Dead Can Dance: Grim Fandango Remastered, PS4, Review

written by Student 16 April 2015

Jay Haney By Guest Blogger, Johnathon Haney
Bachelor of Science, Media Arts & Animation Student
International Game Developers Association member
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division

Grim Fandango Remastered, PS4, Review

Contrary to popular myth, some works of art need time and distance to be appreciated properly. Movies are the most obvious example. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is now hailed as his greatest film, quite possibly by many of the same critics who lambasted it at the time of its release. It took the medium of television to transform the reputation of two box office bombs called The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life. So it is with one of the last great adventure games ever created by LucasArts, Grim Fandango.

While receiving initial critical acclaim and fondly remembered now by game enthusiasts, this game was, in fact, a financial disaster that helped to put an end to the adventure game era of the company. So it is quite surprising that the same game has now been re-released and updated.

The Plot

The story itself is amusingly engaging. You are Manuel “Manny” Calavera, an afterlife travel agent working off his sins. His particular office specializes in making sure souls get to the Ninth Level of the Underworld, a place of eternal bliss. It’s a journey that usually takes five years but, with enough of the right karmic credit, you can get there a lot faster…and in style. For such souls, the Number 9 train is the ultimate prize.

Unfortunately for Manny, he’s on a serious losing streak. All he’s been getting are middling clients that leave him without any commissions toward his time served. So he decides to take matters into his own hands via a little corporate skullduggery. The fallout of that reckless decision starts him on his own journey to the Ninth Level—and to discovering the real reason he hasn’t been catching a break.

The story itself references everything from The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca to Glengarry Glen Ross and the beat movement. You may not know what’s going to happen next, but you know it’s going to be outrageous and a blast to watch!

The Setting, Characters, and Interface

The setting of Grim Fandango draws inspiration from Día De Los Muertos (which itself is highly influenced by Mayan and Aztec cosmology) and film noir. Most of the characters are skeletons with distinct personalities and fully dressed in modern clothing. They’re juxtaposed with grand architecture that recalls not only ancient Central American civilizations, but also a bit of Art Deco. The exceptions to the character designs include the occasional demon, such as Manny’s vehicle-obsessed sidekick Glottis, who proves to be both help and hindrance on the journey.

The interface is simply elegant—the ultimate expression of Lucasarts’ trademark SCUMM engine. True to the original, if Manny can interact with something in the environment, he looks at it (something that was carried over to Konami’s Silent Hill series a few short years later). He keeps his entire inventory inside his jacket pocket, which the player can look at any time they choose. Best of all, there is no such thing as a wrong dialogue choice, and picking any dialogue option can give you the fun you want.

The Verdict

While the basics of this game are solid, it’s the innovations that were added that make it spectacular. At the time of the game’s release, it’s high-end hardware requirements kept it from being playable and thus sellable. So it’s ironic that innovations in lighting and graphics (which oddly needed little reworking) were a huge part of the re-release, and are actually instead showcase the PS4’s ability to create wonderful environments. Along with the director’s commentary and a concept art gallery, these impressive environments are what make the game worthwhile.

It’s rare that anything in the arts gets a second chance to make a first impression. But Grim Fandango has more than earned that chance. Any serious gamer who loves adventure games owes it to themselves to give it a shot!

Want to know more about programs in the area of Media Arts? Explore what you can learn at The Art Institutes and find out what school was recently named among the Top 5 Undergrad Schools To Study Video Game Design by The Princeton Review!

The information and opinions expressed and/or any artwork displayed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the individual faculty, student and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division.

See for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

6 Newbie Graphic Designer Mistakes to Avoid

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 April 2015

Like any skilled profession, graphic design has a learning curve that can result in several common beginners’ mistakes. These gaffes may range from how you approach your design to the relationships you form with your clients. Here are 6 of the top major mistakes prevalent among young graphic designers, and how to avoid them.

6 Newbie Graphic Designer Mistakes to Avoid

1. Messy Design Elements

New graphic designers often go above and beyond to please new clients and showcase their talents. However, left unchecked, this eagerness can lead to overdesign and even a bit of chaos. So keep your focus on implementing a simple and clean design, unless your client specifies otherwise.

2. Failing to Sign a Contract

Unfortunately, graphic designers don’t always protect themselves with client contracts. Be aware that, without a contract, unscrupulous clients could short you or take your work without proper compensation. Although you may think that asking a client for a more formal agreement involving a contract might scare them away, it’s important to get one signed anyway.

3. Stock Image Overuse

As a web designer, it’s tempting to use simple stock photos. Unfortunately, the best stock photos are already being used across the web, which can detract from the originality of your web design. If possible, include your own images. Take them yourself, if feasible, or, if your budget allows, partner with a photographer you know and trust. Let your client know that you’re putting extra time and effort to deliver them personalized images, and they'll notice the difference.

4. Stale Designs

As a graphic designer, you may have a great sense of aesthetics, but it's also important to stay on top of the latest trends to make sure you offer something fresh. Creating a design that stands out from the competition can be one of the single best ways to keep clients happy.

5. Not Understanding a Client’s Needs

Always check and double-check that you fully understand your client’s needs before producing a design. Build a roadmap of your graphic or web design plan and make sure your client is on board. This will help you please the client the first time around and help you avoid costly redesigns.

6. Not Knowing Your Limits

You may want to take on a lot of work, but it’s important to set deadlines you can meet and tackle projects that are within your skill set. Over time, your knowledge of graphic design will grow and you’ll be more comfortable tackling more complex projects. Until then, know your limits.


Remember, everyone makes mistakes. It's an unavoidable and essential part of learning something new, but you can always learn from the mistakes of those who come before you! To really up your design game, consider earning a degree in the area of Graphic & Web Design. Explore our programs today!

You’re Invited: April Student Events

written by Georgia Schumacher 2 April 2015


The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is buzzing with fun and exciting events this April! Register now for these online events and find even more webinars on the Campus Common Events Calendar!

Upcoming April Events

The Lodging Industry – From B&B’s to Luxury Hotels
Tuesday, April 7, 2pm ET
15 year Marriott Hotel veteran Lee Heron will discuss the lodging industry from bed & breakfasts to luxury hotels. Discuss the different brands and learn about the many types of positions: front office, housekeeping, sales/marketing, human resources, food and beverage, revenue management, and security. See actual positions open right now and explore the overall growth and development of hotels.

Culinary and Hospitality and Events, OH MY: Let’s Talk Job Positions and Skills!
Wednesday, April 8, 7pm ET
Do you have what it takes to be in the Hotel Sales, Culinary, Hospitality, and Event business? In this faculty-led workshop, you will learn the different types of job titles and businesses in which you can work. We will also review the skill set and personal attributes a person must hold to be successful in these types of positions.

Writing an Effective Hospitality Resume – Tips and Tricks!
Tuesday, April 14, 7pm ET
Ever wanted to know how to write a resume that will make you stand out? This workshop will review the purpose of a resume and the basic rules for writing a resume. We will identify resume types that are industry specific and help to define skills, experiences, and educational background for effective resumes.

The Fun Side of Finding a Job in the Creative Field: The Little Extras that Can Make All the Difference
Tuesday, April 14, 7:30pm ET
This faculty-led workshop will primarily focus on ways to get yourself noticed and build your brand, including how to create a resume that reflects who you are as a designer, ideas for amazingly different business cards, and fun leave-behinds for interviews. We will also discuss unexpected places to find jobs and unexpected careers for designers (and others).

Meet a Sommelier and Discuss Wine and Food Pairing!
Wednesday, April 15, 7pm ET
Stefano Buttò from Northern Italy will share his experience as a wine consultant and broker in California including Europa Village Winery, Miramonte-Winery, La Bella Vita Restaurant, EAT Marketplace and Cellarz93 Restaurant. He currently manages Meritage at Callaway, a restaurant that specializes in local and organic ingredients. This workshop will discuss wine and food pairing and latest trends in wine.

Meet the CUL-HRM Online Program Directors
Thursday, April 16, 7pm ET
Meet the Hotel & Restaurant Management and Culinary Management Program Directors – Gaye Warren & Seth Selke—in an open call in townhall forum! Introduce yourself and discuss anything on your mind, including concerns, questions, and ideas regarding your program experience or portfolio.

All about R&D – How to Get Your Product to Market!
Wednesday, April 22, 7pm ET
Did you ever wonder what it takes to bring a product to market? This workshop will review the research and development (R&D) process. Chef John Fuente is a current R&D Chef with 28 years of culinary experience. Faculty member and Chef Alisa Gaylon is also an attorney, and, together they will discuss the legalities of creating and developing new products.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Chef Certification
Thursday, April 23, 7pm ET
Join us for a presentation by faculty member Chef Collen Engle, CEC (Certified Executive Chef) and CCE (Certified Culinary Educator), to learn more about American Culinary Federation certification, the different levels available, what it represents, and how to achieve it.

Foundations Student Orientation: How to Succeed
Monday, April 27, 1:30pm ET
Recommended for all students taking an Art Foundations (FND) course, get helpful study tips, learn how to write critiques, and get a jump start with course expectations. Take a guided tour of where and how to get help when you need it.

Portfolio Prep Q&A
Tuesday, April 28, 8:30pm ET
This event is focused on Graphic Design/Digital Design students, but faculty members and students from other programs are welcome. This webinar will include:

• How a portfolio is used in the graphic design industry
• General expectations for a portfolio 
• When and how to prepare for your portfolio course
• Examples of professional portfolios and relevant resources

Weekly and Recurring Meetings

Graphic & Web Design Career Series
Thursdays at 7pm, ET
The Web & Graphic Design Department is hosting weekly webinars during the month of April for the annual Web & Graphic Design Career Series. This event features top industry professionals and designers speaking on critical industry topics and creative inspiration. Get the full details here.

Math LIVE!
Mondays at 7:30pm ET, Thursdays at 11am ET, & Saturdays at 11am ET
Each webinar is a 60-minute informal study session with a full-time math faculty member in which you can ask math questions, enrich your grasp on the class material, and gain useful assignment guidance. By attending a Math LIVE! event, you may also be eligible to receive bonus points in your math course.

The Mad Professor's Drawing Room
Sundays at 3pm ET, Wednesdays at 5pm ET and Fridays at 12pm ET
Login to your computer, put on your headset, and take part in an open studio with faculty member Nina Stanley! Spend the first 20 minutes drawing short gestures, then work on a long pose for another 45 minutes or so. Come for the whole time or just for a little bit – the choice is yours!

International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
Wednesdays at 9pm ET
Learn more here about IGDA meetings and why all students interested in game design are encouraged to join! Design Bootcamps This month, our bootcamp events include

• Illustrator Bootcamp 2: Drawing, Color, and Type
• Photoshop Bootcamp 1: Presenting Artwork
• Photoshop Bootcamp 2: Basic Designing

Remember, you can register for all of these events and find pre-recorded events on the Events page in the Campus Common!

To request disability related accommodations for a virtual event please contact the event organizer in advance at

Announcing the 8th Annual Graphic & Web Design Career Series

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 April 2015

The 2015 Graphic and Web Design Career Series is just around the corner! The Graphic and Web Design Department at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division is holding weekly webinars from April 9 to April 30, 2015, open to current students.

This annual event features top industry professionals and designers as guest speakers, who will discuss critical industry topics and creative inspiration in two hour sessions on Thursday evenings at 7pm ET. Attendees will gain valuable insights on career preparation and what to expect when working as a design professional. Register now via the Campus Common Events Calendar!

This year’s lineup includes:

Brent Stickels, Co-Founder and Partner of YYES
Dear Hiring Manager: And Other Job Search Fails

Landing your dream job isn’t too likely if you don’t know how to impress a hiring manager. Join Brent Stickels, co-founder and partner of YYES, a boutique design studio, as he discusses how to stand out from other applicants without choking. Learn how he got his first jobs, mistakes he made, and wins he earned to get where he is today.

David Taylor, Recruiting Manager with The Creative Group
Starting Your Career Adventure: Correcting the Course and Upgrading Your Gear

Sometimes it takes a bit of savvy searching to find the right career opportunity. As The Creative Group’s recruiting manager, David Taylor works with many motivated and inspired candidates, helping them to better market themselves and discover the right path to pursue their career adventures. Join us to learn common misconceptions about the job hunting process and a number of tips on how to better your resume, digital presence, portfolio, and interview techniques.

Bob Calvano, Vice President, Design: A+E Networks, New York
What the Heck Does a Design Career Look Like?

Join us as Bob discusses what he thought a career would look like and how the path traveled is nothing like he anticipated. See highlights of work from some of the various parts of his career journey, as well as his latest work at A+E Networks. Gather round for some inspiration and two cents of advice for starting out in the design profession, from the man who leads visual and user experience design for A+E’s portfolio of properties, including A&E, Lifetime, HISTORY, LMN, FYI, and HISTORY 2.

Wendy MacNaughton, Illustrator and Graphic Journalist
Illustration as a Career and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Give a Talk About

Wendy’s discussion will address her journey to becoming a professional illustrator and graphic journalist. She is a New York Times best-selling illustrator and graphic journalist based in San Francisco. Her work appears in publication like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Print Magazine. Wendy has authored a number of books, including Meanwhile in San Francisco, The City in Its On Words; Pen & Ink, Tattoos and The Stories Behind Them; and Lost Cat. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design, and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. She is the 2015 artist in residence at the Zen Hospice Project.

There are only a limited number of spots available for each presentation, so register today using the Campus Common Events Calendar!

To request disability related accommodations for a virtual event please contact the event organizer in advance at

The Beginner’s Guide to Hospitality and Culinary Management Careers

written by Georgia Schumacher 24 March 2015

If you are a natural leader, enjoy helping others, and want to work in an energetic, upbeat environment, a career in hotel, culinary, or event management might be the perfect fit for your personality and skill set! Hospitality and culinary management careers can give you a chance to meet new people, travel extensively, and improve other people's lives.

Hotel photo

A degree or certificate program in the area of culinary or hospitality management can prepare you for a variety of jobs managing events, overseeing restaurants, or moving all the way up to managing a top-tier hotel. It all depends on what you want and what you’re willing to work toward! Here are three common career areas in which you may decide to take your future!

1. Hotel management

As one might expect, many hotel management graduates opt for careers in the hotel industry. As a hotel manager, you'll interact frequently with guests and employees and be responsible for ensuring that the hotel service, appearance, and revenue meets expectations. New graduates may start as management trainees, eventually moving into supervisory and management positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for lodging managers was $46,810 in 2012.

2. Culinary management

Culinary management is a fast-paced industry in which you will have a chance to work with employees and the public as you plan and manage a business in the culinary field. Your responsibilities can range from purchasing and cost control, to training and supervising workers, to overseeing quality standards in food preparation. According to the BLS, management occupations in restaurants and other eating places had a median annual salary of $58,640 in 2013.

3. Event management

Event managers are responsible for planning and creating successful events such as weddings, conventions, and trade shows. As an event manager, you should be ready to juggle multiple responsibilities! You'll set up schedules, approve event marketing strategies, supervise decorations, book entertainment acts, and finalize catering menus. The BLS estimates that jobs in this field will grow 33% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average 11% growth for all occupations.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we offer 4 programs in the field of Culinary Management, including the Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management and Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management. Our Certificate programs include Event Management and Food & Beverage Operations. Explore our programs, or request more information today!


The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division does not guarantee employment or any particular level of compensation following graduation. See for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.