Undergraduate study
Indie Games Development

BA (Hons) Indie Games Development

UCAS code: I620 BA/IGD

UCAS code: I624 BA/IGDFD for Year 0 entry
Independent games developers and studios now make up a high percentage of the UK games industry, most producing games that are quick and easy to pick up and play and aimed at a wide audience. This indie games development course equips you with the practical, theoretical and business skills needed in order to succeed in this rapidly growing industry.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3, 4 or 5 years dependent on whether you undertake the foundation year, placement year or both.

More full-time details

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

  • Facilities

    Computer Games

    Teesside has fantastic state-of-the-art facilities for games students including high-end computers with dual screens and where appropriate Wacom graphics tablets. Highly specialised facilities include a motion capture studio, Kinect lab, a dedicated games lounge equipped with an array of consoles and life drawing studios.

 

Note: this course is for Year 0 and Year 1 entry only in 2017. We currently operate a different structure for entry to Year 2 and final year. Please contact scm-enquiries@tees.ac.uk for more information.

Independent developers require a mix of technical, creative and entrepreneurial skills to design, develop and market their games. This course teaches you to develop compelling games with exciting mechanics and strong gameplay, both as individuals and as part of a team. While the main focus is on the development of smaller independent games, the skills taught are also applicable to design, production and technical roles within large mainstream development studios.

Teesside has been at the forefront of computer games education for many years. This course has been designed to support the shift in the UK games industry and to prepare you for the many opportunities this shift presents.

You study a range of topics key to developing your own games – scripting, game design theory, game engines, user interface, business, games production and development.

As well as developing core skills, you are encouraged to develop an entrepreneurial attitude to equip you for work as an independent developer in the social, casual and mobile games industry.

Course structure

Year 0 (foundation year) core modules

Critical and Contextual Studies

You gain an historical and contextual overview of the history of art, animation, film and games. Aimed at technical, arts, games and animation students, this module equips you with an introductory level of understanding in the context of your chosen field of study.

Through a series of lectures and seminars, you engage in research and discussion based on your chosen areas of art, animation and game history. You learn how to effectively seek out appropriate academic sources on which to base and construct these discussions in seminars and in writing.

Foundation Project

You are guided through the production of a small-scale individual project, defined in part by you with guidance from your tutor. The foundation project guides you to a more autonomous working approach developing your project management skills and consolidating other skills already learnt in other modules.

You develop original ideas and concepts for the pre-production of an appropriate project in your chosen field of study. This may take the form of a game design document, modest game prototype, animation or game pre-production, concept art or another appropriate form related to the games, animation and film industries.

Modelling Principles

You learn some of the basic principles of 3D computer modelling, lighting and texturing. You use 3D software to produce a simple 3D model that will be textured and rendered with basic lighting. Through guided tutorial tasks, you learn some of the first principles of 3D modelling with the view to creating a small collection of elementary assets for computer games and animation. You create simple textures in appropriate software, such as Photoshop, and consider basic CG lighting.

Narrative Principles

You are introduced to the theory and practice of narrative construction within animation and games. You focus heavily on narrative structure and plot through the group production of a story overview, script and animatic or other appropriate form.

You study the basics of story writing for animation and games including character, story arcs, point of view, creating and formatting scripts, storyboards and animatic, and non-linear stories which may be implemented in software such as Twine.

Problem Solving Principles

You are introduced to problem solving, using simple tools and techniques. You develop your logical thinking and problem solving abilities. From recognising and defining problems to selecting an approach to problem solving or decision making, to evaluating the difference between the current and the desired state.

You may use recreational problems, like games and puzzles, to convey the important concepts and provide a more limited context to work within.

Visual Scripting Principles

You are introduced to the principles of visual scripting, including variables, functions and operators. You use these concepts to implement functionality and interaction using a contemporary game engine.

 

Year 1 core modules

Game Asset Creation

You are introduced to the basic creation of assets for small, contained or independent games. You understand the core skills required to create and implement sprites, simple 3D assets, materials, particles and audio for a game.

Game Design and Mechanics

This module introduces you to the core theories involved in designing games. You examine the pre-production stages of game and level design with a strong focus on game mechanics and their role in designing an engaging and immersive gaming experience.

You develop creative design documentation, plans and diagrams which communicate gameplay, layout and concepts as simply and visually as possible.

Game Production and Project Management

You consider a broad range of skills and methods used in effective project management. And you focus on the role of the project manager in the day-to-day management of teams and production.

You look at how to manage projects from pre-production, through to production, delivery and project closure. You develop your knowledge and understanding of techniques for project scoping, project planning, budgeting and project software, whilst developing an understanding of the role of the project manager throughout the project process.

You are introduced to tools for project management such as standard project management and task management software including cloud-based solutions for collaboration.

Gameplay Scripting

Contemporary game developers use scripting to produce fun, creative and entertaining gameplay. You explore how core scripting concepts and ideas are applied to solve practical development problems and to build gameplay elements using a modern engine, alongside other industry-standard tools.
You spend time in lectures and studios and gain valuable experience of being a gameplay scripter through practical, hands-on learning.

Visual Iconography

‘Seeing what everyone else has seen, but thinking what no-one else has thought,’ Albert Szent-Györgyi. Iconography is the use of images and symbols to portray a subject, movement or ideal. You explore iconography in a range of visual media. This module challenges and expands your existing experience of your visual world and introduces you to alternative concepts.

Visual Scripting

This module develops your introductory level skills in visual scripting using a contemporary game engine.

You consider the fundamentals of visual scripting including variables, functions and operators along with more advanced aspects such as player controllers and game modes. You use these concepts to implement gameplay functionality and interaction using a contemporary game engine.

 

Year 2 core modules

2D Game Creation

You concentrate on the 2D aspects of computer games development with a contemporary game engine and focus on the principles of design. A variety of methods of how to design, create and develop interactive 2D content is covered.

Game Interface Design

You are introduced to the creative and practical processes of planning and developing front end and heads-up display (HUD) interfaces for games. You are encouraged to explore a variety of creative methods including 2D and/or 3D software tools in the development of interface elements which are brought together into fully functional interfaces.

You explore design theories, interactivity, accessibility, rational navigation and interface psychology through a series of lectures and lab based sessions.

Game Jam

You are provided with an intensive game-studio experience relying on agile development methodologies in a controlled environment.

Game Jam concentrates on the skills and knowledge required in the development of a computer game, including important key transferable skills such as the ability to work in a team, the ability to follow a game design specification, and the ability to adapt to change.

Teams are drawn at the start of the module. You are then provided with a game design document written by a member of staff who act as the client throughout. Lecturers support the teams through practical sessions and lectures.
Lectures are delivered on topics to prepare you for the team working agile development process as well as covering standard gameplay programming techniques.

Games Business & Marketing

Focusing on the business and marketing aspects of the games industry, you study new trends and business models for games development and look at turning a digital concept into an attractive business proposal in order to acquire funding and investment. You also examine marketing and how to set up a business as an individual. A variety of methods on how to establish and sustain your personal and product profile will be explored.

Mission Design

You explore the design and production of gameplay missions, why people play games, what makes them fun and how this knowledge can be applied to add depth and playability to level design.

As a level designer on a live game, you produce gameplay missions within a level. You combine knowledge of game theory and psychology with techniques such as scripting, timing and game balance to concept, design and produce an engaging gameplay experience.

Mission Design uses ready-made custom game assets consisting of 3D models, animation, VFX and sound to enable you to focus on your implementation rather than creation. The missions are created within a current industry standard game engine.

 

Final-year core modules

Beta Arcade

You gain experience of working as a member of a games development team that is as close to industrial practice as possible. Beta Arcade simulates the working criteria and mix of development skills that are required to produce a polished prototype of a computer game concept which would be suitable for publication.

Contemporary Studies in Games

You investigate and evaluate emerging trends in computer games using critical, cultural and contextual studies. You are required to carry out an exploratory written research paper into computer games using appropriate academic resources that have relevance to your main subject area and degree pathway as well as the computer games market place.

Game Publishing

With the rise of independent developers and alternative distribution platforms, it has become easier than ever to get games to market. You examine the various platforms of game publishing and distribution, examining the various procedures and methods involved in getting your game to market in the modern games industry. This module consists of studio-based practical sessions, seminars, tutorials and individual work. You develop a new business proposal related to the field of games, complete with a marketing/funding pitch for a concept.

Indie Game Project

Indie Game Project is a large scale piece of individual coursework, completed under the supervision of a project supervisor and a second reader. You agree the project parameters with your supervisor with the aim to produce a substantial artefact related to the games field. The process begins with a pre-production document and culminates in a written reflective report, and a viva where the artefact is presented and defended.

You are guided to develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline coupled with a professional outlook and are expected to take responsibility for the planning and execution of an extended piece of work including the consideration of associated legal, social, ethical and professional issues. You explore a chosen subject area in depth and are required to demonstrate the ability to analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what has already been studied on the programme whilst demonstrating critical and evaluative skills and professional awareness.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

Each module is delivered through a structured series of lectures and tutorials. Lectures provide you with specific theoretical information related to the subject, while accompanying tutorials focus on developing practical skills and work on assessments. Tutorial sessions are also used for feedback and advice from tutors. Further support is offered online in the form of extra learning material where necessary.

How you are assessed

One of the key features of this industry is the need for job applications to be supported with a portfolio of credible and relevant work. Our learning and teaching approach and assessment strategy acknowledges this need. Throughout the course you are challenged with demonstrating game development skills that are directly related to the topical needs of the job market. We use a range of different assessment types – the majority are coursework – and you have the opportunity to work on projects in a team. The problems you solve, the tools you use and the methods employed are the ones you will use in the workplace.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

Work placement

Being able to include work experience on your CV makes you a much more attractive applicant. You have a much higher chance of improving your degree classification and the boost in confidence will give you the edge in job interviews.

98% of our students who complete a work placement achieve a high level degree classification and are offered a graduate job within six months of graduating.

We have established excellent long-term relationships with businesses giving you the opportunity to apply for summer, year-long and graduate placements with key organisations such as: Microsoft, Rare, Team 17, ZeroLight, R8 Games, Hammerhead VR, Dojo Arcade, Schlumberger, Sumo Digital and Coastsink.

Student selection is carried out by the employers through competitive interviews and often skills tests. Placements are not compulsory but are assessed and contribute to your final degree award.

Our placements team gives you help and support throughout the placement process, including guidance on applications and interviews, to help you get a placement that suits you.

Career opportunities

This course provides you with a range of technical and design skills, making you the perfect candidate for a career as an independent game developer.

Entrepreneurial support from University-based DigitalCity can help you to start your career as an independent developer or small company. Many small studios now take advantage of Kickstarter funding to generate the funds to develop their games. As a graduate of this course, you have the skills to put forward a polished proof of concept to attract funding.

As the course provides a range of generic skills in the areas of programming, web design and game design, you are also well suited for careers in the mobile, web and social games sector. And you are suitable for a position within a larger games studio such as a gameplay programmer, game designer or web designer.

Entry requirements

A typical offer is 96-112 tariff points from at least two A levels (or equivalent), or 64-80 for entry to Year 0 (Foundation Year). You're required to attend an interview.

If you’re applying for entry to Year 0 (Foundation Year) please use UCAS code I624 BA/IGDFY.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Foundation year

What is KIS?

How to understand the Key Information Set

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3, 4 or 5 years dependent on whether you undertake the foundation year, placement year or both.

More full-time details

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information