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UT - Prototyping - Spring 2024

SPRING 2024 WITH WILEY WIGGINS

Course Information

Course Title

AET-333 Prototyping

Location

DFA 3.218

Schedule

Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Mode

In-Person

Instructor

Wiley Wiggins, MFA

Email

REDACTED

Office Hours

Mondays and Wednesdays 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM or by appointment

Course Description

AET Prototyping is an intensive studio class in which students will create 9 prototype games over the semester. It focuses on the quick generation and iteration of ideas and content related to game mechanics. The aim of this class is to get students comfortable with the practice of rapid prototyping: working quickly to create a small playable game that effectively proves or disproves a design concept. Drawing influence from game jams, the class will prompt students with weekly thematic, aesthetic, or mechanical constraints (e.g. “gardening” or “black-and-white” or “one-button”). The class is not an intro game engine class, students will put skills learned in previous classes to work while forming habits of a playful creative practice that tests out new ideas. The hope is that students will practice speed and flexibility, incorporating those lessons into their practice when developing longer-form games in the future, and in the process refining their own tastes, working style and techniques.

Prerequisites

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

Class Structure

Our class meets twice a week. Monday classes will be used to playtest the previous week’s games and introduce the next theme. Wednesday classes may involve short discussions of existing games and will serve as studio time to begin work on that week’s project.

Assignments

The assignments for this class are structured to foster rapid prototyping skills: over the course of the semester, you will develop and complete one playable game nearly every week, culminating in a total of 9 unique prototypes. In the final phase of the course, you will select one of these 9 prototypes to refine and document as your last project. This comprehensive assignment structure encompasses all your submitted assessments.

Themes

Each week, you will be expected to make a new game, working on a new concept (unless explicitly stated otherwise). To prevent preliminary work outside of the weekly cycle, each theme is kept secret until the week’s Wednesday class.

Tools

You can choose to do all 9 projects with the same tool (e.g. Construct, GameMaker, Unity), or mix and match depending on the project, group, or project brief. It’s up to you. It is expected that most of your submissions will be digital games, but if you want to make a non-digital game for a certain prompt, come talk to me. See the resources page for a comprehensive list of game-making tools.

Groups

You can work independently or in pairs. Larger groups will not be permitted. Feel free to try different groups each week, or stick with the same group. It’s your decision.

Submissions

Submit weekly games by 11:59 PM on Tuesday nights to the class Dropbox folder. Use the following link for submissions: REDACTED (If your game was made using an online tool that doesn’t export a playable game, just email me a link to your game via canvas before the deadline) Please zip your project before submission and use the following filename format:

Project [Num] [Last Name(s) of creator(s)]

Example #1:

Project 2 Wiggins.zip

Example #2:

Project 3 Wiggins Holmes.zip

You should also bring your own copy of the game to class (either on your own your computer or downloaded onto one of the university’s computers) for demonstration purposes. Note that you will be marked based on the submitted version, so your grade will not benefit from any additional work you do after midnight. It is crucial that you attend the Wednesday class each week to present your game in person. If you are unable to attend class due to illness or other extraordinary circumstances, you will be allowed to present the following week. Students have the option to skip one assignment (see ‘Assessment’).

Assessment

Your work will be graded during three “threshold” weeks. At each threshold, the best game from the preceding period will be selected for assessment. To encourage consistent engagement and work ethic, submission of a game prototype each week is mandatory, even though only one will be selected for detailed critique and grading.

Final Grade Composition

In addition to the three threshold assessments and the final project, a portion of the final grade will be based on regular submissions:

Assessment Date Assessment Type Percent of Final Grade
Weekly Submissions Submission Consistency * see note
End of Week 5 Threshold #1 – Best 1 of 3 30%
End of Week 8 Threshold #2 – Best 1 of 3 30%
End of Week 12 Threshold #3 – Best 1 of 3 30%
End of Week 15 Refine and document 1 game 10%

* 1 free missed assgn., -5 points for next missed assgn., -10 points for subsequent missed assgns.

Grading Rubric

Grade Range
A 94-100
A- 90-93
B+ 87-89
B 84-86
B- 80-83
C+ 77-79
C 74-76
C- 70-73
D+ 67-69
D 64-66
D- 60-63
F 0-60

Class Schedule

Week Date (Monday) Date (Wednesday) Monday Session Wednesday Session
1 Jan 16 Jan 18 No Class (Holiday) Class Overview
2 Jan 22 Jan 24 Project 1 Announcement Studio work on Project 1
3 Jan 29 Jan 31 Project 1 demonstrations & Project 2 announced Studio work on Project 2
4 Feb 05 Feb 07 Project 2 demonstrations & Project 3 announced Studio work on Project 3
5 Feb 12 Feb 14 Project 3 demonstrations & Project 4 announced Studio work on Project 4
6 Feb 19 Feb 21 Project 4 demonstrations & Project 5 announced Studio work on Project 5
7 Feb 26 Feb 28 Project 5 demonstrations & Project 6 announced Studio work on Project 6
8 Mar 04 Mar 06 Project 6 demonstrations & Project 7 announced Studio work on Project 7
9 Mar 11 Mar 13 - (Spring Break) - (Spring Break)
10 Mar 18 Mar 20 Project 7 demonstrations & Project 8 announced Studio work on Project 8
11 Mar 25 Mar 27 Project 8 demonstrations & Project 9 announced Studio work on Project 9
12 Apr 01 Apr 03 Project 9 demonstrations & Final Project announced Begin Final Project Work
13 Apr 08 Apr 10 Guest Speaker -
14 Apr 15 Apr 17 Final Project Work -
15 Apr 22 Apr 24 Final Project Work End-of-Semester Showcase
      Final Project Submission due Apr 28, 11:59 PM -

Note: This schedule is subject to change based on the progress and needs of the class.

Required Materials

Class Discord

We will be using the digital collaboration platform Discord to answer process questions and share progress with one another. Any questions about grading or deadlines should be sent to the instructor via Canvas. Students using Discord are expected to adhere to the department code of conduct and guidelines for use that they accepted upon joining the department server. This includes adhering to the academic integrity policies of the University at all times and abstaining from disruptive behavior and speech as outlined in the AET department discord server #rules channel.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Inclusive Instructional Design

(IID)

This course was designed following principles of Universal Design for Learning and Inclusive Instructional Design. Wherever possible, course materials will be provided in a variety of different formats including text, video, audio, and interactive (games). Other accessibility considerations have been made such as text versions or Closed Captions, screen reader capability, and flexible deadlines. There are no timed tests.

Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)

As stated above, this course was designed to be accessible and inclusive to all, however there may still be cases where accommodations need to be made. If you feel there are any barriers you might face, whether documented or not, please feel free to discuss them with us. We are open to any ideas you have that will make this course better for you. The University of Texas at Austin provides academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact Services for Students with Disabilities (512-471-6259, ssd@austin.utexas.edu, http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability/, or videophone 512-471-6644).

Personal Pronouns

Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name, unless they have added a “preferred name” with the Gender and Sexuality Center (http://diversity.utexas.edu/genderandsexuality/publications-and-resources/). I will gladly honor your request to address you by a name that is different from what appears on the official roster, and by the gender pronouns you use (she/he/they etc). Please advise me of any changes early in the semester so that I may make appropriate updates to my records. For your reference, I use he/him pronouns.

Student Support Services

There are numerous free and/or low-cost support services available to students at UT. They include (but are not limited to) the following:

Fine Arts Career Services (512-232-7333, utexas.edu/finearts/careers) provides a full range of services and resources to support students and alumni.

The Undergraduate Writing Center (512-471-6222, uwc.utexas.edu) helps students with every phase of writing assignments for their courses.

The Sanger Learning Center (512-471-3614, utexas.edu/ugs/slc) provides study skills, time-management, and note-taking courses.

University Health Services (512-471-4955, healthyhorns.utexas.edu) provides medical and health promotion services for currently enrolled students and some non-students who are officially enrolled in certain University programs.

The Counseling and Mental Health Center (512-471-3515, cmhc.utexas.edu) helps students with their personal concerns so that they can meet the daily challenges of student life.

Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL) If you are worried about someone who is acting differently, you may use the Behavior Concerns Advice Line to discuss by phone your concerns about another individual’s behavior. This service is provided through a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD). Call 512-232-5050 or visit http://www.utexas.edu/safety/bcal

Title IX Reporting

Title IX is a federal law that protects against sex and gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence and stalking at federally funded educational institutions. UT Austin is committed to fostering a learning and working environment free from discrimination in all its forms. When sexual misconduct occurs in our community, the university can:

Intervene to prevent harmful behavior from continuing or escalating

Provide support and remedies to students and employees who have experienced harm or have become involved in a Title IX investigation

Investigate and discipline violations of the university’s relevant policies(https://titleix.utexas.edu/relevant-polices/)

Beginning January 1, 2020, Texas Senate Bill 212 requires all employees of Texas universities, including faculty, report any information to the Title IX Office regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking that is disclosed to them.

Texas law requires that all employees who witness or receive any information of this type (including, but not limited to, writing assignments, class discussions, or one-on-one conversations) must be reported.

I am a Responsible Employee and must report any Title IX related incidents that are disclosed in writing, discussion, or one-on-one. Before talking with me, or with any faculty or staff member about a Title IX related incident, be sure to ask whether they are a responsible employee. If you would like to speak with someone who can provide support or remedies without making an official report to the university, please email advocate@austin.utexas.edu.

For more information about reporting options and resources, visit http://www.titleix.utexas.edu/ , contact the Title IX Office via email at titleix@austin.utexas.edu, or call 1-1512-471-0419. 12

Q Drop Policy

The State of Texas has enacted a law that limits the number of course drops for academic reasons to six (6). As stated in Senate Bill 1231: “Beginning with the fall 2007 academic term, an institution of higher education may not permit an undergraduate student a total of more than six dropped courses, including any course a transfer student has dropped at another institution of higher education, unless the student shows good cause for dropping more than that number.”

UT Electronic Mail Notification Policy

Electronic mail (e-mail) is a mechanism for official University and instructor communication to students. Students are expected to check e-mail on a frequent and regular basis in order to stay current with University- and course-related communications, recognizing that certain communications may be time-critical. It is recommended that e-mail be checked daily, but at a minimum, twice per week. It is the responsibility of every student to keep the University and instructor informed of changes in their official e-mail address. Consequently, e-mail returned with "User Unknown" is not an acceptable excuse for missed communication. Similarly, undeliverable messages returned because of a full inbox or use of a spam filter will be considered delivered without further action required of the University or instructor. (see e-mail notification policy)

Class Policies

Professor Bio

Wiley Wiggins (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist, curator and educator working with digital games and playful media. His multifaceted career includes roles as an actor, animator, interaction designer, and board member of the Juegos Rancheros arts nonprofit. During his time at Juegos Rancheros he produced the Fantastic Arcade international games festival in Austin, Texas. Wiggins holds undergraduate degrees with honors in animation and design as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in Media Art from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied as part of the UCLA Game Lab. His speaking engagements include the Game Developers Conference (GDC), South By Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSW), International Game Developers Association Summit (IGDA), and the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Conference (SLSA)


As stated above, for any special accommodations or concerns, please contact the instructor as early as possible. Course schedule and content may be subject to change based on class progress and specific needs.


Resources

Game Engines and Development Tools

Reminder: Content-heavy game ideas (lots of text, art, animation, level design) aren’t ideal for this course. Choose tools wisely and don’t shy away from exploring new ones! A successful minimal prototype can always be expanded later.

(Free or Reduced Price) Art and Graphic Design Tools

Audio Creation Tools


Tutorials and Learning Resources

2D Art and Animation

3D Art and Modeling

Game Development Platforms

Coding and Misc Game Dev tutorials

Audio and Sound Design

Testing

Inspiration

Sourcing game assets

(Remember to give credit when asked! Appropriate conscientiously.)

3D Models

3D Animation

2D/3D characters

More free tools and goodies than you can imagine


Got a favorite tool? Share it on our Class Discord!


Remember: The goal is to test a game idea quickly and simply. Select tools that align with your current skill level and the project’s requirements. Innovation and exploration are encouraged!


Videos:

Posts:

Game-a-week 5

Week 5 Topic: “1 hit point”

More ➜

game-a-week 4

Week 3 Topic: “Bad Pet”

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game-a-week 3

Week 3 Topic: “Breakup”

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game-a-week 2

Week 2 Topic: “A Day at the Zoo”

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Game-A-Week 1

Week 1 Topic: “You Are the Environment”

More ➜