iD Gaming Academy Harvard – UDK Reel

I recently had the opportunity to work as an instructor with teens attending the iD Gaming Academy at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  For two weeks I instructed students on using the Unreal Development Kit, and introduced them on what I use the program primarily for: level design and creating a visually compelling experience.  Most students completed two full level assignments and outputted products that truly surprised me in the amount of sophistication they presented.

This is a video reel of levels, maps, and spaces created by the students at the iD Gaming Academy Harvard chapter. Over two weeks, students learned the ins and outs of level editing and scene building in Epic’s Unreal Development Kit, as well as the general understanding of making a space look and feel awesome (visually compelling). Most of these students had never touched a 3D application before, let alone a level editor as in-depth and sophisticated as UDK.

The students’ pipeline for each project consisted of:

  • pitching a level idea which would be the beginnings of a 4 day long project
  • came to the table with a basic theme and vision
  • a top-down orthographic drawing of their map was required
  • greyboxed spaces in UDK to test for gameplay purposes and overall level flow
  • added weapons, power-ups, jump-pads and other navigation points as needed
  • set-dressed scenes and lit them to make them visually compelling
  • created camera flythroughs of their invented space using UnrealMatinee
  • processed in real-time using the DUMP Movie command to capture frames
  • compiled by the students in Adobe Premiere

The result is what you see here.

All of the assets used to create the scenes were default items made by Epic Games© that came with the UDK upon download.

The students did phenomenal work.  As someone who has been using UDK for two years now, I was floored by what they accomplished in a mere two weeks.  Again, great work!  If any of you are reading this, I hope that you continue to pursue your interest in level design and game creation.  Go, “Dream Team!” This is only the beginning!

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