Certificate in Game Design and Development:
The primary focus of this certificate is to provide students with the opportunity to design and develop quality interactive digital entertainment. To do this the certificate requires students to succeed in four compulsory courses related to game design and development.
- ITCS 4230 Introduction to Game Design and Development – In Intro students work both independently and in groups. Most often this course has a set of individual homeworks as well as final group project. Students are introduced into the key elements which make up successful games. One topic of particular importance, the definition of a game: ROSS. Rules, Outcomes, Strategy and Strategic Interdependence. In addition students will get their first taste of game design using a variety of different tools, XNA, Unity, GameMaker and more. However don’t think that this course is just fun and games, the professors are both strict and serious and when it comes to Intro they mean business. At the end of the semester final projects are put on display to the department and people want to see and interact with fun, playable, polished interactive games. That means understanding the game-loop, game genres, game states, logging systems, data structures, path-finding algorithms, matrix mathematics, class inheritance, design patterns and more.
- ITCS 4231 Advanced Game Design and Development – In Advanced students will work primarily solo on a number of intensive programming assignments. The purpose of this course is to allow students to show off their technical skills and abilities as well as to develop and strengthen them. Students implement a wide range of game characteristics including, artificial intelligence for agents, playing audio files through the game engine, incorporating a physics engine, programming an interface, support for multiple players both networked and local, support for additional hardware like joy sticks or game-pads and more. In the end each student will have completed the tasks individually proving that they are capable of the conquering the technical challenges involved with designing and developing an interactive digital game.
- ITCS 4232 Game Design and Development Studio – Studio is the cap-stone course and the most notorious course required for the Game Design and Development Certificate. For this course the focus is the game. From the first day students separate in to teams and the challenge begins. Each team will work throughout the semester, in most cases everyday, to design, develop, market and complete a fully fledged sell-able product. Typically this course is broken down into a scrum style design process with three sprints. The teams design the games, develop them, document them and produce a fully completed product including multiple features and marketing content. Games are required to support multiplayer, background music, sound effects, multiple languages, different difficulties, unlock-able achievements and everything else that comes included with a complete game product. Marketing content includes art for the disc cover, an instruction manual, a box packaging and promotional poster. If you are planning to take studio it is recommended that you be prepared for the most time consuming course you will take during your college years, but in the end your effort will be worth it and you will be proud of the product you produce. All the posters of previous games of Studio are viewable in the Games + Learning Laboratory on UNC-Charlotte’s Campus in Woodward 453.
- ITCS 4120 Introduction to Computer Graphics – Graphics are a major part digital entertainment so it should be no surprise that this course is a must. In intro to computer graphics you will learn about rendering and lighting techniques, OpenGL and DirectX as well as the graphics pipeline. Some common topics include clipping, near and far planes, ray tracing, rotation matrices, quaternions, and raster algorithms. Brush up on your math skills with particular attention to linear algebra and matrix mathematics, in this course it will be a must.
In addition to the courses above there are other elective game courses which are required. Students can often select any of the courses. Those courses include:
- ITCS 4238 Serious Games – In Serious games students learn about what it takes to make a serious game, a game with a purpose. It is one thing to make a fun game that everyone can enjoy, but it’s a whole new challenge to the gaming industry to make a game that is fun to play yet makes the world a better place at the same time. In this course students learn about the different methods used to incorporate serious goals into their game designs. It is one thing to say you have made a serious game, it is another to prove it. Next students learn research techniques, including test theory, conducting case studies, how to run experiments, acquiring IRB approval and more so that they can gather the data which proves their game is as serious as they say it is.
- ITCS 4235 Game Engine Construction – Games have become large complex systems with thousands, if not tens of thousands of computations happening every second. Until now that was all handled by the engine, but in this course you get to open the hood and take a peak inside. In game engine students use WebGL and start from the very beginning and learn how to develop a game engine. From rendering, to physics, to AI, in this course your program it all, and you program it starting at the lowest level. Tasks in this course include, writing a toon-shader, generating terrain, loading and rendering models, playing sound files, and all the other hundreds of tasks that your game engine used to do without you know it.
- ITCS 4236 Artifical Intelligence for Computer Games – In Game AI, students get a taste of how to program efficient artificial intelligence and incorporate it into their game. AI plays a major role in the feel and style of the game-play for any game and it is here where you will get to experience it all. Students program a variety of different AI algorithms including A*, D*lite, Decision trees, formations, and more. After a semester of Interactive Artificial Intelligence, you will be able to program your friends and foes to perform just as you want them to, and they will do it with the latest in AI techniques.
For official details regarding the Game Design certificate from the Department of Computer Science webpage.
For official details regarding the Graduate Certificate in Game Design and Development from the Department of Computer Science webpage.