CS 2501: Introduction to Game Programming and Design

Course Website: # - Taught: 2015, 2024

This course is an introductory course in video game design and creation. We will focus on both the design and technical aspects of creating a game, from concept inception and prototyping through coding and playtesting. There will be a heavy focus on playing games and evaluating them. Students will also create games in the course using game building tools, such as GB Studio.

Enrollment Information

  • This course is for non-computing majors ONLY. BACS, BSCS, and CPE students interested in computer game design should take CS 4730 instead.
  • CS minors can take this course, but it does not count toward their minor requirements.
  • The enforced prerequisite for this course is any introductory programming class. This includes all intro CS courses, but also includes introductory Python courses offered from Physics, Statistics, etc.
  • To apply for enrollment, request permission of instructor through SIS during registration. Make sure to include information about your major (or intended major), your programming background, and your interest in the course.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the social and ethical context in which video games are developed, marketed, and played;
  • Be introduced to the technologies and platforms upon which modern interactive video games are developed;
  • Be able to evaluate and discuss a game’s design elements;
  • Be familiar with core concepts in game creation, such as game AI, physics and collision detection, character and level design, world building, and game balancing.

Required Games

For this class, students will be required to play two different games that we will analyze throughout the semester. These games are subject to change before the class begins. Students will choose other games to play as well for various assignments.

A Short Hike by adamgryuCeleste by Maddy Makes Games
A Short Hike Title CardCeleste Title Card
Available at: itch.io, Steam, Nintendo eShop, and other platformsAvailable at: itch.io, Steam, Nintendo eShop, and other platforms
Objective: Complete the main story of the gameObjective: Complete through the beginning of Chapter 4 with and/or without assists turned on
Estimated time to complete: 2 hoursEstimated time to complete: 3 hours

Other games under consideration:

  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale
  • Papers Please
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • Firewatch
  • Gone Home
  • Kentucky Route Zero
  • Her Story
  • The Stanley Parable
  • What the Golf?
  • Unpacking
  • Dorfromantik

General Topic List

  • What is a game?
  • Mechanics, Dyanmics, Aesthetics
  • Formal Elements of Games
  • Physics and Collision Detection
  • Character and Level Design
  • World Building
  • Game Balancing
  • Game AI
  • Input and User Experience
  • Playtesting

Tentative Assessment Plan

  • Three game building homework assignments
  • One game project (with a partner)
  • Two 4-5 page papers
  • “Random Encounter” single-question pop quizzes
  • Midterm Exam
  • Final Exam