Department of Cognitive Science

Game Development II

97904 ARTS-4960-01
96957 COGS-4960-01
96806 CSCI-4969-01

Wednesdays 2PM-5:50PM
Troy 2012

Instructor: Marc Destefano
Office: Sage 3118
Email: destem [at] the usual
Office Hours: Mondays, 1-3PM

Course Description: This new topics class is a natural extension of Game Development, which must be taken beforehand. You and your team will create one large-scale 3D game over the course of the semester according to a milestone deliverable schedule modeled after the game industry. We will use the same tools from Game Development - artists will use Maya to model, texture, rig, and animate more advanced assets, and programmers will use Unity to create the behavior of the world, including physics and artificial intelligence. Your game will be presented at the annual GameFest symposium, to be judged by industry experts.

Learning Outcomes: The objective is to take a pragmatic approach to learning teamwork, communication, and development skills. This will be useful whenever you need to create something within an interdisciplinary group.

Course Policies

Preparation and Attendance: This is a hands-on course. Attendance is mandatory. You are a member of a team, and constant communication with your team is necessary. It is not sufficient to "get your assignment,” skip class for two weeks, and show up when it's due. Requirements and designs change often, and you must keep up with the most current design, as well as contribute ideas of your own. There will be no "grunt workers" in this class. There will also be numerous peer evaluation periods, where everyone evaluates everyone else's work, and you are expected to attend.

Academic Honesty: Student relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. Students must be able to trust that their teachers have made responsible decisions about the structure and content of the course and that they are conscientiously making their best effort to help students learn. Teachers must be able to trust that students do their work conscientiously and honestly making their best effort to learn. Acts that violate this mutual respect and trust undermine the educational process. They counteract our very reason for being here at Rensselaer and will not be tolerated. Any student who engages in any form of academic dishonesty will receive an F in this course and will be reported to the Dean of Students for further disciplinary action. The Rensselaer Handbook has defined various forms of Academic Dishonesty and procedures for responding to them. All of these forms are violations of trust between students and teachers. Please familiarize yourself with this portion of the handbook.

Gender-fair language: Because the way we speak and write affects the way we think, everyone in this course is expected to use gender-fair language in all discussions and writing. A guide to gender-fair language is available from the Writing Center and from the Library.

Grading: Once the final GDD and TDD are submitted (see below), I will give each team a deliverables schedule. For each milestone, there will be a collection of "To Do" items to establish a particular group grade, which will count as a anchor for that milestone's total grade. (i.e., "Do X to get a C, do X and Y to get a B, and do X, Y and Z to get an A." Your individual grade will be modified by the specific individual tasks you have accomplished, some of which will set forth in the deliverables schedule.

Percentage of Grade
1st Playable
Beta (Postmortem)


Assignments/Milestones: We will only meet a total of 13 times before GameFest, so it is very important to meet milestone deadlines. The milestones are as follows:

GDD - Game Design Document. This is typically a ten-page paper describing the mechanics of gameplay in terms of goals, tools, and obstacles. It includes concept art and some storyboarding.

TDD - Technical Design Document. This is typically a ten-page paper discussing the architecture by which the game will be constructed. Includes major class and method descriptions.

Prototype - The mechanics that define the core gameplay are in place and running. Initial player handling is defined. No need for menus, options, bells/whistles, or fancy art. In fact, there will be virtually no finished art - characters can be represented by blue boxes, as long as those blue boxes behave properly.

1st Playable - Player handling (interface) refined, includes at least one full level. Contains some special effects, and includes some enemies with accompanying AI.

Alpha - Game is feature complete. Contains all levels and content, game can be played from start to finish. May still contain minimal placeholder art. Buggy!

Beta - Finished! (or so you think) No obvious or glaring bugs. This is where you would send the game for final QA and external testing before declaring it to be Gold.

Class Schedule

Jan 25 Orientation, Team Assignment, Initial Brainstorming
Feb 1 Design Refinement
Feb 8 Preliminary Design Presentation/Review
Feb 15 Final GDD & TDD Due
Feb 22 Studio - Deliverables scheduled
Feb 29 Studio
Mar 7 Prototype Presentation
Mar 21 Studio
Mar 28 Studio
Apr 4 First Playable Presentation
Apr 11 Studio
Apr 18 Studio
Apr 25 Alpha Presentation
Apr 28 (Sat) GameFest
May 2 Postmortem Presentation


Department of Cognitive Science
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Carnegie 108
110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180
Phone: (518) 276-6472
Fax: (518) 276-8268