From classroom to studio
Phelps is a strong believer in the educational theory of constructionism—in other words, that students learn best by doing. In his game production class, Phelps turned his classroom into a game production studio working on the game “Fragile Equilibrium.” Students from a variety of backgrounds worked in teams on engineering, gameplay design, art production, user interface design and sound. Phelps even hired students to act as production managers and team leads for the project.
“By running the course like a professional studio, we not only helped students get hands-on experience in game development, but we taught them how to use industry-standard tracking tools, work with cross-disciplinary teams and practise professional skills in communication and conflict resolution,” says Phelps.
While setting up his game production course, Phelps began hearing talk about one particular app in Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise: Adobe XD. Several professors were finding classroom success using Adobe XD to prototype user experiences for mobile apps and web design. Phelps challenged students to use Adobe XD to model startup screen progression, menu flows and in-game interfaces before working on art models or programming the interfaces in Unity.
“Working with Adobe XD to prototype the interface was fantastic,” says Phelps. “Students created a model and adjusted screens based on feedback very quickly. We immediately dived into discussions about button placement, navigation pathways and information that users will need. It was so much faster than waiting for engineering to build an interface that they would need to rip apart and rebuild over and over again.”
Adobe XD not only speeded up workflows, but it provided a great advantage when it came to communicating between teams. Rather than design teams simply describing interfaces to engineering, they provided clear diagrams that visualised the screen positioning and menu flow. There was less confusion, which reduced the time that engineers needed to spend on meeting with designers and rebuilding interfaces. Teams could focus on polishing game assets or improving mechanics.
The resulting game is a triumph of art and gameplay. “Fragile Equilibrium” is available through the Xbox One Creators Programme, Steam Store, Windows Store and Itch.io platform.
Encouraging greater productivity and creativity
RIT students in the New Media Design programme focus on some of the most cutting-edge media opportunities, including interactive installations, virtual reality experiences and augmented reality apps. These immersive digital environments have the potential to revolutionise any number of industries, from education and healthcare to business and manufacturing.
New Media Design students start using Adobe Creative Cloud their first day in the programme. After mastering the basics of design with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, students typically add animation and movement to their repertoire with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.
“One thing that we’ve struggled with in the New Media Design department is how to balance teaching production versus creation,” says Adam Smith, Undergraduate Programme Director of New Media Design in RIT’s College of Art and Design. “We want students to gain experience on efficient workflows and important production tools, but we still want every classroom lesson to challenge them creatively so that they will become better designers. Adobe XD strikes a great balance between production efficiency and creative freedom.”
Adobe XD is easy for students to pick up, allowing them to quickly prototype interactive designs and interfaces, even switching between responsive screen sizes. Because students are working quickly, they have more time to test variations and look at more creative ways to communicate information through their apps, designs or projects.
Professors also gain more opportunities to work closely with students. Students can quickly create new iterations of a project based on feedback and fit in more review cycles during a course. With more opportunities for feedback, students can grow further and push themselves creatively.