Syllabus

DESMA 157: Game Design Workshop
Spring 2017, UCLA Design Media Arts
Tuesday, Thursday 9:00am – 11:50am
Broad Art Center room 4240
Professor: Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz
TA: Stalgia Grigg

Course Description:
This course provides a foundation in game design. The coursework develops the concepts that are unique to game design and production. Both non-digital and digital game creation skills are developed. Throughout the course students will produce four playable games. Each project will explore various aspects of game design, including: game fabrication, rule design, game balance, multiplayer dynamics, complexity, randomness, polemics, narrative, adaptation, physical interaction, user interface, basic game programming, game asset creation, and the aesthetic and pragmatic aspects of physical and digital game design. The course will cover game design concepts through reading and written assignments, class lectures and exercises, discussions, playtesting sessions, and game design and production projects.

Grading:

  • Project #1 — 10%
  • Presentation #1 — 05%
  • Project #2 — 10%
  • Presentation #2 — 05%
  • Project #3 — 30% (3 x 10%)
  • Project #4 — 10%
  • Attendance and Participation — 10%
  • Process Documentation Notebook (includes writing & 5% extra credit) — 25%

Evaluation:
Projects will be graded based on these parameters:

  • project scope/ambition/amount of work
  • originality
  • attention to detail/craft (bugs, visual artifacts, spelling)
  • punctuality

Presentations, tutorials, and written assignments will be graded based on these parameters:

  • attention to detail/craft (bugs, visual artifacts, spelling, clarity of writing)
  • punctuality

All assignments must be submitted before the beginning of class time on the day they are due unless a pre-midnight deadline is indicated (as 23:59). Late projects and assignments will be penalized by one letter grade per day they are late.

Attendance:
More than two absences without the professor’s prior permission will lower the participant’s final grade by one unit (e.g. an A will become an B). With each additional unexcused absence, the grade will drop an additional unit. Late projects will drop one letter grade, and will not be accepted if more than one week late.

15 minutes late will officially count as as being late, being late 3 times will count as an absence. Students arriving more than an hour late to class will be considered absent.

Recommended reading:

  • Anthropy, Anna. RISE OF THE VIDEOGAME ZINESTERS. Seven Stories, 2012.
  • Brown, Box. TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY. First Second, 2016.
  • Flanagan, Mary. CRITICAL PLAY: RADICAL GAME DESIGN. MIT Press, 2009.
  • Gibson, Jeremy. INTRODUCTION TO GAME DESIGN, PROTOTYPING, AND DEVELOPMENT. Addison-Wesley Professional, 09 June 2017 (2nd edition).
  • Huizinga, Johan. HOMO LUDENS: A STUDY OF THE PLAY ELEMENT IN CULTURE. Beacon, 1971.

 

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
157 Weekly Schedule:

Schedule color key:
Magenta : Required Visiting Lecture
Blue : Homework Assignment for Next Class
Green : Visiting Expert

 

Week 1
Course Intro, Prototype Project #1
Tuesday April 4
Class Introduction. Lecture: Play as Ontology. Analog Game Tasting. Class Discussion: Prototyping Kits and Process Documentation Notebooks.

  • HW: Read “Learning for a World of Constant Change” by D. Thomas and J. Seeley Brown. Reading notes and questions (~250 words) due by 23:59 Wednesday April 5.
  • HW: Build your analog prototyping kit. Bring it to class Thursday April 6.
  • HW: Set up your process documentation pipeline for your Process Documentation Notebook, due Thursday April 6.
Thursday April 6
Class Discussion: Assigned Reading. Lecture: Paper Prototyping. Atelier Unicorn: draft & 3-person team formation. In-class Ideation: Project #1.

  •  HW: Read ““Games as Art: The Aesthetics of Play” by C. Pearce. Reading notes and questions (~250 words) due by 23:59 Monday April 10.
  •  HW: Project #1 Prototype, due Tues. April 11.
  •  HW: Begin Project #1 process documentation.
Week 2
Playtest & Revise Project #1
Tuesday April 11
Class Discussion: Assigned Reading. Lecture:
Playtesting, Feedback, Revision (What is an
‘Alpha’?). Playtest Project #1 prototypes.
Document Playtesting.

  •  HW: Begin revising Project #1. Continue
    process documentation.
Thursday April 13
Class Discussion: Process Documentation. Playtest Project #1 prototypes. Document Playtesting. Class Discussion: What Makes a Presentation Good?

  • HW: Project #1 Alpha, due Tuesday April 18.
  • HW: Prepare group presentation (~5 min. long) of Project #1, due Tuesday April 18.
Week 3
Presentation #1, Prototype Project #2
Tuesday April 18
Project #1 Presentations (and Awards!). Class Discussion: Indie or Industry? Analog Game Tasting.

  • HW: Post-partum document (form to be provided) for Project #1 due Wed. April 19.
  • HW: Choose a book from ‘Recommended Reading’ section & begin reading it for extra credit. Finish by Thurs. May 16. 
Thursday April 20
Class Discussion: Post-partum documents. Atelier Unicorn: draft & 2-person team formation. In-class Ideation: Project #2.

  • HW: Project #2 Prototype, due T. Aprill 25.
  • HW: Begin Project #2 process documentation.
  • MANDATORY: ​Attend “What’s Next? Conversations with DMA Alumni” DMA Career Dev. Event, 5-7pm in EDA
Week 4
Playtest & Revise Project #2 (Alpha)
Tuesday April 25
Playtest Project #2 prototypes. Document Playtesting.

  • HW: Begin revising Project #2. Continue process documentation.
Thursday April 27
Playtest Project #2 prototypes. Document Playtesting.

  • HW: Project #2 Alpha, due Tues. May 2.
  • HW: Prepare group presentation (~5 min. long) of Project #2, due Tuesday May 2.
Week 5
Presentation #2, Prototype Project #3
Tuesday May 2
Project #2 Presentations (and Awards!). Class Discussion: What Makes a Game Good?. Analog Game Tasting.

  • HW: Post-partum document for Project #2, due by 23:59 Wednesday May 3.
  • HW: Make sure Process Documentation Notebook is up to date, due Thurs. May 4.
Thursday May 4
Class discussion: Post-partum documents. Share your Process Documentation Notebooks. Atelier Unicorn: draft for solo project. In-class Ideation: Project #3.

  • HW: Project #3 Prototype, due Tuesday May 9.
  • HW: Begin documentation for Project #3.
Week 6
Playtest & Revise Project #3 (Alpha)
Tuesday May 9
Playtest Project #3 Prototypes. Document Playtesting.

  • HW: Begin revising Project #3. Continue process documentation.

GUEST EXPERT: Jane Pinckard

Thursday May 11
Playtest Project #3 Prototypes. Document Playtesting.

  • HW: Project #3 Alpha, due Tues. May 16.
  • HW: Have you finished your extra credit ‘Recommended Reading’ book yet?

GUEST EXPERT: Richard Lemarchand

Week 7
Playtest & Polish Project #3 (Beta)
Tuesday May 16
Showcase: Project #3 Alphas. Class discussion: group Alphas vs. solo Alphas. Lecture: What is a ‘Beta’? In-class work on Betas.

  • HW: Reading notes and questions (~500 words) for extra credit ‘Recommended Reading’ book due by 23:59 Wed. May 17.
  • HW: Playtest your Project #3 Alphas outside of class. Document this playtest.

GUEST EXPERTS: RUST LTD. and friends!

Thursday May 18
Class discussion: Project #3 and your ‘Recommended Reading’ books. In-class work on Betas.

  •  HW: Project #3 Beta due Tues. May 23.
Week 8
Gold Master Planning Documents & Unity Training
Tuesday May 23
Showcase: Project #3 Betas. Class workshop: What is a ‘Gold Master’?. Lecture/Demo: Unity Overview.

  • HW: Gold Master planning document (1-2 pages), due 23:59 Wednesday May 24.
  • HW: Install Unity and finish classwork.
Thursday May 25
Class Discussion: Gold Masters. Unity Tutorial.

  • HW: Completed Unity tutorial due Tuesday May 30.
  • HW: Up-to-date Process Documentation Notebook, due Tuesday May 30.
  • HW: Work on Gold Master for Project #3.
Week 9
Project #4 (digital & paper prototypes) and Project #3 Gold Master
Tuesday May 30
Unity tutorials workshop. Process documentation check-in. Lecture: Project Scoping for Digital Game Design. In-class paper prototyping for Project #4.

  • HW: Begin Unity prototype for Project #4.
  • HW: Work on Gold Master for Project #3.
Thursday June 1

Work in-class on Unity prototype for Project #4 and Gold Master for Project #3.

  • HW: Unity prototype for Project #4 due Tuesday June 6.
  • HW: Gold Master for Project #3 due Tuesday June 6.
Week 10
Project #4 (pre-Alpha) and Project #3 (Gold Master)
Tuesday June 6
Showcase and Class Discussion: Gold Masters for Project #3. Workshop Unity prototypes for Project #4.

  • HW: Post-partum document for Project #3, due by 23:59 Wednesday June 7.
  • HW: Improve Unity prototypes for Project #4.
Thursday June 8
Workshop Unity prototypes for Project #4.

  • HW: Project #4 Alpha due Thurs. June 15.
  • HW: Professional Documentation of Project #3 Gold Master and Project #4 Alpha due Thursday June 15.
  • HW: Process Documentation Notebook due Thursday June 15.

Week 11: Finals Week

  • Project #4 Alpha
  • Professional Documentation of Projects #3 and #4.
  • Process Documentation notebook.

All work due Thursday, June 15.

sadpejaslkdjaslkjdjkl

Student Responses