Advanced Game Design - Fall 2015

Introduction Schedule Assignments Resources


When: Tuesday / Thursday 10:10am - 11:40AM
Where: 14 East Jackson #505 - Loop Campus

Professor: Brian Schrank (please just call me Brian)
Contact: bschrank [at]
Office Hours: Tuesday 3-4:30pm - I'll be on the fifth floor probably not my office.

DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media

This is a studio course in which students work in teams to design and develop slices of polished, small-scale gameplay experiences. The focus is on developing team-based creative and technical processes to produce innovative, engaging, and playable games. Over the course of the quarter, each team will build two different short gameplay experiences or “vertical slices.” Each slice will demonstrate an understanding of the role of game mechanics, game art, audio, and technology platform in creating a cohesive and compelling gameplay sequence. Team roles will include game design, producing, game art/animation, and programming. Teams will iterate on projects until they can show through playtests that they have met their gameplay goals. Students can use any art assets, sound effects, music, or code they can find online as long these help flesh out the vision and intent of the game projects.


  • Social Participation in Class and Team: 20% Be Active, Vocal, and Polite
  • Vertical Slice #1 Comedy Games Work Hard, Be Creative, Solve Problems Fast
    • Prototype 5%
    • Revised or New Prototype 5%
    • Alpha Build 10%
    • Beta Build 15%
    • Individual Postmortems: 5%
  • Vertical Slice #2 Affection Games: Work Hard, Be Creative, Solve Problems Fast
    • Prototype 5%
    • Revised or New Prototype 5%
    • Alpha Build 10%
    • Beta Build 15%
    • Individual Postmortems: 5%

Extra Credit: Going above and beyond helping other students can earn you an extra 1-10% at discretion of instructor. The student who was helped needs to email the instructor and summarize the help that was provided.


You are expected to attend all classes and participate in class activities as scheduled. If you miss a class for any reason, you are expected to follow up with the instructor and your team, and find out what was missed and make up any work. A note from a doctor or nurse will be required for an absence to be excused. The third unexcused absence, and each subsequent absence, will result in an automatic final grade deduction of one letter grade. Being late to class counts as 1/3 of an absence. More than 4 absences will result in automatic failure of the course.

Late assignments

Late assignments will only be accepted within three days of the due date. Each day the assignment is late will decrease the possible point value by 20%.


An Incomplete grade is given only for an exceptional reason such as a death in the family, a serious illness, etc. Any such reason must be documented. Any incomplete request must be submitted at least two weeks before the final exam. Any consequences resulting from a poor grade for the course will not be considered as valid reasons for such a request.

Work Ethic

Expect to work 20-30 hours a week on projects to do well. Do not rely on teammates to be told what to do. Be proactive and always think about how YOU could improve the game experience to meet the project's goals. Then run your ideas by your team before you do them. Seek and use DAILY feedback on your work. Get it from me, classmates on Slack, playtesters, roommates, anyone who’ll be honest, critical, and who understand the project's goal.

Team Studio Culture

For each project, students will form a new game studio, with each student adopting one of 4 roles. Communication is key to fostering and maintaining a healthy team dynamic. You must meet in person with your team TWICE A WEEK OUTSIDE OF CLASS. You must also create a Slack group for each project to facilitate rapid and fluid communication. You must check in with team at least TWICE A DAY on Slack. Post something you made / changed in game (screenshots / builds are good) or comment on a teammate’s post.

Team Member Roles

Each student will be responsible for producing quality work in one of the 4 following job fields:

  1. Artist
    Artists will work in 2D, creating icons, buttons, model textures, and game screens as well as 3D, creating models, UV mapping, rigging, and animating. A close working relationship with the programmer will be key to creating assets that will work well in the game engine.

  2. Designer
    Designers should spend at least 80% of their time WORKING IN ENGINE. Designers will develop and program prototypes, devise and implement level design in code, and strategically structure playtests to solicit the most meaningful feedback. A close working relationship with the programmer will be key to designing a game that has the intended play experience.

  1. Programmer
    Programmers will work with the designer to develop the game mechanics and implement the game levels, and will work with the artists to develop the GUI and HUD. Programmers, with the help of designers, will prototype game concepts in order to test their technical feasibility, playability and fun. NOTE: Messy code that that works imperfectly is infinitely better than beautiful code that takes a long time to write—holding out the empty promise of working perfectly.

  1. Sound Designer and Music Composer
    Sound designers/composers will work with the game designers to create sound effects and music that serves the narrative and theme of the game design. Downloading sound effects from the internet and remixing them into new sound effects is encouraged.


Each team will either designate a person to serve as their Producer or the professor may appoint the producer himself. The producer must have a dual-role designation and be “designer and producer” or “artist and producer,” etc. In addition to their other responsibilities, the producer will be responsible for project scheduling, organizing meetings, and always ensuring that the big picture of the project is always being served.

Academic Integrity

Work done for this course must adhere to the University Academic Integrity Policy, which you can review in the Student Handbook or by visiting the Academic Integrity page at DePaul University

Students with Disabilities

If you feel you need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability please contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential. To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact me as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted either:
PLuS Program (for students with LD or AD/HD) at:
The office of Students with Disabilities (for all other disabilities) at: