Red Bull offers students wings to success in a ‘Flash’

Red Bull offers students wings to success in a ‘Flash’

By Nicole D. McGovern

Instead of sitting in front of their computers playing the latest online games, college students now have the opportunity to create a video game of their own.

Red Bull is sponsoring the competition Red BUILD for undergraduate students in which five final teams will get to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry leaders.

The winning team gets to make their game a reality.

“Flash games go in a lot of different directions,” said Jay Laird, who teaches both game design and programming courses for the Multimedia Studies program. “It can be a simple and silly game or a complicated simulation of something, this seems to be a pretty difficult project.”

The game needs to be based on the Red Bull X-Fighters, a freestyle motocross competition. Some of the best athletes in the world take part in this event, battling each other in the “center of a screaming bull ring.”

“The idea for a Flash game needs to incorporate real world and fantasy,” Laird said. “Take a real world idea and give it a fantasy realm.”

Red Bull will set up a studio near the campus of the winning team in order to make the student’s games come to life. The team will have three weeks in June to complete the game.

The facility will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be filled with high-tech equipment for students to work with. Also, some of the top Macromedia designers in the world will make visits to the studio to offer assistance to the winning team.

“We give you the tools; you make it happen,” reads a slogan on www.redbullbuild.com.

The game proposal includes five components: game summary, sample artwork, control layout, sample code and unique layouts. The competition will be judged by a panel of experts and professionals in the field.

Creating a Flash game takes more than just creativity.

“It’s one part design, two parts math,” Laird said. “It deals with physics.”

Various types of people are needed in order to create a successful game. There must be someone producing storyboards of the layout of the game. A programming group takes care of writing the script to run the game. Then, artists are necessary to turn out drawings to put into Flash.

Then you have a game.

This is followed by “iterative testing,” Laird said. This means multiple testing of the product to make sure there are no quirks with the game.

The judges are looking for a variety of factors in the winning game, said Jesse Warden, a judge of the competition and a Flex and Flash contractor who has done work for IBM and the Navy. Although the technicalities and genre are important, Warden has only one criteria: fun.

“In a game, I’d look for anything that’s fun,” Warden said. “As long as it’s fun, or you feel it’ll be extreme. The pitch could be extremely well thought out, but to succeed in this business there needs to be a sense of reality. They only have three weeks to complete this game.”

Although a key feature in gaming is fun, Warden understands the complexity, effort and time that goes into creating a winner.

“I feel like making games is the hardest thing to do in terms of production and development,” he said. “In this business, either you make a lot of bling or you make diddely- squat.”

Because of the difficulty of the business, students looking to succeed in multimedia arts, should take advantage of the opportunity Red Bull is offering, Warden said.

“I think Red Bull is doing a great thing,” he said. “If you come up with a solid concept and take risks with your pitch, they’re willing to produce the resources.”

The deadline to register is April 15. Visit www.redbullbuild.com for more information.

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