During the two-week program, the UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute will introduce high school students to the art and technology of game development through a four-course curriculum.
In week one, Game Design Fundamentals is paired with Character Design and Animation for Games. The skills learned in these courses prove foundational for week two’s courses, Building Game Worlds and Programming and Developing Mobile Games.
Game Design Fundamentals
This section focuses on the fundamentals of game design for tabletop game forms. Through in-lab instruction, students will learn the essential elements of making compelling games, such as meaningful player choice, multiplayer dynamics, chance, and rule design. The final project will be a board or card game built around a personal experience or point of view.
Character Design and Animation
Games give us avatars to control; this section provides an introduction in how to create playable characters through 3D modeling and animation. Students will use Maya, a state-of-the-art 3D modeling and animation application, to learn essential 3D skills like rigging, weight painting, UV mapping, modeling, and animation.
Videogames rely on worldbuilding to give game environments narrative potential and playful motivation. In this section, students will create a game environment in the Unity3D game engine and fill it with environmental elements such as buildings, plants, terrain, and lighting. The end result will be a navigable environment that expresses the creative decisions of each student.
Programming and Developing
The last section guides students through the process of creating a playable game for a mobile device. Using p5.js, students will build a videogame, playtest the results, and make refinements as part of an iterative design process. Students will engage with specific coding exercises, which will introduce them to the fundamentals of programming for games.