NUS NM3216 Game Design I
International Game Developers Association
NM3216 Game Design I, Communications and New Media Programme, National University of Singapore
- Kevin McGee
- Alex Mitchell
Course Background Information
Communications and New Media Programme, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/cnm
- Conceptual game design
- Practical game design
- Game programming
Student background needed
No background required. This course is open to both Communications and New Media students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and to Communication and Media students from the School of Computing at NUS.
No prerequisites. Students are expected to be concurrently taking NM2218 Critical Introduction to Gaming.
Offered in semester 2 every year. 4 hours/week: 2 hours lecture + 2 hours workshop
During this course, students will learn a) to appreciate aspects of good game-design, and b) to apply actual design techniques for creating good games. In the first half of the course, students will learn and apply fundamental game-design techniques by working in teams to develop their own non-computer game. In the second half of the course, teams will learn and apply additional techniques as they develop a computer game.
Students can also expect to learn how to critically evaluate example games from different genres and gain an understanding of the basic elements of gameplay: balancing game mechanics, creating tension between risk and reward, and encouraging replayability. During the course, students will also learn how to develop and test game prototypes -- and to document a game design using a game design document.
Course learning objectives
What students should expect by the end of this course:
- A deeper appreciation of techniques used to develop good games
- An ability to apply those techniques to design good games (and improve existing ones)
- Familiarity with different types of classic computer and non-computer games
- An improved ability to work on design projects in teams, coordinate and document the essential activities, etc.
What students should NOT expect by the end of this course:
- "Ability to work professionally in the computer game industry"
- "A deep understanding of technical implementation techniques" for computer games (eg, algorithms for path-finding or collision-detection or etc.)
- That we have explored much about "non-design issues" (eg, "how the computer-game industry works" or "cultural concerns about games" or "philosophical discussions about 'what is a game?'" etc.)
Week by week topics
Note that this course is being revised as we teach it, and we're currently at week 7. I'll fill in more details as the semester progresses - Alex
- Lecture: Introduction to games
- Lecture: Game vocabulary & formal elements
- Read: Lantz, "Ironclad design notes"
- Play: Ironclad, Blackjack, Checkers, Chess, Connect Four, Gin Rummy, Mancala, Mastermind, Nim, Othello (Reversi), Poker, Sudoku, Tic-tac-toe, Yahtzee
- Weekly Deliverable: Team formation
- Lecture: Game Balance & game theory
- Tutorial: Playing with Formal Elements
- Read: McGee, "Game Balance and Game Theory"
- Play: 20 Questions, Battleships, Bingo, Chinese Checkers, Fox and Geese, Mah Jongg, Pente, Snakes and Ladders
Weekly Deliverable: Initial game proposal (a 1-paragraph proposal for game idea).
- Lecture: Formal play-testing, game balance & systems dynamics
- Tutorial: From concept to prototype (and informal play-testing)
- Read: McGee, "Game Balance and System Dynamics"
- Play: Backgammon, Charades, Concentration (aka Memory), Go, L-Game, Mafia
- Weekly Deliverable: Revised game proposal. A one-page design brief -- and evidence of process (rough mockups and paper prototypes).
- Lecture: Dramatic elements & Genre
- Tutorial: Formal play-testing (of your game)
- Read: LeBlanc, "Tools for creating dramatic game dynamics"; (OPTIONAL) Garfield, "Design Evolution of Magic the Gathering"
- Play: Abalone, Jungle (aka Fighting Animals), Stratego
- Weekly Deliverable:
- a playable, low-tech prototype.
- Submit a 1-page document that summarizes a) the major things you learned about your game from the play-testing, and b) how you are changing your game as a result of what you learned.
- Lecture: Project 1 presentations
- Lecture: Computer Games -- development process & industry
- Tutorial : Intro to GameMaker; intro to computer game Design Document
- Read: Rouse, "Game analysis, Tetris and Centipede"; McGee, "Intro to Computer-game design"; (OPTIONAL) Dolbier and Goldschmidt, "The Business of Interactive Entertainment"
- Play: Centipede; Tetris; Zork ; other games TBA
- Weekly Deliverable: team formation (roles); initial game idea
- Lecture: Interactivity and AI
- Tutorial : Low-tech computer-game prototyping for computer games
- Read: Mateas, "Preliminary Poetics for Interactive Drama and Games"
- Play: TBA
- Weekly Deliverable: Game proposal
- Lecture: Game Balance & game theory for computer games
- Tutorial : Designing for interactivity
- Weekly Deliverable: Playable, low-tech prototype. The emphasis here is on "rough", so this prototype may either be in the form of physical materials or an initial GameMaker prototype.
- Read: McGee, "Game Balance & game theory for computer games"
- Play: TBA
- Lecture: Interactivity and Systems
- Tutorial : Play-test game-balance
- Read: McGee, "Game design: interactivity and systems"
- Play: TBA
- Weekly Deliverable: Playable computer prototype
- Lecture: Genre-related design issues
- Tutorial : Designing Game UI
- Read: Morningstar and Farmer, "Lessons Learned from habitat"
- Play: TBA (a MMOG)
- Weekly Deliverable: Prototype UI. A computer-based mockup of the games interface, including control-interface, user-help, instructions, etc.
- Lecture: Meta-games and player-tools
- Tutorial : Play-test tuning
- Read: TBA (Mod and/or tools paper)
- Play: Nomic; and TBA ("change the rules" game)
- Weekly Deliverable: Design Document
- Lecture: Project 2 presentations
Course Materials & Facilities Used
Analysis of learning methods
Please discuss what techniques worked well
What didn't work
Please discuss what techniques didnâ€™t work as well as you had hoped