Learning Tools

Autodesk Offers Free Game Development Curriculum

Autodesk has introduced free curriculum to teach post-secondary students how to develop games. The "Vehicle for Games" is a free, 16-week Web-based course with hands-on training for the entire game development pipeline, from concept art to creating an engine-ready asset. The material is designed to be used with Autodesk products, including Maya (software for modeling, animation, rendering, and visual effects) and Mudbox (for digital sculpting and texture painting). The company is also making available for download a six-month student trial version of Maya and a 30-day student trial version of Mudbox to use with the lessons.

Intended for intermediate to advanced students, the courseware teaches 3D techniques by providing an art director's point of view for various steps of game development. The first lesson explores concepts based on a narrative, guiding students through the progression of an idea to a full story. The lessons examine storytelling and how important it is to identify and remain aware of the world in which the vehicle asset will be placed.

The company said students go through the process of modeling and texturing a vehicle for a video game, learning industry techniques. "Vehicle for Games" also provides a taste of what it's like to be an asset modeler working in production. It includes video tutorials, models, textures, concept art, and orthographic drawings that students can follow or use as guides to create their own vehicles with their own concepts.

Autodesk tapped the subject matter expertise of developers from NCSoft and Double Helix to mirror the requirements of real-world game development.

One institution that has piloted the new program is Laguna College of Art & Design in California. "With the 'Vehicle for Games' curriculum, Autodesk provides a valuable link between educators and the game industry and helps make sure that our graduates' qualifications match industry needs," said Sandy Appleoff, game art department chair at Laguna College. "Having this masterful curriculum has allowed our students to move faster. By the end of the semester they will have produced game engine-ready assets and have them loaded and functioning in the game engine."

"The goals set for my class are aggressive. This curriculum complements what the students are trying to achieve by going step-by-step through the process of creating AAA quality art for games," added Laguna College instructor Derek Sunshine, who is currently teaching the curriculum. ""Both [Laguna College] and Autodesk have a standard of quality that really helps push students into gaining the upper hand in this very competitive job market."

The curriculum is available in English in the Autodesk Education Community in the Level 4 content on the Industry Careers Framework microsite. The site requires registration, and users must have a valid e-mail address from a participating institution.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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