Launched in September 2003, the North West Institute for Further and Higher Education in Derry (NWIFHE) offers a one year Higher National Certificatein Interactive Computing Entertainment (ICE). It is aimed at students who wish to work in the computer games industry. Stuents get to work use Torc Interactive’s Instinct Engine.

Induction (To include introduction to games industry and history)
3D Game Project (Value 2 Units) Spans 2 semesters and culminates in 3D game demo with audio.
Semester 1 (4 single value units)
Introduction to Programming for Games
Mathematics for Games Programming
2D Graphics and Engine Tools
Computer Game Fundamentals
Semester 2 (4 single value units)
Development Using 3D Engine
3D Game Programming
3D Computer Graphics for Games
Computer Music Production
Description of units
An understanding of the general principles and concepts of programming underpins much of the knowledge in any course in computing or IT.
Being a core unit, this seeks to provide the fundamental ideas and opportunities to develop and reinforce basic programming skills. Students will develop programs of increasing complexity, using Microsoft Visual C++. The skills learned are transferable to other areas within the ICT industry but will be geared towards programming sprite based platform games. In doing so, students will become familiar with all the concepts involved in programming games.
This unit is an introduction to some of the mathematical concepts and techniques which will be required by games programmers. To develop the mathematical skills necessary for games programming the following areas are covered:
– Understand number systems and their role in games programming
– Gain an understanding of the elementary techniques of algebra and geometry:
Introduce the ideas of matrices and vectors and define the abstract structure of a vector space:
– Gain an understanding of the mathematical concepts and methods used for games programming:
– Interpret sets and propositions given in mathematical notation.
– Understand the use of Exponentials in games programming
– The unit aims are to allow the student to appreciate the mathematical knowledge required for games programming and prepare him/her for more advanced concepts of mathematics in relation to games programming.

2D Graphics and Engine Tools
The aim of this unit is twofold: to create and manipulate 2D digital graphics and sprites and to use these in a 2D engine to produce a simple game.
This will involve
– Accessing, handling and working with images.
– Demonstrating the ability to use image manipulation tools and techniques.
– Demonstrating the ability to manipulate images in a 2D game development tool.
– Creating a fully functional 2D game using a 2D Engine.

Computer Game Fundamentals
– In this unit students will learn the history of computer games and research milestones in both software and platforms. They will consider how ideas, information and feelings can be conceptualised, transformed and conveyed through narrative descriptions and story boarding techniques.

Students will be able to transfer historical knowledge and research to applications developed in other units.

This module will concentrate on techniques commonly used in computer games production and on the common ground that most object-oriented programming languages share.
The module will also introduce 3D and Audio APIs, available as COM (Component Object Model) objects. E.g. DirectX and OpenGL. These APIs provide objects and functions for developing real-time, high-performance graphics applications on the Windows platform.
3D Computer Graphics for Games
This unit aims to give the student an understanding of the principles and practical applications of 3D computer modelling and animation using 3D Studio Max, an industry standard 3D Graphics application. The unit will enable students to visualise and design three dimensional worlds/maps, and characters. It will provide opportunities to review the work of existing 3D environments and characters.

Development Using 3D Engine
Most commercial game development companies will either create or use an existing 3D Game Engine. Engines are basically APIs that sit between graphics libraries, such as DirectX and OpenGL, and a completed 3D game. While the 3D Game Programming unit introduces students to graphics libraries, this unit will introduce a commercial 3D game engine.
Students will gain an understanding of the general principles of building a 3D game in the way that industry expects. They will learn how to put a game together using components such as the level editor, materials editor, artificial intelligence editor and physics engine.
While some of the outcomes from this unit are similar to other units the method of producing them are different. Students learn the fundamentals of a 3D engine in the 3D Game Programming unit and make use of them in this unit.
Computer Music Production
The aim of this unit is to analyse and apply the techniques and procedures involved in the production of music involving computers and related technologies. It examines a range of hardware and software options with a view to integrating them within the production process and the individual creative resource.
Audio samples produced in this unit can be used in the 3D Game project.
This unit will form a central part in the development of the student’s ability to link and integrate the knowledge and skills acquired during the programme to produce a fully functional one level game. The unit will encourage team work but assessment will be based on individual work.

Students will undertake a complete and realistic project and successfully complete it within the time constraint imposed, working within a group and individually when necessary. The project will span all the lifecycle stages for the development of a computer game, from planning to story-boarding, implementation and maintenance. The project may be assigned by the college or by the students and agreed by the college.
Location: Strand Road, LondonDerry, Northern Ireland.
Course: Higher National Certificate in Interactive Computer Entertainment
Duration: 1 year