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Online Course

Principles of Game Design

Michigan State University via Coursera

Overview

You have a great idea for a game. Turning that idea into a reality isn't just about knowing the tools. In this course you will practice moving from game concept through design documentation, prototyping and testing. Numerous elements go into the overall process of game design. These range from topics such as idea generation, story, character, and game world development, game mechanics and level design, and user experience design. You will explore the process for designing meaningful experiences for your players. At the end of the course learners will have produced a game's high concept document, one page blueprint, a physical prototype, pitch and supporting design documentation to move from an idea in your head to a fleshed out design, ready for implementation.

Syllabus

Getting Started with Game Design
-Let's be honest, the process of game design is pretty ambiguous. It is about 90% awesome and 10% terror. As a game designer, you will create things that other people will actually (hopefully) play. Those players will have both positive and negative things to say about your game. It is important to get a sense of what the game design process looks like. In this first module of Principles of Game Design you will create a "High Concept" document for your game. You will develop your own game idea leveraging the "Design | Play | Experience" (DPE) model and work to understand your role as game designer.

Fleshing Out a Game Design
-There's a significant difference between having an idea and beginning to turn that idea into something tangible. People often confuse the phrases "flushing out" and "fleshing out". Idea generation is about "flushing out" an idea. This module in the Principles of Game Design is focused on "fleshing out" your game idea or adding muscle, skin and character to the skeleton created in Module 1. You will explore game worlds of your own creation as well as the kinds of stories you would like to tell through games. By the end of this module you will have created a "Story Bible" for your game.

From Idea to Implementation
-Games aren't just about ideas, stories and worlds. They are also interactive systems that players experience. What does it mean to develop gameplay or game systems? This module introduces you to the process of designing gameplay experiences and then how those components can be leveraged in the process of level design. You will explore what it means to "balance" a game or move from an idea to something playable by users.

Making Designs Better
-Prototyping is one of the most critical skills a game designer can cultivate. The ability to "find the fun" in gameplay design is critical to being a successful designer. In this module you will create a prototype of a game idea. This can then be put in front of players allowing you to better understand if the underlying mechanics, systems and aesthetic are something that players may find engaging. This module also encourages you, as an aspiring game designer, to ask questions about the social impact and context of your game. As a designer, it is important to think about the impact that your creativity could possibly have on the world.

Taught by

Brian Winn and Casey O'Donnell

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Reviews

4.0 rating, based on 7 reviews

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    Rates completed this course.

    The title of this course is misleading, it should be called "Writing a game design document". You won't be learning how to design games in this course, just how to write about game ideas. While this is something that SOME game designers do, by itself...
  • Zach completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    The course started off interesting, giving some good ideas for planning exercises and so on. As it went on, though, it seems to get more and more vague. There's lots of "You could do THIS, or THIS, or THIS", which ultimately doesn't really help much. The workload of the assignments seems to increase rapidly as the course goes on: the early ones are typically a page or less but later they are giving models that are in the tens of pages. Perhaps for someone deeply invested this is a useful framework, but as a hobbyist it seemed unnecessary.
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  • Karim is taking this course right now, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

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