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Games Design and Production

BSc (Hons)

School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Media

UCAS Code: G470

Start Date(s): September

Duration:

Three years full-time

Fees:

UK - £9,250 per year

International - £14,820 per year

In Brief:

  • You will engage in a culture of making within a simulated industry environment to produce functional polished game prototypes and finished product.
  • You will study both the artistic side of games production as well as computer programming within a supportive environment before specialising in the second year.
  • You will engage in a gateway program, that not only prepares students for a career in the games industry, but also recognises the opportunity’s within the wider digital creative sector.
  • Based at MediaCityUK
  • Overseas study available
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

The dynamic world of computer games production is at the cutting edge of creative media and one of the largest growth areas within the creative industries.

This course provides you with extensive training in the design and production of computer games. You will be taught the skills you need to plan and prototype, develop art assets and develop script and code.

Offering a unique mix of art, technology and theory; this course has become well known for developing technically savvy, creatively aware, highly employable young professionals.

The course has produced graduates who have found employment both within the Triple A sector (Travellers Tales, Rockstar) and the wider digital sector in more independent creative studios such as Matmi and Mi. The program has also produced graduates that have  gone on to find employment within blue chip corporate roles in organisations such as BAE Systems and Microsoft.

Recent successes include the Nomination for a Bafta, and Channel 4 funding for one of our Graduating Teams, Lamplight Studios… A Pixel Story which was released on Steam in 2015.  Graduating student’s from the Triple Ox team 2015 were also nominated and came runner up in the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

‘The course has allowed me to develop both general and specialist skills and knowledge, gain a hands-on understanding of industry practice through live projects, work within a simulated production environment, helped to develop my confidence, and managerial capability, and prepared me well to step out into the creative industries’

Joel Lawton

Course Details

The dynamic world of computer games production is at the cutting edge of creative media and one of the largest growth areas internationally within the creative industries. This course provides you with extensive training in the design and production of computer games. You will be taught skills in the planning and prototyping of games within an agile framework, exploring 2D and 3D character and environment art, graphics and animation. You will also have the opportunity to develop both fundamental and specialist knowledge in computer programming.

Throughout your studies, you will look at gaming and user interaction across a spectrum of related practices. The aim of the course is to provide you with a rounded exposure of the elements of interactive user content, building up your confidence in various specialisms as the course progresses.

You will work as part of a team in your final year to produce a prototype game, with modules looking at areas such as patents, copyrights and other means of legal protection as well as the economics and structure of the industry to enable you to learn the skills needed to take your product to market.

Offering a unique mix of both the creative and technical, the course has become well known for developing technically savvy, creatively aware and future thinking professionals

Course Structure

Year 1

Year 1 takes you through the basic art and design processes and technical fundamentals of programming as well as the design and planning of creative games across platforms. You will learn how to solve problems using design theory through practice, investigate the emergent use of entertainment technologies and cover the fundamentals of 2D and 3D digital graphics. Theoretical modules cover the historical and social issues surrounding creative media, and project management skills are embedded across all modules.

Year 2

Year 2 core modules build on the design, planning and prototyping of a game and agile development production skills, as well as covering narrative technologies. Elective modules allow you to further specialise in the areas covered in the first year, such as 2D/3D character and environment art and graphics, or a more in-depth programming knowledge and application. Work experience and placement opportunities are encouraged, building on the industry and external links the course provides. Placements are coordinated by students, in liaison with tutors and in close consultation with providers.

Year 3

In the third year you will learn about patents, copyrights and other means of legal protection as well as the economics and structure of the industry. You will work as part of a team to produce a prototype game and undertake an individual portfolio (chosen from Programming; Art and Graphics; Sound and Music; Design). You will write a practice-based dissertation in the final year allowing you to combine the theoretical and practical work into a single project.

Year 1    

Semester 1    

Core Modules:

Within this module you will learn the fundamentals of games design, you will study the theory of play, rules and mechanic. You will investigate design methods and process, you will conceptualize and build board game prototypes, before testing and polishing toward a professional product. The module is        rich and fast paced and lays the foundations for the design pathway across the next 3 years.      
Within this module you will follow a Bauhaus model and engage and experiment with a number of creative processes and practices. You will be encouraged to develop your independent creative capabilities, you will learn about portraiture and life drawing, product and vehicle design, and you will get hands        on in the workshop and build physical pieces. Throughout this module you will develop design skills and become confident communicating ideas. Even if you’re a programmer and have little prior artistic ability, it doesn’t matter, at this stage it’s about the experience and learning the        subject area.      
Entertainment Technology has two strands, firstly the study of entertainment technologies from the past, in the now, and in the future. The module aims to position your thinking and understanding of where you fit as a professional, not only in the games arena, but also in a wider digital, creative,        media and cultural contexts. Within the second part of this module you will experiment and build entertainment prototypes in our maker space, using technologies suck as Raspberry Pi and Arduino to realise your ideas.      

Semester 2    

Core modules:

Within this module you will work in production teams to build your first 2D digital game. You will engage industry methods within an agile frame-work, to conceptualise, design and prototype and test your ideas. We aim to build product and the outputs at this stage are expected to reach a high standard.        Groups will consist of individuals taking on different roles and we drive with a strong professional work ethic to achieve our goals.      
This module in essence is a continuation of the visual arts module in the first semester, in that it engages the same design methods and traditional arts practices. Only this time the final outputs will be digital. The module covers photographic theory, composition, digital image theory, image retouching,        pixel and vector art, digital painting, graphical layout and an introduction to 3D modeling. The module is rich and fasted paced and the outputs are varied. Again if you are a programmer at heart this module offers a very supportive opportunity to understand more about digital arts methods, processes        and pipelines.      
Within this module you will receive a solid introduction to the foundations of computer programming, you will study code structures and principles, you will prototype, test and bug fix. You will investigate flexible configurable systems and receive an introduction to games engines. If you have any kind        of phobia towards computer science relax, this is about experience and understanding, and you will receive all the support you need to progress. If you are already familiar with programming, we have the expertise to help you develop to the next level at a more accelerated pace.      

Year 2    

Semester 1    

Core Modules:

Within this module you will work in production teams to build your first 3D digital game, the module will build upon, and further develop the production pipelines and tools introduced in the first year, but now the process is becoming progressively more complex.  Topics covered will include,        first person and animation controllers, game sketching, visualising gameplay, state machines, flow diagrams, space based design, advanced user interfaces, conversation systems, and play testing techniques. The module is demanding yet rewarding and at this stage you can expect to see some significate        progression.      
Within this module you will cover the theoretical principles of Human Computer and Data interaction, examples of its manifestation will be explored across both serious and entertainment applications. Your learning will focus not only at the point of interaction between human and computer, but also the        underlying systems and data that drive interactive systems. You will explore the origins and generation of data, ethics and security, and the power of analytics and statistics which increase the value and utility of data sets. Learning will look at how humans interact with data through digital interface,        the importance of pattern and human factors, students will go on to explore information design, communication and interface paradigms before moving on to consider both interface and system design, prototyping and testing.      

Elective modules:

Within this elective module you will be introduced to the processes and skills required to design, develop and deploy 3D virtual games environments. You will learn how to employ traditional design processes to conceive and plan for the construction of modular components that can be transposed into games        engine technologies. The module will focus on the construction of well crafted, low detail, optimised 3D topology, it will develop fundamental 3D modelling and texturing skills. Emphasise will be put on the quietly of the product, employing industry standards and production pipelines. Rather than being        a technical training module, you will be expected to demonstrate a capability to engage technical tools alongside traditional creative processes. Everything in this module feeds back directly into your group based game production work.      
Within this elective module you will specialise as a games engine programmer exploring fundamental game engine systems necessary to implement contemporary mechanics. The module goes deeper than the utilisation of function libraries, rather it aims to help you understand what goes on under the hood,        areas covered will typically include:  
Game design patterns, Asset pipe-lining, Methodologies to create standalone gaming applications, Generic and universal issues in programming for 3D engines, Programming objects and camera motions, Collision detection and collision response, Special effects systems, Generative art, Procedural drawing,        Inventory systems and offline storage/retrieval, Game physics, Game animation and an Introduction to network-based gaming. Everything in this module feeds back directly into your group based game production work.      

Semester 2    

Core modules:

This module will echo the group based production modules already undertaken, and will utilise the same processes and pipelines, it will though once again step up a level in complexity and edge closer to a commercial standard, the visual elements will be more organic and detailed, the gameplay will be        richer and the systems will become more dynamic. The themes typically covered within this module will typically include: The third person controller: aesthetic and technical aspects, Controlling game agent’s animations, Interacting with agents: Combat mechanics, Interacting with agents: Conversational        systems. Game cinematic components, Constructing open landscapes, Advanced game mechanics, Advanced level design techniques, Game analytics and telemetric.      
Within this module you will learn the theory of storytelling and narrative and apply this knowledge through creative practice to a digital artifact. This process of understanding, applying and bridging traditional narrative from myth and legend, script and screen, to a contemporary immersive manifestation        is designed to give you a broader understanding of narrative from a cultural perspective. The themes covered in the module will typically include: The Power, Importance and Origin of Story, Story Structures, The Hero’s Journey, The Power of Myth, Narration & Focalisation, The Art of Characterisation,        Environmental Storytelling, Writing a Treatment, Storyboarding Techniques, Narrative & Emergent technologies, Immersion & Interactivity and Spatial Narratives.      

Elective modules:

Within this module you will learn to conceive, design, develop and animate 3D characters for real-time and pre-rendered applications. Persona and narrative will be considered as well as aesthetic and proportion, you will learn how to apply traditional art and design methods as they develop your ideas.        Focus will be put on the creation of elegant topology and form, students will first learn how to sculpt low polygon organic geometry before moving towards more complex sculptural tools. Students will investigate and apply texturing through contemporary tools and methods. Learning will culminate in the        rigging and animation of a character with games ready animation sets.      
This programming module continues to develop knowledge learned and applied in the first semester of the second year. You will again build an understanding of more complex underlying programming paradigms before apply these back to extend off the shelf games engines. The topics covered in this module        will typically include: Tool construction, Advanced code systems; flocking, pathfinding, obstacle avoidance, Knowledge of Open GL Shaders, Local networks and Global networking for online gaming, Sound/Audio programming, Play analysis, Security awareness, Risk Assessment, Encryption. Mobile Application        Deployment, Testing and Reporting, Beta Deployment and testing techniques. Quality Assurance, Business Management; marketing, in-app purchase Pay to Win versus Paid Apps or in App Advertising.      

Year 3    

Semester 1    

Core modules:

Within this module you will initially focus on the realities of the digital jobs market and creative industries. You will be encouraged to investigate the personas of practicing professionals and the structure of the company’s you identify as relevant to your career progression. Subsequent sessions        will ask hard questions of your capability through a positive lenses. This process is intended of identifying strengths and possible short falls before building a structured plan to develop capabilities and address any gaps. You will be asked to develop a professional persona based on where you would        like to be positioned in the coming years. All other learning and project elements will then be built around a persona statement. You will learn how to best communicate your persona and how to align work examples to support your persona statement, you will learn how to best frame and distribute your        evidence of capability in both a physical and digital format. You will learn how to strategically plan a pathway into employment, which will include contingency. This module is designed to build awareness, a focused personal vision, capability and a road map into employment.      
This module is where the learning and experience gained over the previous two years comes together in the pre-production of a professional games prototype. You will typically define your own production groups, choice a genre, theme, narrative and technology and plan and conceive an ambitious project.        The aim of this project is to develop and pitch an industry standard game prototype in every respect. You will work with an environment that simulates that of industry and every piece of work at this level should be seen as a potential commercial product. This module is connected to the Final Project        development module in the final semester, where your prototype will move into full scale production.      

Semester 2    

Core modules:

Within this module you will have the opportunity to develop a purely textural or practice based dissertation. This process has proved itself invaluable in helping students find their first employment opportunities, as it allows you to build an area of expertise first identified in the creative portfolio        module, this allows you to stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for a job. The module also equips you with further academic skills should you chose to work towards a Master’s Degree or PhD. The module is highly supportive and the elements typically covered include: Practise Based        Research , Critical evaluation, Advanced academic practice, Research strategies & methods, Reflective practice, Qualitative and quantitative research methods.      
The final module continues the work undertaken within Final Project Proposal and Prototyping and moves it into full scale production, it is our goal, within a realistic scope, to drive these projects as close to an industry standard as possible and we expect at this stage to see the application the full spectrum of production methods, pipelines and processes. You will at this point have identified your areas of expertise and will contribute to multiple roles within your team. The objective of this module is twofold, to generate the highest quality example of your individual and group working capability, while building the momentum to seamlessly slingshot into industry.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design: Pass = 80 (plus other additional qualifications to a total of 300pts)
GCSE
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
both English and Maths GCSE grade C
UCAS tariff points 96 - 112 points
GCE A level 96 - 112 points
BTEC National Diploma MMM
Scottish Highers 96 - 112 points
Irish Leaving Certificate 96 - 112 points
International Baccalaureate 29 points
Access to HE 96-112 UCAS Tariff points from Level 3 QAA approved Access programme

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

Successful applicants should have strong academic records, a firm and clear motivation to succeed and a passion for creative and interactive media. The course offers a student-centred and creative learning environment, and we seek applicants who are interested in our project and practice-based curriculum. You should be able to articulate your interests in creative and interactive media, and present them to a wider audience. You should also be interested in developing an appreciation of both the technical and creative elements of games design and production, as both a specialist and as a core member of small production teams.  

We are looking for individuals with aptitude in either Art or Technology, ideally both. A portfolio of relevant work in 2D/3D art, traditional art and game-related design, or evidence of engagement with creative programming and computer science will greatly benefit your application to the course.

All applicants are interviewed.

The interviews are informal and relaxed and give both parties the opportunity to meet, discuss the program and make the right decision

English Language Requirements

IELTS score: 6.0 (with no individual element below 5.5)

Applicant profile

We are simply looking for individuals with a passion for creative technologies, entertainment technologies and games, with a clear aptitude for either computer science or art and design. We are looking for driven, mature individuals with the ambition to succeed. We are looking for individuals with wider cultural references and experiences then games alone, with an appetite to not only replicate but advance and drive their chosen field forward.

Fees and Funding

Fees

Fees 2019-20

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Full-time International £14,820 per year

Fees 2018-19

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Part-time Your annual fee will be calculated pro rata to the full-time fee according to the number of credits you are studying.
Full-time International £14,400 per year

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Teaching

  • Production-based modules are delivered primarily through workshops which integrate new material with practical support in the class
  • Underpinning theory modules are delivered through combined lecture/seminar sessions. Students will be provided with directed reading and be expected to use the contact sessions to clarify and discuss areas of particular interest or difficulty
  • Project work plays a key role in students achieving the intended learning outcomes.

Assessment

Dependant on the modules that you choose, you will be assessed through:

Coursework (60%)

Presentations (40%)

Employability

https://youtu.be/Lk3CzEAVkZ4

Graduates from the course have gone on to work in variety of fields across the games industry ranging from level/game designer, 3D artist, tools/engine programmer and producer. Graduates have gone on to work for a variety of employers ranging from Travellers' Tales, Sony, EA, Sega, Smashmouth Games, Namco, Blitz, and Virtalis.

Examples include Richard Tyrer (Senior Designer at Climax Studios), Peter Brisbourne (Designer at Traveller's Tales), Tim Ceesay (Studio Manager at Smashmouth Games), Christopher Beckford (Programmer at Namco), Waseem Punnu (Environment Artist at Rockstar North), Lance Winter (Designer at Blitz).

Career Prospects

The course has produced students who gained positions in the high profile games environment with regional and international names such as Rockstar, Travellers Tales, Sony, EA, Sega, Namco, Blitz and Lamp Light Studios. The course has strong connections with local indie studios and the wider digital creative community and is continually developing content to meet the demands of a present and emerging digital industry.  

Graduates from the course have gone on to work in variety of fields across the games industry ranging from level/game designer, 3D artist, tools/engine programmer and producer.  

Students are encouraged to develop themselves as industry professionals. 2016 successes included the publication of A Pixel Story (Lamplight Studios), Recognition at the Microsoft Imagine Cup (Triple Ox Games) and ongoing development to publish Galactic Enforcer (Uh Ho Studios).

The program has also produced graduates that have  gone on to find employment within blue chip corporate roles in organisations such as BAE Systems and Microsoft

Alumni Profile

Jonathon Dunn, Level 6 Graduate, 2015:

The 3 years I spent studying Computer & Video Games at the University of Salford were instrumental in shaping me as a person, professional and academic. The course’s approach of developing both the technical and creative sides of it’s students, allowed to me attain the necessary skills required to find a job straight after graduating. ¿Students use the very latest software and production techniques found in the industry, making their skills relevant and sort after.

What makes this course unique is its focus on group work, as students are given the opportunity to act in the capacity of a real life games studio, with all the responsibility and artistic license that entails. ¿This format challenges students to become true professionals and collaborators, honing their organizational prowess and soft social skills, which prepares them for the truly interdisciplinary industry of game development.

The course also offers the chance for students to engage with the academic and philosophical aspect of games, I was greatly inspired by my lectures, and have hence started research on Ideology in Games, which I hope to take to PhD level.

Links with Industry

Staff from this course have worked with several companies over the past decade to enrich the student experience with live briefs and placement opportunities. The course involves industry partners on several levels ranging from guest lecturers, live briefs and placement opportunities.

The course employs a variety of staff from different sections of the industry including design, programming and management.  Most recent connections have involved presentations by Aardvark Swift and the BBC. The course intends to keep its students fresh with contacts and live events such as Game Jams, meetups and live industry pitches.

Games Testing Events are embedded into the course (hosted at Media City UK) to encourage feedback and contact with industry.

Further Study

There are opportunities for students to apply for PG study on Gaming and Interactive Media Courses upon completion of their Degree.

Facilities

The course is taught at both Media City and takes advantage of other spaces that the School of Arts and Media provides. The course has access to high end computer facilities at MCUK and also has a dedicate studio/tech suite for all students.

Students enjoy the benefits of both studio and computer lab spaces over their 3 years of study, and have the opportunity to mix and collaborate with students from other disciplines in a shared community environment.

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