Fa19 ITLS-3210-LO1 Syllabus

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Instructor

Instructor:

Ken Hay, Ph.d.

E-mail Address

Primary: Through Canvas
Secondary: ken.e.hay@aggiemail.usu.edu

Office Hours:

  • I will be available to all students for consultation by appointment.
  • I do not have an office in Logan, I will be teaching from Indiana and will be the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone which is 2 hours ahead of Utah. I will use MDT/MST times in my communications.
  • Email is the best way to contact me, and I will do my best to respond to you within 24 hours.

Special Note:

  • I will be moving my primary residence during this semester. Hopefully there will be little or no disruption in my ability to support you and your learning during this time, but I wanted to make you aware of the situation up front.  I don’t know the exact date, but I will keep the class informed. 

Course Description

Credits

3 semester credits

Audience

This course is part of the Game Studies Emphasis within a new Bachelor of Science degree in Technology, Design, and Interaction. This course targets students interested in game-based learning, including eSports, educational game design, and educational game development, but not directly on students primarily focused on the professional games industry.

Description

Students study game and virtual-environment development using modern game engines. Topics include fundamental programming concepts like variables and their types, code reuse, commenting code, and basic control structures. Students spend some time on game design but focus on game development.

Course Goals

Goal #1

Development of Students as Developers

This course focuses primarily on game development, rather than game design.  There is an important distinction between game development and game design.  A distinction that is often lost.  To put it succinctly:

Designers create concepts and developers execute the designs

In the world of computer games, a designer envisions all the game elements (context, narrative, mechanics, players, rules, feedback, interface, and potential outcomes) and combines them into a coherent gaming experience.    A developer realizes these game elements within a particular hardware (i.e. computer, smartphone, website, etc.) and software (i.e. HTML/JavaScript, Unity Game Engine, Unreal Game Engine, etc.) context.  Game design is largely about imagination; whereas, game development is about practical execution. 

Why learn how to develop games before learning to design games?

Critical to game design is the understanding of the affordances and constraints of the game engine, what the game engine can do and what it can’t do.  Designing games without this understanding in an exercise in frustration, delays, and overspending resulting in “vaporware” rather than an actual working game.  The best way to deliver good games on time and on budget is to understand the affordances and constraints of a game engine.  This understanding gives you a “treasure chest” of game elements in which you can design amazing games and a “toolkit” that will enable you to create these amazing games.  In this class, the majority of our time will be focused on collecting game treasures, showing your how to find treasures, assembling your “toolkit”, developing the skills to use those tools and treasures, and developing the mindset that will empower you to continue to grow in the future. 


Goal #2

Development of Students’ Growth Mindset

The view or mindset you adopt about a new endeavor has a profound effect on your future success in that endeavor.  Carol Dweck has found that people with a “growth mindset,” rather than a “fixed mindset,” learn more, persist through difficulties, and are more open to criticism and feedback.   All of which are critical to success in becoming a game developer. 

A fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone – who you are is who you are, period. Characteristics such as intelligence, personality, and creativity are fixed traits, rather than something that can be developed.

A growth mindset comes from the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through effort. Yes, people differ greatly – in aptitude, talents, interests, or temperaments – but everyone can change and grow through application and experience.1

Students will develop a growth mindset in Unity 3D Game Development that will support their future growth, confidence, creativity, and adaptability to become a productive team member on complex projects within the ever-changing field of game development.  

 

Grow Mindset Strategy: 3-2-1 Approach to Handling Impasses

One strategy that will be used in this course is the 3-2-1 Strategy.  The interesting part of learning how to develop computer games, as well as programming in general, is that everything you try is immediately evaluated.  It either works, or it doesn’t.  For example, if you want an NPC to say “Hello” to your user when she clicks on him.  It either says “Hello” or it doesn’t when you run the game.  The key to learning is to try to figure out what is wrong when it doesn’t work.  You are not learning in a deep and useful way if someone tells you exactly what to do at every step.  Developing a growth mindset requires you to get comfortable about your impasse or “failure” and “persist” in trying to figure out how to make it work.  This first phase of figuring it out should always be trying to DIY (“do it yourself”). 

The second phase of figuring it out is looking for help from online resources.  The third phase of figuring it out is to ask a peer or other expert.  Finding and collecting people that can help you is an important part of growth.  Finally, while it is important to get comfortable with impasses, you don’t want or need to spend a huge amount of time being frustrated.  So, the final phase is to ask the instructor.  As the instructor, I am committed to helping you during this final phase of resolving impasses.  However, just telling you exactly what to do next is NOT the best thing for your learning.  I realize it will temporarily relieve your frustration, but it will rob you of the important opportunity to develop your Growth Mindset

Often I will guide you to a solution through hints, pointing out relevant resources or examples, or explain concepts further.  While this doesn’t immediately resolve your frustration, it does help you further develop your Growth Mindset.  It also doesn’t rob you of the great feeling of “figuring it out” yourself. 

To help you manage your frustration when you find yourself at an impasse, I have developed the 3-2-1 strategy.  When you find yourself at an impasse, try the following:

3.  Try at least 3 ways to overcome the impasse on your own before you ask anyone for help. If that does not overcome the impasse, then:

2.  Try at least 2 ways to overcome the impasse you found by searching online resources. If that does not overcome the impasse, then:

1.  Try at least 1 way to overcome the impasse you found by asking classmates, friends, or other experts for help. If that does not overcome the impasse, then:

Ask the instructor for help.  

This strategy helps you develop your Growth Mindset, your problem-solving skills, you search skills, and your communication skills.  All of which are vitally important outcomes for this course. 

1 Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc.

Course Overview

Major Sections

The course will include 4 major sections related to educational game design.  These sections are: 

  1. Unity Overview: Introduction to the Unity game engine, Unity interface, basic operations, and how-to set it up. 
  2. Content Elements: How to create, import, manipulate, and animate basic content elements. This will include: Objects, text/dialog, sounds, scenes, NPCs, etc. 
  3. Interaction Elements: How to create interactive elements within in Unity. This will include Game Elements, Navigation Elements and Student Response Elements.
  4. Evaluation Elements: How to collect, analyze, evaluate, and store student interactions with your game.

Basic Class Flow

This is a structured semester is a self-paced on-line class and one UNIT will be due each week.  After completion of the first 3 UNITS, all materials for remaining UNITS will be opened.  The feedback for each lesson will not be provided until at least 3 days after the due date. The due dates for each UNIT are indicated on the course schedule. It is the students’ responsibility to start assignments in a timely way to allow for technical difficulties.  Late assignments will NOT be accepted.  Check your schedule for available dates.

Every UNIT will focus on one type of game element common in games for learning found in the Unity Game Engine.  The basic flow will be the following:

  1. Brief video introduction to the game element and some relevant learning resources. This may include examples, pointers to resources, concepts related to the game element, affordances and constraints.  It also may include advanced materials. 
  2. A step-by-step walk through video example of implementing the game element in the Unity Game Engine. You will be given a set of game design documents, a set of assets to use, and a video that will guide you through the development of the game element.  The resultant product will be turned in and evaluated pass/fail
  3. Development Activity will be where you demonstrate your understanding of how to develop this game element independently. In most cases, you will select one of several options that represent different areas where game-based learning is applicable (i.e. medical education, training, high school, etc.).   This will be graded based on a rubric that I will make available to you.  These activities will be the primary source of your semester grade. 
  4. An Advanced Development Activity may also be available, and it is an optional game development activity for students wanting to learn about the unit’s game element in even more depth. It will build on the Development Activity, but the Advanced Activity will require you to independently research a way solve the development challenge.  You will be given feedback on the activity upon its successful completion and you will be recognized for accomplishment.  This OPTIONAL activity will NOT be computed in your semester grade. 

Group Assignment

There will be a final Group Assignment that will be similar to the prior Individual Assignments, but will require group interaction and planning; as well as, individual execution of developmental tasks.  There will be a sign-up process around the middle of the semester. 

Course Resources

Technology

  • Students enrolled in this class are required to have HIGH-SPEED web access in order to access course materials from the course web page. All the computer labs on campus and at the extension sites have computers with high-speed connections.
  • We will primarily be using Unity (version 2019.1.10), game engine and development environment. Unity is a professional level game development environment that cost game developers over $1500.  The good news is that for you it is FREE.  
  • We will also be using programming tool (Visual Studio) that supports you creating new code and modifying others code.
  • Students are required to have access to a capable graphics computer. One of the first assignments will be to print out a system description to ensure that you have a productive semester.  All the examples are on the Windows platform, but there is a version for Mac.

Textbook

There are no required texts for this class. There are however, several sources of content. The first is a set of screencasts produced specifically for this class that help you with the weekly assignments. There are a number of important resources provided below that will help you in the course. 

Issues with technology are NOT the instructor’s responsibility.  If you have questions regarding technology, you need to contact the USU Help desk (servicedesk@usu.edu or call toll free at 877-878-8325)

Updated Course Requirements

This is an on-line class.  All course materials and assignments will be presented in an online version, and all your assignments will be submitted online. 

Number Points Total
Introductory Assignments (Units 1-3) 3 50 150
Development Activities/Assignments (Units 4-8) 5 75 375
Total 525

Certificate of Recognition

It is common within the Technology Sector to offer “Certificates” or “Micro-Credentials” to students taking online training outside of traditional higher education.  While completing the Advanced Development Activities will not be a part of your grade; I will be recognizing students that complete Advanced Activities with ITS 3210 “Certificates of Recognition”.  This is not an official University certificate, but you should view it as more like a type of “letter of recommendation” from the course Instructor.  At each level, most UNITS will have Advanced “Badge” associated with it.  The Certificate of Recognition will be a collection of these Badges.   It would be my hope that the Certificate of Recognition could be used to communicate to future employers and/or team members that you have demonstrated skill and determination to develop your knowledge of game development within Unity.

There will also be Certificates of Recognition awarded to students that have been identified by both the instructor and their classmates as significantly supporting their peers by addressing questions and supporting their learning throughout the semester.

Grade Scheme

The following grading standards will be used in this class:

Grade Range
A 94%-100%
A- 90%-93.9%
B+ 87%-89.9%
B 84%-86.9%
B- 80%-83.9%
C+ 77%-79.9%
C 74%-76.9%
C- 70%-73.9%
D+ 67%-69.9%
D 64%-66.9%
F 63.9% or lower

Updated Course Schedule/Outline

Week/Unit Required Instruction Required Activities

Aug 26 - Unit 1

Introduction to Class

Unit 1. Instruction

WATCH: “Course Introduction”
READ: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids  WATCH: “The Growth Mindset”
WATCH: “Game Design vs. Game Development”

Unit 1. Activities

  • Take Growth Mindset Quiz
  • Reflect on your Mindset
  • Take Student Survey

Sept 2 - Unit 2

System Set-Up and Introduction to Unity

Unit 2. Instruction

READ: Verify Computer System
READ: Unity Set-up
READ: Unity Interface Overview

Unit 2. Activities

  • Verify Computer System
  • Set-up Unity Development Environment

Sept 9 - Unit 3

Unity Environment

Unit 3. Instruction

WATCH: Creating Unity Project

Sept 16

Unity Environment

Unit 3. Activity

  • Create your first Unity Project

Sept 23 - Unit 4

Content Element: Primitive Objects

Unit 4. Instruction

WATCH: Primitive Objects

Sept 30 - Unit 4

Content Element: Primitive Objects

Unit 4: Activities

  • Creating, Modifying and Organizing Objects

Oct 7 - Unit 5

Content Element: Scripting Objects

Unit 5. Instruction

WATCH: Installation and Setup of Visual Studio
WATCH: Scripting Objects  

Oct 14 - Unit 5

Content Element: Scripting Objects

Unit 5: Activities

  • Setup Visual Studio
  • Scripting Objects

Oct 21- Unit 6

Content Element: Importing Objects

Unit 6. Instruction

WATCH: Creating and Importing Objects

Oct 28 - Unit 6

Content Element: Importing Objects

Unit 6: Activities

  • Creating and Importing Objects

Nov 4 - Unit 7

Content Element: NPCs

Unit 7. Instruction

WATCH: Importing and Manipulating NPCs 

Nov 11 - Unit 7

Content Element: NPCs

Unit 7: Activities

  • Importing and Manipulating NPCs

Nov 18 - Unit 8

Interaction Element: Student Response System

Unit 8. Instruction

WATCH: Programming and Evaluating Student Response

Nov 25 - Unit 8

Interaction Element: Student Response

Unit 8: Activities

  • Programming and Evaluating Student Response

Dec 2 - Unit 8

Interaction Element: Student Response

 

Unit 8: Activities

  • Programming and Evaluating Student Response

Nonattendance Policy

Students May Be Dropped For Nonattendance

If a student does not attend a class during the first week of the term or by the second class meeting, whichever comes first, the instructor may submit a request to have the student dropped from the course. (This does not remove responsibility from the student to drop courses which he or she does not plan to attend.) This option is typically used for classes that are full and the instructor is trying to make a seat available for another student, but may be considered for other courses.  Requests must be made during the first  20 percent of the course and will be considered on an individual student basis. Students who are dropped from courses will be notified by the Registrar's Office through their preferred e-mail account (see 2018-2019 General Catalog).

Canvas Information

Canvas is the where course content, grades, and communication will reside for this course.

Assumption of Risk

All classes, programs, and extracurricular activities within the University involve some risk, and certain ones involve travel. The University provides opportunities to participate in these programs on a voluntary basis. Therefore, students should not participate in them if they do not care to assume the risks. Students can ask the respective program leaders/sponsors about the possible risks a program may generate, and if students are not willing to assume the risks, they should not select that program. By voluntarily participating in classes, programs, and extracurricular activities, a student does so at his or her own risk. General information about University Risk Management policies, insurance coverage, vehicle use policies, and risk management forms can be found at: http://www.usu.edu/riskmgt/

Library Services

All USU students attending classes in Logan, at our Regional Campuses, or online can access all databases, e-journals, and e-books regardless of location. Additionally, the library will mail printed books to students, at no charge to them. Students can also borrow books from any Utah academic library. Take advantage of all library services and learn more at libguides.usu.edu/rc.

Classroom Civility.

Utah State University supports the principle of freedom of expression for both faculty and students. The University respects the rights of faculty to teach and students to learn. Maintenance of these rights requires classroom conditions that do not impede the learning process. Disruptive classroom behavior will not be tolerated. An individual engaging in such behavior may be subject to disciplinary action. Read Student Code Article V Section V-3 for more information.

University Policies & Procedures

Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibilities

Academic freedom is the right to teach, study, discuss, investigate, discover, create, and publish freely. Academic freedom protects the rights of faculty members in teaching and of students in learning. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in teaching, research, and creative activities, subject to the limitations imposed by professional responsibility. Faculty Code Policy #403 further defines academic freedom and professional responsibilities.

Academic Integrity – "The Honor System"

Each student has the right and duty to pursue his or her academic experience free of dishonesty. To enhance the learning environment at Utah State University and to develop student academic integrity, each student agrees to the following Honor Pledge:
"I pledge, on my honor, to conduct myself with the foremost level of academic integrity."
A student who lives by the Honor Pledge is a student who does more than not cheat, falsify, or plagiarize. A student who lives by the Honor Pledge:

  • Espouses academic integrity as an underlying and essential principle of the Utah State University community;
  • Understands that each act of academic dishonesty devalues every degree that is awarded by this institution; and
  • Is a welcomed and valued member of Utah State University.

Academic Dishonesty

The instructor of this course will take appropriate actions in response to Academic Dishonesty, as defined the University’s Student Code.  Acts of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

  • Cheating: using, attempting to use, or providing others with any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, examinations, or in any other academic exercise or activity.  Unauthorized assistance includes:
    • Working in a group when the instructor has designated that the quiz, test, examination, or any other academic exercise or activity be done “individually;”
    • Depending on the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments;
    • Substituting for another student, or permitting another student to substitute for oneself, in taking an examination or preparing academic work;
    • Acquiring tests or other academic material belonging to a faculty member, staff member, or another student without express permission;
    • Continuing to write after time has been called on a quiz, test, examination, or any other academic exercise or activity;
    • Submitting substantially the same work for credit in more than one class, except with prior approval of the instructor; or engaging in any form of research fraud.
  • Falsification: altering or fabricating any information or citation in an academic exercise or activity.
  • Plagiarism: representing, by paraphrase or direct quotation, the published or unpublished work of another person as one‘s own in any academic exercise or activity without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes using materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in the sale of term papers or other academic materials.

For additional information go to: ARTICLE VI. University Regulations Regarding Academic Integrity

Sexual Harassment/Title IX

Utah State University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free from acts of sexual misconduct and discrimination and to fostering respect and dignity for all members of the USU community. Title IX and USU Policy 339 address sexual harassment in the workplace and academic setting.

The university responds promptly upon learning of any form of possible discrimination or sexual misconduct.  Any individual may contact USU’s Office of Equity for available options and resources or clarification.  The university has established a complaint procedure to handle all types of discrimination complaints, including sexual harassment (USU Policy 305), and has designated the Office of Equity Director/Title IX Coordinator as the official responsible for receiving and investigating complaints of sexual harassment. 

Withdrawal Policy and "I" Grade Policy

Students are required to complete all courses for which they are registered by the end of the semester. In some cases, a student may be unable to complete all of the coursework because of extenuating circumstances, but not due to poor performance or to retain financial aid. The term ‘extenuating’ circumstances includes: (1) incapacitating illness which prevents a student from attending classes for a minimum period of two weeks, (2) a death in the immediate family, (3) financial responsibilities requiring a student to alter a work schedule to secure employment, (4) change in work schedule as required by an employer, or (5) other emergencies deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Students with Disabilities

USU welcomes students with disabilities. If you have, or suspect you may have, a physical, mental health, or learning disability that may require accommodations in this course, please contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) as early in the semester as possible (University Inn # 101, (435) 797‐2444, drc@usu.edu). All disability related accommodations must be approved by the DRC.  Once approved, the DRC will coordinate with faculty to provide accommodations.

Diversity Statement

Regardless of intent, careless or ill-informed remarks can be offensive and hurtful to others and detract from the learning climate. If you feel uncomfortable in a classroom due to offensive language or actions by an instructor or student(s) regarding ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, contact:

You can learn about your student rights by visiting:
The Code of Policies and Procedures for Students at Utah State University: https://studentconduct.usu.edu/studentcode

Grievance Process

Students who feel they have been unfairly treated may file a grievance through the channels and procedures described in the Student Code: Article VII.

Full details for USU Academic Policies and Procedures can be found at:

Emergency Procedures

In the case of a drill or real emergency, classes will be notified to evacuate the building by the sound of the fire/emergency alarm system or by a building representative. In the event of a disaster that may interfere with either notification, evacuate as the situation dictates (i.e., in an earthquake when shaking ceases or immediately when a fire is discovered). Turn off computers and take any personal items with you. Elevators should not be used; instead, use the closest stairs.