Game design students celebrate commencement in virtual Franklin Hall
The Media School
Bachelor of Science in Game Design Program & Graduation Celebration
May 8, 2020
The environment is shown. The game environment looks like the layout of the Franklin Hall commons but in the style of Hogwarts. An emoji is shown moving through the environment.
So we usually do our commencement for the game design students in the commons. Obviously, that wasn’t gonna happen.
Media School game design lecturer Rush Swope talks about how he created the environment.
So it’s a fairly faithful recreation of the commons in terms of the structure, except, you know, I just changed the theme of it to kind of like old magic, Hogwarts-esque, magic books flying around and changing picture frames and things like that.
Because I want them to have someplace to show off their work and, you know, talk about the semester and how everyone did and where they’re going after graduation and just kind of have a day off. The environment is built in Unreal Engine 4. What I did when I was in the industry was build environments for games and movies and things like that.
The environment is shown.
It’s what I teach them to do in the environment class. The only kind of small difference was it needed to be multiplayer accessible, so that 100 people all at once could get into the world and be there all at the same time.
A photo of all the people’s emojis who attended are shown. The environment is shown, including Franklin Hall’s defining features.
I mean, I got everything in there that I wanted to get. I rebuilt Studio 7, I put in signs for IDS and WIUX and screening rooms and ICR, just so it kinda looks like that whole place exists inside of the space.
There’s fireworks that shoot at the end that are in the shape of the IU logo. There’s lots of little small Easter egg kinda stuff like that.
The Table of Portents and the Die of Destiny
A photo of what each side of the die means is shown.
We dropped a big D20 dice in the side of the world. So every semester, we roll whenever they graduate, and each side means something. So like this side, we rolled 16. And that means that the outgoing graduating class within the next five years has to introduce at least one of our current students to someone in the industry.
I’ll probably keep it live year after year. It’s good because they can see everyone’s work.
We had 300 images that we needed to display. They’re all looping. It’s hard to do that even in the commons. With the virtual commons, they can go to different picture frames and see different work and then spend as much time as they want there.
Student work is shown inside the environment.
The link is still live now. So people can go there right now and still go see the work.
More student work is shown.
They got to pick an emoji face, and then they got to pick a hat. There’s 45 hats that I put into the game. So demon emojis running around with wizard hats and smiley face emojis running around with tricorn hats.
And then ultimately expand it to the entire Media School. And so include all of the graphic design students, all the advertising students, and then ultimately kind of collect all of their work, just like the student gallery on websites, except virtual.
Then ultimately, I want to change the theme every year too. So I was thinking about like a sci-fi punk, cyberpunk world next year.
Torches light the entryway to the Beckley Studio. A suit of armor guards the Indiana Daily Student newsroom. Portraits of game design faculty line the walls of Presidents Hall.
Like all other campus events this spring, The Media School’s annual game design commencement celebration had to be held virtually. But instead of seeing the virtual format as a limitation, lecturer Rush Swope used it as an opportunity.
Students and faculty celebrated last month in a virtual Franklin Hall that Swope created using SpatialOS technology.
“It’s a fairly faithful recreation of the commons in terms of the architecture, the structure, except I just changed the theme of it to kind of like old magic, Hogwarts-esque,” he said.
Just like the real Franklin Hall, Swope’s environment included the game design lab, the IDS, WIUX Pure Student Radio, the Institute for Communication Research, a screening room and the Beckley Studio. But the virtual Franklin Hall also featured flying books and changing picture frames to reflect the magical theme. The ceremony ended with IU trident-shaped fireworks.
Senior lecturer Norbert Herber created music for the environment.
“The environment that Rush built was so beautiful. The first glimpse that you get of it is really dramatic,” Herber said. “You go down this hallway and it just kind of explodes into this common space, and I wanted the music to help honor the graduates but also to set up the beauty of the space that everyone was about to enter.”
The music was a combination of “Hail to Old IU” and “Pomp and Circumstance.”
There were some positive aspects of celebrating in the virtual environment, Swope said.
“It’s good because they can see everyone’s work,” he said. “We had 300 images that we needed to display, so they’re all looping. It’s hard to do that even in the commons, so with the virtual commons, they can go to different picture frames and see different work and spend as much time as they want there.”
The virtual event preserved many of the game design celebration’s traditions. For example, at the beginning and end of each school year, game design faculty and students roll a 20-sided die, and each side has a specific meaning.
This semester, they dropped the die inside the virtual environment instead. They rolled a 16, which means members of the outgoing graduating class must introduce at least one current student to someone in the industry within five years.
Swope and Herber said the project reflects what they teach their game design students in class.
“It was kind of a good way for us as faculty to practice what we preach in that we were trying to get everything together quickly, and something like this takes so much work,” Herber said. “Because he’s really good at what he does, we landed on our feet and everything was great.”
Swope said he wants to keep this environment live and expand it to better showcase projects including music and interactive work, and to include students from the entire Media School.
He plans to change the theme each year and is already brainstorming ideas for next year’s celebration.
“I wanted them to have someplace to show off their work and hang out, which is usually what they do that day,” he said.