This Friday was the last day of the Summer semester at the University of Advancing Technology. Most university campuses are dead over the Summer and twice as dead on the last day of finals week. At UAT, however, the final day of the semester is one of the longest, busiest, and potentially most important days of the semester for the game development students - it's pitch day.
The greenlight pitches began at 10:15am Friday morning and didn't wrap up until just after 1pm. The theater was fill with teams of students with pitch decks and prototypes presenting to the game development faculty and competing to be selected as one of the handful of student projects to be greenlit.
At the University we have a suite of game studio classes that integrate intermediate and senior resident and online undergraduate and graduate students into a game development studio experience all day every Friday. If a project gets greenlit, then it gets picked up by the game studio courses and any students that enroll in the class that aren't already working on one of the studio projects must apply for a position on one of the greenlit projects.
The greenlit projects receive tremendous support from the university. Game art students do contract work on the greenlit projects. The students in the game testing class receive builds of the greenlit games to test for their course assignments. Game production masters students work on greenlit projects in leadership roles, usually focusing on project management and marketing. Next semester we're expecting an estimated 120 students in the studio classes alone; that's not counting the art contractors, testers, or graduate students.
Oxygen, the project I've been assisting this Summer, was originally greenlit in May at the end of the Spring semester. After the nearly 3 hours of pitches and deliberation between faculty, my team was one of eight greenlit on Friday. I think this is a very important point to mention - a greenlit project must compete with all the other teams at the end of every semester to continue development. There are no guarantees a project will keep going. If a greenlit project is failing to deliver its milestones it can be cut and replaced by a new project.
The Oxygen Team
These last few weeks have been crunch time not only for my development team, but also for myself and for Claire, the product owner for Oxygen. While our development team was hard at work implementing and polishing the content of our release for the end of the Summer, we were hard at work preparing our pitch package.
Friday night, all of the the greenlit projects that were in development this Summer presented their progress and ran a public playtest of their final build of the semester. A couple of the projects even released their final build and one shipped their game on Friday (keep an eye out for KnickKnax on the Google Play Store).
We received some great feedback at the public playtest, and while most of the development team is on vacation for the next two weeks, Claire and I are hard at work planning for our next semester's release.