EPX convention gives students face time with programming pros

BY SAM STEWART | MAY 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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Last Friday was EPX Studios second annual EPX Animation and Gaming Convention, a gathering of industry experts where students can learn about programming jobs straight from the pros. In attendance this year were artists and programmers from big names companies like Disney Interactive, Laika, and Polytron.

This year's con spanned two days, with a variety of speeches and programming demonstrations. Two of the lecturers I had a chance to speak with on Friday were Tyler Fermelis, a 3D artist working on Marvel Heroes at Gazillion Entertainment, and Farley Chery, a 3D rigger at Northeastern and a freelance professor for DigitalTutors.

"It seemed like the students were really keen on learning and very curious about all of the different aspects of 3D out there," said Fermelis, "I thought that it would be cool to come and share whatever I could."

Both were excited to teach, but they were also just happy to see a conference like this succeed. "I think that EPX is a very important conference," said Chery, "I've taught at a lot of different universities in the north east and very few of them have something like this where they actually will reach out not just to the general close community around them but they will bring people as far as Boston and San Francisco to come and share some of their knowledge."

The speaker who generated the most buzz at the convention was Renaud B├ędard, former programmer at Polytron who helped create last year's indie hit Fez.

He gave a presentation on the many games he has created at game jams, which are festivals where game developers have a short time frame to create a game. Although he was unable to talk about what he is working on now at his new employer, Capybara Games, he did talk a lot about his experiences programming Fez, and gave plenty of tips for programming smaller games.

The turnout for the convention was very strong, pulling in attendees from all over the state. I spoke with Ted Martins, an indie game developer who came all the way from Ames to see Renaud speak.

"It was good to see his talk" said Martins, "I go to game jams as well, and it's good to learn from someone who is good at it."

Martins says he has attended many EPX events, and has always been impressed by what they can pull off.

Even for someone like me who doesn't know much about game programming or animation, this convention was a lot of fun. With the success of this year's con, EPX will undoubtedly be focusing on putting on an even bigger show next year.

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