Updated: Apr 14, 2022
After half a semester of working on their own projects, KTECH VR students are now joining together to put what they’ve learned so far to the test.
Recently the students completed the individual projects they developed as they learned the basics of building virtual worlds in class. Now, they’re joining together to work on a group project.
The students came up with a variety of games for their individual projects, featuring everything from sword-slashing cave adventures to virtual chatrooms in tropical settings.
The students soon learned that not everything would go according to plan, however.
Grissom High School senior Henry Sithole had visions of a tower-defense style game with different types of buildings and houses, but he learned that it was a lot to ask for from someone just starting out in game building.
“I did manage to get the AI roaming working,” Henry said. “And so I had a little character that was able to just walk around the little nice environment I made, and I was really proud of that.”
Student Henley Baron also found that his vision of a hack-and-slash roleplaying game was a grand goal.
“In reality it never really got to that point,” Henley said. “But it was really fun. I got to experiment with a lot of different things. I wanted to try a bunch of different things, so I kind of got into the surface level of a bunch of stuff.”
James Clemens High School student Josh Reed created several houses with different levels of lighting in each home and targets to shoot, as well as a zombie that would wander. He is pleased with what he accomplished during the first part of the course.
“I feel like I could do a lot more,” he said. “But a lot of it was learning really simple stuff.”
Josh’s James Clemens classmate, Madelyn Saxby, made a world designed as a kind of virtual meeting space. She has been working on it outside of class.
“I’ll hopefully be able to put it on the market,” she said. “Not for much, but just for people to give me feedback on it, see what I can work on and also just keep practicing making games.”
Bob Jones High School senior Riley Fitzpatrick worked on a target shooting game and was able to build an environment and get guns working. But she said if she had to do it over again, she would rely on pre-made items to get more of her project finished.
“I like how it looks. I like how it performs,” she said. “I just put too much time into trying to make everything from scratch, and I shouldn’t have done that.”
That’s part of the learning experience in KTECH VR: Learning to work within a time frame to accomplish goals. In addition to building a world in VR, students had complete project timelines with milestones to meet by certain dates.
"It’s a way to understand what their capabilities and limitations are,” said KTECH instructor Karl Liggin. “They have the ability to spread their wings and try whatever they want, but they also have to try and understand that in doing so, you have limitations working by yourself. You can only get so much done in a time frame.”
The students also get an idea of how they can apply their skills in a developer timeline and framework, which requires teamwork and communication skills.
“I think one of the biggest things that I’ve learned and I’ve had to work on for a very long time is just time management,” Sithole said. “Being able to stay focused, knowing what direction you want to go and where you want to take your projects and what you want to spend your time on, because you don’t have unlimited time for everything.”
Those lessons will carry over into the group project, which students decided would be a paintball game. Team members already have their roles and responsibilities and have gotten started.
And while it is still work, students said they are having a good time.
“I’m having a bunch of fun making video games and also talking to other people in class and seeing how their brains work, and getting ideas from them as well,” Madelyn said.
This is the second beta class for KTECH’s VR Academy, which will be open to the public in the fall. For those who are curious about it, a one-week Camp KTECH VR will take place this June. For more information about KTECH’s Mechatronics and VR classes, visit goktech.org.