Sunday, April 08, 2007

Random Tidbits from GDC for Teachers

Some of the most interesting things I learned at GDC came from hallway conversations, outside of the sessions themselves. I'm glad I carried a notebook with me at all times to record the best ideas. Here are my notes:

Possible assignment for a game design class:
  • First, have each student create a game concept.
  • Next, have each student create a design document based on the concept of another student who got the same grade as they did.

For a Capstone (student project-based) class:

  • In addition to developers (programmers, designers, audio, producers, artists) consider adding one business student in a BizDev role. It’s their job to figure out how to market the current game that the team is working on… and how to fund the next one. This will likely create a number of uncomfortable constraints on the rest of the team, which they will find very familiar once they start working in the industry.
  • Suggest to programmers to use generic names for their objects. If you have a flying enemy called a Hawk, call it something like CFlyingEnemy. Often during the course of development, names and art will change – maybe it will become a Vulture or a Biplane or something instead of a Hawk, and the code becomes confusing to anyone who doesn’t know the history of the game’s development. Amusing anecdotal example: in one project, the programmer called all enemies “Baddies” in the code. Some people found this unprofessional… but you can bet any new programmers working with that code know what’s going on!

On Game Design and Architecture:

  • Game design is very similar to architecture. In both cases you’re creating the plans for a team to build something.
  • So… why do game designers ignore this? Why is Architecture not a required class for all game designers? (I have no answer for this. Anyone want to suggest why this would be a good or bad idea?)
Call for Collaboration:
  • Educators who teach game-related courses: post your syllabus online. Got to, log in, then go to Wiki (under the Community heading in the menu), then click on Game Education. There’s a link to add your course to the collection. Follow the instructions from there.If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with editing a Wiki, you can send your course info to the Wiki admins and they’ll post it for you.
  • Even if you don't contribute (and shame on you!), the EdSIG Wiki is a great resource if you're setting up a course (or a curriculum) to see what others are doing with the same subject material.

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