Student Showcase

Prototyping with self-set restraints

So following on form last week, students got into groups to create a prototype. This time, instead of in a few hours, this project will be over 2 weeks. The first was to show how much planning and iteration designs take instead of leaving it until last. So now all the students mistakes (hopefully) are out of the way, time to get designing. Each group had to create 3 rules which their game must be based on.

Group one set their own restraints as:
1. A single player game
2. Puzzle based
3. Designed around the word “Beard”

They spent quite a while throwing out different ideas so didnt really get going until the end of the day. However I was impressed with the willingness to scrap crap ideas and to start fresh when they realised it wasn’t really working instead of just forcing the design.

Keeping in mind the students didnt have to do a paper prototype, it could be engine/software/life based, the second group initial went with using UDK. However, they soon realised they were shoe-horting their designs to fit with their own skill of UDK rather than letting the design direct the project. They soon went back to basics and started developing an interesting Photoshop prototype.

Their rules were:
1. Fixed game space (i.e a board)
2. Turn based
3. Gameplay must be defined by a dice role.

The came up with a prison game (kind of like cluedo) where they each role a dice (done on the computer) to check the order of play. Theres a central ‘Warden’ who controls play by assigning cards to the players. Players start in their prison cells and are each given a target. They must hunt down their target without their target realising and kill them. When killed, players spawn back in their cells. End game is defined by how many turns you want your game to have then the person with the most kills wins.

10minute board prototype with grid

Excel sheet with a ‘random number generator’ to simulate dice roles for people – Genius

The Warden


Game master


Which weapon should I choose?

Excited to see what both groups have next week!

Student Showcase

Paper Prototyping (second year)

So we did a similar task today as the first years tackled with some really positive results. Each group got given a core set of rules to follow by. Got some cool games designs out of it and it was a nice introduction to the semester.

Looking at these pictures the students were very imaginative with the limited resources available to them. We even had origami dice!

This was a 1-day games design experiment where they had to plan, build, test and iterate their designs in 5hrs. They were then asked what they would have changed/implemented if they had more time to refine. We also had a group session where we got to see all the games in action. Some excellent ideas came through. Next task is to start over but with a bigger time frame to see what they come up with!

Dungeon Master type game

Chicken run?


Will post pics of next session! I would encourage all designers to try this out, students or not. Fast paced prototyping!

Design Analysis, Student Showcase

Paper Prototyping

Recently I set my students a task to prototype a game idea. I gave them a set of parameters (rules) by which to design by and also put them into groups. They had 1 weeks to idea generate, prototype, iterate and write a design document. We did this process twice in a 2 week period. We had some great results and I would highly recommend getting students to prototype their ideas first before taking them into any 3D program. Even if the game really needs a 3D engine, this process is a great way of teaching good design. These students are also first year students and really engaged when they could see they game visually and we able to make the relevant changes through play testing.

All the following images are the results of their hard work. They even went as far to print and mount the game boards! It’s also great fun!

Student Showcase, UDK

UCLAN – 6 week Level Design brief.

So I’m pretty proud of my students at the moment at UCLAN. They worked their asses off for 6 weeks to produce some really awesome stuff. They are way ahead where I was at in my second year of University and I can’t wait to see what they can achieve in their final year. We’re trying to get them at a standard suitable for the top end of the industry which I feel if they keep working as hard as they are doing now they can get a nice junior position at a company. We are teaching Design first, aesthetics second, and with the help of Aaron Foster (Lunar Software) we have got some amazing results. So check them out! This was all done in 6 weeks from concept to design, to arting up the final level along with a video. Keeping in mind these guys have only been using UDK for around 10 weeks now.

If you would like to contact any of them for anything I can pass along a message.

James Caldwell – Synth

Emma Smith – AquaSol

Saija Sipilä – Arctic Greenhouse

Jason Ashcroft – Crimson Dawn

Christoph Lehmann – Heist