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Video Game Design

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on June 2, 2013 at 5:48:14 pm

Welcome to the Video Game Design class wiki page. We will use this page in class to link to various resources. In addition, some of the class assignments will be posted here if you are interested in working on them at home. Material will be posted as we cover it and the most recent will be at the top. For your reference, here is the class syllabus.


Love playing video games? Do you have an idea for the next great game? In Video Game design you’ll learn the basics of computer programming while exploring the tools and technology used to create various types of computer games including 2D, 3D, mobile, RPG, and even Kinect (body-controlled) games. We will experience the complex process of game creation from start to finish. No programming knowledge is required for the course; you will learn as you go.
> Want to learn more about programming a computer? Check out the Learn to Program page.


In Video Game Design, students gain knowledge and skills in basic computer programming. Video Games are designed just like any other computer software; there is a set process that all software engineers go through. In this class we will explore this development process as well as the tools and technologies software engineers use to develop video games. In addition, we will explore the art of video game design. What makes a game fun? How do you make a game challenging but not impossibly frustrating? What is it that makes a blockbuster game?

Throughout the semester, students will explore and learn several different game development platforms. After learning the basics of each, students will develop a prototype video game following the software development process – starting at brainstorming and design all the way through testing.


Interested in Video Game Design as a Career?

Most programmers in the industry have a college degree in computer science or related field. There are some exceptions, but these lucky few have found some other way to get the hiring companies attention (like programming an award winning game). Just being good at using a computer isn't enough. You'll want to plan on college.

But which college? Here are some ideas:

Top 10 Gaming Schools

Top 12 Universities and Certificate Programs in Games Programming (UT Austin is #1)

U.S. Colleges, Universities, Art and Trade Schools Offering Video Game Courses, Certificates and Degree Programs

Video Game Design Schools - This site has general information as well on careers in game design



Video Game Reviews

In order to be able to create great games, you've got to understand what makes a good game good and a bad game bad. The only way to do this is to play some games. Pick three online (web-based games) and, after playing them, write a separate review for each game. The review doesn't have to be long, but it should be specific.
> To enter reviews go to the Video Game Review page.
> To view the list of reviewed games, open the List of Video Game Reviews.

Sites to Find Games to Review


Understanding Games

Understanding Games is series of four games explaining the basic concepts of video games. The tutorial-style episodes deal with rules, motivation, learning and identification in video games. The player is guided through each episode by the narrators Bob and Bub, who explain core concepts of games to the player. The player can experience these concepts directly while playing the integrated games.

Episode 1 - Rules

Episode 2 - Motivation

Episode 3 - Learning

Episode 4 - Identification



We start with a Minecraft unit to experience first hand the engineering design process. The students get super excited. It may seem like all fun and games, but there are some great engineering applications to the building aspect of Minecraft - they can actually build some very complex working machines (like working pianos, roller coasters, etc). The students compete in 4 person challenges that are judged and quality and creativity.


GameStar Mechanic

We use Gamestar Mechanic to learn the basics of game development as well as learn more about the 5 elements of video game development. In Gamestar Mechanic, you go on Quests that power up your game design skills and let you earn items you can use to make your own games. You make original games with a powerful, easy-to-use design tool and a library of hundreds of sprites. You can even publish your games and connect with a community of over 250,000 designers whose games have been played over 5 million times.



Kodu Game Lab is for building games! Kodu is a programming environment designed by Microsoft for Windows and the Xbox 360. Kodu enables you to build games using a series of visual elements in a rich 3D environment, without having to learn a single line of code.

For more information, including our class assignments and demo code, see the our Kodu page.



Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web. As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

For more information, including our class assignments and demo projects, see the our Scratch page.


MIT App Inventor

App Inventor is a visual, drag-and-drop tool for building mobile apps on the Android platform. You design the user interface (the visual appearance) of an app using a web-based graphical user interface (GUI) builder, then you specify the app’s behavior by piecing together “blocks” as if you were working on a puzzle. App Inventor dramatically lowers the barriers to creating apps for Android phones and devices. 

For more information, including our class assignments and demo projects, see the our App Inventor page.


Other Game Building Engines

In addition to the above class projects, we will explore several different game development engines as time permits. Some may include (all/most are free to use or download):

  • 001 Game Creator - Develop RPG, Tower Defense, and 2D platformers
  • Stencyl - Stencyl helps you create iOS and Flash games in a flash with or without coding.
  • GameMaker - Another commericial-quality game creation tool

For a complete list, see the Video Game Builders page

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