Unity Unit 3 – Game Design Theory

unity unit 3

Review Unit 3


Activities in this unit of study are designed to foster an understanding of fundamental game design principles, including: genres, goals, mechanics, player motivation, structure, and gameplay. Learners will analyze different types of 2D and 3D games, create proposals for building common game types, and begin learning the process of building games using the Unity Editor.


In this unit, learners will explore the following topics:

  • Critical Thinking (e.g. definition, comparison to creative thinking, well-developed arguments)
  • Idea Generation Techniques (i.e. What is brainstorming? How is it useful? What are the rules?)
  • Critical Thinking for Game Analysis (e.g. purpose in game design, function in game development)
  • Problem Solving Basics (e.g. priorities, methodologies, planning)


3.C.1.A: Exploring the Unity Editor

  • The following tutorial will introduce learners to the importance of models and materials within the game development process and the tools available within the Unity Editor.
  • It will also help learnersto continue applying game development knowledge and skills from previous tutorials.
  • Finally, the skills learned in this tutorial are essential for ongoing professional development and learners should apply these skills to their Capstone Project.
  • Models and Materials in Unity Editor:
  • Create blog post titled, Models and Materials
    • Embed the video at the top of your blog post
    • Take notes about key ideas to know about game design related to Models and Materials video tutorial (52 minutes)
      • Place time stamps in your notes
      • Have at least 10 time stamps

Students Examples


Capstone Project Requirements

Resource Guide

  • Review Unity Resource Guide (PDF)
    • Review all 35 pages of materials especially the samples and forms
    • You will be using this document throughout the year

3.C.2.A: Game Design Document (GDD) Entry

  • The GDD serves as the primary design blueprint for a game
    • Furthermore:
      • A game design document is a document created to plan the creation and the development of a game with specific details to allow for a smooth process for the final delivery. It also allows for executives to understand the scope of a game project to manage resources effectively and/or plan accordingly to whether or not a project will stay within budget and can be completed and delivered on time. A game design document is usually a living document (or in this case an application) that provides the guidelines for the design process or game assets and the development process for coding and testing. A design document can change over time, which is why its important to manage the smallest details effectively and allow a limited range of access to those involved with the game design project or process. – from Dundoc.com FAQ
    • Further Furthermore:
      • The purpose of a game design document is to unambiguously describe the game’s selling points, target audience, gameplay, art, level design, story, characters, UI, assets, etc. In short, every game part requiring development should be included by the developer in enough detail for the respective developers to implement the said part. The document is purposely sectioned and divided in a way that game developers can refer to and maintain the relevant parts.Wikipedia
  • The Game Design Document (GDD) often encompasses many sub-documents, including, but not limited to:
    • Art Document
    • Concept Document
    • Technical Design Document (TDD)
    • Examine sample GDD’s
    • Pick your favorite idea from the top two or three you brainstormed during your mind-mapping assignment.
      • You may change your mind, if later you desire to develop a different idea, but we have a lot of material to develop before we start building the game.
  • In your Game Design Document (GDD), write down key strategic considerations for your game.
  • Address the following questions:
    • In what genre is the game?
    • What type of game will this be?
    • What kinds of puzzles or player challenges might you include?
    • What are the basic rules for your game?
  • Put some serious thought into these questions, as they will guide your development as the course progresses.
    • The more time you spend now, the easier your final project will be!

Assignment Details

  • Review the GDD Template
  • Watch the Create a Dundoc.com Account and Project Video Tutorial
  • Create an account at Dundoc.com
  • Create a new GDD Project
  • Title it the name of the project that has survived from your first five game ideas
  • ChooseStart 1 Template
  • Click on Members button
    • Add the teacher as a team member, either editor or viewer
      • Mr. Le Duc, sleduc@osd.wednet.edu
      • or
      • Mr. Wright, kwright@osd.wednet.edu
  • Click on Settings button
  • Complete Game Design Document (GDD) Sections
    • Game Introduction
      • Genre
      • Game Play
      • Target audience & platforms
      • Look and Feel
    • Story
    • How to Play


Students Examples

3.C.2.B: Management for the Game Developer Assignment

Understanding and applying project management is an essential skill for a game development professional. This activity will introduce the learner to basic concepts of managing a project, within the context of game development and through management of the Capstone Project. For this activity, the learners should complete a basic project charter using the supplied Project Charter Form (PCF).

Student Examples

3.C.2.C: Contemporary Game Assignment

  • Document the primary rules of a reasonably simple game that you like.
  • Include a sketch of the user interface; a list of all the buttons and menu items; and a list of the other modes that may be available.
  • Describe the challenges and actions that make the game interesting to you.
  • Create a blog post titled, 3.C.2.C: Contemporary Game Assignment
    • Create the following headings
      • Summary
      • Task 1
      • Task 2
      • Task 3
      • Task 4
      • Task 5
      • Pitch Proposal
      • What I Learned
    • Task 1 Instructions
      • Document the primary rules of a reasonably simple game that you like. Include a sketch of the user interface; a list of all the buttons and menu items; and a list of the other modes that may be available. Describe the challenges and actions that make the game interesting to you.
    • Task 2 Instructions
      • Discuss the goals and objectives of this game.What genre(s) would you classify this game and why? Describe the game mechanics. How intuitive (i.e. easy) is it to navigate the game? Explain the constitutive rules and the intuitive rules. What is the player motivation? How does the challenge compare to the risks and rewards? Explain why you think this is or is not a balanced game.
    • Task 3 Instructions
      • Certain genres are found more frequently built using one kind of environment (i.e. 2D top-down or 3D ground-up) than another. Write a short paper explain- ing which game environment each genre typically works best on and why. Try to answer the following question: how do the environment’s features (e.g. graphic style, mechanics, player controls) and the way that it is used facilitate or hinder the gameplay in each genre?
    • Task 4 Instructions
      • Play three games and answer the following:
        1. What is the genre? Is there a specific sub-genre? Could the game belong to more than one genre? Be sure to provide information that helps validate your choice.
        2. Who is the audience?
        3. What are the goals and objectives?
        4. What is the overall narrative? (Explain in two or three sentences)
        5. How would you describe the overall game? (i.e., look, playability, and entertainment)
    • Task 5 Instructions
      • Think of an idea you have for a game and answer the following questions:
        1. What is the general flavor of the game? You can make references to other games, movies, books, or any other media if your game contains similar characters, actions, or ideas.
        2. What is the player’s role? Is the player pretending to be someone or some- thing, and if so, what? Is there more than one? How does the player’s role help to define the gameplay?
        3. Does the game have an avatar or other key character? Describe him/her/it.
        4. What is the nature of the gameplay, in general terms? What kinds of challenges will the player face? What kinds of actions will the player take to overcome them?
        5. Does the game fall into an existing genre? If so, which one?
        6. Why would someone want to play this game? Who is the game’s target audience?
        7. What is the game’s setting? Where does it take place?
        8. Will the game be broken into levels? What might be the victory condition for a typical level?
        9. Does the game have a narrative or story as it goes along? Summarize the plot in a sentence or two.
    • Refer to the  Contemporary Game Rubric (PDF)
    • Brainstorm a list of contemporary games, as a class
    • Choose teams of three
    • Fill in the 3 Person Team Work Alpha Form
    • Create a pitch proposal for a contemporary game
      • Review the Pitch Proposal Template
        • Use one of the templates
      • Include all the elements of the template in your presentation
      • Include many pieces of evidence
      • Cite your sources for media used on your last slide
      • This presentation should be complete and professional
        • It is practice for pitching your own game idea later in the course

Student Examples

3.C.2.D: Rules on Three Levels Exercise

  • 3 Person Team Work Alpha Form
  • Sit next to your teammates (for this and the next exercise, 3.C.2.E)
  • This formal design exercise works best with groups of three learners.
  • Think of a game that could be played in the classroom.
    1. The first person, out of the group of three, is asked to secretly write down two game rules for the game they are thinking about. Each rule is to be written on a separate line of the paper, so that when the top rule is covered up, the second rule remains visible.
    2. The next person looks at the second rule and then adds two more rules onto the list, leaving the last rule visible for the final person to view.
    3. The final person writes down one final rule and then adds a winning condition.
    4. All of the rules are then revealed and the group fashions a game out of the total set of rules.
      • The goal of the exercise is to see how rules interact with each other within the system of a game.
      • Learners also explore the limits of ambiguity and specificity in rules by conducting the exercise.
      • If there are more people in each group, learners should each write down a single rule, to keep the rule-set from becoming too complex.

3.C.2.E: One Button Game Assignment

  • Stay in the same teams as the project 3.C.2.D above
  • Read project description
    • You work for a hard-core gaming company called Cheap Fun Games, Inc. The sole purpose of the company is to make money by creating simple and addicting games. These games are intended for people who love to play computer/video games, but simply do not have the time and money to do so. Your management team likes to keep work exciting, so they have decided to create a competition. The winnerof the competition receives a fully paid vacation to Hawaii. Every game designer, within the company, now strives to design the next big one-button game. The best design wins.
    • To win the grand trip, you must design the winning game. This game is to be played on multiple platforms. Your game can only have one button as the main interaction, displayed on the screen during gameplay along with all game graphics. By definition, a button has three states: pressed, held, and released. The button must be stationary on the hardware or screen. No control pad, no voice, touch gesture, or accelerometer allowed.
  • Generate many ideas in a brainwrite ON PAPER!Use strategies like Brainstorming Game Ideas (with Adriel Wallick)
  • Create a blog post titled, One Button Game Proposal
  • Write a game proposal for your best idea, being sure to include all relevant design information
  • Copy and paste the material below
    1. Game Title
    2. Game Genre
    3. Overview: The basics of the game
    4. Player Rules
    5. Gameplay Mode
    6. Setting
    7. Challenges
    8. Core Features in the Game: Clearly describe each feature and explain why it is important
    9. Game Mechanics
      • Game Function Rules
      • Actions (i.e., what does the player need to do to tackle the challenges)
      • Define the lives, ammo, money, health points, etc., in the game
      • Explain how are they produced or obtained?
    10. Game Balance:
      • Reward and punishment
      • Levels of difficulty
    11. Victory Conditions:
      • How do you win the game? If there is no way to win the game, what is the player trying to accomplish?
      • How do you lose the game? (if applicable)

Students Examples


Unit Resources