Course Syllabus

Film 3720: Alternative Video Game Development - 4 Credit Hours
Spring 2018, Wednesday 6:00pm - 10:00pm, MLIB 1160

Professor: Matt Anderson, MFA

University of Utah


Office Hours: By appointment only

College of Engineering Guidelines: COE Guidelines

Attendance: Game of the Day
Course Description
This course will explore alternative video game development through readings, lectures, discussion, and the creation of video games. Video game development and culture will be discussed in addition to game design. 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.
Alternative games can mean a number of things. This class will take it to mean games often described as "serious games," or games with a purposes in addition to entertainment, be it political, social, educational, or artistic.
We will be using the Unity game engine to build 3D games as the major component of this course. Students will work in medium sized (4-8 people) teams to create a video game that illustrates concepts discussed in class. This course does require computer skills, and prior game development experience is strongly recommended (Film 3710 - Traditional Game Development). 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.
Course Objectives
The objective of this course will be to introduce students to the process of 3D game development while exploring the design of alternative games. Throughout this process students will use an iterative design and production process. While the course will contain lectures and discussion, a major portion of the class is lab work 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 lab time in the course, students are expected to do the majority of their game development work outside of class.
Required Texts
Reality is Broken (2011), by Jane McGonigal. Penguin, ISBN-978-0-14-312061-2
Articles (available through online sources) and games as assigned by the professor.
Teaching and Learning Methods
Students are expected to fully participate in the class. Attendance of lectures, participation in activities, lab work, as well as completion of all assignments are expected, and required for satisfactory competition of the course.
ADA Statement

The 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.
Class website 
Canvas will be your hub for announcements, 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 deadlines, changes to assignments, grading updates, etc.
I may send additional urgent updates regarding class-cancelations, etc. While these announcements will be naturally forwarded to your email inbox I HIGHLY recommend you 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 in the files section of Canvas however the content is subject to change. If any significant change is made to the schedule you'll be notified through a canvas announcement. 


40% - Individual Homework Assignments
25% - Game Production Milestones
20% - Final Game & Publishing Materials
15% - Participation
Individual Homework Assignments
The assignments in this group are to be worked on individually. They focus on establishing an understanding of alternative games, as well as help me assess your individual contributions to the team project. Please note, any sharing of written work or other content between team members, or un-cited use of published content will be considered plagiarism.
Game Production Milestones
The assignments in this group are to worked on as a group. Each milestone has two components, a plan created at the start of the production "sprint", and the build of the game at the end of the sprint. These milestones are designed to encourage accurate planning and reward significant progress on the project.
Final Game & Publishing Materials
The game will be graded based on completeness and polish of the final project. A portion of the grade will be for the publishing materials accompanying the game. These will be discussed in detail during the last module of the semester. 
Attendance & participation will be split between regular class attendance and graded in-class activities. 
Students who participate in officially sanctioned University activities (e.g., marching band, debate, athletics) will be permitted to turn work in early and/or make up assignments without penalty. Official absences must be documented at least one week prior to the absence.
Late Work
You may turn in any of the assignments up until the last day of finals week. However there is an automatic 10% grade reduction for each 24 hours the assignment is late after due date/time. This penalty applies to both individual and team assignments. 
Flake-outs & Freeloaders: If a team member is not contributing to the game project, I reserve the right to adjust his/her specific grade for the group assignments. 
Submitting Assignments: The bulk of the assignments will be submitted using the file upload feature on the specific assignment page. 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!


Software & Resources
We will be using Unity 3D for the development of the games. Unity is available to individuals for free. You will need to sign up for a free Unity account as part of this class. You may download and use Unity on your own machines, but just be aware that we are using version 5.5 in the classroom. 
I will be leading class sessions which cover the basic functionality of the engine. However, you will need to research and find solutions to the obstacles you face on your own. The Unity community forums and documentation is a fantastic resources (certainly the for any game engine out today). 
Unity 3D: - Basic documentation for Unity 3D.  - This site has bite-sized modules setup in Beginning and Intermediate levels. - Other helpful links by others in the Unity community. - Here there are further links to help you continue to learn and grow in your knowledge of Unity 3D.
3D Modeling Software:
All Autodesk products are available free for students here.
You may also use Blender, and open source modeling program.
Thanks & Iā€™m looking forward to a great semester of game development!

Course Summary:

Date Details Due