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Level Design

Fall Semester


Production & Design I (DIG 5557)

  • Level Design I

    The beginning of this section acts like a bootcamp to get students fully immersed into Unreal Engine. The rest of the section teaches students how to think like a level designer, whether they’re designing an FPS level or a survival horror level. This is achieved by diving into topics such as flow, pacing, conveyance, etc., and how they differ among each genre. Students will learn all about the pre-production and planning process in level design, with multiple projects to practice these tactics, such as creating level design overheads. Throughout the class, multiple white-box levels with full gameplay are due and give the students opportunities for group feedback, just like in industry. By the end of the section, students will be well equipped to research any type of level they are asked to make, go through the pre-production process, and then whitebox the entire level to where it’s ready for level art.

  • Blueprints in Unreal

    This section is to teach students visual scripting, using Unreal’s blueprint system as the tool of choice. Once the basics are mastered, students move on to multiple topics, such as how to allow blueprints to communicate with each other. The goal of this class is to elevate students to the skill level to where they can prototype their own game levels in Unreal, such as prototyping a puzzle level to see if it will be fun or whether it’s too difficult.

  • Game Design I

    The purpose of this section is to introduce students to the fundamentals of a constraints-driven creative process. After learning the basic building blocks of design and “design frameworks,’’ students will then employ these techniques over the section of two months, repeatedly conceiving of and documenting Game Design Pitches.

Production for Media (DIG 5529C)

This course provides a fundamental understanding of the three phases of development (Pre-Pro, Production, and Alpha), an introduction to Scrum and agile development, and experience with critical documentation like Art Style Guides. Additionally, this course will introduce software tools for time tracking and organization. Overall, the course is intended as an introduction to the terminology, language, and best practices for general video game development.

Rapid Prototype Production (DIG 5548C)

Immersed in the latest game engine technology, the platform of this course is much more open to taking risks and experimentation than the industry. Each round involves a theme which pushes you to design beyond your boundaries, whether that’s designing a game to do more than just entertain or aiming to integrate narrative in a novel way. The course also explores mobile development and leading-edge platforms such as VR. By completion, you will have worked with over twenty very different teammates and mastered the process of game creation from cradle to grave.

  • Improv

    Students often wonder if they will have to get up and be in scenes. Well, of section they will, as that’s the entire point! However, students should have no fear, as this class is continually highlighted by alumni as the thing they most feared coming into the program, yet quickly came to appreciate (and enjoy) by the time it was complete. Students will focus on light exercises that reinforce the value of saying “yes” to their teammates and creative collaboration. Numerous storytelling and character development principles inhabit the scene work. By the end of the semester, students gain confidence giving presentations/pitches, having difficult personal conversations, and taking creative risks, knowing that a good teammate also wants to make others look good too.

Spring Semester


Production & Design II (DIG 6558)

  • Level Design II

    This course moves students onto the more aesthetic parts of level design. Topics such as composition, environmental storytelling, set dressing, and lighting are all covered and practiced, while always keeping optimization in mind. This is also where students will get their first opportunities at multiple portfolio pieces. The course closes with going over how to best set up a website specifically for a level design portfolio, giving the students the tools to begin getting ready to apply for jobs and internships.

PreProduction & Prototyping (DIG 6547C)

  • Capstone I

    This is semester one of a two semester group project. Students will join together in multidisciplinary teams of 12-20 in order to develop a polished game prototype. Almost entirely project based, the first semester will focus on industry accepted techniques for engaging in pre-production and then transitioning to the early stages of production. During this semester, deliverables, such as vertical slice, will be due.

Experimentation, Application & Innovation in Games (DIG 5856)

  • GameLab

    Game Lab is the survey and development of games being used in non-traditional applications, such as medical simulation, education and research. Each student will be required to prepare and deliver a presentation on a topic related to games being used in non-traditional applications. Students will break into self-defined groups and create an interactive game for a non-traditional application.

Summer Semester


Media Distribution (DIG 6099)

  • Level Design III

    This semester is focused entirely on portfolio pieces and helping students land their first gig. Students will create a plethora of levels that are portfolio quality, following a “level design test” method. Every couple of weeks, students will receive a new level design test, just like in the industry hiring process. Students will then create the level to a portfolio standard and be able to update their website with each new piece. Between portfolio pieces, students will practice mock whiteboard tests in a group setting, along with mock interviews.

  • Game Design II

    Students must prove their mettle as system designers without all of the fancy bells, whistles, and graphics of modern game engines: namely tabletop design. Most creatives are bowled over by how difficult it can be to create a genuinely compelling design with just the raw materials of dice, cards, and meeples. Game balance assignments build up spreadsheeting skills to craft mathematically sound systems that players won’t exploit (hopefully). In addition, we explore how to tell great stories in games, which books/authors are the best to pursue, and how to present game pitches in a compelling fashion.

Interactive Entertainment Project (DIG 6718C)

  • Capstone II

    In this continuation of Capstone I, students will work through the remainder of the production phase, and then proceed through alpha, ultimately producing a final project that will be shown in a final presentation at the conclusion of this semester. Often, the best of these projects moves on to be entered into competitions, such as the Intel University Games showcase, or published on platforms (Steam, Xbox, etc.).

Final Semester


In the final semester, students engage in experiential learning through either an internship / full time job (DIG 6944C Game Design Practicum) or creating a start-up company (DIG 6947C Digital Venture Practicum). The purpose is to gain knowledge through exposure in live workplace environments.

The internship course provides opportunities for students to work at established companies. These are paid experiences where students are supervised. Students are expected to perform satisfactorily and report on their industry experience. Students wishing to participate in the internship program are required to submit updated resumes, portfolios and obtain the position through standard industry interview processes. Students have often also landed full-time jobs, which is always exciting to see.

The venture course provides opportunities for students to work on their own product and/or company idea. Students select their own teams, concepts and manage the entire development, marketing and distribution process. The course utilizes the Lean Startup methodology and experts in the area of intellectual property rights, marketing, contracting and financial management contribute to the course.


Technical Design

Fall Semester


Production & Design I (DIG 5557)

  • Technical Design I

    Aimed at the technically minded, but starting from ground zero, students without prior scripting experience can still succeed. Several small assignments accompany instruction covering programming fundamentals (variables, loops, conditionals) which lead into objected-oriented techniques. The semester begins with a thorough understanding of C# as a high-level, managed programming language. Coding principles are then exercised through a recreation of the classic text adventure game Zork! Students end with a Minecraft-inspired project to create your own world, with all the challenges of terrain generation and custom gameplay. By the end of the class, students are able to contribute code on their projects and be conversant with programmers.

  • Game Design I

    The purpose of this section is to introduce students to the fundamentals of a constraints-driven creative process. After learning the basic building blocks of design and “design frameworks,’’ students will then employ these techniques over the section of two months, repeatedly conceiving of and documenting Game Design Pitches.

Production for Media (DIG 5529C)

This course provides a fundamental understanding of the three phases of development (Pre-Pro, Production, and Alpha), an introduction to Scrum and agile development, and experience with critical documentation like Art Style Guides. Additionally, this course will introduce software tools for time tracking and organization. Overall, the course is intended as an introduction to the terminology, language, and best practices for general video game development.

Rapid Prototype Production (DIG 5548C)

Immersed in the latest game engine technology, the platform of this course is much more open to taking risks and experimentation than the industry. Each round involves a theme which pushes you to design beyond your boundaries, whether that’s designing a game to do more than just entertain or aiming to integrate narrative in a novel way. The course also explores mobile development and leading-edge platforms such as VR. By completion, you will have worked with over twenty very different teammates and mastered the process of game creation from cradle to grave.

  • Improv

    Students often wonder if they will have to get up and be in scenes. Well, of section they will, as that’s the entire point! However, students should have no fear, as this class is continually highlighted by alumni as the thing they most feared coming into the program, yet quickly came to appreciate (and enjoy) by the time it was complete. Students will focus on light exercises that reinforce the value of saying “yes” to their teammates and creative collaboration. Numerous storytelling and character development principles inhabit the scene work. By the end of the semester, students gain confidence giving presentations/pitches, having difficult personal conversations, and taking creative risks, knowing that a good teammate also wants to make others look good too.

Spring Semester


Production & Design II (DIG 6558)

  • Technical Design II

    This second offering for our more technically-minded designers focuses on a comprehensive study of how to structure your code well. Course materials are headlined by: software architecture paradigms, design patterns (creational, structural, and behavioral), object-orientation verses composition, and optimized code. In addition, students are empowered to create their own concepts, putting the “design” back in Tech Design. Students will have the chance to capitalize on their freedom to concoct outrageously innovative ideas that working professionals can only dream about. After all, no one cares about how well a game runs if no one wants to play it.

PreProduction & Prototyping (DIG 6547C)

  • Capstone I

    This is semester one of a two semester group project. Students will join together in multidisciplinary teams of 12-20 in order to develop a polished game prototype. Almost entirely project based, the first semester will focus on industry accepted techniques for engaging in pre-production and then transitioning to the early stages of production. During this semester, deliverables, such as vertical slice, will be due.

Experimentation, Application & Innovation in Games (DIG 5856)

  • GameLab

    Game Lab is the survey and development of games being used in non-traditional applications, such as medical simulation, education and research. Each student will be required to prepare and deliver a presentation on a topic related to games being used in non-traditional applications. Students will break into self-defined groups and create an interactive game for a non-traditional application.

Summer Semester


Media Distribution (DIG 6099)

  • Technical Design III

    Students begin by exploring additional languages such as C++ and Python so that they grow beyond a myopic view of programming. Assignments are designed to support a growing portfolio of project work demonstrating both technical prowess and cunning gameplay. Then, the section shifts into the ultimate combination of technology and design: artificial intelligence. Agents must not only be capable of believable behaviors but also serve the designer in making games as fun as possible for the player. This principle accompanies a comprehensive exploration of modern AI techniques, predominantly finite state machines, behavior trees, pathfinding/search trees, and hierarchical task networks.

  • Game Design II

    Students must prove their mettle as system designers without all of the fancy bells, whistles, and graphics of modern game engines: namely tabletop design. Most creatives are bowled over by how difficult it can be to create a genuinely compelling design with just the raw materials of dice, cards, and meeples. Game balance assignments build up spreadsheeting skills to craft mathematically sound systems that players won’t exploit (hopefully). In addition, we explore how to tell great stories in games, which books/authors are the best to pursue, and how to present game pitches in a compelling fashion.

Interactive Entertainment Project (DIG 6718C)

  • Capstone II

    In this continuation of Capstone I, students will work through the remainder of the production phase, and then proceed through alpha, ultimately producing a final project that will be shown in a final presentation at the conclusion of this semester. Often, the best of these projects moves on to be entered into competitions, such as the Intel University Games showcase, or published on platforms (Steam, Xbox, etc.).

Final Semester


In the final semester, students engage in experiential learning through either an internship / full time job (DIG 6944C Game Design Practicum) or creating a start-up company (DIG 6947C Digital Venture Practicum). The purpose is to gain knowledge through exposure in live workplace environments.

The internship course provides opportunities for students to work at established companies. These are paid experiences where students are supervised. Students are expected to perform satisfactorily and report on their industry experience. Students wishing to participate in the internship program are required to submit updated resumes, portfolios and obtain the position through standard industry interview processes. Students have often also landed full-time jobs, which is always exciting to see.

The venture course provides opportunities for students to work on their own product and/or company idea. Students select their own teams, concepts and manage the entire development, marketing and distribution process. The course utilizes the Lean Startup methodology and experts in the area of intellectual property rights, marketing, contracting and financial management contribute to the course.


Project Management

Fall Semester


Production & Design I (DIG 5557)

  • Project Management I

    In this class, students are introduced to a variety of leadership qualities and required to analyze these through both the individual-level and the company-level lenses. In addition, they are provided with an Introduction to Scrum, Spiral, and Prototyping development methodologies, with an emphasis on identifying when each is appropriate, and when they are not.

  • Game Design I

    The purpose of this section is to introduce students to the fundamentals of a constraints-driven creative process. After learning the basic building blocks of design and “design frameworks,’’ students will then employ these techniques over the section of two months, repeatedly conceiving of and documenting Game Design Pitches.

Production for Media (DIG 5529C)

This course provides a fundamental understanding of the three phases of development (Pre-Pro, Production, and Alpha), an introduction to Scrum and agile development, and experience with critical documentation like Art Style Guides. Additionally, this course will introduce software tools for time tracking and organization. Overall, the course is intended as an introduction to the terminology, language, and best practices for general video game development.

Rapid Prototype Production (DIG 5548C)

Immersed in the latest game engine technology, the platform of this course is much more open to taking risks and experimentation than the industry. Each round involves a theme which pushes you to design beyond your boundaries, whether that’s designing a game to do more than just entertain or aiming to integrate narrative in a novel way. The course also explores mobile development and leading-edge platforms such as VR. By completion, you will have worked with over twenty very different teammates and mastered the process of game creation from cradle to grave.

  • Improv

    Students often wonder if they will have to get up and be in scenes. Well, of section they will, as that’s the entire point! However, students should have no fear, as this class is continually highlighted by alumni as the thing they most feared coming into the program, yet quickly came to appreciate (and enjoy) by the time it was complete. Students will focus on light exercises that reinforce the value of saying “yes” to their teammates and creative collaboration. Numerous storytelling and character development principles inhabit the scene work. By the end of the semester, students gain confidence giving presentations/pitches, having difficult personal conversations, and taking creative risks, knowing that a good teammate also wants to make others look good too.

Spring Semester


Production & Design II (DIG 6558)

  • Project Management II

    The main emphasis of this class is a deep dive into Excel, covering topics like basic cell commands, Pivot Tables, graphing, and most especially VBA and the writing of macros. Armed with these tools, students must then apply them to process analysis projects that contribute value to their respective Capstone projects.

PreProduction & Prototyping (DIG 6547C)

  • Capstone I

    This is semester one of a two semester group project. Students will join together in multidisciplinary teams of 12-20 in order to develop a polished game prototype. Almost entirely project based, the first semester will focus on industry accepted techniques for engaging in pre-production and then transitioning to the early stages of production. During this semester, deliverables, such as vertical slice, will be due.

Experimentation, Application & Innovation in Games (DIG 5856)

  • GameLab

    Game Lab is the survey and development of games being used in non-traditional applications, such as medical simulation, education and research. Each student will be required to prepare and deliver a presentation on a topic related to games being used in non-traditional applications. Students will break into self-defined groups and create an interactive game for a non-traditional application.

Summer Semester


Media Distribution (DIG 6099)

  • Project Management III

    The purpose of this class is twofold: to understand the intricacies of the alpha process (bug tracking, polish, and the use of tools like Kanban boards); and practicing techniques for providing meaningful, high-level feedback. Through the use of tools like strategic filters, students will provide feedback and structural suggestions for Game Designs that have been prepared by other students for a different class.

  • Game Design II

    Students must prove their mettle as system designers without all of the fancy bells, whistles, and graphics of modern game engines: namely tabletop design. Most creatives are bowled over by how difficult it can be to create a genuinely compelling design with just the raw materials of dice, cards, and meeples. Game balance assignments build up spreadsheeting skills to craft mathematically sound systems that players won’t exploit (hopefully). In addition, we explore how to tell great stories in games, which books/authors are the best to pursue, and how to present game pitches in a compelling fashion.

Interactive Entertainment Project (DIG 6718C)

  • Capstone II

    In this continuation of Capstone I, students will work through the remainder of the production phase, and then proceed through alpha, ultimately producing a final project that will be shown in a final presentation at the conclusion of this semester. Often, the best of these projects moves on to be entered into competitions, such as the Intel University Games showcase, or published on platforms (Steam, Xbox, etc.).

Final Semester


In the final semester, students engage in experiential learning through either an internship / full time job (DIG 6944C Game Design Practicum) or creating a start-up company (DIG 6947C Digital Venture Practicum). The purpose is to gain knowledge through exposure in live workplace environments.

The internship course provides opportunities for students to work at established companies. These are paid experiences where students are supervised. Students are expected to perform satisfactorily and report on their industry experience. Students wishing to participate in the internship program are required to submit updated resumes, portfolios and obtain the position through standard industry interview processes. Students have often also landed full-time jobs, which is always exciting to see.

The venture course provides opportunities for students to work on their own product and/or company idea. Students select their own teams, concepts and manage the entire development, marketing and distribution process. The course utilizes the Lean Startup methodology and experts in the area of intellectual property rights, marketing, contracting and financial management contribute to the course.