Forum for ARTS/COGS/CSCI 4540 Game Development II, Spring 2017


Postby BenChang » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:20 pm

Spring 2017

Wednesday 12:00-3:50
Troy 2012
Instructor: Ben Chang

Office: West Hall 105
Office Hours: Fridays 10 AM - 12 PM

TA: Kelly Michael Fox


Course Description:

This course builds on Game Development I. You and your team will create one large-scale 3D game over the course of the semester according to a milestone deliverable schedule modeled after the game industry. We will use the same tools from Game Development - artists will use Maya to model, texture, rig, and animate more advanced assets, and programmers will use Unity, Unreal Engine 4, or other game engines to create the behavior of the world, including physics and artificial intelligence. Your game will be presented at the annual GameFest symposium, to be judged by industry experts.

Learning Outcomes:
Students will complete the full development process for a complete game
Students will show mastery of relevant skills in their disciplines
Students will demonstrate creative design and problem-solving skills in an iterative design process
Working in interdisciplinary teams, students will develop their skills in communication, team-based production, and project management
Students will be able to critically reflect on both project outcomes and processes.

Course Policies

Preparation and Attendance: This is a hands-on course. Attendance is mandatory. You are a member of a team, and constant communication with your team is necessary. It is not sufficient to "get your assignment,” skip class for two weeks, and show up when it's due. Requirements and designs change often, and you must keep up with the most current design, as well as contribute ideas of your own. There will be no "grunt workers" in this class.

Academic Honesty: Student relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. Students must be able to trust that their teachers have made responsible decisions about the structure and content of the course and that they are conscientiously making their best effort to help students learn. Teachers must be able to trust that students do their work conscientiously and honestly making their best effort to learn. Acts that violate this mutual respect and trust undermine the educational process. They counteract our very reason for being here at Rensselaer and will not be tolerated. Any student who engages in any form of academic dishonesty will receive an F in this course and will be reported to the Dean of Students for further disciplinary action. The Rensselaer Handbook has defined various forms of Academic Dishonesty and procedures for responding to them. All of these forms are violations of trust between students and teachers. Please familiarize yourself with this portion of the handbook.

Grading: Grading will reflect completion of milestone features, the technical sophistication of the game, its aesthetic and creative quality, appropriate use of game design principles, and that all-important, elusive, ephemeral quality of Fun.

The grade for each deliverable will combine evaluation of quality and progress of the project overall with evaluation of individual work.

Grading rubric: the following is a general overview of the grading scale and criteria.

A Work demonstrates outstanding technical sophistication, originality, and/or conceptual strength
B Work demonstrates substantial additional creativity, effort and/or technical ability
C Work fulfills basic requirements
D Work partially fulfills requirements, but lacks completeness or contains unresolved issues (technical or aesthetic)

Initial pitches: 5%
Design Documents: 10%
Initiall progress reports 15%
Alpha 20%
Beta 20%
GameFest 10%
Final 20%

Grades will be delivered through LMS.


These are general guidelines for milestones, but the exact features included in each milestone will be determined for each individual game.

1. Design and Project Plan Documents
GDD - Game Design Document. This is typically a ten-page paper describing the overall concept, story, and player experience, and the mechanics of gameplay in terms of goals, tools, and obstacles. It includes concept art and storyboards.

Story and narrative design can be incorporated into the game design document, or may be fleshed out in more detail in a separate document.

TDD - Technical Design Document. Discuss the architecture by which the game will be constructed: the major classes, components, subsystems, and how they connect together.

Project Plan: Task list, time estimates, priorities, and dependencies, built using the design documents. This includes “confidence” (how confident are you that you can implement a particular feature?) and “research” – things you would like to accomplish but need to do background research first to figure out how to accomplish them or if they are even feasible.

2. First progress reports: individual reports of each team member’s progress towards the Alpha milestone.

3. Milestone 1 (Alpha): The mechanics that define the core gameplay are in place and running. Player handling is defined. Core interaction functioning with environment, objects, and enemies / NPC’s. There is enough of the game functioning and visible to communicate the idea of the whole game clearly. Will still have placeholder art and whiteboxed levels. Work in progress on art, writing, other assets should be presented as well.

4. Milestone 2 (Beta): Game should be playable from start to finish, with core systems and mechanics implemented, majority of content in place, most art close to final. Rough in places, ready for polishing in tuning, balancing, dialog editing, refining animation.

GameFest: the game should be nearly complete and ready for public presentation.

5. Final: game is complete!

Presentations / Critiques
All assignments include class presentation and critique. Participation in critiques is mandatory.

Studio weeks will contain additional material as needed based on project needs. Studio time is critical work time for you and your team, and attendance is mandatory.

1/18 Introduction
Overview, initial design exercise

For next week:
Install Amazon Lumberyard

Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubeck, MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research ... 04-001.pdf

Lana Polansky, “On Genre and the Ludic Device” ... hives/1008

Frank Lantz, “MDA”

Wolfgang Walk, “From MDA to DDE” ... to_DDE.php

Note: January 20-22: Global Game Jam!

1/25 MDA, strange games, and project management

The MDA framework and other ways of thinking through game design, development, and aesthetic depth.

A brief introduction to Amazon Lumberyard, “because it’s not Game Dev if we’re not learning a new engine!” (™)

Project management
Form teams

2/1 Workshop with Sarah Juliet Lauro at EMPAC

Meet in Evelyn’s cafe, 12:00 - 1:30

1:30 - 4:00 Game concept presentations

2/8 Virtual and Augmented Reality

VR, Virtual art, and historical contexts
Developing for the HTC Vive
Developing for the Microsoft Hololens
Interface and game design considerations

Game Design Documents and Project Plan due

2/15 Animation

Game animation: weight, anticipation, follow-through, personality
Implementation: responsiveness, visual feedback, states, blend trees, the mysteries of root motion, IK

2/22 Networking

Networking concepts
Multiplayer in UE4
Networking and multiplayer in Unity
Multiplayer in Lumberyard

Individual progress reports

3/1 Sound

Game sound and introduction to procedural audio

(Ben at GDC)

3/8 Milestone 1: Alpha

Presentation, playtest, critique

3/15 No Class: Spring break

3/22 AI

3/29 Lighting and level design

Lighting design and function: legibility, narrative, mood
Real-world light
Composing with light, shadow, and color
Common lighting setups
Lightmap vs realtime
Light probes
Global illumination

4/5 Camera control

2D camera control and framing
3D camera control
Working with multiple cameras

4/12 Milestone 2: Beta

4/19 Studio

4/26 Studio


5/3 Final Critique
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