March dev blog

By | Dev Blog, Games, Happy Volcano, Internship, Lava Fever, Winter

Since last month we have a full house of dedicated, smart interns at the Happy Volcano offices. And we love them dearly :). Lisa Janssens and Jasper Lemmens have joined us for a three-month internship. They will both be working on Winter. While the core team is working on a secret client game, new art, special effects and animations are going into Winter.

Winter

Jasper started working on bringing the world in Winter to life with some snow, wind and rain effects. Stylised particle effects in flat white colors go really well with the flat shaded 3D environment. He also worked on a few interesting shaders which we’re not showing yet because spoilers.

Winter - snowstorm particle effect
Winter - rain particle effect

Lisa on the other hand started creating the second level of the game, which takes place in the suburbs. She started out with a moodboard, followed by a simple blockout of the level.

Not soon after Jasper joined in and they started modelling simple environments to test geometry and colors. We’re doing a lot of different tiles quickly as an exercise to get a good feel about the direction the level is going into. We’re not sure if any of these tiles will end up in the final game. But in this stage quantity of and iterating on the models is more important than making detailed artwork.

Lava Fever

We hit a brick wall designing Stonebound and decided to let it rest for a while, in the hope of seeing it with new eyes and a fresh mind. So, while our two new interns got sucked into the cold world of Winter, Tom’s been working on our scorching hot mobile game Lava Fever. We always liked the gameplay mechanic, but the game itself was seriously missing some juice. Tom implemented new unlockable characters. They each have unique behaviours and lead to different styles of gameplay. (We wrote about the design process behind the original characters a while ago)

The witchdoctor

We also decided to make the game free, by adding advertisement. We know, we’re not a fan ourselves, but this is the way the mobile world works right now. But we’re good guys, so we added three unlockables to remove the ads. How about that, beatable ads: the better you play, the quicker the ads will dissapear. And finally, we added some challenges to keep you on your toes.

We’ve got an Android release planned as well, so you finally get to play it on the two biggest mobile platforms.

Secret client project

The new mobile game for kids we’re making is nearing the vertical slice milestone. The game is challenging and fun to play. It sucks we can’t show you more, but we’re having a blast making it. We should be able to tell you more in a few months.

February Dev Blog

By | Dev Blog, Games, Happy Volcano, Internship, Winter

February is a short month, but a lot happened in these 28 days. Most importantly our creative director David joined us again after a month long touring his motorcycle in Vietnam. He drove all the way from south to north Vietnam. Luckily north Vietnam is quite cold this time of the year so the temperature shock wasn’t too hard when he returned.

David Prinsmel - Happy Volcano's art director touring in Vietnam

David Prinsmel – Happy Volcano’s art director touring in Vietnam

Winter

Jet lag however was not as easy to overcome, but that didn’t stop David to make good progress on our upcoming game Winter. All but one level has been mapped out with rooms, objects and the puzzles.

Winter maps

A few of the maps we made to chart puzzles and objects in Winter

 

On the visual side, we also took a big step forwards. The intro level and house level are now completely modelled and textured and the first concept art for the forest and shopping mall are done.

Winter 3D Models

The 3D models of the house level

 

We welcomed our first intern of 2017, Tom Rigolle. Tom worked on visual effects for Winter. He wrote a fading in/out shader to darken the scene the further back an object is, played around with volumetric lighting and added mist and blowing leaves particle effects. It’s now up to David to tweak those effects to get the mood exactly right.

Winter fog and lighting

Winter fog and lighting in the forrest level

Stonebound

Tom’s already proven that he’s well on his way to become an in-demand gameplay programmer. He started developing the new gameplay prototype of Stonebound. After the negative feedback, we got from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, it was clear that we had to change course. We need a more exciting and original mechanic. And with Tom’s rapid prototyping we have found a promising new direction. We’re far from what it needs to be. We have a slightly too difficult, but exciting beginning of the game, but it tends to get boring in late game. We’ll continue iterating until we nail it.

Stonebound prototype

Stonebound prototype

 

Peter worked on a fun little advergame for Happiness, a communication agency in Brussels. We can’t tell you what brand it was made for until the campaign is over. But we did have the chance to work with the incredibly talented pixel artist Igor Sandman. He came up with some very fun little characters and the animations just make you laugh.

Next month we have an exciting new mobile game we are doing for a client so we won’t have a lot of time to work on Winter ourselves. The mobile game is aimed at younger gamers and promises to be exciting, silly and fun. More on that later. We’ll also be joined by two new interns Jasper and Lisa who will be working on the models and visual side of Winter.

Business card and email: game industry internship tips part III

By | Happy Volcano, Internship

When you hand me your business card at an internship fair, it is the only physical thing I have to remember you by. At a full-day event, we can easily see over 30 people. It’s very important that your card stands out and has your basic info.

Before we go into the details, I would like to give a big thank you to the people that helped out with the tips: Brecht working on Trifox at Glowfish Interactive, Andrea developing Bombslinger at Mode4, Juda working on Flotsam at Pajama LLama and Seb making Ary and the Secret of Seasons at Exiin.

A business card for everyoneBusiness Card

There are no hard or fast rules about what your card should look like. That’s all up to you – be creative. We do, however, need to have enough info to assess your application and get back to you.

The front needs to have you basic information:

  • Your name.
  • What you do: artist, coder, etc.
  • A link to your portfolio
  • Your email in case we like you and want to contact you
  • Your phone number is good to have too. Don’t forget your country code.
  • Your twitter, if relevant to your gamedev career
  • It is even better if you have an example of your work printed on the back, or maybe a picture of yourself. Anything that helps us remember you.

That said, one thing I like to do to remember who’s who is to write little notes on the business card. If both sides are printed all over that is difficult. Not saying that you need a notes section on your card, but some whitespace is good =)

We understand money is tight as a student and you might want to save some by printing your business card yourself. Don’t. A professionally printed card makes all the difference.

 

Email

Email

Some schools don’t organize internship fairs, in which case you may need to contact the videogame studio by mail. Most game studios are pretty accessible – you can find their contact info on their Twitter profile or website a lot of the time. If you know somebody at the studio, contact them directly for a better chance to have your application picked up.

Some tips about emailing:

  • Be polite; it is equally important in real life as it is in an email conversation.
  • Include at least a link to your portfolio.
  • Do not attach your resume or portfolio: have an online version that might include a link to download.
  • If we put someone in CC, reply with reply-to-all. There is usually a reason for them to be in the mail.
  • When you get an out of office reply, think before you start mailing the emergency contacts, especially if the person you contact is only away for a short time.

If you would like to share more tips, you can reach me at jeroen@happyvolcano.com or tweet them at us at @hvgames. If you disagree with some of them, we’d love to hear that too =)

This was the final post in our ‘how to get an internship in the game industry’ series. We had fun – hopefully you did too. We have covered tips for business cards and emails, interviews and internship fairs, and building a portfolio. If you have any other topics you want to see discussed, let us know.