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Stone Soup: Procedurally Mixing Student Projects to Teach Flexible System Design

AP Thomson  (Game Designer and Adjunct Professor, NYU Game Center)

Location: Room 2014, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 18

Time: 1:20 pm - 1:50 pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Summits - Get your pass now!

Topic: Educators Summit

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

For an elective on procedural generation, AP Thomson designed a unique assignment: students were tasked with designing and programming puzzles, items, and enemies for the same game. The catch: their work would be mixed together in a single procedurally generated level and they couldn't know for certain what their classmates would create. The results were sometimes messy, sometimes surprising, and always interesting. This talk presents a close look at "Stone Soup", including the technical design of the assignment, the on-boarding process for students, and some of the challenges involved in teaching students to design for the unknown.


Thomson will discuss pedagogical rationales for giving students an assignment with "blind collaboration" (where students collaborate without knowing what their classmates are working on) and provide specific recommendations about designing such an assignment. He will show and discuss the results of the assignment as it was taught across two years.

Intended Audience

Game designer teachers and game designers with a rudimentary knowledge of introductory programming.