CMPS170, Fall 2011, Section 01: Assignments

Resume and Portfolio

All students will create a resume and portfolio appropriate for inclusion in applications to jobs and graduate programs. Specific guidelines are embedded in the slides from week 2, class 1 (downloadable from this site). Resumes should be PDF and portfolios should be websites (using web space that will still be active after graduation). Draft resumes and portfolios will be ready for section week 4 (uploaded as PDFs the night before, brought as print outs to section) and final versions will be ready for section week 9.

Even if you have only taken the required courses (80K and 20) you should be able to have at least a basic portfolio. And chances are that you've done projects for other courses (160, 164, 148, etc) that would be portfolio-worthy — and hopefully also some projects on your own, or at internships, or working with PhD researchers at UCSC, etc. Focus on a few things you want to highlight. You can provide a more exhaustive list if you want, but make it clearly lower emphasis (further down the page, under a heading like "additional projects," etc).


Prototypes 1, 2, and 3 

Three cycles of prototyping will be used to identify and develop the ideas that form the basis for greenlight pitches. These prototypes will allow you to demonstrate what makes your idea compelling, rather than simply trying to describe it.

Ideas. Each round begins with every student developing an idea for an innovative game. Students are expected to explore new game mechanics (opening up new areas of gameplay) as well as novel fictions and themes. Students should also plan to explore new platform potentials: phones and tablets, motion controllers, social networks, HTML5/WebGL, and so on. Each student's idea will be distilled (by them) into three PDF slides, which are due by 8pm the evening before they are presented (and which will be made available for browsing by other students). During the presentation, each of these slides will be projected for 20 seconds, giving each student one minute to describe their idea. Students will be evaluated based on the strength and appropriateness of their idea, the quality of their slides, and the clarity and convincingness of their presentation.

Teams. Immediately after ideas are presented, teams for that round will form. Each team will include 3-4 students, either pursuing one idea presented during that round or a blend of multiple ideas. Before leaving the room they should record their team makeup, core idea, and expected meeting times with the TA.

Prototypes. Each team will have one week to build, iterate, evaluate, and prepare a presentation on their prototype. Teams may use physical materials (boards, cards, counters, human intelligence, etc), computational ones (GameMaker, Processing, Flash, XNA, etc), or hybrids. The key issue is that the prototype be playable -- a way of experiencing the core of the game, not an illustration of the game idea. Teams should meet in person to work on prototypes (BE 368 is always available for this purpose) to improve efficiency and make sure all team members are on the same conceptual page. While continual playtesting is desirable, the team must run at least one formal playtest (with participants who are not team members) by the day before the prototype is presented. PDF slides presenting the prototype, the team, and the playtest results are due at 8pm the day before they are presented.

Presentation. Each team will bring their prototype when it is due for presentation, where it will be played by the TAs and/or the faculty, as well as other students. Each team will speak briefly about their prototype before it is playtested for evaluation purposes. These playtests are critical, because they determine which games are strong enough to form the basis of greenlight pitches. (To clarify: this means that games that have not been prototyped in class, or which have not had strong prototypes, cannot be pitched for greenlight.) Also, through the same playtests, a small number will be chosen, in the first and third rounds, for an additional in-class presentation (using the slides the team turned in).


Greenlight Pitches

Projects "greenlit" during this phase are those that will carry through for the rest of CMPS 170 -- and into 171 and 172. Creating a pitch for greenlight requires an appropriate idea, a team willing to sign on for the idea, further prototype iteration, and the creation of presentations and short design documents aimed at the outside judges.

Ideas. The first requirement for an idea is that it have already been prototyped in class (P1, P2, or P3) and been strong enough to move forward for greenlight. The next is a complete, convincing plan for all elements necessary to develop the game (technologies, art assets, writing, sound, etc) -- ideas with minimal art asset requirements are encouraged. Finally, only those pitches with complete teams (led by members enrolled in the 170 sequence) can make greenlight pitches.

Teams. Students will self-assemble into teams of 8-10 UCSC students. Larger or smaller teams require permission. Outside collaborators should not be essential to game engineering or design goals, and are not counted for purposes of team size restriction. Students are encouraged to agree to be on multiple pitches -- all on which they would be willing to work -- but will have to choose if more than one is greenlit.

Prototype iteration. Either through the construction of a new prototype or through further development of the idea's original prototype, each team planning a greenlight pitch will need to do further prototyping. This will give you more material for convincing the judges and will help bring your larger team together around shared ideas.

Greenlight presentations. Greenlight pitch details TBD. We expect students will give slide presentations during class time to outside judges and take questions. Length of presentations will in part depend on number of pitches, but 4-5 minutes is a likely length. Teams may also be asked to have a team member available after class in case the judges have further questions during deliberations. Each team will submit draft slides by 8pm on Wednesday, November 2nd. These will be revised based on feedback -- with the revised version due 8pm the night before section meeting.

Short design documents. Each team will submit a short design document (7 pages) for final pitch. Design documents include game idea and lessons from prototypes, team, and documentation of necessary elements. Each team will submit draft design documents by 8pm on Wednesday, November 2nd. These will be revised based on feedback -- with the revised version due 8pm the night before section meeting.