DMA Central


Game Development: Conquering Whole New Worlds

Course: Game Development

DMA Instructor: James Taylor

Education: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA (Major: Computer Animation)

Professional Profile: James Taylor is a well-established university instructor of 3D art and design, with heavy ties to the video game industry. After short stints working as a cel animator and a web designer, James joined the industry in 2000. During his decade of experience, his career has touched every aspect of the game-development pipeline. James has created art for  “Mortal Kombat,” and break-out franchises such as “Karaoke Revolution,” “Blitz the League,” and “NBA Ballers,” and directed the creation of projects like “Game Party 2” for the Wii. He’s also an in-demand speaker at industry events such as Microsoft’s XNA Conference and Midway Games Art Director’s Summit. James now instructs students in the Chicago area at both DePaul University and Columbia College – where he focuses on building the next generation of game artists.

DMA Campus Location: University of Chicago


According to James Taylor, video game development has gotten pretty unreal lately, in more ways than one. “This summer I’m excited to teach four classes that revolve around the game development process with Unreal 3,” says the instructor, who’s looking forward to another incredible summer teaching at Digital Media Academy’s Computer & Digital Arts Summer Camp.

So why is James so jazzed about Unreal 3?

Digital Media Academy’s very own James Taylor worked on the blockbuster video game, “Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe.”

“Epic developed the Unreal 3 technology specifically for use on the Xbox 360,” he explains. “It instantly became the standard for ‘next-generation’ consoles such as the 360 and the PS3. The Unreal 3 look was synonymous with next-gen, and the tools were well built and easy to use. It’s no wonder that companies desperately wanted the game engine, and it was widely adopted for development.”

And why does James think it’s so important for young people who want to learn video game development and get into the game industry to be sure they know how to use Unreal 3?

“Originally, Epic’s Unreal engine was just meant for first-person shooters – but now it’s showing up in fighting games, adventure games, wrestling games and even MMOs. Many of the developers in the industry now require a working knowledge of UE3.”

A required knowledge of UE3? Now, that’s a game-changer…especially when some video game summer camps don’t even offer intensive UE3 training, or can only deliver a watered-down course of study. DMA’s game development classes are taught by highly credentialed professionals, so students not only learn the ropes of the latest software, but also receive the benefit of learning from instructors’ vast industry experience.

Incredible image detail goes head to head with enhanced game play, courtesy of the UE3 game engine. DMA’s 3D Game Creation classes put you on a path to creating your own best-selling video games.

“The 3D Game Creation classes will introduce students to the UE3 tools and professional development practices, giving them hands-on experience in game creation,” says James. “And the brand new Advanced 3D classes expand on that knowledge to take the students even further inside the game development process, preparing students to develop their own indie games, or creating a strong foundation for a job in the game industry itself.”

DMA’s courses concentrate on level design, character design and Advanced 3D Game Production. Students are free to design their own characters, backgrounds and sounds, or use pre-built content from top graphics libraries. Additional topics covered include game planning, path-based movement, collision detection, dialogue, inventory and playability.

Different courses concentrate on certain key aspects of game creation, an approach that James likes. “DMA’s focused study really appeals to me,” he says. “Focusing on a single topic, such as environment creation in Unreal 3, allows the students and myself to really dig deeply into the subject matter. And packing all that learning into a single week means that all the information remains fresh and the pace of the class stays dynamic.”

James’ enthusiasm for the subject of game development is contagious – and helps DMA students become even more passionate about video games and working in the game industry. “The Digital Media Academy programs are exactly the sort of classes I would have jumped at as a teenager!” he says. “It’s exciting to be able to share what I know and to work with teens to create this sort of experience for them.”

DMA offers computer and visual arts summer camps and courses in which students build their own cool 3D and 2D games – including side-scrollers, pinball, and racing games. And there’s a great team spirit to the work, with students helping each other play-test the games they create. Learn more or register for a summer camp by visiting Digital Media Academy.


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