Epic Games Educational Spotlight: Media Design School

By Media Design School

Institution: Media Design School

School: Media Design School 

Department: Faculty of Game Development

Programme Description: 

Media Design School is New Zealand’s most awarded tertiary institute for digital and creative technology qualifications. Ranked amongst the top three schools in the world to provide VFX/Animation and Game Development qualifications by the Autodesk sponsored CG Student Awards, Media Design School offers two bachelor’s level degrees in the field of Game Development, Creative Technologies (Game Art) and Software Engineering (Game Programming), as well as a range of other undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the field of digital design. 

From their very first day at Media Design School, our students study in a studio-like environment using industry aligned software and technology. They are encouraged to challenge conventions and push boundaries in new and emerging digital technologies through project-based learning and live briefs.

Media Design School was the first tertiary institution in the Southern Hemisphere to provide specialized gaming degrees for aspirational game developers. What’s more, Media Design School is currently the only school in New Zealand to have partnered with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's PlayStation First Academic Development Programme, giving our students the opportunity to develop games for the PlayStation platform.

Our Game Development Programme Leader and the Game Art and Game Programming lecturers all come from a diverse array of digital disciplines and bring their real world industry experience to their student’s learning journey.

Instructor Spotlight: 

Educator #1

David March

Lecturer, Bachelor of Creative Technologies

As an accomplished 3D Artist and Animator, David has worked on many AAA titles across multiple platforms over the past 17 years. After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Business, David started his career in game development at 3D Relams in Dallas, Texas, where he worked on Prey and Duke Nukem Forever.  In Dallas, David also had the opportunity to work with the many talented developers at Ritual Entertainment before moving to Germany to work at Crytek where, in addition to his animation and 3D artwork on FarCry, he even dabbled in motion capture acting.

After shipping FarCry, David moved on to help the Guildhall at SMU get off the ground teaching a Masters degree in advanced courses in 3D and animation and to set up one of the first educational motion capture labs in Texas.  From SMU David moved on to be the Lead Animator at Irrational games in Australia. He came in on the tail end of BioShock to work on game demos for the XCOM franchise that turned into The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.  He then made a short stop off in Irvine to work at Red 5 Studios on Firefall before going to Kaos studios to work on Homefront for THQ as the Lead Cinematics Animator.  

Currently, David is a lecturer in Bachelor of Creative Technologies faculty at Media Design School. He also creates mobile VR games with Spidermonk Entertainment.

Educator #2  

Ivan Khmel

Lecturer, Bachelor of Creative Technologies

Ivan comes with nine years of New Zealand-based game development experience. Over the course of that time he worked at PIKPOK/Sidhe Interactive, where he as part of the team developed 19 different published titles, including Giant Boulder of Death, Into The Dead and Monsters Ate My Condo. Currently he is working on his own Game Development projects using Unreal Engine 4 and Game Maker Studio. As a generalist with both technical and artistic abilities and interests, Ivan has been primarily worked on the first year papers at Media Design School, where he teaches students the fundamentals of 2D, 3D Animation and Technical Art. 

Group Student Work:

The Huskarls - Titandrum

The Húskarls is a team of New Zealand-based game design students who are passionate about creating fun, easy-to-pick-up titles that players of all ages and experience can enjoy.

To help develop their titles, the team has been utilizing Unreal Engine 4 to create games such as Leap of Faith, a fantasy tower defense title and the unconventionally bizarre Titandrum: Gods with Dad Bods. 

Due to the diverse nature of these titles, both projects have served as learning experiences for the team from both a coding and artistic perspective, as they have taken drastically different approaches to develop Leap of Faith and Titandrum to achieve titles that offer the players uniquely different experiences. 

Whilst developing both Leap of Faith and Titandrum, The Húskarls’ programmers found Unreal’s C++ workflow to be flexible, allowing for efficient development, and their artists found tools such as Unreal’s Persona Animation Editor intuitive to pick up, allowing them to develop the prototypes for Leap of Faith and Titandrum in relatively short periods of time. 

Like Unreal Engine, The Húskarls are adapting to the constantly changing nature of game development and are taking creative approaches to deliver quality games to their dedicated fan-base. 


Core Team members:
Hayden Asplet - Lead Programmer
Alasdair McNab - Level Programmer
Claire Chin - Lead Artist / Character Artist
Matthew Oades - Environment Artist
David Deng - Environment Artist
Sam Batty - Technical Artist and Animator

Media Design School’s close connections with the creative industries in both New Zealand and abroad are integral to the school’s central philosophy of developing and promoting student work. These industry partnerships ensure that our courses are aligned with the latest industry standards and mirror the challenges and successes that are faced by a typical game artist, programmer, or animator on a daily basis.


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