Spring 2018

PROFESSOR: John Craig Freeman

  • EMAIL: john_craig_freeman @ emerson dot edu
  • PHONE: (617) 824-8862
  • OFFICE HOURS: Ansin 308, MTW 11:00-11:50 am or by appointment

CLASS MEETS: MW 12:00 – 1:45pm, 3DL Ansin 312



BLOG: VM364 Blog

DESCRIPTION: Provides students with the fundamentals of game design and theory. Students learn to create and import assets, develop objectives, script behaviors and action, and build game levels. Students complete the course with an original portfolio-ready single player game.

Class time is spent either in intensive instructional sessions, where we move through concepts as a group using hands-on examples; in discussion and critique; or in open lab production. Meanwhile, students complete a series of software training exercises and reading assignments outside of class as homework.

Students will complete two minor projects based on instruction, reading and software training. After mid-semester, students propose a final project. The proposals are presented to the class where we discuss them and make recommendations. Once the proposal has been approved, students will spend the remaining duration of the semester working on their final projects. The course culminates in the presentation and critique of all final projects during the scheduled final exam time.


  • To develop students’ skills in 3D computer game production
  • To introduce students to artists that shaped and continue to shape the field of 3D computer games
  • To assist students in further developing their visual literacy, critical thinking and communication skills
  • To apply these skills to express themselves creatively and critically


  • Attend every class meeting
  • Come to class prepared to work
  • Complete required software training
  • Complete all required reading and browsing
  • Complete all assignments
  • Propose, develop, and produce an original final project
  • Present final project during scheduled exam

SOFTWARE TRAINING: Students are required to complete the following software training titles at

To Access Emerson College’s site license, follow the Emerson College IT Using instructions.

READING: Students are required to read the following.

  • Articles to be determined, Please see the calendar below for the specific schedule

BROWSING: Students are required to browse the following.

  • Websites to be determined, Please see the calendar below for the specific schedule



  • Portable hard drive. Minimum requirement is 40GB of storage space. 7200 (RPM) speed is preferable. Thumb/flash drives are not recommended for this course.

GRADING: The final grade will be determined according to the following criteria based on the corresponding percentages.

  • Project Proposal: 20%
  • Work in Progress: 20%
  • Software Training: 10%
  • Participation and Attendance: 10%
  • Final: 40%

Project grade based on the following three criteria:

  • Technical: Did the project achieve or exceed the technical requirements stated in the project assignment?
  • Conceptual: Does the work represent critical, creative and original thinking? Did it address and demonstrate understanding of the concepts being discussed in class?
  • Aesthetic: Does the work appeal to sensory or sensori-emotional values.

POLICIES: An Incomplete will only be issued if there are extenuating circumstances related to illness or critical personal emergency and only after administrative notice has been received.

Attendance and punctuality is required at all class meetings and will be reflected in the final grade. According to College policy, unexcused absences beyond five will result in a failing grade. Everyone must come to class prepared and engaged and everyone must participate in discussions and critiques. Your undivided attention is required during all discussions and critiques. No chatting, email or browsing will be allowed during these times if it does not support the discussion at hand.

Students should be aware of the College policies regarding creative and academic dishonesty and the penalties for plagiarism and software piracy. While it is accepted that there may be occasion for stylistic or historical inspiration, influence and reference, the student will be asked to produce original work from one’s own study and investigation.

Emerson is committed to providing equal access and support to all students who qualify through the provision of reasonable accommodations, so that each student may fully participate in the Emerson experience. If you have a disability that may require accommodations, please contact Student Accessibility Services at or 617-824-8592 to make an appointment with an SAS staff member. Students are encouraged to contact SAS early in the semester. Please be aware that accommodations are not applied retroactively.

Every student in this class will be honored and respected as an individual with distinct experiences, talents, and backgrounds. Students will be treated fairly regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, socioeconomic status, or national identity. Issues of diversity may be a part of class discussion, assigned material, and projects. The instructor will make every effort to ensure that an inclusive environment exists for all students. If you have any concerns or suggestions for improving the classroom climate, please do not hesitate to speak with the course instructor or to contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 617-824-8528 or by email at

Safety is always a concern in any form of media production. Emerson College supports safety measures and requires safety training through seminars and the VMA Student Production Safety Manual, which is required reading for all students participating in any Emerson College field media production.

Students with questions or concerns should contact the Director of Production and Safety, Lenny Manzo at (617) 824-8126 or email


CUSTOM TERRAIN: Create a custom terrain based on the instructional sessions and the software training. Your understanding of concepts covered in class and in the software training must be evident in the work.

Wherever possible, use original assets, including models, source images, file textures, sound effects, etc. Scripts can be used as is, or modified from those provided with the software training, however, you must demonstrate an understanding of how they work.

PROJECT PROPOSAL: Propose, develop and complete an original, portfolio ready single player game. You will be evaluated based on the project’s originality, expressive creativity, conceptual depth and technical expertise. It can be narrative or abstract but should be rich in interpretive possibility. Please see the Project Proposal guidelines.

We are looking for an original approach to what a game might be.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Create a single player game based on your proposal.

The finished project should be output as a stand alone application for Mac titled lastname_firstname, compressed as a .zip file and placed in Assignments_In folder prior to the critique.

Projects that do not conform to these specifications or that are turned in late will result in a lower grade.

FINAL: Each student will present the finished final project during the scheduled final exam time. Late final projects will not be accepted.

Course Calendar

Subject to changes as necessary

Wednesday January 17

Monday January 22

  • Student Work: Daniel Barkus
  • Software Training: Audit
  • Courses Networked Server: Lesson Files
  • Lesson 01: Managing Projects and Terrain
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 1. Setting Up the Project

Wednesday January 24

Monday January 29

Wednesday January 31

  • Student Work: Colin Egge
  • Open Lab: Work on Custom Terrain
  • Assignment: Work on Custom Terrain, due next week
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 4. Applying Materials
  • Required Browsing: The Future of Gaming, On the Media

Monday February 5

  • Student Work: Jenice Lee
  • Due: Custom Terrain
  • Critique: Custom Terrain
  • Lesson 02: Interface-Assets
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 5. Prefabs

Wednesday February 7

Monday February 12

  • Assignment: Project Proposals, due next week
  • Lesson 03: Object Export-Import
  • Student Work: Colin Egge, Andrew Sutliff and Yesenia de Leon
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 7. Creating and Implementing Animation

Wednesday February 14

Monday February 19

  • President’s Day: (no classes)

Tuesday February 20, (Monday class schedule)

  • Due: Project Proposals
  • Discussion: Project Proposals
  • Assignment: Work in Progress
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 9. Adding Audio

Wednesday February 21

  • Student Work: Andrew Peterson
  • Software Training: Audit
  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 10. Unity Lighting
  • Required Browsing: Jane McGonigal, Gaming can make a better world

Monday February 26

  • Student Work: Brandt Snyder
  • Lesson 04: Levels
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 11. Baking Lighting

Wednesday February 28

  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 12. Particles and FX in Unity

Monday March 5 and Wednesday March 9

  • Spring Break: (no classes)

Monday March 12

  • Software Training: Audit
  • Student Work: Jay Vachon
  • Lesson 05: Scripting
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 13. Post-Processing

Wednesday March 14

  • Visiting Artist, Joe DeLappe: Tuesday March 13, 4:00pm – 5:45pm Ansin 312
  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 14. Timeline: Creating Cinematics
  • Required Browsing: How Nintendo Saved the Video Game Industry, On the Media

Monday March 19

  • Student Work: Alex Wysota
  • Lesson 06: Animation
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, 15. Packaging Your Unity Project

Wednesday March 21

  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Unity 3D Essential Training, Conclusion
  • Required Reading: Katie Salen, and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play

Monday March 26

Wednesday March 28

  • Software Training: Audit
  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Assignment: Critiques of Work in Progress begin next week
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed
  • Required Reading: Is Pac-Man the same as a Picasso?

Monday April 2

  • Student Work: Bin Li
  • Due: Work in Progress
  • Critique: Work in Progress
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed

Wednesday April 4

  • Critique: Work in Progress continued
  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed

Monday April 9

  • Lesson 08: User Interface, Postponed
  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed

Wednesday April 11

  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed

Monday April 16

  • Patriot’s Day: (no classes)

Wednesday April 18

Monday April 23

  • Student Work: Jon Denton VR, Spring 2017, Zack Rezowalli VR, Spring and Fall 2017
  • Lesson 09: HTC Vive VR
  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed

Wednesday April 25

  • Open Lab: Work on projects
  • Software Training: Advanced topics as needed

Monday April 30

  • Final Critique:
  • Due: Final Projects

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