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GCG: Postmortem of Collins College’s Eternal Winter

GCG: Postmortem of Collins College’s Eternal Winter

November 11, 2008 | By Jill Duffy

Collins College graduate Blake Mitchell has written a postmortem, published on, of Eternal Winter, a mod created with the Unreal 2004 Editor that Mitchell and his peers developed as part of their game development program curriculum.

Mitchell, the art director and character modeler for the game, notes in the article that the students originally set out to create three complete levels, but ended up paring down that goal to one level. Defining a narrow enough scope is a common problem for student game developers, especially considering that they typically work on teams of only a few students and have a very limited amount of time in which to develop their projects. Eternal Winter, for example, was created in about seven months by a team of seven.

Among the things that went right for the team were not having a steep learning curve; the group chose to work with the Unreal 2004 Editor because they had all had a prior class in using it.

On the other hand, one of the things that the students say could have been done better is figuring out how to package files, as Mitchell explains:

"Creating the static meshes inside of 3ds Max 9 was easy. Creating the textures was easy. Importing them into Unreal was even easy. Optimizing them so it didn't take 20 minutes to load the level was a challenge.

"There were few to no tutorials on how to optimize, and instructors really didn't have much to offer on how to do it. We spent weeks importing, making smaller texture files, cutting polygons, zoning in unreal but it wasn't cutting the load times down by much. We originally placed all our textures into a single package file. In the end we discovered to load many smaller package files instead of one big one. It helped keep the load times down to a normal Unreal level."

To read the complete article, "Student Postmortem: Collins College's Eternal Winter," visit, Gamasutra's affiliate web site for education and career advice in game development.

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