Interactive Media & Game Development
Worcester Polytechnic Institute


IMGD 1001: The Game Development Process
Project 3: Asset List and Content Creation

Due date: Monday, September 17, by 10:00am


This is the third project that your team will complete in working towards creating a functioning video game. This project focuses on the content (as opposed to the code) that must be created for a game, along with the decisions and tradeoffs that go into its creation. Don't worry if no one on your team is an experienced artist - you will be graded more on your ideas and effort than on your execution.

You must use GameMaker for your game.

The main objectives for this project are:

  1. Write a vision statement
  2. Create an Asset List Spreadsheet
  3. Select and gather your assets


Creativity is a wonderful thing, but creativity must be constrained by sound planning and decision-making in order to produce artwork in a timely fashion. With deadlines to meet and only finite resources (time and money) to put towards creating content, tradeoffs between quality and quantity must be made. Your team will have to decide where to focus your efforts and where to streamline your aspirations. Given an array of artists with individual creative visions, rational stylistic decisions must be made in order to unify their combined effort. Your team will need to make decisions that will guide the overall visual and aural coherence of your game's content.

Planning is just as important in creating content as it is in any other aspect of game development. Changing the design of a character during the concept stage will cost a few hours of time at the drawing board, while changing the design of a character that has already been animated will cost you both the weeks that went into the first revision, as well as the weeks it will take to make the next revision. Similarly, making technical decisions that will change the nature of content needed for a game can be very costly if made later in the development cycle. Switching from MIDI- to OGG-based music, or switching from bump-mapped to normal-mapped textures can incur a significant cost in both lost old work and required new work. The purpose of this assignment is to familiarize your team with some of the decision making and trade-offs that go into creating content for a game, so that you will be able to make better decisions earlier in the content development cycle.


For this project, you should continue to work with the group that you formed for the previous project. Each group will be responsible for identifying, selecting and creating an array of content to be used in a sprite-based game (for use with GameMaker) of their design. You will also be required to make your artistic choices explicit by writing a brief document explaining your decisions.

Your first task will be to write a short statement (100 to 250 words) describing the "artistic vision" for your game. This is the "soft plan" for your game's content. Describe the motifs, styles, colors, sounds and textures in any way you see fit. Feel free to reference movies, games, places or anything else that may evoke the feel you wish to capture with your content. Rough sketches of characters or settings may also be used, but are not required. The most important thing is that your description is clear enough that, if you were to hand it to several independently contracted artists, they would all return with similar work.

Your second task will be to identify all of the assets that you would need for the full version of your game: sprites, tiles, sound effects, music, icons, etc. You will use spreadsheet software (e.g., Excel) for this. You are to document functional requirements for these assets (sprite size, number of frames and types of animations, length of sound loops, etc.) to as much detail as you can, using ranges of possible values where you are unsure. This is the "hard plan" for your game's content.

Your third task will be to select content for use in your game. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to have time for your team to generate all the content needed for your game this term. You are to briefly describe how your selections fit your artistic and functional requirements, as well as justify the use of selections that fall short of your requirements. In Resources the section below, free to use other content, so long as you accurately document where the content sources came from and how they are licensed, as appropriate.

Last, but not least, your team will be required to generate a small amount of original artwork. Your team will be responsible for creating at least 40 assets for your prototype. This could take the form of a single sprite (hint: one sprite that can face in four directions with five frames of animation per direction is 5x4=20 frames of animation), or it could be tiles, icons, sound effects or any combination of at least 40 assets that fit your functional requirements. The artistic quality of your team's artwork is less important than the fact that the assets are your team's original creation. Do not turn in any copyrighted images or third-party work for this part of the assignment. Even an original piece of art that was modified is not appropriate for this part of the project. The work should be completely original.


Your group is responsible for turning in documents containing all of the following: your statement of artistic vision, your functional content requirements, your listing of content to be used and justifications thereof. In addition to this documentation, your team must also submit the original content that has been created for your game in whatever format is appropriate. The required sections are as follows:

Artistic Vision Your statement of artistic vision should be 100-250 words long and describe the general "look and feel" of your game's content. There is no specific format that this document must take; your only requirement is to effectively communicate the "soft" requirements of your game's content. You may reference existing works (movies, games, etc.) as inspirational - but if you do be sure to make explicit which aspects and properties of these works you wish to emulate. Do not assume the reader is familiar with the examples you choose! Be explicit what aspects of each you are drawing from. You may include representative descriptions or sketches of specific characters, environments, interfaces, etc. - but only do so for the purpose of including an example that will indicate the overall style (the purpose of this document is not to fully describe the style of the entire game). You may use any other means of written communication that unambiguously describes what you wish to artistically achieve - for instance, you may quote poetry if it evokes a specific enough sensory experience.

Here is a sample vision document.

Functional Content Requirements This should be a full artistic specification, with as much detail as possible, of your game's content. It is ok if these details are just best-guesses, and it is ok if you specify ranges instead of specific values. There is no specific length requirement for this section, as each game will have different content needs. There is no specific format, either, but the document must be organized and readable (prose, spreadsheet, or whatever works). Your requirements should include information about what sprites, tiles, sounds, music, images, icons, and other content your game will need. For each sprite you will need to at least specify its dimensions, the animations it will need, and the number of frames for each animation. For each icon, image or tile, you will need to at least specify its dimensions. For each sound you will need to at least specify sampling frequency. For each music loop you will need to at least specify loop length (in seconds, measures, bars or whatever), and format. In all cases the content should be named as clearly as possible; it may be appropriate to include a short description of the expected style or purpose of the asset. You will use a spreadsheet to create and maintain this list. Easch asset will have its own row, and each aspect of the asset (e.g., size) will have its own column.

Here is a (short) Asset List sample spreadsheet.

And here is one from a different course at MIT.

Listing of Content Selection This section should pair up every piece of content listed in your functional requirements with the name of an asset (a file name, or a library name and sprite name, etc.) that you have acquired. Again, a spreadsheet is the right tool to use for this part. The length of this document is implied by the amount of content your game will need. You may skip the selection of assets for content that you plan on generating for this assignment, or you may select "placeholder" assets that you will use for the few days before your own content is ready.
Justification of Content Selection This section should be 100-250 words long. It should briefly explain why you chose the assets that you did, as well as describe the tradeoffs and compromises that went into making your selections. Be sure to address these topics with respect to both your "soft" and "hard" requirements.
Generated Game Asset List The content that your team generates should include 40 "assets" that can be used in GameMaker. For this assignment, count one image, tile, icon, frame-of-animation, sound-effect, or measure-of-music as one "asset". Along with your content, please submit a short inventory (as a .pdf file) that lists the files you are submitting as content, and what each contains.

Your goal should be to have complete documentation for the content aspects of the game ready for use in creating the content. The level of detail should enough so that any ambiguities are removed, and that assets can easily be integrated into the game from a technical perspective.

Submission: All documents are to be submitted electronically via turnin by 10:00am on the day the assignment is due.
Each document should list the names of every member in your group somewhere on the first page.

When you are ready to submit, zip everything up into a single archive file. Name the file

You will use new Web-based "Turnin" facility to submit your work. Information about submitting can be found here:

Choose one of your team members to submit the document.

Your WPI user ID should be used to login, and you should have been emailed a password.
The Turnin assignment ID is proj3.

Remember the policy on Academic Honesty: You may discuss the project with others, but your group is to do its own work. The official WPI statement for Academic Honesty can be accessed HERE.

Grading: All team members will receive the same grade for this assignment.
Later assignments will ask team members to rate team member performance.

Grading Guidelines
Weight 100-90 89-80 79-70 69-60 59-
Artistic Vision Document10%
Content Requirements25%
Content Selection Listing25%
Content Selection Justification10%
Original Content25%
The documents more than satisfy the length and content requirements of the project. The content requirements section expresses a clear vision. The content selection listing shows an excellent understanding of the requirements of the project and a realistic expression of the feasibility. The original content at least meets the specifications. The documents satisfy the length and content requirements of the project. The content requirements section expresses a comprehensible vision. The content selection listing shows a good understanding of the requirements of the project and the feasibility. The original content meets the specifications. The documents minimally satisfy the length and content requirements of the project. The content specifications are present but may lack specificity or feasibility. The original content may not be complete or well-organized. The documents fall short of the length and content requirements in a few place. The content requirements section may have missing parts, or is unclear. The original content is weak or missing. Organization may be lacking. The document does not satisfy the length and content requirements. Most of the required sections are missing or incomplete. The document is disorganized and difficult to read.


For a presentation summary, you might check out the slides (PowerPoint, pdf) for this project.

Possible sources for content assets:

Back to course page.