Computer Games Design


The module is about thinking about game design. You will be assessed on the evidence of this thinking, but as long as you do the thinking then you should pass with little difficulty. It is a module where you will explore possibilities in software, hardware, tools, skills, ideas and exploration of real world spaces and activities. As such it is a design module and contains elements that would not be awry in another applied media technologies field such as web design, television, movie-making, etc. But don't let yourself think that it is therefore a rather wet, media studies module. It contains overlap with the knowledge of these fields but the module is very much about creating a strong game design.

The module is supported by various online spaces. This is one, and all lectures, assessments, etc. will be posted here. Note that all students at all campuses and on all degrees will take the same assessments. However, there is an amount of flexibility to allow you and your group to follow an individual line of thought and development. The other important spaces are our social networking space for games students at wosgamers.ning.com . You should join this site, and the Group named 'Game Design' too (Glenn may vary on this for Dumfries-based students.)
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You will work in a group of around 5-ish students. This group should have an on-line group presence (which may be on WoSGamers, huddle.net or another space. This space will be used by the team members, will have membership for the local lecturer, and will be visible to others to some extent (i.e., you may have private discussion spaces as well as public show spaces.) This on-line presence will be taken to be the main workspace of the group.

The group will have to investigate and work with a range of software to assist the development process. The main one is Game Maker, which can be downloaded from here . You can use the freebie 'version 7' or pay the dollars and get the 'pro' version. (The pro version has more facilities and does not pop up buy-me ads.) There is a good supporting book available at the Paisley Campus bookshop and from Amazon : Jacob Overmars & Mark Habgood (2006), "The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners".

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There are also a range of other tools that can help you create parts of the design. I have brought some together here. Look for the sections marked 'games software' and 'other useful freebie software'. Again, the emphasis is freeware or cheap-ware that can be used legally. It is - perhaps more importantly - a chance to get hands-on and explore the variety of software available.

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You will work in a team and will be assessed on your individual and group work. This reflects real life,so, live with it! We will do everything possible to ensure the grade you get is a reflection of your effort, but if not entirely true, this again reflects real life situations.

You will be expected, as your main personal work, to keep a logbook of everything that you do, places you go, thoughts you have, etc. Some of this will be digital and at other times physical. At the end you need to present this work to the lecturer as an assessment piece. You may wish to scan your paper notes into pdf and place the entire assessment online; this would be best.

Be prepared to think:
  • what games ideas do I have
  • are they any good
  • what should i do next
  • where should I go to gather more info
  • am I making best use of my time and effort

Be prepared to learn new things:
  • listen to others
  • learn some new skills: drawing, software tool use, ...
  • explore a game idea and see where it goes

The power of reading this module is related to the effort you put in. The more you explore the ideas, places and tools, the greater your learning. Remember: you learn to swim by swimming, to drive ultimately by driving, to cycle by cycling. This is a 'do' module rather than a 'sit and listen' one.