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Game Design: Course Descriptions

RAC's Game Design Program has been built to allow our students to develop a varied and practical skill set while building a solid understanding of game design through the convergence of the fundamental elements of game development. RAC students are given a well rounded development program while acquiring adequate competency in key positions regarding game design.

Our aim is to produce students who are immediately employable upon graduation, and who are purposefully educated to excel within the industry so they can obtain their desired position (such a Game Designer, Project Manager, Animation Artist, etc.). Students in our Game Design Program wish to be able to make or participate in the production of games, and we will equip them to reach that goal.

Web Development

The world is a wired place and games are increasingly available from the web, be it via Java, Flash, Unity or newer technologies. The fundamentals of the web have remained fairly stable, and with many projects requiring a home online, an understanding of how web development works can be invaluable in any aspect of new media.

In this class, students are introduced to the basic building blocks that form the web; Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Javascript. Students will learn the basics of assembling a proper web site, how to conform to web standards, and be introduced to simple programming; all flexible knowledge with many applications that sets the groundwork for more advanced skills.

Students will learn

  • HTML, CSS and Javascript
  • The fundamentals of web design
  • Introductory programming

Graphic Tools 1

Concept art, 2D art and animation, model textures and menu and interface elements: 2D visuals are a vital aspect to virtually every game. Game designers need to understand these elements to be able to properly work with them, and sometimes need to be able to produce and manipulate them for their projects, which requires them to be well acquainted with the graphic tools used to make them.

In this portion of the curriculum, students are trained in the use of the industry standards for graphic design; Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator. With these tools, students will gain expertise in both vector and raster art graphic design techniques, both giving them the knowledge to produce 2D elements and the skills to communicate with production artists.

Students will learn

  • Adobe Photoshop and raster art techniques
  • Adobe Illustrator and vector art techniques
  • Graphic design fundamentals

Design for Digital Media

The basic principles of graphic design are simple, flexible, and have endless applications in any form of visual media, from visual art to interface design. An eye for design can make the difference between good and great work, and remains relevant to any career in digital media.

In this class, students will be introduced to the foundations of design by exploring design principles and producing design concepts and layouts, as well as working with interface design. Additionally, students will learn about computer fundamentals and gain more familiarity with varied computer interfaces.

Students will learn

  • Graphic design fundamentals
  • Interface design fundamentals
  • Computer systems fundamentals

Digital Audio

Games are intrinsically multimedia productions, and that includes sound, music, and voice overs. Games have unique applications for audio, which require special considerations for the medium -- games use music, audio-scapes and sound effects in ways that other media simply cannot.

Students will learn about basic editing techniques including digital audio formatting, mixing, editing and working with scratch audio, as well as game specific concepts such as multi-track music, and looping and branching audio.

Students will learn

  • Sound mixing and editing
  • Formatting and compression methods
  • Game audio specifics

Animation

Despite the ever-increasing capabilities and impressiveness of 3D animation software, the demand for 2D art and animation for games only continues to grow. There is a high demand for private label and advertising supported 2D games delivered via the web and through mobile devices, which only grows as web surfers gain savvy and portable devices become increasingly powerful and media-rich. Additionally, 2D art and animation remains fundamental to the development of 3D animation skills.

During the program, students will be introduced to 2D animation through the industry standard for web media, Adobe's Flash software environment. Flash Players are readily available across all major computer platforms and on many web-enabled devices. Additionally, students will learn how to use Flash to produce interactive multimedia applications.

Students will learn

  • An in-depth understanding of the Flash platform
  • Core classical and modern animation techniques
  • Fundamental interactivity for the web
  • Basic Actionscript; Flash's native scripting language

Project Management

Effective Game Designers must understand the entirety of their project and communicate the project goal and requirements to others. Students must learn about the big picture of game development in order to successful operate a project, including vital skills such as budgeting, scheduling, time lines, defining team roles and operating within a team.

Additionally, the knowledge of managing a project is coupled with the real-world realities of how businesses operate, giving students a complete understanding of how projects function in the larger machine of a company or studio. We aim to ensure students have a complete understanding of the interconnectedness of their work to their employer as a whole.

Students will learn

  • Fundamental project management skills, such as budgeting, scheduling, and goal setting
  • Team-working and organizational skills
  • Documentation and communication skills
  • Basic business skills and knowledge

Game Design Studies 1

Game design as a skill lies in the center of game production, establishing themes, trends and direction to a game development project. Designers are responsible for Game Design Documents, defining the vision and specifications of a game which act like a blueprint for the final product; but what goes in to that document is more than just technical specs -- it's also an understanding of interaction and entertainment.

In this class, students will learn about the vital theory and communication skills that can elevate any game concept to greatness. To many, game design is the singularly most creative portion of the game development process. Students will be taught a broad selection of theory and skills relating to the conception, development and documentation of a game, including the history of games, development of game mechanics, procedural thinking, incorporation of artistic elements, and level and scenario design.

Students will learn

  • How to design and incorporate game mechanics
  • Procedural thinking
  • Level and scenario design
  • Game design document creation

Game Programming 1

Video games set up a complex simulation and allow players to play around with that simulation. Programming is the machinery that runs those simulations, and is a core component of any piece of interactive media. Game Designers need to understand programming so that they can exploit the strengths that software can provide and work inside their limits. They need to understand programming so that they can communicate effective with programmers.

In this class, students will be introduced to programming technique and skills via Adobe Flash by working with Actionscript 3. Students will be introduced to programming concepts and terminology, and they will explore methods commonly used in video game development, producing 2D game content.

Students will learn

  • Programming fundamentals, terminology and game logic
  • Object oriented programming with AS3
  • Common game programming methods and engines

Graphic Tools 2

In a world of increasingly high-def graphics, 3D is king. 3D offers a new level of freedom in artistry, for games, movies and imagery -- but it also brings with it it's own unique challenges. Just as it is vital in digital media to understand the creation of 2D assets, so too is it vital to understand how 3D material is made.

In this class, we expand upon the 2D imaging base of Graphic Tools 1, moving in to 3D modeling with Autodesk's 3D Studio Max. Here students will be introduced to creating, manipulating and texturing 3D objects for use in all applications, as well as become well acquainted to working in 3D environments found commonly in game development applications.

Students will learn

  • Fundamentals to working in a 3D environment
  • How to create and manage 3D models
  • How to texture 3D models

Cumulative Project

The sign of mastery in any subject is in the application of what you have learned. In this class, students will apply their knowledge so far in to a cumulative project to exercise their practical understanding of their skills and produce original work. Working alone or in teams, students will plan, design and produce a simple, original product.

Students will learn

  • Practical application of their development skills
  • How to create and manage a complete project

Game Design Studies 2

Good game design requires more than a theoretical model of a game; designers also need to understand how their players will interact with their product so that they can optimize the experience.

In this class, students continue with what they learned in Game Design Studies 1, advancing much of the theory they learned and adding to their repertoire of design skills. Students will explore interface devices and how they can influence a game experience, storytelling and narrative techniques unique to games, more advanced documentation techniques, and more abstract game theory.

Students will learn

  • Advanced design and documentation techniques
  • Interface design and narrative technique
  • Abstract game theory

Game Programming 2

Most modern game studios thrive on 3D; with 3D assets, you can realize a complete world and immerse your players in an unparalleled interactive experience. With the increasing availability of 3D modeling tools, studios of all sizes are embracing 3D gaming.

In this class, students will build off of their programming fundamentals from Game Programming 1 and explore the possibilities and challenges presented by 3D game development. Students will learn the basics of the popular C# programming language and create interactive 3D games with Unity 3D.

Students will learn

  • More advanced 3D programming methods and techniques
  • C# programming
  • The Unity 3D Development Tool

3D Animation

3D Animation is widely used across film and games, and the digital puppetry required to bring life to 3D models is no small task. With increasingly sophisticated methods for animating 3D models, their applications become more feature rich and useful and the knowledge of how to put 3D animation to use is quite advantageous.

In this class, students will expand on the 3D modeling they worked with in Graphic Tools 2 and bring their models to life in 3D Studio Max by learning fundamental 3D animation techniques including working with bones and inverse kinematics. Additionally students will learn how to apply their animation skills to games and bring interactivity to their animated models.

Students will learn

  • Additional techniques with 3D Studio Max
  • Fundamental 3D Animation
  • Integration of 3D Animation in games

Career Development

Game Design and Development is a growing and ever-shifting field. To effectively navigate a career inside of this industry, students will need to understand common corporate structures and position requirements, and effective career paths to varying positions. We aim to educate our students in all avenues of career pursuit so that they make intelligent decisions and effectively make their way toward their selected position.

Included in this segment of the curriculum is an understanding of game development models and structures, proper and effective methods for job search applications, interviewing techniques, and portfolio development skills. Additionally, students will be prepared for alternative methods of employment, including freelancing and independent production.

Students will learn

  • Corporate structures and position models and alternative avenues of employment
  • Job search, application and networking techniques
  • Interviewing techniques and 'Role-play' simulation experience
  • Portfolio development skills

Final Project

In the early stages of this program students are encouraged to begin considering designs for their final project. Throughout the duration of the semester each student, or team of students, will choose a game theme, structure and platform for the purpose of producing a fully operational game. As each students advance their skills in each of their classes, they will refine their projects to a finished, polished product.

During the final stages of their studies, each student will be responsible for the completion of their game, by bringing together all of the elements that they have learned during the program. Students will have access to all resources covered within the program to complete their task.

Output possibilities include:

  • 2D or 3D Games
  • Web Ready Games
  • Console Prototypes

Summary

The Game Development Industry is a constantly growing and changing creature, expanding out in every direction at an incredible pace each year. It represents a wide variety of opportunities for people possessing any number of skills and talents, with lucrative potential across small, medium and large scale businesses and productions. Few industries can claim to posses the challenge and creativity present within Game Development, which promises exciting, rewarding careers to those who pursue it. If you are seriously considering a career in Game Design and Development, now is an excellent time to begin.

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