DESMA 171: Worldbuilding
Winter 2018, UCLA Design Media Arts
Monday, Wednesday 9:00AM – 11:50AM
Broad Art Center room 4220
Professor: Eddo Stern
TA: Eric Fanghanel



Office Hours @ UCLA GAME LAB ROOM 3252

Eric : Thursday 12:00 – 1:00

Eddo : Thursday 1:00 – 2:00


Course Description:

Worldbuilding is an art that has been around for thousands of years as a central component in ancient mythologies, theologies and cosmologies. Worldbuilding is thriving in our contemporary landscape within the contexts of theme parks, computer games, TV series, comics, serialized fiction, and “transmedia” marketing enterprise (..and their discontents…). Worldbuilding often functions as the foundation for storytelling (and is especially prevalent in genre fiction such as fantasy horror and science fiction).


The course will cover worldbuilding concepts and techniques through written assignments, class presentations, discussions, technical exercises and an ongoing multi-component creative project. The focus will be on building rich and compelling navigable environments using software, visuals, sound and text as well as printed materials. Students will be using the Unity3D game engine as the primary worldbuilding tool as well as 2D and 3D tools of their preference.

Weekly Overview:

Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 Proposals

Week 3 Technical demos, written assignments

Week 4-5 Work towards midterm

Week 6-7 Midterm reviews + additional demos
Week 8-9 Work towards Final

Week 10 Finishing touches, Final Presentations, Submit documentation

Worldbuilding is a 5 unit upper division studio class, you are expected to work 6 hours a week in class and 9 hours a week outside of class. We expect to see significant weekly progress on your project reflecting the work you are doing outside of class.

It may be helpful if you log how many hours you are working on your project every week.
171 Weekly Schedule:



Grading Breakdown:
Proposals (10%)
3 x Written Assignments (15%)
Midterm Review (20%)
Finished Project Submission (%40)
Class Participation and attending department lecture(s) (15%)

Creative projects, presentations and reviews are graded based on these parameters:


*project scope/ambition/amount of work

*attention to detail/craft ( bugs, visual artifacts, spelling )

All Assignments uploaded to the class website before the beginning of class time on the day they are due.

Late projects and assignments will drop one letter grade, and will not be accepted if more than one week late.



Attendance Policy:
Unexcused absences without the professor’s prior permission will lower your grade.

For example if your work earned a B grade, absences will affect your final grade as follows:
2 unexcused absences lower the final grade by a fraction (a B becomes a B-)3 unexcused absences lower the final grade by a full letter (a B becomes a C)

4 unexcused absences lower the final grade by a fraction (a B becomes a D)

5 unexcused absences lower the final grade by a fraction (a B becomes a F)

Please arrive in class at 9:00 am and sign your name to the attendance sheet.
You will be marked  Late if you arrive between 9:10-10:00 am.
Two Lates equate to one Absence
You will be marked Absent If you arrive after 10:00 am.

Please refrain from using your cellphone in class, we will have a 15 minute break each class session where you can use your phone.

Additionally please use the class time to work on your project for this class. If you have another project from another class that may intersect with our class  project, please discuss with the Professor or TA if it may be appropriate for you to combine some of your work for both classes.


Appropriation and Fair Use:
In this class we expect you to create all of your own audio, visual and textual content. If you would like to use any materials that you did not create yourself, please make sure to discuss your usage ahead of time with the Professor or the TA, there are certain cases and projects where appropriation is acceptable and…appropriate :).  


171 Weekly Schedule





Week 1 Monday Jan 8

Student Introductions

Class Overview
Worldbuilding Lecture(Eddo)

Wednesday Jan 10

Worldbuilding Lecture(Eric)
Worldbuilding Projects: Eddo/Eric
Handout: Project Proposals+plans

Week 2 Monday Jan 15
Martin Luther King, Jr, holiday

*** NO CLASS ***

Wednesday Jan 17

Student Presentations
Due: Project Proposals
Handout: Worldbuilding games analysis

Week 3 Monday Jan 22

Visual workflow demos

2D: Scanning, Scaling, Mesh Creator
3D: Photogrammetry, 3D scanning,VR

Due: Worldbuilding games analysis

Wednesday Jan 24

More workflow demos
Text based games
Atlases, Dictionaries, Guides  and Maps
Handout: Text games analysis

Week 4 Monday Jan 29

Work in Class
Due: Text games analysis

Wednesday Jan 31
Work in Class
Week 5 Monday Feb 5
Toshio Iwai Lecture on Tuesday Jan 30
Work in Class
Handout: Toshio Iwai feedback (Jan 30)
Wednesday Feb 7
Toshio Iwai Lecture on Tuesday Jan 30
Work in Class
Handout: Midterm Reviews
Week 6 Monday Feb 12

Midterm Reviews (Group A)
Due: Midterm Review Builds A
Due: Toshio Iwai feedback

Wednesday Feb 14

Midterm Reviews (Group B)
Due: Midterm Review Builds B

Handout: Final Project Submissions

Week 7 Monday Feb 19
Presidents’ Day holiday
*** NO CLASS ***
Wednesday Feb 21

Work in Class
Additional Demos

Week 8 Monday Feb 26

Work in Class

Wednesday Feb 28

Work in Class

Week 9 Monday Mar 5

Work in Class

Wednesday Mar 7

Work in Class

Week 10 Monday Mar 12

Work in Class

Wednesday Mar 14

Final Project Presentations
Due: Final Project Submissions (on FRIDAY 24:00)