Updated 3/5/2021

MTEC 3175, D340 – Experimental Game Design & Development
Fridays 2:15 – 5:35 pm, Spring 2021
Location: Online, via Zoom and Slack
Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8726003258, Password: citytech
Adjunct Professor: Samuel Levine
Course Site: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/aujimtec3175fall2021
Slack: cunymtec3175sp2021.slack.com, Invite Link: https://bit.ly/3ouelnr
Email: SLevine@citytech.cuny.edu
Office Hours: Remotely, Fridays 1:15 – 2:15 pm (or by appointment)
Sign up for office hour time slots through Calendly: calendly.com/sjklevine

Course Description:
This hands-on studio course will focus on the creation of innovative workable prototypes exploring expressive forms of gameplay using a variety of multi-media approaches, methodologies and materials. The aesthetics of game design, including asset and character development, level design, game play experience and delivery systems will be covered. Supplemental readings on the complex interplay between story and game will be explored to analyze effective narrative devices and game mechanics. The class will involve lectures on game theory, design exercises and in-depth analysis of works across commercial, art & social change sectors. 


Course Goals:
To give students an introduction to:

– the field of game design and development
– collaboration between people with different skills and backgrounds
– the game design & development pipeline
– game engines (in particular, Unity) & relevant 2D & 3D modelling software


Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the course students will be able to:
– Employ game design vocabulary for talking about games & play.
– Put into practice the tools of game design.
– Learn about the kinds of play games provide.
– Understand the psychological and emotional demands gameplay makes on players.
– Experience the iterative game design & development process.
– Develop critical thinking skills related to the analysis of games, play & narrative strategy.

Course Materials:

  • Computer with internet access, webcam, and microphone  
  • Zoom
  • OpenLab
  • Slack
  • GitHub
  • Readings (will be supplied for you as downloadable PDFs or links)
  • Dropbox/Google Drive account to back up files (optional, but recommended)
  • Steam account (optional, but recommended) 

By signing up for this class, you are making a commitment to fully participate, support your classmates as best you can, and do your part in creating a positive online working environment. For our course to run smoothly, everyone must:

  • Arrive on time, ready to participate and contribute.
  • Spend at least 2-4 additional hours a week (outside of class) on class projects, readings, playing games & writing in your game journal.
  • Check OpenLab for assignments and materials (typically announced and
  • posted at the end of class on Fridays).
  • Check Slack regularly for group and private messages.
  • Commit work regularly to a shared project repository.
  • Reach out to students and your instructor with questions
  • Push creatively and technically. Stay open and curious.


  • To contact your instructor with a brief, private question or message, send a DM (Direct Message) through Slack. This is preferred over email.  
  • If you have a question that may be relevant to the group, post in the #general channel on Slack for all to see and comment on.  
  • Use Slack for easy communications with your classmates as well—you can DM individuals or selected groups.  
  • To discuss a longer matter with your instructor, DM to set up an appointment for office hours.  
  • If you have a tech support question, post in the #tech-support channel or DM our CLT for assistance.  


Participation Policy:

  • We will meet on Zoom at the start of (and likely for the full duration of) each class. Check Slack for the latest meeting link and password.
  • As our work is interdependent, it is critical for everyone to be fully present, participating, and engaging in the course.   
  • If absent from class, this will impact other students and lab activities. If you will be late or absent, DM your instructor via Slack ASAP.  Opportunities will be made available to make up lab work for excused absences.
  • Absences may be excused in the following cases: illness, religious observance with advanced notice, and on a case-by-case basis for other critical events and extenuating circumstances.         
  • In the case of an absence, check OpenLab and contact a classmate to catch up on what you missed. Contact the instructor if you have additional questions.


Grading Policy:
– 20% reading responses & game journal

– 10% game design document

– 35% game development exercises (7x)

– 25% final project

– 10% participation


Participation will be graded out of 3 points:   

3 = full participation: fully present, on task, and supportive of classmates throughout the class session.   

2 = partial participation: late arrival or early departure, on task for some of the time.   

1 = minimal participation: absent from lab for more than 30 minutes, minimally on task.    

0 = no participation.         


All assignments and projects will be graded on a standard A-F scale, according to the rubric detailed below.  


Grading Rubric:

VALUES Excellent








Unsatisfactory (0-59)
Concept Core concept is intriguing, original, and well-explored Core concept is intriguing but lacking in examination Core concept is present and supported by the work Core ideas are scattered without consideration No clear concept, or work doesn’t reflect it
Progress Clear and consistent progress from ideation to execution Progress was made, but was not consistent Evidence of procrastination, “last minute” pushes or crunch Lack of progress in 1-2 areas resulting in project deficiencies Little to no progress shown on the project
Presentation Concept is clearly presented and strongly supported through audio, visuals, interaction, and narrative (if applicable) Concept is supported through presentation, but 2 or more areas of the design are lacking or distracting Concept is weakly supported through presentation, project requirements met at a “bare minimum” level 1-2 presentation requirements are not met. 3+ presentation requirements are not met.
Skills Clear demonstration of skills in all development areas (visual, text, audio, interaction, programming) Clear demonstration of skill in 2+ development areas Demonstrates skills, but omits topics covered in class. Evidence of skills, but underutilization of techniques learned in class Does not use any techniques learned in class.
Collaboration Consistently provides honest, supportive feedback to peers, is responsible in meeting team goals, and communicates effectively. Generally supportive, responsible, and good communication, with a few issues Multiple issues/problems with collaboration, meeting goals, or communicating Little to no evidence of communication, goal setting, and collaboration in a team setting.   Disrespectful to fellow students’ work, with negative impacts to class/team dynamics.


Academic Integrity Policy:
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalogue.

Instructor’s note: all borrowed text, code, or media used for this course must be attributed to the original creator. Any direct text quotes from another source must be specified with quotes and appropriately cited. Code borrowed from another source at more than four lines in length must be attributed as a //comment within the code itself. If you are unsure of whether or not your work may constitute plagiarism, please check with your instructor before submitting. Any instance of plagiarism will be reported to the MTEC Program Director as well as the Chair of ENT.   


Course Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with The Center for Student Accessibility). Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Center (phone: 718–260–5143). If you have already registered with the Center, please provide your professor with the course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation.


A Note on City Tech’s Counseling Center:

The Counseling Services Center supports the educational, emotional and career development of City Tech students by providing opportunities for skill development, counseling and referrals that address obstacles to success. The Center is currently available to students remotely. For questions and appointments, contact the Center at counseling@citytech.cuny.edu or 718-260-5030.    



Part I. Name + Pronoun Usage

This course consists of individual work and group discussion. We must therefore strive to create an atmosphere of inclusion and mutual respect: all students will have their chosen gender pronoun(s) and chosen name recognized. If the class roster does not align with your name, gender, and/or pronouns, please inform the instructor.

Part II. Inclusivity Statement

It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that the students bring to this class be viewed as an asset, resource, strength, and benefit, rather than a checklist item or worse, a hindrance. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender identity, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally, or for other students or student groups. Feel free to reach out to me via email or Slack at any time about any issues concerning you or with any such ideas.


Online Industry Resources:

Kill Screen: https://killscreen.com/

Kotaku: https://kotaku.com/

Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/

GDC: http://www.gdcvault.com/

Games for Change: http://www.gamesforchange.org/

IndieCade: http://www.indiecade.com/

Week Outline:
NOTE: The schedule and content are subject to change as needed.

Week 1 – 1.29 – Overview of the Course, Structure & Ideas 

Lecture – Types of Games, Design Elements & Development Tools

Lab – Quick & Dirty Game Prototype – Values at Play

Reading & Response – Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman (Unit 1: 28-92)

Play (“Puzzle”): Baba is You, Papers Please, Braid

Week 2 – 2.5 – Basics of Game Design

Lecture – Kinds of Play & Game Design Values

Lab – Mix & Match Game Design and Reverse-Engineering

Reading & Response – Anthropy, Anna and Naomi Clark. A Game Design Vocabulary: Exploring the Foundational Principles Behind Good Game Design. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Professional, 2014. (Part I: 2, 3 & 4, Part II: 5, 7)

Play (“Platform”): Limbo, Spelunky (1 or 2), Super Meat Boy, N/N++

Week 3 – 2.12 – NO CLASS – CUNY CLOSED (Lincoln’s Birthday)

HW: Start Game Project Proposals

Week 4 – 2.19
The Player Experience

Lecture – Action Theory, Understanding Play Layers & Player Types

Lab – Layer Swap & Action Theory Analysis

Reading & Response –  LeMarchand, Richard. “Attention, Not Immersion: Making Your Games Better with Psychology and Playtesting, the Uncharted Way”, The Game Developers Conference (talk), 2012.

Play (Narrative) – Gone Home, Dear Esther, Firewatch

HW: Polish Game Project Proposal

Week 5 – 2.26
Game Design Process

Lecture – Iterative Design Cycle, Tech Pipeline & Conceptualizing Game

Lab – Ideas, Speed Dating, Team Formation & Conceptualizing Game

Reading & Response –  Macklin, Colleen and John Sharp. Games, Design and Play: A detailed approach to iterative game design. (Chapter 6)

Play (Roguelikes) – NetHack, FTL, Slay the Spire, Hades

Week 6 – 3.5 – Game Prototyping

Demo – Prototypes as Playable Questions

Lab – Create a paper &/or physical prototype

Reading & Response – Fullerton, Tracy. Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Guide to Creating Innovative Games, 3rd edition. Bacon Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2015. (Chapter 7-8)

Play (Reflective)—Journey, Walden, Kentucky Route Zero

DUE:  Game Project Proposal

Week 7 – 3.12 – Playtesting & Evaluating

Lecture – Methods of Playtesting

Lab – Run playtest, review results, conceptualize solutions

Reading & Response Schell, Jesse. The Art of Game Design: a Book of Lenses. Amsterdam, Boston: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann, 2008 (Chapter 25, p. 389-401)

Play (Zany) – The Stanley Parable, Everything, Do Not Feed the Monkeys, Untitled Goose Game

DUE:  Concept Document

Week 8 – 3.19 – Start Development

Demo – Introduction to Unity 2D/3D 

Lab – Setting Up Unity Project Files & Version Control

Experience: Tutorials on Unity (see OpenLab)

DUE: Game Journal  All Game Journal & Reading Responses, Plus Game Design Document

Week 9 – 3.26 – Create 3D or 2D Assets

Demo – Blender, 3D Modeling Objects, Illustrator for 2D Sprites 

Lab – Build Assets

Experience: Blender & Sprite Tutorials (see OpenLab)

DUE: Final
Game Design Document


Week 10 – 4.2 – NO CLASS (Spring Recess)

Week 11 – 4.9 – Animation & Characters 

Demo – Intro to Mechanim, Make Human, 3D Modelling & Rigging Characters, 2D Sprite Sheets, 3D Character Animation

Lab – Build Characters

Experience: Make Human Tutorials (see OpenLab)

Week 12 – 4.16 – Design Environment – 3D/2D

Demo – Level Design 3D & Layering 2D

Lab – Integrate Assets

Experience: Level Design & Layering Tutorials (see OpenLab)

Week 13 – 4.23 – Scripting Behaviors

Demo – Essential C# Scripts 

Lab – Coding Exercises

Experience: Basic Coding Tutorials (see OpenLab)

Week 14 – 4.30 – Integrating 2D UI & Event Managers

Demo – Creating Menus & Dialogue Boxes

Lab – Mock Up & Add Menus

Experience: Menus & Dialogue Box Tutorials (see OpenLab)

Week 15 – 5.7 – Project Incubator

Week 16 – 5.14 – Project Incubator

Week 17 – 5.21 – Final Play Session