Carnegie Mellon University School of Art
Term: Sprint 2024
Course number: 60224
Location: CFA 303
Days / time: Monday + Wednesday – 07:00PM 09:50PM
Professor: Paolo Pedercini (paolop)
 School of art 419A – 4th Floor
Office hours: By appointment

Description: Intermediate Game Studio: Interactivity is a hands-on intermediate course focused on expressive forms of play at the boundaries of gaming. Structured around two multi-step assignments, the class will involve the creation of short interactive experiences focused on meaningful storytelling and visual experimentation. The course will cover many game development processes in both 2D and 3D contexts, including: narrative design, level design, character and world building, modular asset creation, art direction, programming and scripting. Students will work individually. No programming experience is required.


Each half-semester unit involves a main deliverable and a sequence of assignments, each relating to a specific topic.

Invisible Cities

Project: Create a “flat game” based on one of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

Topics: 2D art pipeline, narrative design, world design, character design, writing for games.

*Research: play at least 3 games from the assigned list and select one to present in 5 minutes or less. Focus on one specific aspect related to the art, gameplay, or storytelling.
*Research: read at least 10 chapters from Invisible Cities and pick one to adapt into a game. Make an illustration based on it.
*Narrative design: draft a spatial layout of the environment and a dependency chart if it has puzzle elements.
*Writing: Prototype the game as a text-only ink game.
*Environment design: create a series of modular assets and compose 5 different mock screenshots with them.
*Character design: design the main characters and props, focus on visual consistency.
*Development: assemble all the parts, add sounds, and complete the game.
*Playtesting: Watch your classmates play your environment and get feedback.
*Iteration: incorporate the feedback into the final piece.

Lucid Dreams

Project: Create a first person expressive environment that conveys an emotional state through movement in space and environmental storytelling. Make the experience last about one minute. Add an “exit”.

Topics: 3D art pipeline, environment art, level design, lighting and FX, sound design, environmental storytelling.

*Research: play at least 3 related games and select one to present in 5 minutes or less. Focus on one specific aspect related to the art, gameplay, or storytelling. Pick a soundtrack among the options given to you.
*Live mood board: while the soundtrack is playing, use river AI to find imagery that resonates with the tune.
*Conceptual brainstorm: collective brainstorm for more content-driven environments.
*Art direction: Starting from a generic cityscape, give it a character or a theme by changing lighting, materials, and effects.
*Game Feel: Tune the control system to match the expressive goal.
*Blocking / Greyboxing: prototype the level using only primitives.
*Modular Kit: Create your own set of modular blocks for your environment.
*Development: Assemble all the parts, and complete the game.
*Playtesting: Watch your classmates play your environment and get feedback.
*Iteration: incorporate the feedback into the final piece.


Upon completion of the course you will be able to:

  • Scope a project according to limited time and resources
  • Create art assets for real time, interactive applications
  • Use an industry standard engine for game and non game projects
  • Identify promising concepts and accept failures and dead ends
  • Contextualize your own work within contemporary cultural practices
  • Develop your personal style and artistic identity 
  • Add at least one piece to your creative portfolio


Hardware: -A laptop. You don’t need a powerful gaming computer but consider we won’t be working in a school lab. -The charger is not optional. -A 3 button mouse. You can’t work in 3D without it.

Software: all the programs used in this class are free or provided by the school. You may have to purchase some small games, acquire plugins or software depending on your project. The overall expenses should not exceed $100.


Qualitative feedback during in-class critiques and playtests is the most important form of evaluation. Qualitative letter grades will be determined by each student under supervision of the professor and according to a self-evaluation questionnaire.
Broadly speaking, in this class the grades correspond to the following outcomes:

D/E– You didn’t deliver the assignment
C– You delivered something that is not matching the assignment’s requirements / that has been submitted to late / that is clearly a last minute perfunctory effort
B– You delivered something that is matching all the technical and conceptual requirements.
A– You delivered something that went beyond the expectations / that involved some autonomous learning and research / that is original, meaningful, conceptually developed /   that can be made public and stand by itself as a work of art or a portfolio piece.

Final grade composition
The unit score includes assignment, exercises, and class participation.
Invisible Cities: 40%
Lucid Dreams: 40%
Participation: 20%


In addition to occasional reading you are expected to play at least one short game every week and two longer games throughout the semester and write a short report. The titles are related to the class topics and are mostly free or cost only a few dollars. Some longer games can be around $20.


I’ll ask you to read and sign a little contract. We will discuss it and amend it on the first day of class.

* Absences:
I will inform the professor and my teammate of my absences via email at least one hour before class.
I’m entitled to a total of 4 absences over the course of the semester.
This class doesn’t differentiate between justified and unjustified absences.
I am not required to give my professor any justification nor explanation for my absences.
I am aware that more than 4 absences will trigger a check from my academic advisor, the university’s health services, or disability resources.
If the extra absences are not validated, they will produce one letter grade drop on my final grade.
I am responsible to catch up with the class, and to look into the material that I have missed.
I will not expect any online or hybrid accommodation if I’m not able to attend class.

* COVID 19
I will comply with CMU and the CDC coronavirus policies regarding isolation and quarantine.
I understand absences due to COVID may have to be validated by the university.

* Tardiness
Arriving over 15 minutes after the scheduled start time will count as absence.

* Participation
I will engage actively in discussions and critiques.
I expect the professor to adopt a variety of critique formats to account for different personality types.

* Net addiction
I value face-to-face interaction, so I commit to not use phones and computers during lectures, critiques, and discussions, ie. any time somebody is presenting to the class, except for taking notes.

* Computer habits
I understand that using my personal laptop will require more responsibilities on my side:
-I will disable all push notifications from social media unrelated to class
-I will reboot my system before class and close all the applications
-I will bring and use a mouse when it’s required
-I will bring and use my charger all the time
-I will make sure I have enough room in my hard drive
-I will make sure I have all the required applications installed
-If unable to meet these basic requirement I will use the school’s computers.

I will use the class Discord to keep up with asynchronous communications, announcements, and questions that could be of general interest.
To keep a proper record, I will use the CMU email for personal communication with the professor.
I will never DM the professor through Discord.

I will negotiate late assignment submissions with the professor at least 24 hours before the deadline. I understand it will have to be justified and will not be automatically granted.
I will be present and I will participate to critiques even if I don’t have my assignment.

*Flipped Classroom
In a flipped classroom model the technical demos are assigned as homework, while class time is for more interactive activities.
I will watch all the mandatory video tutorials, taking them as seriously as studio assignments and class participation.
While I don’t have to immediately master everything covered in the videos, I understand that being unaware of the content of previously assigned videos (i.e. being caught not watching them) will penalize my participation grade.

*Office hours
I am entitled to a one-to-one meeting with the professor for feedback and general check-in every semester.

*Plagiarism and “collaborations”
I acknowledge that the concept of plagiarism is somewhat elusive in digital media as we working with open source tools and libraries, remixing and building upon the work of a multitude of people.
I will credit all the work and components that I use according to the licenses applied to them.
I will not outsource the class work to other people nor plagiarize assignments and exercises from my classmates.

*Generative AI
I will not use large language models such as chatGPT in the production of response papers, research, documentation, and correspondence.
I acknowledge that generative AI tools such as chatGPT or Midjourney are allowed in creative studio projects unless otherwise specified.
I will declare where and how such tools have been used.

*Community agreements
These statement apply to both student and instructors: We will speak from our own experiences (make ‘I’ statements).
We will respect differences; we’re all privileged in some ways.
We agree to critique ideas, not people.
We will not assume the identity of others, nor ask individuals to speak for their perceived social group.
We will hold this as a brave space, where we take risks, be vulnerable and hold each accountable with love and respect.
We agree to have only ‘one mic’: we will listen respectfully without interrupting.
We agree to practice active listening: when someone is speaking, we will listen without also thinking about how we are going to respond/rebut.
We may share what we learn but will keep others’ stories and personal experiences in confidence.
We will ‘move up, move up’: those who tend to speak a lot will ‘move up’ their listening; those who tend to hold back and listen will ‘move up’ their speaking.


It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present activities that accommodate and value a diversity of gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. I will gladly honor your request to address you by your preferred name and gender pronoun. I commit to make individual arrangements to address disabilities or religious needs (e.g. religious events in conflict with class meetings). Please advise me of these preferences and needs early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my plans and records. Debate and free exchange of ideas is encouraged but I will not tolerate harassment, i.e. a pattern of behavior directed against a particular individual with the intent of humiliating or intimidating.


Being in an art school, you should expect to be exposed to content that challenges your moral, ethical, and aesthetic values. In case of extremely graphic content I will warn the class in advance, but if you have a history of PTSD please let me know privately if there are types of content that are known to act as trauma triggers for you.


Collaborative work and projects also fulfilling other classes’ requirements are encouraged as long as it makes sense, and the other professors agree. Official university language: Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress. All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful. If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.    

Images: Header Kids by Playable, 10 Beautiful Postcards by thecatamites, THAT NIGHT, STEEPED BY BLOOD RIVER by Taylor Swietanski