CSCI 4675 / 5675 & FA 4599: Advanced Game Development

Spring 2016: Monday and Wednesday in Math 118 from 3:30 to 4:45 PM.

The new Innovation Lab in Library 318 is reserved on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM for the exclusive use of this class.

Contents

Course Description

Advanced Game Development is the final, capstone-style course of the Game Development Concentration. It brings together students from Computer Science and Fine Arts to simulate a game development studio and produce a video game from start to finish.

This class is entirely project-based and relies heavily on teamwork. All members of the class are mutually responsible for the success of the final project, so it is absolutely essential that all members work together.

Every member of the class will be given a chance to pitch a concept for the game to be developed. The class as a whole will vote on which concept to implement. The class will then be divided into teams, with each student taking on two roles including Producer, Designer, Lead Developer, Developer, Lead Artist, Artist, Sound Designer, and Head of Marketing. Credit for each role is earned by performing tasks appropriate for that position.

Instructor

Dr. Stephen G. Ware
Department of Computer Science
Math Building, Room 337
sgware@uno.edu
Office Hours: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

Prerequisites

It is expected that:

  • If you are a Computer Science student, you have completed CSCI 4675 or 5675: Fundamentals to Game Development with a C or better.
  • If you are a Fine Arts student, you have experience creating digital art.

Note that there is no required text for this course.

Grading

All students are responsible for ensuring that the game is completed on schedule. 10% of your final grade will be earned if the class successfully delivers the Final Release Milestone, which is due at the time of final exams.

Because this is a team-focused project, attendance is required. It accounts for 10% if your final grade.

Finally, each student will take on two roles within the simulated development studio. Each role earns credit differently, as described in the next section. Your final grade for the class will be calculated as follows:

<th>
  Percentage
</th>
<td>
  10%
</td>
<td>
  10%
</td>
<td>
  40%
</td>
<td>
  40%
</td>

Roles

Each student will take on two of the following roles:

The Producer is ultimately responsible for ensuring that development stays on schedule. The producer delegates responsibilities to the Game Designers, Lead Developer, Lead Artist, and Head of Marketing. The producer decides when the four major milestones must be finished and is responsible for cutting features in order to ensure that deadlines are met. The producer earns credit each time a milestone is completed on time. Each of the four milestones are equally weighted. The four milestones are:

  • The Paper Prototype, a non-digital version of the game that allows the designers to test and refine gameplay.
  • The First Playable (or Alpha Release), which is the first digital version of the game. It must be completed before mid-term grades are due.
  • The Beta Release, which should contain all of the game’s features but may contain bugs.
  • The Final Release, which should be thoroughly tested and ready to play. It must be completed before the scheduled final exam for the class.

A Game Designer is responsible for ensuring that the game meets its goals (such as to be fun or educational). A designer decides what mechanics the game needs to have and creates content such as dialog and levels. A designer earns credit by providing thoughtful, critical observations about the game’s strengths and weaknesses every week. These reports are given to the Producer and should be based on first-person observations or observations of play tests and should include recommendations for changes that the Producer and Lead Developer can translate into specific tasks. Designers also earn credit by completing content creation tasks assigned by the Lead Developer on time. A designer’s workload will be heavy at the start of the course but will become lighter as the game nears completion and features can no longer be changed.

The Lead Developer (or Lead Programmer) collaborates with the Producer to decide what features can be implemented in each milestone and delegates programming tasks to the other developers and content creation tasks to the game designers. The Lead Developer earns credit each time a programming task that has been assigned to a developer is completed on time. It is expected that the Lead Developer is an experienced programmer capable of helping other developers when needed; however, the Lead Developer may not assign tasks to herself unless she is also a developer. The Lead Developer is encouraged, but not required, to choose developer as her second role.

A Developer completes programming tasks that are assigned by the Lead Developer. All Computer Science students are encouraged to choose developer as one of their roles. A developer earns credit each time he completes a task that was assigned to him on time.

The Lead Artist collaborates with the Producer to decide what art assets can be created and delegates artistic tasks to the other artists and the Sound Designer. The Lead Artist earns credit each time an artistic task that has been assigned to an artist is completed on time. It is expected that the Lead Artist is experienced in designing and creating 2D and/or 3D digital art assets; however, the Lead Artist may not assign tasks to herself unless she is also an Artist. The Lead Artist is encouraged, but not required, to choose artist as her second role.

An Artist creates the art assets that are assigned by the Lead Artist. All Fine Arts students are encouraged to choose Artist as one of their roles. An artist earns credit each time he completes a task that was assigned to him on time. Artists are not required to create all assets from scratch, but they must respect digital copyright laws when using or adapting art assets from other sources.

The Sound Designer creates the sound assets that are assigned by the Lead Artist. The Sound Designer earns credit each time she completes a task that was assigned to her on time. The Sound Designer is not required to create all assets from scratch, but she must respect digital copyright laws when using or adapting sound assets from other sources.

A Quality Assurance Tester plays the game to ensure that it works as expected. A QA tester earns credit by reporting bugs that are detailed enough that the Lead Developer can reproduce the bug without needing to ask for additional detail. A QA Tester’s workload will be light at the start of the course but will become heavier. Thus, QA tester and designer are complimentary roles.

The Head of Marketing is the interface between the development team and the general public. Marketing creates promotional materials for the game and maintains a public-facing web presence, such as a website, blog, and social media presence. The Head of Marketing earns credit for doing at least two of the following things each week:

  • Updating the game’s website
  • Writing blog posts about development
  • Posting updates on social media
  • Making promotional material, such as posters and videos

Policies

These policies are in place to maintain professionalism and mutual respect:

  • Attendance: Attendance is required. Each student may miss 2 class periods without an excuse. Missing more than 2 class periods will require a serious, documented excuse.
  • Phones: Please silences your phones before class.
  • E-mail Response Time: Please allow a minimum of 24 hours for e-mail responses.

Academic Integrity

All students are expected to follow UNO’s code of academic integrity. Violations of this policy will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but punishment will be severe and may include failing the class and expulsion from the university.

Students with Disabilities

It is university policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with physical or learning disabilities should contact the instructor and the Office of Disability Services. Arrangements will be made on an individual basis.

Calendar

<th>
  Assignments
</th>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      Review the syllabus.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      Game Pitch presentations given.
    </li>
    <li>
      Class votes on what game to produce.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      University closed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      University closed for Carnival.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      Class canceled for Carnival.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      First Playable must be completed by this day.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      Class cancelled for Spring Break.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>
<td>
  <ul>
    <li>
      Final Release must be completed by this day.
    </li>
  </ul>
</td>