Game Design

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Game Design

Course 0



• Interactive media

– Has grown constantly in the past years

– Worth more than 150 billion dollars in 2019 – Is becoming a form of artistic expression

– The topics of Game Design and Development are of great interest for students


Benefits of games

• Cognitive

• Emotional

• Motivational

• Social

• Healthcare and Education

• and, of course, Entertainment


Social and Cultural Impact

• Communities built around (online) games

– Activities and events which involve dozens or even hundreds of players

• eSports

– Competitions with million dollar prize pools

Professional gamers are eligible for professional athlete visa in US

– Large sponsorship deals


LoL World Finals, 2019


Dota 2 World Finals, 2019


Game Design in Romania

• In Romania, the game design industry is well established:

– Ubisoft Romania, Electronic Arts Romania,

Gameloft Romania, Amber Studio, Bandai Namco Entertainment Romania, King Games Studio, AMC Pixel Factory.


Course Topics

• Game Design, not just programming games

– Anatomy of a Game

– Critical Theory and Analysis of Games

– Game Prototyping. Interface Design for Games – Game Engine Development

– 3D Graphics and Rendering

– Computer Animation and Simulation


Course Topics (contd.)

– Mobile Devices and Game Consoles – Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality

– Designing Online Multiplayer Game Environments – Level Design. Psychology of Games

– Sound Design for Games – QA for Games

– Business and Management of Games. Game Design for Bussines


Game Design References

• Primary

Fullerton, T., Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, CRC Press, 2014

Elias, G. F., Garfield, R. and Gutschera, K. R.

Characteristics of Games, MIT Press, 2012

Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, 2004

• Secondary

Hiwiller, Z., Players Making Decisions: Game Design Essentials and the Art of Understanding Your Players, New Riders, 2016


Technical References

• Unity Engine


• Unreal Engine



Unreal vs. Unity

3D – Unreal is best in terms of graphical fidelity.

2D – Unity has a much larger focus and tool-set.

Virtual Reality – Unity has better and more versatile plugins.

Augmented Reality – Unity has much more defined systems.

Multiplayer –Unreal has integrated multiplayer support, Unity does not (yet).

Mobile – Unity is considered the best engine for



Unreal vs. Unity

Unity uses C#

Unreal uses C++



• Objective of the course

– By the end of the semester, you will be able to design and build a game of average complexity – This will be achieved by finalizing a game

Teams of 2-4

Working prototype by week 8 (40% of grade)

Finished product by week 14 (60% of grade)

Weekly status reports are mandatory


So, You Want to be a Game Designer?

• What skills do I need to become a Game Designer?

– it’s complicated…

• What should you learn to become a game designer?


– Game design is the art of crafting experiences


So, You Want to be a Game Designer?

• But not all of us have the time to learn

everything that ever was or will be


What Should You Focus on?

• Game design is not about concepts or stories

– Concepts are common and not very meaningful (e.g. Mario)

– It is more important to translate concepts into reality

• Game design is about creating systems,

mechanics, levels, etc


What Should You Focus on?

• You are the worst judge of your games

– It’ll be great when it’s done

– People just don’t understand my genius

• Ability to take criticism and introspection

– Don’t get too attached to your ideas

– Players design a lot of the game experience


What Should You Focus on?

• Being a player does not make you a designer

• Designers don’t play games, they deconstruct them

– Analyze while playing – Find breakpoints

– Play games you don’t like

– Bad games are a better learning experience than good ones


What Should You Focus on?

• Understand the cost of your decisions

– When you make a decision, you are asking the team to do work

Time and money

– Ensure you make the most of your resources

– Poor sense of scope is the most common cause for game failure

• No game is ever done!

– A game is only a game if it is played


What Should You Focus on?

• Practical skills (abridged)

Technical writing Logic

Some Psychology Mathematics

Knowledge of literature, mythology and philosophy Knowledge of world religions

Understanding of art principles Basic audio design and music


What Should You Focus on?

• Practical skills (abridged)

– Basic graphic design – Know a lot of games

– And some CS specific skills like programming, scripting and computer architecture

Build games


Onward, to the Anatomy of Games!




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