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BA (Hons) Games Design

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RS2725 Open Day (5) (2)
UCAS code: 
GW42
Institution code: 
S82
Location: 
Ipswich

Duration: 

Three years full-time.

Four and a half to nine years part-time.

Course Options: 
Professional Placement
Typical Offer: 

96 UCAS tariff points (or above)
CCC (A-Level), MMM (BTEC)

 

  • Work directly with games companies (such as Bandai Namco and Ubisoft)

  • A focus on entrepreneurism and taking a game to market through the Games Hub

  • Funding opportunities for your potential games company with student competitions

  • Access to specialist equipment such as eye-tracking, haptic feedback suits and VR headsets to take your games to the next level

  • Develop for console and playtest your games in our custom playtesting space

  • Obtain industry experience before you graduate through placements and our Professional Practice module

Introduction

A few of the distinctive features of Games Design at the University of Suffolk, Ipswich Campus:

  • You will have access to dedicated game development labs containing high specification, ultrawide workstations, with latest games industry software.

  • Transform your game development projects by getting access to our state of the art Games Research Lab, equipping you with our wide range of virtual reality headsets (e.g. HTC Vive Cosmos, Oculus Rift, Quest 2),  EEG and Neuralfeedback kits for measuring and controlling brain activity, Smartsuit Pro mocap suits, Leap Motion & Myo armbands for gesture control, mobile devices such as phones and tablets, 3D Scanners, 3D printers, laser cutters and Cintiq Graphics Tablets.

  • You will work collaboratively with students on the BSc (Hons) Games Programming, and with other year groups on the BA (Hons) Games Design.

  • The academic team and The Ipswich Games Hub will help you apply for Tranzfuser funding to publish your own game. The Miracle Tea team secured £25,000 for their game Ruya, which has since been released on iOS and Android. Other winning teams since then include Monkey Hat Games and Biscuit Sandwich Games.

  • Join an active student game jam community. Notable games include Dreamhopper, winner of the Jamfuser game jam.

  • Our Visiting Professor of Games Design is David Parlett, who is known internationally as a game designer, author, games historian and consultant

Circus Maximus from Viorel Dia on Vimeo.

Course modules

As games designers, you are architects of engaging and emotive experiences. It is your fundamental duty to understand your audience intimately and to design for desirable emotions, and for the anticipation of those desirable emotions. As a first year student, you will be making games from day one, be introduced to a range of duties performed by games designers and be acquainted with the principles and tools with which you can begin to develop your own games. By the end of your first year, you will have gained a deep understanding of your players and what they want, in addition to unlocking the ability to trigger specific emotions in those players. Other topics you'll learn in this year include immersion, empathy, motivation and engagement, narrative structure, game loops, fun, and mechanics. In addition to the fundamentals of games design, you will also be taught how to develop your own games within contemporary game engines (e.g. Unity, Unreal Engine), giving you the necessary skills to prototype and implement your designs, and by the end of the first year you will have produced a substantial portfolio of these games. You will also collaborate heavily with the BSc (Hons) Games Programming degree students in a number of group projects and game jams to help improve your multidisciplinary and soft skills.

In your second year, a specialised pathway opens, giving you the option of tailoring your degree to a discipline within games design. You may choose to focus on gameplay and player experience in the Rapid Game Development module, helping you to realise your creative vision and expression. Or perhaps you wish to specialise in level design, and understanding the mechanisms that underpin it. In any case, you will augment your knowledge by studying the advanced behavioural psychological techniques that are applied to games. These include extrinsic motivation and habit forming loops, feedback loops, game balancing and difficulty adjustment, behavioural economics, Flow and attention, loss aversion and behavioural momentum, progression, and a whole wealth of design principles that are at the forefront of human knowledge. You will then have the opportunity to apply this knowledge as creative directors of your own team. In this team you will manage a set of first year students and oversee the development process of your creative vision, from original concepts and documentation through to testing and polishing. Additionally, you will delve into the realm of cutting edge games design research, and understand how to use the latest techniques in the field, and to start thinking about how to innovate in projects of your own. We are one of the only universities in the UK with this focus on the cutting edge, equipping you with design knowledge that you otherwise wouldn't receive, with opportunities to obtain grant funding for games related projects, and engage with world renowned conferences such as the Foundations of Digital Games and Computer-Human-Interaction PLAY (CHI PLAY).

In your final year, you will engage in larger scale individual and group projects, bringing to fruition a significant and carefully curated body of work to showcase to prospective employers, or to take forward into postgraduate study. Having assimilated two years’ worth of knowledge, and had the chance to explore a wealth of design solutions, you will be bursting with ideas for your Game Development Masterclass project, and armed to the teeth with the tools and techniques you will need to plan, develop, manage, and give life to an unforgettable interactive experience. You are almost ready to take the game development scene by storm and you will need a professional online presence and curriculum vitae. We have first-hand experience of industry recruitment and with our support you will stand out from the crowd.

With plenty of room to accommodate your own interests and specialism’s, our students progress into the games industry, and related sectors, as game designers, level designers, producers, modellers, artists, animators, scripters, project managers and testers.

Design-Methods-Posters.jpg

Design-Methods-Posters

Level 4 student designs: Satellite (Joe Wilson) and Pocket Pet Pals (Caitlin White)

Harness the power of fundamental design skills and learn how to craft a wide variety of engaging player experiences. Understand what your players are feeling and what they're doing while playing your games, and what they are looking forward to. Discover the principles of actions, gameplay and experience in addition to mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics, in their raw forms, and alchemize them into prototypes, digital and non-digital games. Explore the diverse history of games, and use this knowledge to iterate upon game designs old and new. Gain experience in contemporary game engines such as Unity and the Unreal Engine in order to realise your designs through a lens of implementability. Learn also to construct and texture game-ready models and export them to a real-time engine. Experimenting with your newly-acquired design skills, you'll be encouraged to develop your projects and test them on your chosen audience. Working in teams, you will adopt a professional pipeline to turn your ideas into realities.

Armed with pen and paper, unlock the power of a wealth of mechanics as you begin to master the cycle of iterative design. Design game loops and the structure of fun, design for extrinsic and intrinsically motivated players, learn how to form habits in your players, create desirable emotions and immersive experiences. Understand how to elicit emotions such as awe, wonder, fiero, fear and much more! Discover the guiding principles of level design and employ design theory to mod your own map in a 3D game engine. Design and build your own worlds using contemporary tools and techniques. Discover how triple-A development teams are able to create vast, immersive and detailed worlds from a suite of modular components. Hone your familiarity with scripting techniques as you iterate a range of 2D and 3D games. Discover how games studios are set up and run, and how they promote their products and generate revenue. Apply the potent principles of behavioural psychology to your own designs.

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Modular-Assets

Modular assets designed and constructed by Level 5 student Adam Letch

 

Throughout the degree you will have the opportunity to engage with several project briefs defined by our external partners in the games industry. You will have the opportunity to show your work directly to employers, gain invaluable feedback from them, and perhaps impress them enough that they offer future opportunities to you. During your studies, there are often opportunities to take on internships with games companies or local IT companies which have a demand for your skills. We have a successful track record of Games Design graduates securing jobs outside the games industry. This is due to the nature of the transferable and professional skills which you will develop.

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Softlegs

Softlegs, designed and developed by Level 6 students Brad Smith, Tom Sharman and Wayne Jackson

Full downloadable information regarding all University of Suffolk courses, including Key Facts, Course Aims, Course Structure and Assessment, is available in the Definitive Course Record.

Design Methods 1 (Requisite)

Harness the power of fundamental design skills and learn how to craft a wide variety of engaging player experiences. Engage with topics such as motivation, players, emotion and mechanics. These concepts are considered with reference to the player's interactive experience and contextually, in conjunction with associated tools, as a part of the iterative development process.

Design Methods 2 (Requisite)

Continue on your design journey by engaging in topics such as immersion and narrative structure. You will be introduced to design work which informs the development of immersive worlds and identifiable characters.

Introduction to Critical Games Studies (Requisite)

Explore the diverse history of games and use this knowledge to iterate upon game designs old and new.

Introduction to Game Development (Requisite)

Develop games in a contemporary game engine (e.g. Unity, Unreal) to bring your designs to life! This module equips you with a wide variety of transferable skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, scripting.

Group Project (Requisite)

Experimenting with your newly-acquired design skills, develop your projects and test them on your chosen audience. Working in teams, you will adopt a professional pipeline to turn your ideas into realities. You will also work with students from the second year who will act as more senior members of the team.

Introduction to Non Digital Game Design (Requisite)

Non digital game making allows you to focus on the key components of game development without the barrier of developing the game within a game engine. You will apply the design skills learned in other modules directly into this one, allowing you to rapidly iterate and hone your design skills in an efficient and effective way.

Advanced Design Methods (Mandatory)

Games design has deep behavioural psychological underpinnings which will be covered here. You will obtain a solid understanding of topics such as knowledge, intelligence and memory, behavioural economics, social mechanics, operant conditioning and habit forming and reinforcement. You will be introduced to systems design and the structural forms associated with sustainable fun, progression and replayability with reference to a cross section of genres and experiential goals.

Digital Scripting for Games (Mandatory)

It is crucial that you have sufficient understanding of the technical aspects of game development so that you are able to produce your own prototypes, explore mechanics and create fully-fledged games. Continue learning how to develop games and enhance your abilities in gameplay scripting as you iterate on a range of 2D and 3D games.

Games Research Methods (Mandatory)

Explore the cutting edge of games design by engaging with the vast amount of research that is published within the field. Learn how research can be used as an additional tool in your arsenal to enhance your design decisions. For example, design a game using VR and Neuralfeedback, which allows you to use brain activity to influence the game. Use eye-tracking technology to understand player behaviour or even as a mechanic itself. Use state of the art user experience techniques to create innovative mechanics and intuitive interfaces. As part of this module, this is an opportunity to compete in an annual game design competition which is internationally recognised and seen by several industry members.

Managing Games Production (Mandatory)

Having developed games in a team, it is now your turn to manage a small team of your own as you oversee the development of games from original concepts and documentation through to testing and polishing.

Rapid Game Development (Optional)

Enhance your game development skills and build on the creative process. Over the course of the module you will be completing a series of games and engage with professional critique of games made by your peers. This process is designed to challenge your boundaries and as a method to recognise your creative identity. This module is designed to explicitly recognise your creative voice and pulls together skills learned over the course of the degree so far.

Level Design (Optional)

Level design is the method through which we develop physical spaces for our players to experience; as designers, we want these spaces to not only provide a set of suitable challenges for the player, but they should also engender feelings and emotions. This module looks at a range of techniques that can be applied across both single and multiplayer levels for first or third person games in both single and multiplayer forms.

3D Modelling for Games (Optional)

In order to conceptualise and develop real-time 3D environments, game designers require an understanding and appreciation of the tools, terminologies, practices and technological considerations associated with 3D modelling, unwrapping, texturing, lighting and rendering. This module invites you to build game-ready assets, adhering to rigorous pre-export checks, and to export your assets to an industry-standard game engine, developing an appreciation of the 3D asset production pipeline, best practices and workflows.

Honours Project (Mandatory)

This module represents the culmination of skills you have learnt over the course of the degree in addition to the acquisition of new skills. Spanning the entire academic year, it is a major project intended to push your boundaries to produce a substantial piece of work in your field of study. You have a degree of creative freedom with this project and you will be assigned a supervisor to guide and mentor you throughout. Notable past dissertations include topics such as: eliciting awe through a 3D environment, the procedural generation of level missions, the investigation into the effect of music and lighting on flow and styles of play, designing meaningful quests, the impact of rewards against player traits, and more. This module is a way for you to demonstrate to employers your expertise in an area within games, but also as a way to prepare you for postgraduate study.

Game Development Masterclass (Requisite)

In this module, you will collaborate in small teams to build a single, high quality game. The game which is developed can be created for any platform including non-digital and on any subject matter, however, there should have a clear and identified target market. You will also gain an understanding of the importance of building an early business case for your proposed game, as well as understanding the various potential markets and platforms. It is highly encouraged that the games developed in this module are also submitted to the Tranzfuser competition through our Games Hub, to give you the chance at obtaining funding and continuing your game development journey!

Portfolio (Requisite)

You are almost ready to take the game development scene by storm and you will need a professional online presence and curriculum vitae. We have first-hand experience of industry recruitment and with our support you will stand out from the crowd. You will also engage with mock interviews as part of this module, further preparing you for the road ahead into the games industry.

Professional Practice (Requisite)

Working with industry partners, you will have the opportunity to engage with a professional brief and dip your toes into the world of professional game development

Career opportunities

Our Ipswich-based students have worked on games such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Killzone Mercenary, Watchdogs 2, Ghost Recon Wildlands and Star Citizen.

Graduates from the BA (Hons) Games Design degree have been employed by top games studios in the UK and abroad. Graduate destinations include: Ubisoft (Romania), Guerilla Games, Rockstar,Electronic Arts (Romania), Spil Games (Netherlands), Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Splash Damage, Sliding Pixel, The Imaginati, Dreadnought Studios, DGForm (Italy), Imaginarium Studios, War Hungry Games, Firelight Games, Betdigital, Aeria Games  (Germany), GmbH, Techland, Hammer Studio (China).

Graduates have been employed in a wide variety of job roles within the games industry, demonstrating the high standard and flexibility of the course content. Positions which our graduates have achieved after graduation include: Level Designer,  Lead Game designer, Technical Designer, Assistant Producer, Game Designer, Gameplay programmer, Quest Designer, Game Designer, QA Games Tester, QA Team Lead, Content Designer, Games Master, Product Co-ordinator, Environment Artist, Games Artist, 3D Artist, Assistant Pipeline Director, Indie Developer.

Games design graduates have been employed in technical and design roles by Derivco, Conga, Coderus, Orbital and Media, Betdigital Ltd.

There are regular opportunities for internships linked to your course of study. These are made available through companies in the video games industry and other creative sectors.

You will have access to a free games business startup course delivered by the Ipswich Games Hub. The course will help you understand the requirements for marketing , accounting and legal issues for starting your own games company. In collaboration with the Ipswich Games Hub, the games course team have a proven track record with assisting students applying for funding to publish their own game.

Take a look at our student successes and industry links information. 

 

What our students say

"I work at Aeria Games currently as a Games Master. During my degree I learnt key skills such as how to effectively test game products and different game structures. I developed an understanding of key terminology that allows me to communicate to our developers in a way they can understand. The university also exposed me to industry standard software which really gave me an advantage over other candidates. This made the transition from university to the workplace effortless which already has made me stand out."  - Nicola Mizon, University of Suffolk Graduate formally Aeria Games now at Spil Games Games Project Manager, Holland.

Fees and finance

2022-23*

  • Full-time tuition fee: £9,250 p.a
  • Part-time tuition fee: £1,454 per 20 credits (please contact the Student Centre for further information)
  • Full-time International tuition fee: £14,598 p.a

Further Information

At University of Suffolk, your tuition fees provide access to all the usual teaching and learning facilities that you would expect. However, there may be additional costs associated with you course that you will need to budget for. 

* 2022-23 tuition fees are subject to change in line with inflation, or a government change in the fee cap.

Entry requirements

Course options

This course offers the option for a Professional Placement UCAS code GW43. 

Professional Placement

You can opt to include a professional placement year during your course. This would mean your course length would change from three years full-time to four years full-time. The professional placement year will give you the opportunity to gain professional experience and relevant practical skills to enhance your prospects of securing graduate employment.

Staff

Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Computer Games Design

Associate Professor and Course Leader in MSc Games Development

Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Computer Games Programming

Lecturer in Computer Games Design

Associate Professor

Senior Lecturer

Facilities and Resources

We're fortunate to have access to a 3D printing suite alongside computer suites and relevant design software.