DESMA 171: Worldbuilding                                                                         Professor: Eddo Stern

Winter 2020, UCLA Design Media Arts                                                    TA: Miles peyton

Monday, Wednesday 9:00am – 11:50am

Broad Art Center room 4240


Office Hours @ UCLA GAME LAB ROOM 3252

Miles : TBD

Eddo : Wednesday 1:00 - 3:00 by appointment


Course Description:

Worldbuilding is an art that has been around for thousands of years as a central component in ancient mythologies, theologies and cosmologies. Worldbuilding is thriving in our contemporary landscape within the contexts of theme parks, computer games, TV series, comics, serialized fiction, and “transmedia” marketing enterprise (..and their discontents...). Worldbuilding often functions as the foundation for storytelling (and is especially prevalent in genre fiction such as fantasy horror and science fiction).n You can think of worldbuilding as the process of creating a framework where narrative has the potential to unfold.

The course will cover worldbuilding concepts and techniques through written assignments, class presentations, discussions, technical demos and an ongoing multi-component creative project. The focus will be on building rich and compelling navigable environments using software, visuals, sound and text as well as printed/physical materials. Students will be using the Unity3D game engine as the primary worldbuilding tool as well as any additional image making  tools of their preference.

Weekly Overview:

Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 Proposals

Week 3 Technical demos

Week 4-5 World Atlas, work towards midterm

Week 6 Midterm reviews

Week 7-8-9 Work towards Final

Week 10 Finishing touches, Final Presentations, Submit documentation



Worldbuilding is a 5 unit upper division studio class, you are expected to work 6 hours a week in class and 9 hours a week outside of class. We expect to see significant weekly progress on your project reflecting the work you are doing outside of class. This class is a prototypical “Studio” class - your focus should be on gradually and methodically building your project week by week.

* It may be helpful if you keep a log tracking  how many hours you are working on your project every week.







Grading Breakdown:

Project Proposals (10%)

3 x Written Assignments and attending department lecture(s) (15%)

Midterm Review (25%)

Finished Project Submission (%40)

Class Participation (10%)

Extra Credit Physical Component (++%)

Creative projects, presentations and reviews are graded based on these parameters:


*project scope/ambition/amount of work

*attention to detail/craft ( bugs, visual artifacts, spelling )


All Assignments uploaded to the class website before the beginning of class time on the day they are due.

Late projects and assignments will drop one letter grade, and will not be accepted if more than one week late.


Attendance Policy:

More than 1 unexcused absence will lower your final grade.

For example if your work earned an A- grade, absences will affect your final grade as follows:

2 unexcused absences lower the final grade by a fraction (A- becomes a B+)

3 unexcused absences lower the final grade by a fraction  (A- becomes a B)
*4 or more unexcused absences will result in a non passing grade for the class.

* If you find that external struggles and challenges are affecting your ability to attend class please reach out to us ( Eddo or Miles). We want you to be successful in the class but we care about your well being more than anything else.

Please arrive in class at 9:00 am and sign your name to the attendance sheet.

You will be marked late if you arrive between 9:10-10:00 am.

Two late marks equate to one absence

You will be marked absent If you arrive after 10:00 am.

Please refrain from using your cellphone in class, we will have a 15 minute break each class session where you can use your phone.

Additionally please use the class time to work on your project for this class. If you have another project from another class that may intersect with our class  project, please discuss with the Professor or TA if it may be appropriate for you to combine some of your work for both classes.


Appropriation and Fair Use:

In this class, as a general rule we expect you to create all of your own audio, visual and textual content. If you would like to use any materials that you did not create yourself, please make sure to discuss your usage ahead of time with the Professor or the TA, there are certain cases and projects where appropriation is acceptable and...appropriate.... It is likely that most sound effects not created by you would be fine to use in your work, but please check with us first.




171 Weekly Schedule

Week 1

Monday Jan 6

Student Introductions

Class Overview

Previous Student Work

Wednesday Jan 8

Worldbuilding Lecture (Eddo)

Worldbuilding Lecture(Miles)

Worldbuilding Projects: Eddo/Miles

Handout: Project Proposals+plans

Week 2

Monday Jan 13

Student Presentations

Due: Project Proposals

Wednesday Jan 15

Unity Basics Demo
3D assets  importing demo

Atlases, Dictionaries, Guides and Maps

Week 3

Monday Jan 20

Tues Jan 21: Masaki Fujitaka Lecture 6pm EDA
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
*** NO CLASS ***

Wednesday Jan 22

Tues Jan 21: Masaki Fujitaka Lecture 6pm EDA

Visual workflow demos

2D: Scanning, Scaling, Mesh Creator

3D: Photogrammetry, 3D scanning,VR output

Week 4

Monday Jan 27

Work in Class

Due: Masaki Fujitake Feedback

Wednesday Jan 29

More workflow demos

Sound demos

Due: World Atlas: Maps, Dictionaries, guides .

Week 5

Monday Feb 3

Work in Class
Advanced Lighting Demo

Wednesday Feb 5

TBD In-class  Guest: Afro Futurist Podcast!
Work in Class

Handout: Midterm Reviews

Week 6

Monday Feb 10

Midterm Reviews (Group A)

Due: Midterm Review Builds A

Wednesday Feb 12

Midterm Reviews (Group B)

Due: Midterm Review Builds B

Handout: Final Project Submissions

Week 7

Monday Feb 17
Tues Feb 18: Chico MacMurtie Lecture 6pm EDA

  Presidents’ Day holiday

*** NO CLASS ***

Wednesday Feb 19
Tues Feb 18: Chico MacMurtie Lecture 6pm EDA

Work in Class

Week 8

Monday Feb 24

Work in Class

Due: Chico MacMurtie Feedback

Wednesday Feb 26

Work in Class

Week 9

Monday Mar 2

Work in Class

Wednesday Mar 4

Work in Class

Week 10

Monday Mar 9

Work in Class


Wednesday Mar 11

Final Project Presentations

Due: Final Project Submissions  + Final Atlas

Week 11

Monday March 16
Due: Documentation: Videos and Builds