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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

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

game demo night
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
final class game demonstrations
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
final exam
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
final exam game details
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
game testers
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
types of game design programs
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
curriculum highlights
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!


some media form academic disciplines
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


other media do not
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


understanding ourselves
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


what is unique about computer games
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
games for learning
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?
adapting existing games for learning
Adapting Existing Games for Learning
  • CivWorld site
    • civworld.gameslearningsociety.org/curriculum.php
    • Use of Civilization III for teaching history & geography
creating new educational games
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
key issues in game education research
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?
key problems in game based education
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
frontiers in storytelling
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
frontiers in content creation
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
frontiers in gameplay
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