Game Development for Software Engineers
Date: July 14-18, 2014 | Tuition: $3,750 | Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 2.8
*This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.
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Digital games pose markedly different challenges from business software projects of similar scope. Due to complexities in prototyping, testing, and platform variability, developers are required to exercise more flexibility in software specifications and functionality. Seasoned professionals have to modify their approaches to design and team management while accounting for broad changes to user behavior and technology (e.g. cloud computing, mobility, and tools).
This course is intended for software development professionals aiming to understand the similarities and differences between modern software engineering and game development practices. Over the week, participants will conceive and develop prototype games in small teams, with access to modern game development tools, talks, and guidance from the mentors of the award-winning MIT Game Lab (ranked for the past 3 years on the Princeton Review’s Top 10 Game Design Programs).
Applicable industries include entertainment apps, such as mobile developers, interactive story book developers for e-readers and tablets, as well as games for serious applications, such as health care, defense, education, and training.
For the past seven years, the MIT Game Lab has made games for research, exploring areas such as artificial intelligence, complex systems, education and pedagogy, game development tools, narrative design, and player research tools. Their games have received awards for their contributions to innovative game development and have been highlighted at the Independent Game Festival, Indiecade, Games for Change, the Serious Play Conference, and the Foundations of Digital Games conference.
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings and tools (25%)
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (10%)
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (65%)
Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (10%)
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (40%)
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (50%)
Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (50%)
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (50%)
The participants of this course will be able to:
Understand the unique properties of play as a mode of user interaction
Participants will quickly create non-digital prototypes for immediate testing, highlighting how many critical design decisions regarding gameplay can only be made with direct user observation and feedback instead of upfront specifications.
Identify strengths and limitations of current game development technologies
Participants will compare several different game engines and APIs to identify capabilities, constraints, and drawbacks for a variety of game projects.
Apply principles of agile software development to game development
Participants will form digital game prototyping teams, exercising modified versions of agile methodologies adapted specifically for game development.
Understand the importance of identifying constraints and leveraging flexibility in expectations and polish
Participants will develop a small digital game under tight time and scope constraints, identifying high-priority features through user testing and rigorous cutting of features not essential for gameplay.
Practice playtesting, usability testing, focus testing, and technical testing
Participants will test their work-in-progress with other participants, the instructors of the class, and members from the MIT community to practice and understand the applicability of different test protocols at different stages of the project.
Who Should Attend
This course is intended for software engineers, technical directors, programmers, and project managers interested in or new to professional game development. It is especially relevant for programmers or managers already familiar with other forms of software development who are now being required to work on games or interactive software for entertainment, including mobile apps.
Technical Background Required: familiarity with programming, integrated development environment, and version control.
Each day of the program is divided into a half-day of lectures and half-day of hands-on software development, concluding with a session of testing.
Day 1: Prototyping and non-digital game design
Day 2: Digital game development pipeline and tools
Day 3: Team and project management methodology
Day 4: Techniques for addressing problems and crises
Day 5: Postmortems and presentations
Course schedule and registration times
Class runs 10:00 am - 6:00 pm Monday through Friday.
Registration is from 9:00 - 9:30 am on Monday morning.
About The Lecturers
Section Head, MIT Comparative Media Studies
James Paradis is the Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing and Humanistic Studies and Head of CMS. He works on problems of the mutually-influential rise of professionalism and vernacular culture, the public reception of science, and the way in which fields of expertise are represented in popular media. His methods are comparative and draw on cultural studies, biographical approaches, intellectual history, and the history of rhetoric to study science popularization, science fiction, science education, two-cultures controversies, science as entertainment, and vernacular science.
Creative Director, MIT Game Lab
Philip Tan is the creative director for the MIT Game Lab. He teaches CMS.608 Game Design and CMS.611J/6.073J Creating Video Games at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For the past 6 years, he was the executive director for the US operations of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, a game research initiative. He has served as a member of the steering committee of the Singapore chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and worked closely with Singapore game developers to launch industry-wide initiatives and administer content development grants as an assistant manager in the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore. Before 2005, he produced and designed PC online games at The Education Arcade, a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that studied and created educational games.
Development Director, MIT Game Lab
Sara Verrilli has spent her professional career in the videogame industry, starting with the day she walked out of MIT's Course V graduate studies and into a position as QA Lead at Looking Glass Technologies for System Shock. However, her game organizing endeavors started much earlier; she helped found a role-playing club at her high school by disguising it as a bridge group.
Since then, she's been a game designer, a product manager, a producer, and a QA manager, in no particular order. A veteran of both Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games, she's worked on eight major published games, and several more that never made it out the door. As Development Director of the MIT Game Lab, she looks forward to corralling, encouraging, and exploring the creative chaos that goes into making great games, and figuring out just the right amount of order to inject into the process. And, while she still doesn't understand bridge, she does enjoy whist.
Technical Director, MIT Game Lab
Thanks to two wonderfully dedicated game-playing grandmothers, Andrew Grant started playing games before he could hold the cards. From there, he went on to explore board games, strategy games, role-playing games, and computer games. This exploration shows no signs of slowing down.
Andrew graduated from MIT in 1993 with Bachelor's degrees in both Computer Science and Mathematics (6 and 18, darnit) and a minor in Creative Writing. After 6 months in the real world, he discovered that someone would actually pay him to design and program computer games, so he returned to his gamer roots by joining Looking Glass Technologies, and then DreamWorks Interactive. Since then, Andrew has survived 10 years as a programmer-for-hire and independent developer in projects ranging from underwater robotics to yet more games.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please contact the Short Programs office for further details.
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