

“Because of our size, we can adapt quickly and make changes to how learning happens. When we have an idea, we practice it, get feedback and pivot,” Dr. Bolman said. “It’s tough for giant institutions to move as fast as we do,” he added. We take feedback from industry partners and local tech companies and immediately incorporate it into our curriculum without having to jump through a bunch of red tape. This agility enables us to teach emerging technology when it’s still new and relevant.

 

Curious about life at a small, private tech school like UAT? Sign up for a campus tour here.