UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL LANCASHIRE
A university that wants to instil a broad range of game creation skills in its graduates
B ack in 1994, BA (Hons) Games Design course leader Bev Bush joined Traveller’s Tales as a 3D modeller. Her credits include Mickey Mania, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex and the first two Lego Star Wars games. Outside of games, she was also a background artist on UK cartoons Danger Mouse and Count Duckula during her time at Cosgrove Hall Films. Her broad range of experience has influenced UCLan’s Games Design degree, and here we discuss what students can expect from it.
What does your course cover? Simply put, the course covers three main areas of activity: drawing and digital painting, which ranges from sketching as an aid to creative thinking and developing initial ideas to the production of finished concept art for publication; digital modelling and game engine workflow covers the game-specific requirements for designing and developing digital assets You’ve run the course for years now – what’s changed in that time? We’ve introduced more design for mobile games and are mentoring small groups of
“UCLAN’S GAMES DESIGN COURSE IS UNUSUAL IN THAT IT COVERS GAME DESIGN AS WELL AS GAME ART”
for games; and, lastly, developing the mechanics, rules and methods by which a game is delivered is covered by game mechanic design.
It feels like a broad scope. Yes, UCLan’s Games Design course is unusual in that it covers both game design practice and theory, as well as game art and technical skills. Students have a broad experience of these elements in year one and specialise more as their skills develop, so that by third year they have a chance to focus on certain areas of choice. students in the development of small and playful projects. I’ve recently introduced Construct 2 into the curriculum alongside UDK to give students confidence to design games using visual programming, for example… And we continually revise and review the timetable in creative ways to accommodate students so that their learning is current and relevant. The course has gone from a small group with a focus on game theory ten years ago to a large cohort that creates and designs fully playable game levels. We have also seen an increase of female students over the years, several of whom are now working in key roles within the industry. Do you keep in touch with your old
industry colleagues? Yes, I continue to liaise with my industry colleagues, who are very supportive of the course. And we aim to incorporate industry critique within our feedback and to instil an understanding that visual communication is just as important as verbal communication within the discipline of design. We continue to develop student skills in line with industry requirements and secure live briefs and resources, maintaining the use of creative thinking throughout… For example, the Games Design course has run three live briefs with major companies this year. And two indie companies have been formed from groups of our graduate students in the past few years. Both – WhitePaperGames [ Ether
One] and Lunar Software [ Routine] – are making very impressive inroads.
UCLan’s Games Design space is open plan, with a communal area at one end for group discussions and idea sharing – it’s also stocked with a range of both board and videogames to play for inspiration