This course covers the terminology and articulation concerning the classes of game mechanics. Successful games and related media often are built on existing recognizable elements from previous works. These elements are basic and defining mechanics that form the underlying structure of today’s prominent games. By deconstruction, discovery, and analysis from various theoretical perspectives, new connections are brought to light as new and innovative concepts. Students of this course will gain transformative analytical insights into the building blocks that designers will use to create the games of tomorrow.
This course covers critical skills necessary to construct agile and iterative prototypes. A prototype helps students understand the chief mechanical concepts and technological approaches for game design. Students will learn about requirement listings, will construct and dissect systems, will write technical literature, will build architectural and case diagrams, will construct simple prototypes using visual and non-visual scripting methodologies, and will engage in industry standard deployment practices. Embarking on these technical processes will allow each student to discover the qualities that are deemed desirable and “fun,” and will proffer iterative procurement, refinement, and, eventually, transformation into full production-scale endeavors.
Game Production covers the processes and management methodologies by which video game development studios operate. Students will learn the various stages of video game production in the context of resource allocation and the building, refining, and optimization of the infrastructure in a production pipeline. While focusing on agile and iterative techniques, students will practice Scrum software processes, formulate sprints, and establish milestone-centric timelines. Along with these skills, the course also will teach how to construct budgets, effort forecasts, and reports. Introducing students to pipeline optimization techniques, third-party and outsourcing, and quality assurance integration also will factor into the course workload.
This course covers the limitations of game development technology and theorizes on how to optimize the production process. Technical knowledge dealing with extensibility and tools development will figure prominently in the course, especially in reference to extending the life of software through add-ons that satisfy the demands of users without eradicating basic software structures.
Meaningful Games is a course that combines game studies, philosophy, and game design with a purposeful exploration of what video games are and in which ways they may be considered meaningful in manners which embrace the inherent qualities of virtual worlds as digital artifacts. Topics of exploration will include the various roles video games play in social processes and the way video games function as interactive tools that promote cultural change.
In this course, students will explore topics including content creation in a group dynamic, strategic planning, goal-oriented planning, game theory, and design. The class will take place in a collaborative environment that simulates the professional workplace in an effort to provide each student with a unique opportunity to form and direct a team in the MFA pipeline.
This course instructs students on how to record, edit, and manipulate music, sound effects, and dialogue assets for a game engine. Digital audio software and workstations are used to familiarize students with the rudimentary skills of audio signal flow and the audio creative process. Students will import their finalized audio assets into a game engine using industry methods and suitable programming skills to implement the audio assets.
This course fulfills the needs of the thesis projects coming through the class. The instructor will determine the course assignments in regard to programming to assist the completion of the final phase of development.
Production Studio 2 is the final phase of the student’s senior project focuses on the production and mastering of a senior interactive or game project, including final design, programming or scripting, focus testing, testing, and implementation. Students also create support materials, such as a product website, and work to integrate these into their portfolios.
Thesis Development is an in-depth focus on the masters of game design and their methodologies, techniques, and processes. Students will formulate a vocabulary and a dialog with which they will begin to create a supportive document for their thesis game. In Art of Game Design, students create an innovative and theoretically informed body of work that is exhibited in a manner and context that supports its creative content. In Thesis Project Directed Study 1, students will begin producing a written component that addresses the theoretical premise of their work.
Thesis Development Study 2 is a continuation of Thesis Development 1. Expanding on the vocabulary, design methodologies, techniques, and processes in Thesis Directed Study 1, students of Thesis Directed Study 2 will complete a supportive document for their thesis game.
Game Narrative is a lecture course that explores the theory, skills, history, and philosophy of game narrative. The course focuses on demonstrating connectivity between game design as a practice and storytelling as a practice, as well as exposing why all games tell stories, even if they are not explicitly narrative. Theories from aesthetics and philosophy of art are combined with practical experience from the challenges of game writing and serve to present a unique and thorough foundation for writing for digital entertainment and art.
This course focuses on research and analysis into the various forms of monetization within the game industry. Students will learn how game developers implement monetization strategies surrounding crowd funding, in-game advertising, free-to-play models, and more traditional publisher/developer business models. The course unfolds in three sections: First, a critical analysis of a wide range of successful monetization models in gaming such as Candy Crush, Guild Wars 2, Clash of Clans, etc. Next, students are required to create a successful monetization plan for a game. The development of the plan will employ data tracking, marketing, pitch documents, etc. Finally, a proof of concept of your approved plan in development using third party tools, marketing materials, or any form of media pertinent to a student’s development project.
Management Psychology explores practices and techniques for team management preparing students for the realities of the business. Students will learn various personnel management techniques for all the disciplines found in game development teams, including leadership, conflict resolution, and ethics. This course covers best practices for understanding and managing team dynamics, dealing with external and internal clients, managing the peripheral businesses like marketing and sales, and effectively focusing a team for delivery of a final product.
This course explores business relations between game developer and game publisher and explores various techniques for managing and cultivating these relationships to form lasting and productive partnerships. Students benefit from firsthand insights into the realities of the business side of the video game industry from approval processes to funding projects. The course covers how to manage work relationships with publisher contacts, producers, art directors, and marketing departments. Students also will learn how to manage game development teams through milestone scheduling, setting realistic time considerations for tasks, and agile methodologies to keep developers accountable and prepared for the inevitable rapid schedule changes in production.
This course focuses on player interaction with user interface elements. How a player interacts with a game will make or break their experience. Students will explore the hazards of clunky gameplay and ineffective presentations of information. Students will learn to balance what is on screen so that players will feel empowered by the information presented rather than burdened by it.
Tool Theory focuses on the placement of different functions in a pipeline. This course will focus on streamlining a repetitive task or batch operation. Learning to speed up production processes and to spot and improve bottlenecks by implementing new tools or repurposing old ones.
This course will instruct students on best practices for managing project scope and feature inventories. Understanding these practices is important to keeping gameplay focused on players' core experiences. In Scale and Scope in Project Development, students will learn to spot when a project is getting away from core ideas and will learn best methods for saving and repurposing trimmings for future projects.
Particle Systems and Advanced Lighting focuses on bringing worlds to life with subtle movements and grand lighting. Details like motes of dust and pollen in the air, leaves falling from trees, and smoke bellowing from trenches are examples of finishing touches that will help make a game experience more dynamic. Mood and color are additional factors that contribute to a vibrant world. This course will explore mastering use of these effects and more.
Special Topics in Game Design focuses on current topics in the field of game design. Topics include process, art, development, and marketing.
The Graduate Field Internship allows students to undertake an internship in a field of study of their own choosing.
The Graduate teaching internship allows students to undertake a teaching assignment under the supervision of a faculty member of LCAD's BFA program in Game Art.