University of Technology Sydney

32003 Computer Game Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Information Technology: Computer Science
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:

Postgraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Recommended studies: familiarity with computer graphics and experience with designing interactive systems

Description

Designing computer games is a challenging task. It is not as simple as just having an idea or jumping straight into coding or creating visual assets without a plan. A high-quality game design must be well structured and documented, carefully crafted for a specific target audience, communicated and negotiated with a team of other designers, scoped to be implementable by a given team of developers within time constraints, and evaluated and iterated on many times until a finely tuned game experience emerges.

A professional game designer is an engineer of entertainment. Thus, in this subject, students will be taught the theoretical concepts and practical methodologies needed to ideate, communicate, implement, and improve upon your designs. In this way, students will learn to combine their existing software and game development skills with creativity and iterative design thinking to craft compelling interactions between players and the system of rules that govern them.

Students will start by applying these theories and process to the creation of a physical board game prototype before moving on to creating a digital game in a popular game engine. This subject does not teach game development (e.g. coding or art asset creation) but instead requires students to self-learn what is needed to implement their group's shared vision. Students will adopt a kit-bashing approach to rapidly prototype and iterate on their game designs and playtest them with other students on a weekly basis to collect and analyse feedback. By the end of the session, students will have both a board game and digital game that are novel and refined, which can be used in future employment portfolios to highlight interaction design skills in entertainment domains.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Critique games in terms of their function as dynamic systems of formal and dramatic elements in order to create interactive entertaining experiences for users.
2. Create computer games in a team by applying an iterative player-centric design approach.
3. Evaluate games by applying playtesting techniques.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Socially Responsible: FEIT graduates identify, engage, and influence stakeholders, and apply expert judgment establishing and managing constraints, conflicts and uncertainties within a hazards and risk framework to define system requirements and interactivity. (B.1)
  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design thinking and decision-making methodologies in new contexts or to novel problems, to explore, test, analyse and synthesise complex ideas, theories or concepts. (C.1)
  • Technically Proficient: FEIT graduates apply theoretical, conceptual, software and physical tools and advanced discipline knowledge to research, evaluate and predict future performance of systems characterised by complexity. (D.1)
  • Collaborative and Communicative: FEIT graduates work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams, communicating effectively and operating autonomously within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contexts in the workplace. (E.1)
  • Reflective: FEIT graduates critically self-review their own and others' performance with a high level of responsibility to improve and practice competently for the benefit of professional practice and society. (F.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject provides active learning opportunities in a collaborative environment. It focuses on the practical application of game design theories to build commercial-ready games. Students are expected to produce a physical board game and a digital game at the end of this subject. The top performing groups of the session are typically invited to the Autumn Student Games Showcase. Each year, this event sees more than two hundred students, staff, industry partners, research collaborators, and family members come to UTS to view games projects from around the faculty and judge the winners for the best games of the night.

In each week, students are expected to have completed any videos or reading material provided on Canvas before the lecture, in which these concepts will be discussed in more detail. The lectures will involve new content presented from the instructor, as well as group activities around the pre-lecture material.

In the weekly two-hour labs, students will normally complete group activities that build towards their board and digital games. These activities will guide students through the designing, documenting, and playtesting processes by utilizing theory and practices presented in the lecture. Students are expected to attend these labs every week to effectively contribute to their group. If a group member cannot attend on a given week, they should be in contact with the group through other means to coordinate the next week's activities.

Groups will conduct playtests on their designs each week during the lab time, starting from Week 2. This allows for multiple weeks of formative feedback from other students and teaching staff to enhance their designs before the final submissions of the board game and digital game assessments.

Content (topics)

Major topics covered in this subject are:

  1. Game Design Basics: Role of game designer, structure of games, formal and dramatic elements in games, system dynamic
  2. The Process of Designing a Game: Conceptualization, paper and digital prototyping, playtesting, game balance, fun
  3. Working as a Game Designer: Local and international game industry, academic and trade conferences, magazines and journals on computer games, serious games for education, health, training and communication.

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Design & Build a Board Game

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1, D.1, E.1 and F.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 25%

Assessment task 2: Unity Fundamentals Quiz

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

2

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and E.1

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 10%

Assessment task 3: Game Critique

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1 and E.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 25%

Assessment task 4: Design & Build a Digital Game

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1, D.1, E.1 and F.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 40%

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games by Tracy Fullerton, 2008, 2nd Edition, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. ISBN: 978-0-240-80974-8

Electronic version can be assessed at: http://linus.lib.uts.edu.au/record=b2644027

Recommended texts

Unity in Action: Multiplatform Game Development in C#, 2015, 1st Edition, Manning Publications, ISBN: 978-1617292323

Other resources

Access to Canvas through UTS Online: http://online.uts.edu.au/ or https://canvas.uts.edu.au/

Unity 3D Game Engine - tutorials homepage: https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials