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Session Name:

Making High-Quality Student Games: Findings from Dead Steel


At Media Design School, we strive to provide students with the worlds most industry-centric game-development programme. Our tutors are industry veterans, who oversee a six-month production involving students who are both artists and programmers. Students must present high-concept production ideas to tutors, who then approve the project once they are satisfied with the quality. After following this process, the Dead Steel team entered pre-production to begin composing the art, technical and game design documents. These documents served as contracts for specific milestone features. The team also investigated supporting technologies. Team members opted to use the Gamebryo Engine, FMod, Crazy-Eddies GUI, PhysX, C++, Maya, Photoshop, and MudBox. The students were then trained to be technically competent in using a variety of related tools, techniques, procedures and processes, so minimal assistance was required during production. The team was responsible for self-managing all aspects of production including risk management, milestone delivery and inter-personal conflict, with tutors acting as supervisors. Throughout production, the Dead Steel team delivered features ahead of time and against the negotiated contracts. Feature changes, based on results from play testing, were negotiated to maximize the likelihood of delivering a quality game. This negotiation promoted complete accountability, transparency, and allowed verification of tasks. The end result was polished and professional because they had extra time to work up to that high standard.

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  • GDC China 2010
  • Jonathan Booth
  • Media Design School, Auckland, New Zealand
  • free content
  • Independent Games
  • Independent Games