Coleman University Game Programming Development and Design Degree Program

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Introduction

Considering a career in video game development and design? At Coleman University, we offer a program that will prepare you for the ins-and-outs of the video game industry beyond just playing the game. The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that shows no signs of slowing down. With more and more major studios investing billions into new blockbuster titles, as well as startup indie studios pumping out fan-favorite mobile games, the industry has never been stronger. The scope of games is widening to include new platforms and technologies, and gaming companies are looking for bright new programmers that bring a high level of industry-specific knowledge, creativity, and passion for what they do. Now is the right time to turn your passion into your profession with a degree from Coleman University. With coursework focused in animation, coding, modeling, and more, Coleman graduates enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to design and develop their very own games!

Scope of Study

Coleman University’s Game Programming Development and Design degree program is designed to be completed in 15 ten-week modules, with undergraduate program classes starting every ten weeks. Degree requirements include satisfactory coursework in Programming, Animation, Writing, Mathematics, Modeling, and Typography, as well as a Capstone project. The comprehensive Capstone project requires students to work cooperatively to design and develop a game. Students are able to apply the concepts of game architecture and design acquired in previous classes to create at least one level of a comprehensive game that will include an opening, game play, credits, and documentation.

The skills and technologies learned from the Gaming Development and Design program encompasses multiple disciplines of software development, lending core concepts to careers in modeling, computer graphics, product demonstration, film, marketing, and crime scene reenactment. Technology is continually evolving, so people in this particular profession need to be kept abreast of new developments and trends. Coleman University utilizes the most up-to-date hardware and software packages in an effort to prepare students for an ever-changing industry. Coleman University’s Game Programming Development and Design degree program coupled with Coleman’s career support prepares students for success in all facets, including industry skill and knowledge development, résumé assistance, , portfolio creation, interview preparation, and career guidance.

Curriculum

The Game Programming Development and Design degree program encompasses a multifaceted understanding of various processes, skills, and technologies that are necessary to succeed in a career in game development and design. Students are given foundational knowledge on which to build proficiencies in design theory, development principles, and programming.

Students will start with preparatory courses to introduce them to the core tenets of game design and development. The three introductory courses are:

COM 103 – Introduction to Game Programming

This course introduces the field of game programming, giving students a solid grasp of the concepts required to write a game. Students will learn and apply the basics of computer programming and key components, including input, sound, and graphics, while developing a framework that will be applied in future gaming coursework.

DSN 123 – Game Development

This course covers the basic elements of game design, including what a game is, how a game works, and what decisions must be made before the start of any project. The student will learn about user experience, core mechanics, and different game genres, conventions, and pitfalls.

COM 153 – Game Programming Concepts C++

This course introduces object-oriented programming in C++ using DirectX in the field of game programming. Students will learn the importance of game design, modular coding, and using the APIs of graphics engines and DirectX to draw and display images, manipulate 3D meshes and objects, play Sounds and Audio files, use scripts and templates, and implement a peer to peer networked FPS game. Students will learn how to use an existing framework and how to apply it to future applications in an object-oriented manner.

After these foundational classes, students will be prepared to engage in more specialized coursework, ranging from Typography to Level Design. Because the video game industry is market-driven, Coleman also requires students to take Business 200 – Information Technology and Management. This course introduces the consumer-driven business environment, with an emphasis on the use of information technology and information systems as used by businesses today. It describes the basics of information systems and discusses how computer technology will be utilized in the 21st century. It also provides an overview of competitive strategies, ethics, global issues, and organizational responsiveness. The goal of the Game Design and Development program is to produce well-rounded graduates that are able to seamlessly integrate into a variety of different positions in the video game industry. By exposing students to multiple coding languages, game engines, and physics engines, we are confident that our graduates possess the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.

Skills Learned

Though a passion for video games is important for a career in the video gaming industry, there are certain proficiencies that most employers expect their designers and developers to possess:

  • An in-depth understanding of the various coding languages. Since video games are playable computer software, you must have a thorough knowledge of how computer software works. The typical programming language is C++ due to its strength in infrastructure building. When creating massive virtual environments, C++ helps lay the foundation upon which you can build your game. It is one thing to have an idea for a game, but a whole other thing to be able to put those ideas into action and create your vision on the screen.
  • Familiarity with various game engines. More likely than not, any large video game company that a graduate will join will have a game engine. Some use the existing mainstream engines (Unity or Unreal, for example) and others develop their own. A game engine is a prepackaged software framework that allows designers to layer their game over the existing code. Rather than starting from scratch, developers use these game engines to speed up the production of their games. Game engines usually contain a graphics modeling agent, a physics engine, animation controller, scripting interface, artificial intelligence regulator, and video support. As a video game designer or developer, you must have a comprehensive understanding of how each one of these components will affect your game.
  • An understanding of the differences between consoles. Due to hardware differences across consoles, you often cannot write one master code and expect it to work on every platform. You must understand the nuanced differences that affect how your game will run. Luckily, many of the major game engines are primed to allow developers to “port” games to other platforms rather quickly. With that said, a developer still needs a thorough understanding of the impact that hardware has on software.
  • A sense of creative direction. Video games are an immersive medium, in that the designer is able to lay out his ideas, but the player has the ability to explore the world without strict constraints. As a result, designers and developers need a clear understanding of the theme, tone, and style of their games. Consistency is key. Much like Hollywood movies, video games are subject to plot holes and confusing undertones that can betray the overall message of the game. Developers have to be vigilant in crafting a clear and unified concept that will be both enjoyable and easily followed by the player.

Job Prospects for Game Designers and Developers

Designing and developing games is a massive undertaking, often requiring teams of people working on a particular section of development (animation, graphics, storyline, etc.). Due to the varied responsibilities of game design and development, many programmers specialize in a particular area (Graphics Designer vs. Animator). Like many careers, specializing in one particular area of expertise may set an applicant apart from an another that is competent in everything but spectacular in nothing. Though major video game studios hire the majority of designers and developers, a rising amount of startup indie gaming companies are providing an alternate avenue into the industry. Though mostly focused around mobile gaming, these indie companies provide employees with greater potential for creative control over their creations.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, video game designer and developer jobs are projected to increase 6% over the next eight years. Although, with new technologies constantly emerging, the growth of the video game industry is tough to project. You never know what the next big technological advancement will do for the industry. Advancements in virtual reality or similar technology may cause a massive boom for an already promising industry.

Recap

The video game industry is rapidly growing and in demand of qualified individuals who can apply industry specific knowledge and skills for its development. And while the average fan cannot fathom the intricacies of designing the interactive worlds that they explore on a superficial level, many avid gamers-turned-video game programmers develop a deeper appreciation for the games that they love. With a degree in video game development and design from Coleman University, you can turn your passion into your profession.

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