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Technical Communication 498
Digital Games
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Winter 2005
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Final Design Project Assignment

Interim final project report: due February 16  
Final design project:   due March 14 by 5pm (turn in to Engineering Annex 213, Dr. Kolko’s office) 

The final design project is an opportunity for you to apply what you have learned about the gaming experience through class readings, discussions, and explorations in order to reconceptualize what a game can be and how well it can serve the needs of a specific group of users. The objective in this assignment is to design a game or game-playing experience that serves a specific purpose for a chosen community; the game should improve on existing games or gaming experiences (if there are any predecessors).

You can work either individually or in a group for this project. I will provide some class time for you to discuss project ideas and recruit classmates for your project. At the end of this assignment sheet I have also included some suggestions for possible projects.

The assignment itself will include a design component and a paper discussing the design. Depending on what you choose for your project, the relative length of the paper or in-depth nature of the project will vary. For example, if you design a game-playing experience (like an all-women night at a LAN café), the “artifact” you turn in for the assignment will be a written document that explains the event and its background justification. If you are designing a game as your project and your final product is a working game, the expectation is that the paper will be less robust than for a project that does not have an actual game component; however, if you design a game, you will also need to include a paper that describes what you’ve created and why you made your chosen design decisions. This is not a programming class, so there are a variety of approaches you can take to the design. If you have a programming background, you may very well want to build a functional game. But, you can also do prototypes – in paper, on web pages, in Flash, etc. As discussed in class, the definition of ‘game’ is rather expansive.

Overall, the assignment is designed to allow you to (a) critically evaluate the role games play in people’s lives and the larger culture, and (b) make informed suggestions about how to improve their functionality (for a purpose you define).

In addition to the final project due March 14, an interim progress report is due February 16. The progress report should include a written update of your work thus far, including the scope of the project. If you have any kind of mockups, storyboards, etc. at that point, feel free to include them. The more information you provide in your interim report, the more feedback you will receive. The progress report will be evaluated based on how well it explains the goals of the design project and how completely it explains how far the project has proceeded. If you are doing a group project, you can also use the interim report as an opportunity to discuss the contributions of different group members.

The final assignment will be evaluated based on (a) the quality of your background research and critical evaluation of whatever genre/purpose of games chosen, (b) the appropriateness of the suggested design for the selected purpose and goal, (c) the quality of the design execution (whether it be a narrative description, a paper prototype, or a program), and (d) the thoroughness and quality of the written explanation for your design decisions.

We encourage you to talk to the professor and teaching assistant early and often for feedback on your project idea and progress.

Some Project Suggestions

1. Localization of a pre-existing game, either in terms of language or design elements. Possibly working with the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

2. Creating a public game-playing experience (using a LAN café or public lab) that targets a non-traditional gaming audience: older players, exclusively women, etc.

3. Make a mod for a pre-existing game. Using a larger team, work on altered physics, new textures, avatar mods, etc. (Thanks to Jen for suggestion)

4. Create a Warcraft 3 scenario, incorporating painting a map, setting triggers for scenario events, etc. (Thanks to Jen for suggestion)

5. Create a Neverwinter Nights campaign. This would involve building a D&D
Adventure to appeal to a defined audience (which can be as broad as you choose). (Thanks to Jen for suggestion)

6. Create a web-based game for public health communication, along the lines of Captain Wash. Possibilities include adapting a pre-existing math game for STD education.