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Future Directions for Computer Games. Foundations of Interactive Game Design Professor Jim Whitehead March 14, 2008. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0. Game Demo Night. Tonight March 14, 5pm-9pm E2 180 (Simularium)

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Future directions for computer games l.jpg

Future Directions for Computer Games

Foundations of Interactive Game Design

Professor Jim Whitehead

March 14, 2008

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0


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Game Demo Night

  • Tonight

    • March 14, 5pm-9pm

    • E2 180 (Simularium)

  • Come to this event if you want to demo your game

    • Bring laptop and/or game on CDROM/USB Drive

    • RPG Maker and C#/XNA: best if you can bring your own laptop


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Final Class Game Demonstrations

  • The best 6-7 student games created this quarter will demo their games in front of the entire class

  • Monday, March 17, normal class time

  • Judges from the games industry will be present

  • Selected teams will have 5 minutes each to demo their game

  • The best game team will win a Nintendo DS for each team member (limit 2)

  • A fun, intense event

  • Participating teams will be informed late today


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Final Exam

  • Wednesday, March 19, 4pm-7pm

    • In Media Theater

  • Before exam

    • Create a non-computer game

      • Board game

      • Puzzle game

      • Role playing game

      • Children’s game

      • Card game

    • Bring typed, printed rules to exam, plus everything needed to play the game

  • During exam

    • Play the game with others in exam

    • Write essay reflecting on the design of your game


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Final Exam – Game Details

  • The game must have a name

  • The rules must be typed, and fit on no more that 3 pages (10pt or larger, multi-column is OK)

  • Game elements (game pieces, boards, cards, dice, etc.) are not part of the 2 pages

  • No restrictions on game media (cardboard, plastic, leather, latex, it's all OK)

  • The game must be playable inside the Media Theater while many other students are also playing their games

  • A complete game should take less than 30 minutes

  • The game must not be a drinking game.

  • Game must be original. No minor variants on existing games. Major variants of existing games are OK.

  • Game play must not involve breaking laws or campus regulations (the "Don't get your professor in trouble" rule)

  • No flames, uncontrolled liquids, knives, swords, whips, or functional weapons of any kind


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Game Testers

  • Seniors in the game design major work in teams all year long to produce working games

    • Fall quarter: focus on design

    • Winter quarter: focus on implementation

    • Spring quarter: user testing, level design

  • Their games are now almost ready for people to play test them

  • We’re looking for volunteers to play test these games!

  • Signup sheet at front if interested


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Types of Game Design Programs

  • Nationwide, there are three kinds of computer game design degree programs

    • Technically focused

      • Strong core of computer science

      • Additional depth courses in game design and artistic aspects

    • Interdisciplinary

      • More even mix of computer science and game design

      • Not as strong in computer science: unclear job potential

    • Art focused

      • Strong core in artistic methods, tools, and productiontechniques

      • Only a few courses in computer science

  • UC Santa Cruz Computer Game Designdegree is technically focused


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Curriculum Highlights

  • Senior Game Design Studio

    • Work as a member of a team for an entire year to develop a substantial computer game.

  • Freshman Game Design Experience

    • Introduction to game design, and a game project in first year

  • Solid grounding in Computer Science

    • 3 course sequence in graphics

      • Includes 3D game engine design

    • 3 course sequence in AI

      • Includes game AI, and narrative AI

    • Built on top of proven CS fundamentals curriculum

  • Digital Media

    • 2 digital media electives

ping.exeCyberspace exploration game by UCSC student Nicholas Kent

Contact Prof. Whitehead if interested in learning more about this major!

[email protected]



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Some media form academic disciplines

  • Fiction

    • English Literature

  • Newspapers & magazines

    • Journalism, Communications

  • Movies

    • Film Studies, Cinematic Arts

  • Television

    • Television Studies, Cinema-Television

  • Hypertext/Web

    • Web Engineering, Web Conference, ACM Hypertext

By hans_s, Flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/archeon/17009869/


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Other media do not

  • Telegraph, Telex, Fax

  • Telephone, cell phones

  • Citizen’s Band radio

  • Instant messaging

  • Email

  • Board games

  • These have all been the focus of substantial academic study…

  • … but have not led to the formation of focused academicdisciplines

  • Why?

By get directly down, Flickr

http:[email protected]/147205810//


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Understanding ourselves

  • Media that create academic disciplines:

    • Are mass media

    • Tell stories (fiction and nonfiction) that allow us to reflect on the human condition

    • Help us understand ourselves

    • Are deeply embedded in culture

    • Are modes of cultural production

  • Computer games share these traits

Persuasive Games, 2008

http://www.persuasivegames.com/games/game.aspx?game=fatworld//


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What is unique about computer games?

  • Computer games are a form of computational media

    • A broad term covering forms of media that have computers deeply embedded within them

  • Computational media can be

    • Deeply interactive. Have rich interaction with a human, and react to what they have done.

    • Highly algorithmic. The presentation the media makes to a human can depend on the execution of a computational process.

  • Non-computational media lack these two elements

    • Books, movies, newspapers: all static, non-interactive media


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Games for Learning

  • One aspect that makes games interesting is that they are learning experiences

    • Often games teach knowledge that is not useful outside the game domain

      • Play patterns in platform games

      • Avoiding bullets in shmups

    • Perhaps games could be created to teach useful skills…

  • Substantial interest in this topic

    • Games are interesting and engaging

    • Could they make learning fun?


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Adapting Existing Games for Learning

  • CivWorld site

    • civworld.gameslearningsociety.org/curriculum.php

    • Use of Civilization III for teaching history & geography


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Creating New Educational Games

  • Creation of games for K-12 education

    • Example: Revolution game

    • www.educationarcade.org/revolution

    • Allows players to experienceAmerican revolution in colonialWilliamsburg from several perspectives

  • Creation of games for government and corporate training

    • Serious Games movement

    • www.seriousgames.org


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Key issues in game education research

  • How to teach all subjects, not just ones well suited to games

    • English composition and argumentation

    • Calculus

    • How to embed teaching deeply into the game, rather than “skill and drill” type games

  • Making games that understand reactions of players to the material

    • Can a game system figure out you’re bored, and adapt the presentation to be more interesting?

      • Cameras, brain wave detectors?

  • How to assess that games are teaching as well as existing techniques. Maybe games do worse?


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Key problems in game based education

  • Technology is moving quickly

  • Games are expensive to create

  • Games are created, then become obsolete within just a few years

  • Economics are bad, as a result. Too little time to recoup investment.

  • Need to find a way to create compelling games that will be technically stable over 5-15 years

    • E.g., the life of a textbook


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Frontiers in storytelling

  • One direction for games is ever richer interactive storytelling

  • Requires

    • Better models of story

      • Use these to construct stories that deeply adapt to what the player has done so far

    • Richer interactive characters

      • Characters that can react to a wide range of input

      • Produce a wide range of dialog

      • Have complex interactions with other characters

      • Are animated in realistic ways that convey character traits

    • All of these are complex artificial intelligence problems

      • Are doing some of this research here at UCSC


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Frontiers in content creation

  • Creation of gameworld content is increasingly expensive

  • Interactive stories need gameworlds created in real time to adapt to player actions

  • Current research on automatic creation of game levels

    • UCSC project on automatic creation of platformer levels

    • Charbitat project at Georgia Tech: creating quests in a procedurally generated 3D world

    • Scalable City: UCSD project creating gameworld cities





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Frontiers in gameplay

  • New gameplay mechanics

    • Portal mechanic in Portal

    • 2D/3D switching in Fez, Super Paper Mario

  • New game controllers

    • Wiimote

    • Accelerometers, pressure-sensitive resistors are cheap

    • Relatively easy to make custom USB controllers now

  • New visual appearances

    • Most IGF finalist games did not have photo-realistic graphic style

    • Can be more expressive when not aiming for realism


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