By JAY JABONETA
Over the last three years, especially with the emergence of all these new technologies, I have been avidly trying to learn programming or coding and also learning how to use new technology platforms that can potentially help us develop solutions that address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Early this year, I released a mobile game called Matt vs Aliens which is a simple arithmetic game of addition and subtraction. I feel strongly about the potential of technology to aid students learn faster. It’s my belief that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) will also soon change the face of education as we create truly immersive experiences to learn new things.
Coding is for everyone
This coming June 2019, together with Power Mac Center, we will be launching a campaign called EveryJuan Can Code. It’s a movement to promote the critical importance that coding has in our lives and why every Juan should learn how to code. In a study of which countries has the best developers in 2016, the Philippines ranks 46th out of 50 countries. We believe it’s important to help our country move up on this front.
Our everyday lives are inexplicably embedded or surrounded by technology, sometimes we’re hooked to our phones and gadgets for more than eight hours a day— but are we also taking a step back and reflecting on how these new technologies or habits are impacting our way of life and how we can actually use it to better the world or even just our lives?
Having been exposed to grade school pupils learning how to code and create their own apps and games last January 2019 during the App Development Challenge by Power Mac Center Business Systems Inc., I realized that even children can learn how to code. Learning how to code doesn’t necessarily mean knowing how to code. It can be about understanding how coding works so that we know why certain apps, programs, and games behave this or that way. It’s about understanding the technology that we use in our day-to-day lives.
The Yellow Boat Reimagined (VR Game)
In mid 2018, I was introduced by the chair of the Game Design and Development program of De La Salle – College of St. Benilde (DLS – CSB), Norman Lee, to the S4LT-V4LT student team who wanted to develop a VR game for the work that we do in the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. They wanted to create an experience that can take the “player” to the communities where we operate and “experience” what it’s like to swim or walk distances to get to school.
Let me introduce some of these amazing developers (in their own words) behind 2018’s Game of the Year during the Game On the event of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP).
Anton Arcega, lead programmer:
I was introduced to the creation of games (simple flash games) back in high school. It immediately piqued my interest and I knew that I wanted to try out bigger things. When I heard that DLS–CSB was offering a program that has specialization in game development, I decided to push for it.
The Yellow Boat Reimagined was a challenging project. Our team wanted to raise the awareness the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation was addressing but we didn’t want to settle for an ordinary game. We wanted to develop an immersive game where you don’t just play a game sitting down. We made the game using a VR platform where the player can experience being in the situation of the children traversing dangers just to get access to education.
At the beginning, it was difficult because this would have been the first time I’d be developing with Virtual Reality. It took plenty of research accompanied with a lot of trial and error. Luckily, with the efforts of the team, we made it possible.
After being able to successfully create a game using the VR platform, it pushed me to specialize in VR. VR development became my new passion and I would like to explore all its possible innovative potential.
Joshua Villena, programmer:
I was introduced to game development back in 2013. Only, I wasn’t in a game development course back then. It was a different course, something that I enjoyed immensely. But for one of our projects, we turned in a maze game where you had to navigate around spikes and spinning blades. It was a very simple game, but I had a lot of fun doing it so when I transferred to DLS– CSB, the choice was clear.
The Yellow Boat Reimagined was my first VR game. We had to learn and develop the game from scratch. Back then, we had A LOT difficulties. But once we, as a team, got rolling, it became easier and honestly, I wasn’t stressed at all during the development phase because of the culture of the team and as the term ended, I was able to graduate but with the team continuing with the project, I felt at ease as they recruited all-star caliber talents to go along with an already great team.
My role, personally, was to implement the mechanics of the game in the first iteration, test features, and also a bit of design as well. My strength probably is my ability to handle stress.
Shellina Magarzo, programmer:
To be honest, I never thought of being in the game development industry when I was choosing which college to go to. I picked this course on a whim and on the recommendation of a friend. As I went through our Game Dev course, it was only then that I found out what I was really getting into, and partnered with that fact that I also loved playing video games, it was an instant click. I realized that I loved to do programming for games and found out I can be really good at it so I studied and worked really hard to make great games. And that’s how I ended up here.
Oh man, I totally did not expect myself developing any VR games. I always thought of VR as a triple A company thing to do, not a student project. At first it was really daunting, at the same time very exciting. I didn’t know anything regarding VR game development. Thank goodness, the original developers of The Yellow Boat were there to teach and guide us with VR. Turns out it’s actually not as hard as I thought it was, and it’s not that different from developing a regular 3D game. The only difficulty would probably be the VR equipment since we only had one at the time, and we all had to do development at one place. Overall, I really learned a lot from developing VR games and would love to do it again.
I am one of the programmers for The Yellow Boat Reimagined. What I did was to implement features and code the things that our designers have planned. I did a variety of features in the game, from the UI to the grab and climb features. Finding and fixing bugs were also a big part of what the programmers did during the development of the game.
Nathaniel Gonzales, programmer:
My first ever experience in Game Development was back in 2013, at my high school. We were tasked to create a simple RPS (Rock-Paper-Scissors) game for our Computer class and I really enjoyed making the assets and implementing them to the game. It was just a simple RPS game with poorly edited pictures from League of Legends and a simple AI that just randomly picks its choices, but I was really proud of making it and also enjoyed the entire process. I soon graduated and enrolled at DLS–CSB’s BSIT Game Design and Development course, to continue honing my skills in programming and learning more about the different aspects of game development.
The Yellow Boat Reimagined was my first VR Project and I was tasked to be the Sound Programmer, implementing sound features such as Foley, Music, Narration, etc. I together with team members Shelly and David were new members to this team and had to review and study the current project which was the first challenge we had to overcome as developers since we have never worked on a VR project before.
I made it a goal to make the game more immersive through sound by adding more SFX to the game and polishing the currently implemented audio in the game, such as fixing some BGM not looping smoothly. It was a fun experience overall since I was able to learn more about Sound Design and also was able to make new friends by being part of the S4LT-V4LT family.
I’m a Generalist Programmer, as I am familiar with most branches of Game Development such as AI, Sound, Gameplay, Animation, UI, etc. I could say that being Flexible is my strength since I can adapt to the role I’m assigned to, as long as I have time to learn it. I am interested in learning more about Game Development and I am looking forward to looking into different roles such as an animator or technical artist.
S4LT-V4LT (aka The Yellow Boat Reimagined) Members
Patrice Adela – producer, designer
Anton Arcega – lead programmer
Kristine Ong – 3D artist
Trixie Ylanan – 2D artist
Joshua Villena – programmer
David Pacheco – designer
Shellina Magarzo – programmer
Nathaniel Gonzales – programmer, sound designer
Cyrus Tuico – 3D artist, texture artist
Over the last 12 months, it has been a pleasure working with this team. And to think that they are graduating college students and didn’t have any previous experience creating VR games.
Having met this awesome team and seeing what they could do, it makes me think how even more awesome it would be if they learned coding early on and create apps and games that can have global potential.
I believe that every Juan can learn how to code and it’s time that the country take serious notice of our people’s ability to not just consume apps and games but create them as well. It’s time for every Juan to code.
If you want to join us, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Anton Arcega, Cyrus Tuico, David Pacheco, Every Juan Can Code, Jay Jaboneta, Joshua Villena, Kristine Ong, Nathaniel Gonzales, Panorama, Patrice Adela, Shellina Magarzo, The Yellow Boat Reimagined, Trixie Ylanan