Stemming from the principles of storytelling and design established in CalArts’ renowned Animation programs, this Specialization lays a primary foundation for experimentation and exploration of video game design, story, character development, and winning gameplay before programming begins. These four courses emphasize the self-reliance and personal expression of the gaming artist, and encourage you to take conceptual risks and develop new modes of expression and form through gaming. In the final Capstone Project, you’ll put your creative skills to work by generating an engaging game design document for a personal game project, outlining the conceptual, narrative and aesthetic elements of your game.
Game Design Document
Video Game Design
Introduction to Game Design
Welcome! This course is an introduction to the primary concepts of gaming, and an exploration of how these basic concepts affect the way gamers interact with our games. In this course you will understand what defines a “game” and the mechanics and rules behind different types of games. Through four linked assignments you'll learn ways to create and describe a game concept, and specifically what makes a compelling game. This course focuses on the conceptual underpinnings of games, and all assignments can be completed with a pencil and paper – no previous programming knowledge is required.
Story and Narrative Development for Video Games
In this course, you will examine how storytelling acts as a vital mechanism for driving video gameplay forward. Looking at several historical and contemporary games, you will be asked to evaluate and interpret different story styles with the goal of identifying themes and procedures for your own game ideas. We'll examine traditional narrative story processes, such as three-act structure, and how they fit into game story flows and the strategic elements of gameplay. Ultimately, you will learn how to define character, setting, and structure to create a compelling game concept.
World Design for Video Games
Start creating your world. A game world is not just a backdrop for your game—be it minimal or detailed, contained or part of a much bigger universe, it provides the context for your player. Ultimately, a game world should feel alive and wholly unique to any player who will experience it. In this course, we will explore game worlds in existing games and study the art and influences that inform their themes and styles. We will also investigate key components of environment and level design as well as strategies designers use to define gameplay or advance it. We’ll also look at navigation and the elements that make your world as real (or unreal) as you want it to be. A weekly challenge will prompt you to explore styles and inspirations for possible game worlds, and you’ll learn effective ways to communicate your ideas from concepts to presentation-worthy proofs of concept.
Character Design for Video Games
In this course you will explore concepts and approaches involved in creating successful character designs that can be applied to video games. Following a first week delving into some foundational concepts for successful character design, each of the remaining three weeks are structured as a master class where you will observe three professional character designers at work in the studio: Andy Ristaino (Adventure Time), Jacky Ke Jiang (Journey), and Robertryan Cory (SpongeBob SquarePants). Each designer will take on two different design challenges on the fly and address the various issues in designing characters for games, such as movement, expression, and technical limitations. At the end of each week you will have an opportunity to try out some of the concepts from that week's lesson on characters of your own design. This is a fun and engaging class especially useful for students interested in animation in film and TV as well as games, and is suitable for students of any drawing ability.
Game Design Document: Define the Art & Concepts
The Capstone project is a place for you to develop your game idea into a fully-fleshed proposal. A game design document is your game bible, the go-to document that defines the genre of your game, its look and feel, and the evolution of gameplay. This four-part capstone project guides you to distill and improve the foundational aspects of your game so that you may express your ideas in a clear and productive way. Note: Only learners who have earned a certificate in the four previous courses in the Specialization are eligible to take the Capstone.
None! This Specialization is appropriate for anyone interested in learning more about video game design, character creation, and storytelling.