The Game Design and Development Process at Stout

Ryan Curtis-

Stories begin with ideas. Those ideas are then turned into video games by Game Design and Development students. However, games don’t just appear out of thin air. A development process is undertaken before the completed games are showcased at the Stout Game Expo every semester.

Students of GDD 325, Two Dimensional Game Design and Development, the mid-level game design course in the Game Design program, began their design process by presenting their ideas to the other members of the class. Some students present alone, while others work together to combine their ideas. After all propositions are considered, the students vote on their favorites. The top votes are approved for production, and students who voted for each idea form production teams consisting of programmers and artists, the two disciplines for Game Design taught at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

Students create posters to advertise their work. The game above, Lambent Abyss, is one of many that will be on display at the expo.
Students create posters to advertise their work. The game above, Lambent Abyss, is one of many that will be on display at the expo.

Each production team is presented with a production timeline that is divided into “sprints.” Each sprint is a three week time period in which previously-decided goals are completed. If certain goals are not met, they are shifted to the following sprint or removed from the development schedule. These sprints help keep the developers organized and actively producing content for their game while working under a time constraint.

When developing content, team members divide tasks into specific focus areas. Some example focus areas are character (and enemy) design, sound design, artificial intelligence programming and level design.The preferred design tool for creation of 2-D art assets is Adobe Photoshop. Programming for the GDD 325 games this semester was done in JavaScript. GDD 101 students program in GameMaker or GameSalad, and senior-level courses use 3-D engines to create their games.

After several weeks, games are finished or at least in a playable state. Posters are hung around campus to advertise the various students’ games that will be shown at the Stout Game Expo.

At the expo, laptops are set up for all attendees to test out each game. Lots of work comes to a head with each Stout Game Expo, and student games from the introductory GDD 101 class and the higher level classes, GDD 325, GDD 450 and GDD 451, are all on display. Attend to take a look at the wide range of games created right here at UWStout!

Check out all of the student-made games at the Stout Game Expo on Dec. 9 in the Memorial Student Center’s Great Hall from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.