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Launching today: New game design course in partnership with USC

January 29, 2019 in Community | 4 min. read
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Always dreamed of designing your own game from concept to reality? The University of Southern California and Unity have teamed up to provide you with a course to help you bring your dream to life!

Unity + USC Games Unlocked is a self-paced, adaptive course that teaches you how to design and publish your own original game with insights from industry experts.

Learn from the best

Games Unlocked includes interviews with current and former game developers, all with proven track records of shipping projects, including Estefania Harbuck (Disney Imagineer for Theme Park Rides), Asher Volmer (Co-creator of Threes), Kellee Santiago (Producer of Journey), David Logan (Creative Director for Whispering Willows), and me. While these days I work on Unity’s Spotlight team, I was previously the lead programmer on Firewatch and a Gameplay Programmer on several AAA console games.

What sets this course apart?

At Unity, we are passionate about enabling success for Unity creators. Beyond tools and tech, we provide educational content to creators wanting to build their own games. So when USC asked me to participate in this course, I jumped at the chance. While there is a ton of information out there about how to use Unity as a piece of software, how to implement specific features, specific algorithms, and get certain visual effects, there isn’t a lot written about how to take those disparate elements and craft them into a final, successful project.

This program will teach you how to think like a developer. Rather than focus on specific problems, it will show you how those of us that have shipped some games think about iteration, playtesting, and scaling the development of a game. Every creative project is different, so the goal is to teach methods that allow students to solve their unique problems for themselves. In my interview with USC, we focused on how to make the hard decisions that come up as your project evolves over time.

The one thing every project I have ever worked on has in common is that the final product was radically different than what we first thought it would be. It’s important to know what changes are necessary and which systems are not working. Getting useful feedback from a playtest is a skill in and of itself, and not one with a lot of YouTube tutorials to help you learn. It is all too easy to avoid hearing the hard truths or to follow user feedback in circles. This program will teach patterns for iterating efficiently and intelligently.

Lastly, the course allows you to build your own original game. Compared to other courses where students follow along with a tutorial, this course takes you through the entire production process of building and publishing original games.

What to expect in Unity + USC Games Unlocked

Open to the public and offered online, this intermediate level course unlocks secrets from professional game designers, including practical steps to take games from concept to reality, making it ideal for students, hobbyists, frustrated e-learners, and dreamers. The course incorporates the USC proven approach to teaching, including guest speakers, videos, project-based assignments, and a close-knit community. While the class is self-paced, students can expect to spend roughly 3-4 hours per week completing assignments, for approximately 8 weeks. You will walk away with a working understanding of the techniques game developers use to polish their projects, and get to apply those techniques to your own game.

Partnering with USC, top game design school in the world

USC is releasing this course to the general public to provide learners with the skill and confidence necessary to create games at a professional level of quality and polish. They have chosen to partner with Unity specifically because it is user-friendly, highly accessible, and is already integrated into the introductory curriculum taught at USC.

Danny Bilson, Chair of the USC School of Cinematic Art’s Interactive Media & Games Division, had this to say:

“This course is a tremendous opportunity for people who want to further expand their knowledge of game development and design while utilizing the Unity tools. We are thrilled to collaborate on such a unique partnership as we continue to expand our offerings to students and the general public.”

Having the opportunity to work with USC to create this curriculum has been incredibly rewarding as both a Unity employee and a developer. I’m so grateful that I get to play a role in teaching students how to go beyond just using Unity and start making games that other people want to experience.

Ready to Get Started?

If you have a project you believe in, and want to learn some best practices for taking it from promising to polished --or even if you just want to listen to a bunch game devs talk about how games like Threes, Journey, Whispering Willows and Firewatch got made -- register now for  Unity + USC Games Unlocked.

January 29, 2019 in Community | 4 min. read

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