Last Updated 2016-07-08
Interactive Entertainment MS
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A graduate education at UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy offers a wealth of opportunities and advantages, such as:
- Intensive professor-student interaction
- Partnerships with various studios
- Access to Studio 500-one of the largest motion-capture studios on the East Coast, an adjacent sound stage, production offices and editing suites
- A blend of theoretical and applied education
- Working on real-world projects with milestones and tight deadlines
At this time FIEA offers an MS in Interactive Entertainment with an emphasis in the following 3 specializations:
In the FIEA art specialization, you work individually and in teams to sharpen your creative skills while creating memorable characters, animations, cinematics and interactive worlds utilizing industry-standard tools and equipment.
Semester I entails a challenging curriculum of character modeling and rigging, animation, environment and object modeling, texturing and lighting using Maya, Photoshop and ZBrush. Figure drawing classes are held weekly.
Semesters II and III are dedicated to advanced character rigging and animation, scripting and pipeline development, special effects and motion-capture editing using our world-class motion capture facility. You design and concept artwork for a game created in collaboration with production and programming students. You are encouraged to concentrate on an area of expertise such as modeling, technical art or animation and balance team-based projects with personal portfolio development.
Throughout their time at FIEA, Producers will be exposed to a wide range of skills including game design, project management and organization, game development business, level design and scripting, as well as many of the basic software tools that are necessary in these endeavors.
For Producers, the first semester is where they are taught a creative thinking process, and sharpen their game design skills. Along with the game design classes, Producers also learn the basics of scripting and rapid prototyping techniques. By the end of the first semester, all producers will be required to give a formal game design pitch before the rest of the cohort. Winning pitches will be turned into full-fledged development projects in semesters 2 and 3.
In the second semester, Production focuses on project organization and management. Using tools like Project for Windows and Excel, and a variety of development methodologies, Producers will learn how to plan, schedule, and organize game development projects. Also discussed will be personnel management techniques.
In the third semester, Producers will learn the fundamentals of the business side of game development. The main deliverable for the semester will be a business plan for a fictional game development start-up studio.
In the first semester of the FIEA programming specialization you take Programming I, where we start with assembly and C and explore topics like optimization details, compression and game frameworks. By the end of the semester, you will have written your first game from scratch and ported it to the XBOX.
In the second semester, Programming II is about creating data-driven game engines and using C++ and design patterns common in the game industry to create your own cross-platform game engine. For the final project, you create a game using the engine you made with your classmates.
The third semester programming class focuses on topics current in the game industry. For example we recently taught shader programming as well as C# and memory management in this class.
Although the FIEA curriculum has these three main specializations , many FIEA students have skills in more than one area. For example some of the best producers are also great artists or programmers. As such, the FIEA curriculum is flexible enough to accommodate students with multiple skills. For that reason, we never schedule classes from two different specializations concurrently, so students can attend classes outside of their core discipline if they choose.
Each specialization director is available to address academic and track specific concerns as well as professional guidance and socialization, and other areas of academic and professional interest.The Admissions & Enrollment Coordinator is available to answer questions about overall academic requirements and university policies and procedures.
CurriculumThe Interactive Entertainment MS degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree including 12 credit hours of core courses, 9 credit hours of specialization, a practicum and a capstone experience.
Core—12 Credit Hours
The foundation of the degree
is the four-course core sequence that focuses on team-based learning. This
sequence is designed to provide declarative, procedural, and strategic knowledge
in a variety of issues related to game design. These include creative
collaboration, rapid prototyping, 3-D animation and modeling, documentation,
software engineering, legal and ethical issues, preproduction, and
- DIG 5529C Production for Media (3 credit
- DIG 5548C Rapid Prototype Production I (3 credit hours)
- DIG 5856 Experimentation, Application and Innovation in Games (3 credit
- DIG 6547C Preproduction and Prototyping (3 credit hours)
Specialization—9 Credit Hours
Specialization courses help
prepare students in their chosen field (Art, Production or Programming) by
covering the details of each discipline. Art classes help students develop
aesthetic and technical skills necessary to create compelling visuals for the
entertainment industry. Programming classes focus on software engineering
techniques as they apply to interactive entertainment products, while production
classes focus on the specifics of game design as well as project management.
Students take all three courses in their chosen specialization.
- DIG 5348C Digital Asset Creation (Fall,
3 credit hours)
- DIG 6559C Advanced Digital Asset Creation (Spring, 3
- DIG 6589C Digital Asset Portfolio Development (Summer, 3
- DIG 5557 Production and Design I (Fall, 3 credit hours)
- DIG 6558 Production and Design II (Spring, 3 credit hours)
- DIG 6099 Media Distribution (Summer, 3 credit hours)
- DIG 5637 Game Programming Fundamentals
(Fall, 3 credit hours)
- DIG 6638 Advanced Game Programming (Spring, 3
- DIG 6635 Applied Programming Mechanics (Summer, 3 credit
Capstone—3 Credit Hours
The capstone experience
applies the concepts and theories learned to produce a large-scale project. The
target deliverable is a playable demonstration of a game that simulates the core
experience and demonstrates the key features of the project’s vision. The course
concludes with a special event premiering the final project to the FIEA
community and invited guests.
- DIG 6718C Interactive
Entertainment Project (3 credit hours)
The practicum is a supervised experience supplementing theoretical
and practical experiences involving new research developments or partnerships
within industry. Students may participate on a research team exploring new ideas
in interactive entertainment with industry partners, work on an on-site
internship with a game company, or develop their own interests by working with
faculty on a personal research area of interest.
- DIG 6944C Game Design Practicum (6 credit hours) or DIG 6947C Digital Venture
Practicum (6 credit hours)
Timeline for Completion
One (9 credit hours)
- Production For Media (All Specializations)
provide a fundamental understanding of the entire game development process,
from pre-production to scheduling, budgeting, production, alpha, staffing,
planning, and essential documentation. This cycle will view the
development process across multiple delivery platforms. The class will
focus on giving the Game Development student the knowledge and experience to
operate in a professional and realistic environment.This
will be a project-based experiential learning class. The class will have
three components: lecture and discussion, practical examples (samples of games
production planning), and hands-on production planning.
- Rapid Prototype Production I (All Specializations)
The course objective is to gain experience working in
multidisciplinary teams. Iteration is key as students master the
life cycle of a project, collaborative brainstorming, how to learn new
hardware/software platforms, and rapid prototyping through first-hand experience.
Over the course of the semester you will produce several game prototypes
which demonstrate your creativity and production talents. Most
importantly, this course teaches you how to work in teams to achieve
results far greater than the sum of the parts. In order to further
the team-building, trust, risk-taking, brainstorming, and creative
collaboration goals of this course, improvisational acting techniques will
also be explored in a separate lab.
Project work dominates as students are divided into small inter-disciplinary
teams to create several short productions. Project groups are
shuffled each round, exposing students to a broad mix of teammates.
- Art Specialization - Digital Asset Creation
This course has several objectives. In the common
class, students will be introduced to the entire graphics workflow within
the context of game production. With the exercises related to weekly
discussions, the students will develop a working familiarity with the
fundamental game workflow including 2D concepts, game engines, 3D
modelling, materials, lighting, animation and visual effects. Focus will
be given to deliver all work within context of a particular game engine. This
course is comprised of a common core class for all artists in addition to three
separate classes in areas of concentrations: 2D Art/3D Art, Technical Art, and
Animation. All students will pick one concentration and will be required to
participate in a drawing fundamentals class.
- Art I Concentrations
- 2D/3D Art
This course has several objectives, to teach the fundamentals of 3D
modeling, 3D Painting and 3D sculpting and to take the results of those
processes and apply them to game ready art for a game engine. This course
is comprised of multiple sections, the first section will focus on the
creation of a prop, then we will focus on a small organic creature, we
will then move onto a complex creature that is composed of multiple
material types and finally move on to the creation of a mini game
To arm the student with a fundamental understanding of 3D animation
principles and techniques and motion capture data editing for both
narrative and real-time contexts. Areas of focus will include the body
mechanics of locomotion, poses and timing for real-time, and multi
character interaction. An introduction to the Motion Capture process will
also be included with a real motion capture session.
- Technical Art
This course will act as an introduction for the students in the
discipline of Technical Art. Basic concepts of the game and film
production workflow will be introduced with the role played by the
Technical Artist/ Technical Director. This course will provide the
fundamental skills required for the student to successfully handle the
curriculum continuing on to semesters two and three. Math skills which
will be required for successful completion of the curriculum’s later
topics will be covered. Python will also be taught as a primer to
programming languages needed by the technical Artist professional. Basic
Tool design and creation will finish the training for this semester.
- Programming Specialization - Game Programming Fundamentals
After laying a foundation in programming languages, students will explore
meaningful projects which all game programmers should have exposure to,
such as code optimization, compression, memory allocation, and file
manipulation. It is important that students grasp the topics
presented here to move on to larger game programming projects.
- Production Specialization -Production and Design I
Theory and methodology for creation and communication of videogame designs. Students will focus on one of two areas: Game Design or Technical Design. Game Design provides the student with the basic building blocks, techniques, and methods of thinking that will enable them to methodically approach game design. Students will focus on isolating various specific facets of games, designing towards those facets, and the practicing presentation skills that will allow the student to communicate ideas effectively in a professional environment. Technical Design will allow students to build a solid backbone in C#, using the Unity game engine. Aimed at technically minded, but starting from ground zero, students without prior scripting experience can still succeed.
Semester Two (9 credit hours)
and Prototyping (All Specializations)
objective of this class is to show students how to progress from the prototype
and plan that were made in the previous semester, into a finished product.
Classes will be entirely status updates, where students must present
their progress each week, and receive feedback from faculty and other students. This
will be a project-based experiential learning class. While learning to
polish and refine their prototype concepts, students will be required to
explore multiple sources for feedback, measuring the efficacy of their games,
and reacting to this feedback on the fly by incorporating it into their
Application and Innovation in Games (All Specializations)
Game Lab is the survey and development of games being
used in non-traditional applications, such as medical simulation,
education and research. Each student will be required to prepare and
deliver a presentation on a topic related to games being used in non-traditional
applications. Students will break into self-defined groups and
create an interactive game in one of these areas.
- Art Specialization - Advanced Digital Asset Creation
A continuation of themes from Digital Asset Creation with separate concentrations.
- 2D/3D Art II
Students will take the tools and techniques learned in Semester 01 and
expand on them. The first part of the Semester will mainly be focused on
how to take 3D and use it as a tool for generating design ideas and
concepts.The second part of the Semester will be a look at higher level
tools for creating realistic materials and textures, the will lead into
the students first major portfolio piece during their time here at FIEA.
Building upon the “12 Basic Animation Principles” learned in Animation I,
students will explore more advanced animation techniques such as
quadruped runs, pantomime and lip sync. This semester the students
will begin to move beyond basic techniques by incorporating personality
and emotion in their animations.The course will begin with quadruped
runs, and then move on to more advanced techniques for animating human
characters. This will culminate in the final assignment of a
dialogue test of no more than 10 seconds.
Diving quickly into content creation, the Technical Artists will be
thrust into an environment where they will start supporting artists and
animators. The first portion of the semester will be devoted to Modern
Rigging. After an Introduction to a state-of-the-art “Auto Rigger,” the
TAs will be introduced the concepts of generating character skeletons,
character skinning, basic rig creation and advanced rigging. The
challenging topic of facial animation is then introduced. More than just
an extension of the rigging module, the Technical Artists will not only
be introduced to the theory and principles of facial animation but will
also go through the process of generating their own facial animation rig.
Similar to the Auto-Rigger, the Facial Rig will be treated as a semester
project. The other portion of the semester will be devoted to the
concepts and structure of writing modern 3D shaders compatible with
rendering pipe lines.
- Programming Specialization - Advanced Game Programming
This course will teach canonical components of game architecture
and will require the student to implement several of them. The student will
understand the requirements and caveats of those components, while focusing on
software architecture, the object-oriented programming paradigm, design
patterns and exemplary software engineering practices.
We can describe games (or any software) as a conglomeration of
parts glued together, and this course will focus on the context of how parts
fit into the architecture. We will construct a framework, identify and examine
game engine components, implement a selected few and assemble them within the
framework. By the end of the class, through project assignments, participants
will have created a data-driven framework.
- Production Specialization - Production and Design II
Advanced principles of game design and production including integrating development skills into level designs and complete games. Students will focus on one of two areas: Game Design or Technical Design. Game Design II equips the student with the skills of level design and editing. Both mechanics and aesthetics are stressed, including discussions of how to design for expansive open worlds. In addition to layout and flow, attention to strong narrative, backstory, and plot progression is also heavily encouraged. The primary objective is teach students how to envision a compelling world and bring it to like on their own. Technical Design II allows students to build on Technical Design I by adding principles of software architecture and design patterns to their work. Software construction problems are tackled head on to foster better code reuse and flexibility. Students continue to use C# in Unity but advance to producing small prototypes on their own. When the course concludes, students can work side-by-side with programmers to offer meaningful gameplay additions and revisions.
Semester Three (6 credit hours)
- Interactive Entertainment Project (All
This is the second half
of the capstone project (the first half was Preproduction and Prototyping). The
objective of this class is to show students how to progress from the prototype
and plan that were made in the previous semester, into a finished
product. Classes will be entirely status updates, where students must
present their progress each week, and receive feedback from faculty and other
students.This will be a project-based experiential learning class.
While learning to polish and refine their prototype concepts, students will be
required to explore multiple sources for feedback, measuring the efficacy of
their games, and reacting to this feedback on the fly by incorporating it into
- Art Specialization - Digital Asset Portfolio Development
This course is geared towards developing a professional portfolio
for entry into the field of interactive entertainment and related fields.
Common class topics include real time rendering, portfolio development,
presentation acumen and capstone support. Concentration classes continue to refine
skills within 4 disciplines of 2D, 3D, Animation and Technical Art.
- 2D/3D Art III
The objective of this course is to expand and execute on the fundamental
principals in design, form and function through the use of 2D and 3D art that
were learned in the previous semesters and build upon those principals using
new tools and processes. Students will learn how to create functional game art,
how to iterate on these designs, and build final professional art portfolio
- Animation III
The objective of this course is to arm the student with a fundamental
understanding of 3D animation principles and techniques and motion capture data
editing for both narrative and real-time contexts. Areas of focus will include
the body mechanics of locomotion, poses and timing for real-time, and multi
character interaction. Advanced rigging and Unreal Engine 4 integration will
also be explored. Student work from this class may be applied to team projects.
- Technical Art
Building upon on the curriculum introduced in the first two semesters, this
course will introduce advanced topics the students may encounter as a Technical
Artist in the game community or a Technical Director in the film environment.
These topics will cover issues such as Production Management, Advanced
Rendering, Facial Animation and Advanced Technical Art subjects. This
course will inspire the confidence required for the student to successfully
adapt to any environment or requested task encountered in the professional
- Programming Specialization - Applied Programming Mechanics
A deep understanding of modern graphics programming using DirectX
11 and HLSL, model and animation rendering in C++, and memory management.
Ability to demonstrate that understanding through an extensive code base of
shaders and a C++ rendering engine, as well as converse in detail on the
subject of modern 3D rendering. You will implement a large library of vertex and pixel shaders
using HLSL. These shaders will encompass various lighting and texture mapping
techniques, and will be incorporated into a custom C++ rendering engine. This
rendering system will be used to draw static and animated models to exercise
your shaders “in-game” and allow for the creation and manipulation of lights.
In the last section of this course you will implement a custom memory
- Production Specialization - Media Distribution
Theory and practical application of videogame messaging, advertisement and distribution. Students will focus on one of two areas: Game Design or Technical Design. In Game Design III, students will grasp a thorough understanding of the game development industry from a marketing perspective, as well as develop additional tangible assets for their personal portfolios. Students will learn about marketing requirements by embarking upon the process of writing a marketing plan for their capstone projects. Students will learn basic level construction skill through lectures and creation of a personal level, as well as targeted advanced design through a game design documentation assignment. Technical Design III will continue bolstering programming skills but also move beyond into other abilities. System design, game balance, and artificial intelligence are added. Assignments are small gam projects that stress the value of learning an additional programming language, how to implement a third party API, and working with other people's code.
Semester Four (6 credit hours)
Students must select one practicum:
- Digital Venture Practicum
Stimulate a start-up venture, whether it is a small team or a sole proprietorship. Provide an environment whereby students can learn through experimentation and feedback from peers and target market sampling. The final will include an investor business plan and product presentation. Course attendance will include lectures, presentations, workshops and reviews. Individual team meetings will be assigned with faculty and advisors. Enable students to understand the many moving parts of a legal entity or business; whether the market and distribution complexities, software licensing choices, fixed assets, IP, contract and financial management. Assist students in building a discipline of continuous testing and improvement.
- Game Design Practicum
Students can do a supervised internship in interactive entertainment industry in an approved work setting. Your actual work hours will be determined by your intern employment contract. At the conclusion of your internship, you will present a self-assessment of your work to your peers.
Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see finaid.ucf.edu/, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances.
Key points about financial support:
- If you are interested in financial assistance, you are strongly encouraged to apply for admission early. A complete application for admission, including all supporting documents, must be received by the priority date listed for your program under "Admissions."
- You must be admitted to a graduate program before the university can consider awarding financial assistance to you.
- If you want to be considered for loans and other need-based financial assistance, review the UCF Student Financial Assistance website at finaid.ucf.edu and complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, which is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Apply early and allow up to six weeks for the FAFSA form to be processed.
- UCF Graduate Studies awards university graduate fellowships, with most decisions based on nominations from the colleges and programs. To be eligible for a fellowship, students must be accepted as a graduate student in a degree program and be enrolled full-time. University graduate fellowships are awarded based on academic merit and therefore are not affected by FAFSA determination of need.
- Please note that select fellowships do require students to fill out a fellowship application (either a university fellowship application, an external fellowship application, or a college or school fellowship application). For university fellowship applications, see UCF Graduate Fellowships.
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