Film 3710: Traditional Game Development - 4 Credit Hours
Professor: Matt Anderson
University of Utah
Office Hours: By appointment only
This course will explore the fundamentals of video game development through lectures, readings, discussion, and the creation of video games. We will be exploring this popular medium through a critical lens as well as a production focus, incorporating theory and perspectives from a number of different disciplines.
We will be building 2D games as the major component of this course. Students will work in small teams to create a video game that illustrates concepts discussed in class. This course does require computer skills, though no prior game development experience is necessary. As with all production courses, students should expect to spend a good deal of time on projects in and outside of class, and be able to research and solve problems not discussed in class lectures.
While the course will contain lectures and discussion, a large portion of the class is work time and experimentation. Game development, like all creative endeavors, can be a chaotic process. In the end it can be significantly rewarding, but the process will require much self-directed learning and problem solving. While there will be work sessions during the class time, students are expected to do the majority of their game development work outside of class.
Required Text: Koster, Raph (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, Arizona: Paraglyph Press. (any edition is acceptable)
Rabin, S. (2005). Introduction to Game Development. Hingham , Mass: Charles River Media, Inc.
Schell, Jesse (2008). The Art of Game Design. Burlington, Mass: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Teaching and Learning Methods
Students are expected to fully participate in the class. Attendance of lectures, participation in activities, class work, as well as completion of all assignments are expected, and required for satisfactory completion of the course.
University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations.
University of Utah Student Code
The Student Code is spelled out in the Student Handbook. Students have specific rights in the classroom as detailed in Article III of the code. The code also specifies proscribed conduct (Article XI) that involves cheating on tests, plagiarism, and/or collusion, as well as fraud, theft, etc. Students should read the Code carefully to become aware of these issues. Students will receive sanctions for violating one or more of these proscriptions. The faculty will enforce the code. Students have the right to appeal such action to the Student Behavior Committee.
I do not offer content accommodations. If you find any of the content of this offensive you may opt not to participate. If you choose not to participate in a section of the class that is worth points, you will not receive them.
Canvas will be your hub for announcements, discussions, assignment descriptions, lecture materials, as well as grade posting. In an effort to keep you updated with important information I'll be sending out announcements with upcoming important deadline reminders, changes to assignments, grading updates, etc. I may send additional urgent updates regarding class-cancelations, etc.
While announcements will be forwarded to your email inbox you must regularly check the canvas class page! Don't assume everything you will need to know to do well in the class will be covered in an announcement.
Course Schedule can be found here, however the content is subject to change. If any significant change is made to the schedule you'll be notified through a canvas announcement.
If you do all that is asked in this class (and I will be reasonable with my “standard” expectations) you will have earned a “B” in the class. All those who exceed my expectations will achieve a higher grade. I am not trying to be unfair, I am trying to encourage you to stretch and grow, hopefully becoming better students, and having a greater chance of competing in this industry.
An "A" is not about the amount of time you put into the class or how late you stayed up working on a project (although there may be times when that may be the case depending on your course load, entertainment, family/friend obligations, work, sleep, etc...). An "A" means that the person did exceptional work and as stated above, exceeded my expectations.
Teamwork, Organization, Work Quality, Communication, Creativity & Professionalism.
The A range is for excellent performance and superior achievement.
The B range denotes good performance and substantial achievement.
The C range indicates standard or average performance and achievement.
The D range is for substandard performance and marginal achievement.
An E is given for unsatisfactory performance and achievement.
I grade on a standard system: A = 94-100; A- = 90-93, B+ = 87-89, B = 84-86, B- = 80-83.
35% - Game Design Homework
20% - Game Production Milestones
25% - Final Game & Design Document
Game Design Homework
The assignments in this group are to be worked on individually. These focus on establishing a theoretical understanding of game design principles and practices. Any sharing of written work between team members, or un-cited use of other content will be considered plagiarism. You will also complete game production logs, in these assignments you will detail your contributions to the game's development. Grades will be determined based on the quantity and quality of the work you contribute to the game's development.
Game Production Milestones
These checkpoints are reflective of the traditional stages of game development, and encourage your game production to stay on track. Each milestone has two components, a production "plan" and a working "build" of the game, both will be group graded. The plan will be completed at the start of each production phase (Prototype, Feature Complete, Alpha & Beta), and outline the work you expect to accomplish. The game build will be completed before, and demonstrated during a playtest session at the end of each production phase. You are individually responsible for submitting your contributions to the game if they are not immediately apparent in the game build.
Final Game Assessment & Game Design Document
The quality of the final game will be assessed on 4 criteria: design, programming, art and scope. Refer to the assignment page for more details about these grading criteria. During production you will also work on a game design document, this will be both a catalog of the game's development, and a tool for communication and discussion about the game's design. Both these assignments will be group graded.
Your participation grade will be split between regular attendance to class, and graded in-class activities (as listed in the class schedule). If you are unable to attend class or participate in a class activity, and have a reasonable excuse, you must send me an email or canvas message prior to the class session. I will allow up to 3 excused absences throughout the semester. If you miss a class activity I will require you to complete your portion of the class activity before I can award you full points.
You may turn in any of the assignments up until the last day of finals week. However there is an automatic 10% grade reduction every 24hrs after due date/time, up to 50% of the assignment grade. This penalty applies to both individual and team assignments.
Flake-outs & Overachievers
If a team-member is not substantially contributing to the game project, or if their contributions are significantly greater than the other team members, I reserve the right to adjust his/her specific grade for the group assignments.
The bulk of the assignments will be submitted using the file upload feature on the specific assignment page on Canvas. For the large submission files (game builds, etc) you may use Box, Dropbox or Google Drive. However, you must send me a link to the shared folder, it's not my responsibility to go hunting for assignments!
I expect assignments to be submitted with clear and professional organization, if I need to hunt through your shared folders, or project directories I will be docking points. Organization is a KEY skill in game development, mastering it now will help you in every future game project you undertake.
The game production software required for the assignments will be available on the computers in the Marriott library. Additionally you may opt to purchase additional software or use any machines you'd like to complete the assignments. However, during group projects, make the software you use is compatible with your other team members.
I will be leading class sessions (and providing tutorial videos) which cover the basic functionality of the Unity engine. However, you will absolutely need to research to find solutions to the obstacles you face on your own. The Unity community forums and documentation is a fantastic resource (certainly the best for any game engine available today!).
Piskel - Free Online Pixel Animation App
Bfxr - Great 8-Bit Sound Generator
Thanks & I’m looking forward to a great semester of game development!