So from the first week in March through to the first week in July I was part of the Oulu Game Lab course in Oulu, Finland. I was hoping to have these thoughts up sooner than this but due to work commitments and generally laziness on my part it has been delayed until now. The review will look over a few things; the projects, the education, the teams, and also the staff that run OGL.
First we will look at the projects and what they involved. At Oulu Game Lab I took part in two projects. The first project I worked with a small team with three other OGL team members. The project was a fantasy RPG using a voice recognition technology to cast spells and it would also read emotions in the voice to add an elemental effect to the spell. Unfortunately because of the time delay of when we would receive the technology from Global Lab Sendai, in Japan, we did not make it through. This project involved a lot of planning and research. I worked as producer, it helped me develop my knowledge of what needs to be considered when designing a game and also gave me the chance to work with a team from half way around the world. All of this was a fantastic learning process, the second project was also good for learning for me but more to do with the tools and technology I was using. After my first project was cut I got moved onto the Bonnie The Brave team. I worked mainly as a 3D artist for the team, this involved learning a lot about Blender which is a programme I had never used prior to OGL. I feel my skill in Blender has improved dramatically considering the limited time I have had with it, although I am still a long way off being at the level I want to be.
I found the projects really worth while, we were given a basic idea to build off of and I feel these were well balanced in giving us a foundation but also room enough to be creative and put our own spin on the games. The time that was available for each phase of my time there felt well balanced. A few weeks to develop an idea then a few months to build a demo. It pushed us to work fast and focus on what made our game ideas special.
The ‘lectures’ for lack of a better word, were brilliant for someone like me who loves to discuss video games and the industry for hours. There was a lot of support for any area, be it art, programming, marketing or design and it allowed me to explore where I would be best suited to when/if I pursue working to make games. I feel as though I learnt a lot, looking back at what little I knew prior to this adventure tells me how far I have come with my knowledge of the process for making a game. I feel after this excursion more confident in pushing to get into the industry. When reviewing our time here Jussi paid me a fantastic compliment regarding my knowledge of the industry which has also given me confidence to keep the door open in regards to pursuing and option in video game journalism.
Working in, and moving between, teams really helped me to understand the benefits of getting the team work process right. In my second team at times it felt like 7 individuals working together but after a few weeks it got closer and closer to feeling like a proper team and it showed in our work output. Seeing what the team is producing now I am back home is amazing and I think they have really been helped by that process and the game will be better for it.
Everyone individually at OGL was amazing, they were incredibly friendly and it was amazing to go into work every day and be able to talk about video games to everyone, it was genuinely the most comfortable and content I had felt in a long time, and I thank everyone of the participants at the OGL programme for that. It showed me how important it is for your overall mentality and happiness to be doing something you love, and has more or less guaranteed that I will do everything in my power to be a part of this industry after my final year at university.
The tutors at OGL were nothing short of brilliant. Maybe it’s just because after three years of doing something I wasn’t that passionate for I never clicked that well with my other tutors, or maybe it has something to do with Finnish culture in general where nearly everybody was incredibly friendly, but the tutors really felt like friends and it was great to have them around the teams a lot of the time, they were really involved and that helped all of us I feel.
I am struggling to think of a negative I have about the experience, ultimately I feel the only one I have is that there is not something like this in the UK. Without a doubt the best experience of my life, and I would recommend it to anyone remotely interested in video games. I will be keeping up with all of the work they do over the next few months so for one last time in this OGL series; thank you to Jussi, KP, and everybody at OGL whether you were one of the staff or participants. If you were a game I was reviewing… you’d get a 5 star rating!
For anybody interested, here are the links to the game pages on facebook, and the OGL website!