Experimental
Game Design


ARTS 4510
section 01 & section 02
ARTS 6400 section 01 graduate level

Spring 2016  VAST Studio, Sage 2411
4 credits

Prerequisites: part of GSAS core (or by permission)

 


Radioland
created in EGD, Winner 2nd Place, ‘Vicarious Visions Student Challenge’ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Gamefest 2015

© 2015 by Neale LaPlante Johnson, Annie Sardelis, Brian Tam, Tim Terrezza, Scott Todd, with music by Matt Wellins

http://radioland.github.io/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=25&v=XRVRkRMiYZw


Join Gunther in Radioland, where you guide our lovable hero in helping the critters of Radioland get life back from the silence that has surrounded them. In this 3D puzzle platformer, use the power of radio to traverse colorful environments, solve puzzles, and collect crazy outfits. Turn on the radio towers, move the environment, complete the levels and guide Radioland back to a brighter future!

 

This game was the result of three months of work in Experimental Game Design with continued development in the spring of 2015. We used Unity3D with C#, Maya, and Photoshop. Streaming live internet radio using a third-party DLL called BASS from Un4seen Developments. Notable programming feats include audio spectrum visualization, spline editor tools supporting mesh generation, a triggered event/effects system, editor scripting, and physics using kinematic rigidbodies. Our art style is achieved through ShaderLab shaders which we wrote for tri-planar texture mapping and vertex colored PBR.

 

Instructor:
Kathleen Ruiz
Associate Professor of Integrated Arts
email: ruiz@rpi.edu  
phone: 518-276-2539
office: West Hall 314c
office hours: Thursdays 11 am to 1 pm by appointment
(please use sign up board on office door WH 314c or via email ruiz@rpi.edu )

Experimental Game Design is an upper level hands-on studio and seminar focusing on the creation of large scale workable game projects and prototypes that advance innovative paradigms, emerging forms and dynamic interfaces. Primary to the course is the formation of trans-disciplinary collaborative teams whose members learn by making and experimenting. Students present their work in a series of formal and informal critiques that help to guide and expand their iterative process. Games are analyzed as cultural artifacts reflecting behavior, social formation, and the representation of gender, ethnicity and identity.

 

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Starting with creating an archeological, socio-cultural and ethical overview of their own history of game and toy preferences, students then create two short projects in a temporary teams. The short projects are posed as real world problems that broadly seek applied or indy games genre solutions.

 

Final project teams are then formulated for the remainder of the semester. The final project, which is the main focus of the course, is a purposeful work which shows depth and quality of ideation, innovation and interaction. It is student driven in subject, design and development. The game must be fully functional and be accompanied by a completed, detailed advanced game design document using the format: Advanced Game Design Document

 

Social action games & simulation, art games, applied or serious games, indy games, problem solving, blended/augmented reality, educational games, mobile and locative games, abstract play, and other inventive forms have been created in the course. Factors in game design including flow and game play gestalt are taken into consideration. The aesthetics of game design including interaction design, character development, level design, game play experience, and delivery systems are developed as students create the various game assignments. Interdisciplinary collaborative teams consisting of talents from visual and sound artists, programmers, cognitive science, designers, engineers, IT professionals and others. Elements of successful collaboration are covered and camaraderie of invention is encouraged.

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Required Events

Drop Box Information
Details

Course Topics
Conferences & Groups

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Course Assessment/Measures:  Assignments:
Kindly upload all projects and studies to your class exchange folder drop box

week 1. Personal Game Archeology & Analysis 
5 points
due Jan 27

Archeology and analysis of personal gaming preferences from:
a. childhood and
b. today as an adult.
Research and present a short power point or web presentation and demonstration of your favorite game/toy as a child and why it was your favorite, and your favorite game/toy as an adult and why. Include a brief history of the origins of each game, and why this is/was a compelling game experience for you. Thoughtfully research and consider the socio-political context of the game/toy you have chosen and its use. Please consider not only the game industry, but also the larger context as well. Include references in your presentation—web links, documentation.

Readings: due Jan 27
 
16 trends that will define the future of video games
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/23/16-trends-that-will-change-the-games-industry

2015 Indy Games Festival Student Showcase winners
http://igf.com/2015/01/2015_independent_games_festiva_2.html

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Made by Indie Development Studios
http://gamasutra.com/blogs/AidanMinter/20150818/251514/The_5_Biggest_Mistakes_Made_by_Indie_Development_Studios.php

 

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week 2. Experimental Game Jam # 1
The theme this semester is “Speed”
5 points
due Feb 3

Working collaboratively in temporary teams, (ideally creating a balanced team consisting of the following talents: visual artist, programmer, engineer, sound composer & designer) create an experimental game around the theme of “space”.

This is purposefully broad so use your imagination and creativity and open yourself up to experimenting. Trust your intuition! Innovation is key here.

Possible suggestions to open up ideas about speed could include our in-class discussions about the expanded notion of the exploration of game time,

…movement is imperceptible without a fixed point..”  P. Virilio

What are the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of speed, game space and speed, deep space, interior space, open world space, games as spatial metaphors, speed running through space, exploration of space of all kinds. The realms of possibility of speed beyond speed as we may currently know it. Possibly breaking through the 4th wall or considering new kinds of studies in perspective, or time in space such as real-time, slo-mo, bullet time, rewinding time and space, or the joy of exploring space with speed, the violence of speed, the construct of what it is to create a game or simulation space, numerical space, mental space, the space within the computer, an exploration of the space we physically use to play the game, locative, mobile or hand held games and space, what markers you design to indicate what part of speed and space you want the user to use.
Pay attention to the ethics of speed and space and intentionality (what world or possibility you create, the realms of possibilities to do what kinds of activities inDo market research on your ideas!!! If it has been done before, why repeat it?
Original ideas are more important than polished graphics and optimized code for this study.


Deliverables: (place in your folder in the class exchange drop box)

* initial working or semi-working experimental game prototype
teams will present a power point that contains the following background research:
* concept ideas and sketches of your team’s creative response to the theme
* storyboards explaining and illustrating your ideas for the project
* Answers to the following questions:
~ What is the game?
~ Why create this game? Why would someone want to play it?
~ Immediate and Long Term Projected Socio-cultural Project Impact?
~ Predecessor or previous games/ distinctive factors in this genre?
~ Target Audience?
~ What is the ethical space of the game?
~ Where does the game take place?
~ What do the players do?
~ How many characters are there, if any?
~ What is the main focus?
~ What is different?
~ List of technical information and methodologies of production: any necessary hardware, software, SDKs, and APIs, etc. needed.


Readings: due Feb 3
* SPEED by Oliver Sacks
* Experimental gameplay project - How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days
*create a short, one paragraph reaction paper to each of the above and place in your class drop box

Readings for Masters and Ph.D. Students (Optional Extra Credit for Undergrads):
*
Homo Ludens: A study of the Play Element in Culture by Johan Huizinga
* Man, Play, and Games by Roger Caillois
*create a short reaction paper of each the above and place in your folder in the class drop box
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week 3. & 4. Experimental Game Jam #2
The theme is “Gaming responds to the big questions of our time.”
10 points
due Feb 17

What are the big questions of our time? Being aware of them could mean being beyond the cutting edge of the game field and being a cultural producer, rather than a follower.

What do we mean by “the big questions of our time”?
What larger forces of nature, culture, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, economic, shifts are on the horizon? What world events are happening or about to happen that may be of intense interest to you and your future?   You decide on the top issue that will become our theme.

Deliverables:

* workable game (or app) prototype responding to the theme
* PowerPoint or web presentation of the team’s research and ideas that also answers the following questions:
~ What is the game?
~ Why create this game? Why would someone want to play it?
~ Immediate and Long Term Projected Socio-cultural Project Impact?
~ Predecessor or previous games/ distinctive factors in this genre?
~ Target Audience?
~ What is the ethical space of the game?
~ Where does the game take place?
~ What do the players do?
~ How many characters are there, if any?
~ What is the main focus?
~ What is different?
~ List of technical information and methodologies of production: any necessary hardware, software, SDKs, and APIs, etc. needed.

Readings: Feb 10
* your research readings and
*
look through and play at least 4 social awareness or commentary games that may be of interest. Here are some preeminent sites:
Games for Change
 : http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/
Persuasive Gameshttp://www.persuasivegames.com/
Paolo Pedercini www.molleindustria.org
* Be a game critic: create a short, 1 to 2 paragraph analysis and critique with suggestions about your 4 chosen games

Readings for Masters and Ph.D. Students (Optional Extra Credit for Undergrads):
building your research with relevant selections from the following:
* Springer Special issue: The Philosophy of Computer Games Volume 27, Issue 2, June 2014
vpn or log in to rensSearch then go to http://link.springer.com.libproxy.rpi.edu/journal/13347/27/2/page/1
* Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research  http://gamestudies.org/0601
*create a short reaction paper to 2 relevant papers from the above and place in your folder in the class drop box. Come to class ready to give a briefing on your readings.

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Final Project Experimental Game Trajectory
working with permanent teams from this point out ____________________________________________________________________________ 


week 5. Final Project Starting Sketches, Ideas & Concepts  Informal presentation 
6.6  points
due Feb 24

Deliverables: drop in drop box and also print out the following:
First ideas about your final project game
These are all ITERATIVE and will be changed and perfected as your ideas unfold.
* rough concept ideas and sketches of your team’s ideas
* rough storyboards explaining and illustrating the project your team has in mind
* rough initial prototypes
* Fill in the Game Structure template
* Answers to the following questions:
~ Why create this game? Why would someone want to play it?
~ Immediate and Long Term Projected Socio-cultural Project Impact?
~ Predecessor or previous games/ distinctive factors in this genre?
~ Target Audience?
~ What is the game?
~ Where does the game take place?
~ How many characters are there, if any?
~ What is the main focus?
~ What is different?
~ List of technical information and methodologies of production: any necessary hardware, software, SDKs, and APIs, etc. needed.

You are essentially starting your iterative GDD found here:
 Advanced Game Design Document
don’t worry your will find the answers as you go, and things will change, but just start. And yes philosophy is important to success in innovative game creation

* Answer Ernest Adams Game Design Philosophy Questions:
  - What dreams does the game fulfill?
  - What is the player going to do?
  - What are the physical, intellectual, emotional, economic and ethical spaces of the game world?

Please remember that your completed game project is an innovative, original, purposeful work which goes beyond conventional style gaming paradigms and shows depth of creative goals, sensitivity to social issues, and quality of interaction. The game must be fully functional.

Additionally the final project must be accompanied by an iterative, completed, (web ready, standalone) game design document and a well-designed poster, project overview sheet and promotional game trailer.

See samples:
 Advanced Game Design Document

Nova Radix: Game Design Document rough and incomplete, but a good starting iteration
Nova Radix Game

Readings: due Feb 24
* your research readings
* Play as Design by Brenda Laurel Play as Design by Eric Zimmerman
*create a short, one paragraph reaction paper of the above and place in your drop box

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week 6. Phase I Proposal  Final Project  Formal Group Presentation 
6.6  points
due March 2

Deliverables:

rethink and refine your project based on your resonation of the feedback your team received in class previously:
* concept ideas and sketches
* storyboards
* Advanced Game Design Document with blocked out time frame of production, a schedule and an outline of individual responsibilities and deadlines
* Game Structure template
* list of technical information and methodologies of production: any necessary software, SDKs, and APIs, etc. needed.
* produce new work and progress on your game assets including design, art, programming, etc.


Readings: due March 2
* From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games by Ed Halter
* Baudrillard and Hollywood: subverting the mechanism of control and The Matrix by Jim Rovira
* The Oxymoron of Virtual Violence, J. Baudrillard
*create a short, one paragraph, reaction paper of the above and place in your drop box

Readings for Masters and Ph.D. Students (Optional Extra Credit for Undergrads):
* Origins of FPS by Galloway
* Lenoir-Lowood_TheatersOfWar
*create a short reaction paper of each the above and place in your folder in the class drop box

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week 7. Phase II Reiteration Informal presentation 
6.6  points
due March 9 


Midterm assessments
(please upload all perfected work to drop box for evaluation)

Reality check
on scope of project and  schedule presented

Deliverables:
* gameplay experiments showing clear proof of concept and progress on your game assets
* evidence of new research and  work
* updated and refined Advanced Game Design Document that includes a game overview sheet, more refined story boards, at least 5 citations of games/ websites/readings/ literature/ films that have influenced your team’s research,

Readings: due March 9
* Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered PlaySpaces by Henry Jenkins
*create a short, one paragraph, reaction paper of the above and place in your drop box

Readings for Masters and Ph.D. Students (Optional Extra Credit for Undergrads):
* A Game of One’s Own: Towards a New Gendered Poetics of Digital Space by Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce
*create a short reaction paper of the above and place in your drop box * The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content David Rokeby

*create a short, one paragraph reaction paper of the above and place in your drop box

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week 8. March 16

Spring Break OFF, but please work on your game and your research for it.

 Readings: final project research readings ____________________________________________________________________________ 


week 9. Phase III Game Prototype

Formal Group Presentation 
6.6  points
due March 23

Deliverables:
* evidence of progress incorporating critical feedback, polishing and refinement of content, assets, gameplay, methodology, and delivery system
* final definitive schedule for entire project which will be used as clear milestones for further project development
* your team’s progress of the above reflected in your evolving Advanced Game Design Document including completed game overview sheet and image, refined answers to the philosophical question section
Please print and hand in prior to your team’s presentation in class

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week 10. Phase IV Game Content  Informal presentation 
6.6 points
due March 30

Deliverables:
* evidence of refinement and progress on your team’s project in design, development, gameplay and depth of research reflected in the project and game design document

* your game trailer (approximately 2 to 3 minutes), highlighting the general gist of your game and the exciting features, with title, credits for all involved, and sound credits. You can use any screen action capture program like Frapps or Nvidia Shadowplay if you have an NVidia card on your computer or the lab computers. (Please see how to use NVidia Shadowplay here.) You can use Adobe Encoder for good compression: (. mp4 is recommended.) The game trailers will be used by the judges as part of the review process and they will be put into a compilation reel.
Readings: final project research readings

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week 11. Phase V Refinement  Formal Group Presentation 
6.6  points
due April 6

Deliverables:

* Play Testing Plans due
* Refinement and progress on your team’s project for pre-review and three week trajectory for individual team work
* Refined game trailer for presentation this Saturday, April 9 Judging for Gamefest entries!


* consider what gear you will need to exhibit your work and reserve it.

Related Readings: final project research readings

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week 12. Phase VI Further Refinement   Informal Group Presentation
6.6  points
due April 13

Deliverables:
* Play Testing Summary results and Recommendations
* Refinement and progress on your team’s project based on critiques
* Printed Project Posters 34” x 24” Print early, as other students across the campus will be vying for these printers soon.

~ you can print archival prints on the Epson 9800 printer in Sage 2410 by appointment only see details and instructions at:
http://www.hass.rpi.edu/pl/teaching-facilities-s17/large-format-printer-suite

or
~ on the VCC Pltg
 
Instructions for Printing your Poster at the VCC (Voorhees Computing Center) on the RCS Public Plotters:
You need to configure your computer with the proper drivers in order to print to the plotter
http://dotcio.rpi.edu/services/printing/plotting-rcs-public-plotters

and for general Help Desk  info: http://helpdesk.rpi.edu/update.do?catcenterkey=78
The plotter paper is 36 inches wide, but the actual content space is 34 inches. So your document should be 36 wide, but have an inch of whitespace on either side.
The minimum height is 24 inches, but I would recommend the same amount of padding there. If your poster is vertical you can of course rotate it to fit into this space for the lowest cost. File formats: .jpg or even a .png file works from a well configured computer, but to ensure success you should make a PDF. You can possibly use Photoshop and output your file as a PDF or use Illustrator (proven to work very well) (it is on the VAST lab computers if you don't have it), create a document 36" by height + 2", then use File->Place to insert your document. You can then do "Save As" and switch the file type to PDF.

If your computer is not configured you can physically take the PDF file to the VCC and open it in Acrobat (or Reader? whatever it's called these days). Switch the printer to vcp7100g for glossy ($0.25 more per foot, not bad for the shiny effect). The checkboxes are something like:
"Automatically select paper size"
"Allow use of custom sizes"
 Select both of those and the rulers in the preview should update to be your document's size. Then you should be able to send it.

The printouts show up rolled in the racks on the right side of the VCC building, near the glass-enclosed classroom on that side. In general, they will put obviously bad printouts up without saying anything, but you can get a refund if there was a problem on their end by going to the help desk.

Related Readings: final project research readings

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week 13.  Phase VII & Formal Group Presentation  
6.6 points
due April 20

* Your final printed project summary in .doc format with summation image

* high quality edited high def. 1920 x 1080, H264 mp4 promotional video trailer. Please include:
 the title,). Show an overview of the distinctive features of your project including interaction and gameplay on and off screen if desired. 2 to 4 minutes maximum should be enough time to give a person a taste of your game project and for them to want to play it.

This video will be used to judge whether your game gets into the competition so please make a good one.

Related Readings: final project research readings

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week 14. Phase VIII 
due April 27  
6.6 points

informal reviews
 intensive work studio:
final refining of the game and project assets

ensure all work is Gamefest ready - Gamefest will be April 29-30 in EMPAC
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Related Readings: final project research readings

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week 15. Decompression and Gamefest post mortem
May 4
work studio: refinement and prep for full Final Project and semester completion of all work due next week.

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week 15. Phase IX Formal Group Presentation of Final Projects  60 total points

due May 11 (last class of the semester)
 

All perfected work due this day.  NO EXCEPTIONS


Please ensure that all work is spell checked

 

Submit work on a labeled DVDs or thumb drive REQUIRED!
Please include:
*all work from the semester, all short studies, all code, art, reading reactions, event reactions

* Your game and all elements including all art, programming code, files, etc.

* Printed and digital posters
* Printed and digital Advanced Game Design Document
* Printed and digital project summary in .doc format with summation image
* Printed and digital final user Evaluation Testing Summary and Recommendations

 

* Video Trailer: High quality edited high def. 1920 x 1080, H264 mp4 video trailer of game play. Please include your title, overview, interaction, gameplay and credits. 


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Class Schedule
week 1. Jan 27
* Introduction to the course
* review game archaeologies and student aspirations
* formulate temp teams Experimental Game Jam #1
* lecture & discussion on the issue of “speed
* lecture & discussion on ideas for the future of games and gaming as we may not know it now to be, content, platforms and interfaces

week 2. Feb 3
* Review Game Jam #1
* briefly discuss prototyping, short project as opposed to longer project trajectories
* lecture and discussion and student input on “The Big Questions of Our Time”
* distribute top questions to use as the theme of Experimental Game Jam #2
* teams form and pic their Big Question for the Experimental Game Jam #2
* lecture & discussion of The Big Questions of our Time

week 3. Feb 10
* Review progress on Experimental Game Jam #2 Big Question
* discuss selected social awareness games from Games for Change, Persuasive Games, & Molleindustria research assignment
* grads discuss chosen papers within The Philosophy of Computer Games


week 4. Feb 17
* Review and critique Experimental Games from Jam #2 The Big Questions of Our Time

* Discussion and lecture on Trajectories from EGD into the real world: case studies of a number of successful students

Discussion and lecture on Innovation & Collaboration
* Formulate permanent Final Project teams

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Final Project
working with permanent teams from this point out
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week 5. Feb 24
* Informal review of Final Project Starting Sketches, Ideas & Concepts
* Discuss the iterative process of game design and production as given in Play as Design reading selection

week 6. March 2
* Formal review of phase I prototypes
* team meetings with Game Industry Experts giving feedback on initial ideas
* Lecture, video and discussion about virtual violence, catharsis and desensitization

week 7. March 9  Midterm Review
* Informal review of phase II content and reiteration
* Reality check on scope of project and schedule
* Lecture, video and discussion about the representation of gender, love and emotion in games and the game industry

Uncanny Valley


week 8. OFF Spring Break

week 9. March 23
* Formal presentation and critique of phase III prototypes
* Lecture, video and discussion about the representation of race representation in games and the games industry

* How to make a good videogame trailer game trailer (approximately 2 to 3 minutes), highlighting the general gist of your game and the exciting features, with title, credits, and sound. You can use any screen action capture program like Frapps or Nvidia Shadowplay if you have an NVidia card on your computer or the lab computers. (Please see how to use NVidia Shadowplay here.) You can use Adobe Encoder for good compression: (. mp4 is recommended.) The game trailers will be used by the judges as part of the review process and they will be put into a compilation reel.
* Lecture, video and discussion about addiction and games

 

week 10. March 30

* informal presentations and reviews of phase IV refinements
* review/refine game trailers
* review poster and promotional design and high end printing

* User Evaluation Testing / Play Testing
* Lecture, video and discussion about DataGames and games

 

week 11. April 6
* formal critiques of Phase V refinements
* review of playtest plans
* review team 3 week trajectory schedules
* Lecture, video and discussion about Aesthetics and games


week 12. April 13

* informal presentations and reviews of phase VI
* examine playtest results and take appropriate actions to refine
* review methodologies of producing game video trailers
* Lecture, video and discussion about Breaking through the 4th Wall and issues in player created content



week 13. April 20

* formal presentations and critiques of phase VII
* review project summaries, game design documents and game trailers
* review installation requirements, tech, and gear

* Lecture, video and discussion about Mobile, blended and AR


week 14. April 27
* informal reviews of phase VIII
* intensive work studio to get Game Projects and GDDs completed

* prepare for Gamefest April 29 & 30

week 15. May 4 second to last class
Decompression and Gamefest post mortem

work studio: refinement and prep for full Final Project and semester completion of all work due next week.

 

week 16. May 11 last class
* final project formal reviews
* all posters, game design documents, video trailers, etc. reviewed
* all work from the semester, all short studies, all code, art, reading reactions, event reactions are handed in on individual DVS or thumb drives and in student drop boxes for final review
* lecture and discussion on The Future is Here
Starting a Small Business and wrap up lecture and discussion on what the future may be like in new game worlds

 

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Grading:
Evaluation: Students must demonstrate satisfactory achievement of course objectives through fulfillment of course projects and by contributing to class discussions and critiques.

Short study #1. Personal Game Archeology & Analysis  5% = 5 points
Short study #2. Experimental Game Jam # 1 5% = 5 points

Short study #3. Experimental Game Jam #2 “Gaming responds to the big questions of our time.” 10% = 10 points
Final Project 60% (incremental evaluation over 9 due dates, each 6.666% = 6.6 points each x 10= 60 points

Participation in class 10% = 10 points 

Reaction papers 10% to readings 5 and your events 3 = 8 total @ 1.25 points each = 10 points

Point to Letter grade equivalents for the course are as follows:

LETTER GRADES

PERFORMANCE DESIGNATION

POINTS

A+

EXCELLENT

90-100 points

A

85-89 points

A-

80-84 points

B+

GOOD

77-79 points

B

73-76 points

B-

70-72 points

C+

SATISFACTORY

67-69 points

C

63-66 points

C-

60-62 points

D+

MARGINAL

57-59 points

D

53-56 points

D-

50-52 points

F

UNSATISFACTORY

0-49 points

 

Participation: you are invited, encouraged, and expected to engage in discussion, reflection and activities.

 

Class Attendance Policy

As an enrolled student, you have made a commitment to this class and your attendance is a significant part of that commitment. Attendance will be taken at every class. An absence is considered excused if the student has informed the course instructor by email or in person before the beginning of the class and the excuse is considered reasonable by the instructor.


Late Policy:
All students are required to be on time and in attendance for each and every class. Students arriving to class more than 10 minutes late may be counted as absent.  Two (2) unexcused absences will result in a reduction of one entire letter grade. 

 

Adherence to deadlines is expected. It is the individual student's responsibility to keep track of deadlines and to present the work to the class and instructor on the specified dates. 15% per day will be subtracted from late assignments.

 

If you are concerned about your creative trajectory or your grade at any point during the semester, please do not hesitate to contact your Instructor and schedule an appointment.

 

Academic Honesty:

Statement On Academic Integrity

Class Specific

Collaboration and discussion about class projects is actively encouraged, and is in no way considered cheating. This is a studio course, and personal ownership of information is not deemed to be appropriate. Original game design, art and design, programming and production are required. Projects are expected to reflect personal endeavor, but may also be collaborative in nature when the nature of the collaboration is clearly indicated.

 

Academic Integrity

Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. For example, students must trust that teachers have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of the courses they teach, and teachers must trust that the assignments that students turn in are their own. Acts, which violate this trust, undermine the educational process. The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines various forms of Academic Dishonesty and you should make yourself familiar with these. In this class, all assignments that are turned in for a grade must represent the student’s own work. In cases where help was received, or teamwork was allowed, a notation on the assignment should indicate your collaboration. Submission of any assignment that is in violation of this policy will result in a penalty of a grade of F given for failure in the course and also further disciplinary action as outlined in the Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

 

Addressing Academic Dishonesty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Intellectual integrity is critical to the foundation of all academic work. Academic dishonesty, therefore, is considered a serious matter and will be addressed as such. As defined in the current Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities, examples of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to: academic fraud, collaboration, copying, cribbing, fabrication, plagiarism, sabotage, and substitution. Additionally, attempts to commit academic dishonesty, or to assist in the commission or attempt of such an act, are also violations of the academic dishonesty policy. If found in violation of the academic dishonesty policy, students may be subject to two types of penalties. The instructor administers an academic (grade) penalty of F, and the student may also enter the Institute judicial process and be subject to such additional sanctions as: warning, probation, suspension, expulsion, and alternative actions as defined in the current Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

 

Course Objectives/Outcomes:
Upon successful completion of the course:

1.  students will have the ability to explore new approaches to the concepts of “game,” “play”, and “simulation” and start to define alternate paradigms and expressive forms as demonstrated in the individual and team based projects

2. students will develop one or more of the following skills: design, art making, game programming, or engineering strategies which merge concept, process and form - encouraging approaches that are at once inquisitive, analytical, creative, experimental and articulate

3.
students will be able to create an archeological, socio-cultural and ethical overview of their own history of game and toy preferences

4. students will demonstrate the ability to work together in trans-disciplinary teams to conceptualize, design, produce and express ideas through game or simulation projects

5. students will become more articulate in the work of artists, theorists, and institutions who engage in game creation

6. students will demonstrate their process, code, art, design and experiments in a detailed game design document, summation overview, poster and short video game trailer

7. students will successfully articulate informed ideas relating to the representation of gender, race, and behavior in games and simulations and an increased awareness of games as cultural and aesthetic artifacts as demonstrated in class discussions and critiques and in short written reaction papers to relevant readings and events

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Required Materials

• An active RCS account.

• Approximately 10  to 15 dvds, or  a 60 GB usb drive and or high capacity external hard drive will be necessary to back up and archive your work

• Other materials on a project basis

You may be making a number of digital prints/manifestations of your work on or off campus. The costs of digital printing vary, but be prepared to incur approximately $25 in fabrication/material costs.

 

Electronic Communication

Email: All students are expected to have an active electronic mail account, and should check mail at least four times a week for class information. Some essential class information is communicated by email only.  

 

Work Habits

Always back-up your work frequently; that is, every time you make something you think is worth keeping.  Systems crash when least expected and you could lose all your work.   It is a good idea to make three backups (on different media), as storage media are sometimes unstable. Always save onto your own media or into your account as files left on hard drives will be removed.

 

Also, please keep in mind the highly addictive aspects of working with computers. Many people lose track of time and later wonder why they have severe back, neck and eye problems.  It is a good idea to take a rest every 15 to 20 minutes.  Look up or beyond your computer or, better still, at a long distance to relax your eyes.  Take a walk or stretch.  Fatigue can lead to frustration. Stay in touch with your body's needs.

 

Try not to harm or deface any equipment or software in any way or lose files and folders belonging to our class or other classes. 

For problems in the studio please be specific in your email and contact: hasshelp@rpi.edu

HASS Information Services assistance: http://www.hass.rpi.edu/pl/helpdesk

Please follow the guidelines for working in each studio very carefully, as you will be held personally responsible for problems you incur. At all times please keep the lab clean and sanitary.

Overview of Game Design Document:
Title of the Game, Artist Statement/Philosophy/The WHY Factor (why create this game? why would someone want to play it?), Predecessors or previous games/ distinctive factors in this genre, Target Audience, Introduction & Story, Immediate and long term projected socio/cultural project impact, Delivery System & Requirements, Interface, User Interaction, The World Layout, Level Design, Visualization (characters, flow charts), Music/ Sound Design, Rules and Game play (Setup, Scoring (if applicable)), Program Structure, Technical Specs (such as Physics, Rendering Systems, Lighting Models), Implementation, Production Timeframe, Research, References and other Features Unique to the Project.

Background needed:
Students entering the course should have a basic general awareness of contemporary socio-cultural issues, have some exposure to interactive digital simulation, and possess the ability for personal expression using any one or combinations of the following: media applications, drawing, music composition, programming, visual art, design, narration, or engineering. Students entering this course have had varied backgrounds coming from Computer Science, Arts, Communication & Media, Cognitive Science, Engineering, IT, Management, and other areas.

Suggested further readings:

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah   and Pat Harrigan, Editors. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game

Laurel, Brenda and Zimmerman, Eric, editors.  Play as Design

Saarkeesian, Anita, www.feministfrequency.com

 

Halter, Ed.  From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games

 

Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A study of the Play Element in Culture

 

Caillois, Roger. Man, Play, and Games

 

Schell, Jesse. The Art of Game Design

 

Lenoir-Lowood. Theaters Of War

 

Nitsche, Michael. Video Game Spaces. Image, Play, and Structure in 3D Worlds

 

Adams, Ernest. Fundamentals of Game Design, Second Edition

 

Jenkins, Henry.  Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered PlaySpaces

 

Baudrillard, Jean. Passwords

 

Juul, Jesper, The Art of Failure : an Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games

 

(There are many other evolving and emerging relevant titles of interest.  Please ask the instructor.)