Back in July, SCAD was honored with the “Game of the Year – Virtual Reality” award from The Rookies, an international program of recognition for student designers, innovators and artists. Globally recognized for discovering and encouraging emerging talent, The Rookies are based on over 8,725 entrants from more than 600 universities internationally. SCAD was previously named “Best Motion Graphics School” by The Rookies in the 2017 official rankings of The Best Creative Schools in the World.

The winning virtual reality (VR) entry produced at SCAD was called “Centauri.” A July press release described the entry as a virtual reality (VR) adventure in which a first-person player is sent to an alien planet to find the salvage of a lifetime. The game was created by a team comprised of 14 SCAD students headed by lead programmer Victor Burgos (B.F.A., interactive design and game development, 2017) and lead artist Travis Sindewald (B.F.A., interactive design and game development, 2017).

The awards were determined by a judging panel that included Academy Award winner for Best Visual Effects in two “Lord of the Rings” films, Joe Letteri. Judging criteria included creative and technical skills, presentation, raw talent and employment potential.

Burgos, who currently works as an independent game developer, said the entire production of “Centauri” spanned 20 weeks since it was considered a senior project. The “core team,” as Burgos referred to it, consisted of four students with the 10 others contacted throughout the “Centauri’s” development process for external tasks such as audio.

“We basically started off by coming up with various ideas on the project we wanted to work on,” Burgos said. “Then, after many compromises, we settled on a 1 v 1 VR Multiplayer Platforming Shooter. After our initial idea, we went through pre-production and came up with a game design document for the game as well as project management to keep things organized.”

Burgos was the team lead for the first half of production and served as the lead for “some” of the second half. At the beginning of the project, which was made over the course of both a Studio II and Post-Production class, Burgos said he picked his team members. It was in the Post-Production course that he and his team decided to submit “Centauri” for consideration to The Rookies.

Burgos’s responsibilities included ensuring his team followed programming standards and that the game itself was optimized via both the CPU side and GPU side. Burgos said he was the only team member with any experience working in virtual reality.

“So I had to instruct the others when it came to specifics in VR development,” Burgos said. “I also instructed the use of the industry standard Perforce, Version Source Control software. I also had to do the majority of the programming, especially in regards to Multiplayer, complete with refactoring and bug fixing not only my code but others as well.”

Now a SCAD alumni, Burgos said his ultimate goal is to open an indie game development studio either in Savannah or Charleston. He said the teamwork and collaboration he encountered creating “Centauri” prepared him for future programming projects.

“As the lead programmer, the greatest challenge was communication, just like anything else in life,” Burgos said. “It was fundamental, yet many still have issues with it. That and not following standards [and] practices laid out beforehand became issues. So I guess, overall it was a teamwork issue. But in the end, after all was said and done, we got it done.”

Written by Emilie Kefalas.