CS/INFO 3152: Introduction to Computer Game Development

Frequently Asked Questions
and Frequently Answered Answers

Who can take the course, and what are the prerequisites?

CS/INFO 3152 is primarily divided into two tracks, each of which has its own prerequisites.

Programmers
CS 2110. While the programming in this course is in C#, and not Java, these languages are similar enough that you should be able to get up to speed quickly. See the course resources or the programming TAs if you need more help.

Designers
Some ability with graphic design or drawing, and (preferably) experience with Photoshop or Illustrator. We are primarily interested in technical ability; the requirements for artistic ability are not very high. INFO 2450 is highly recommended.

In previous semesters, we allowed musicians to take the class. While you are still welcome to work on original music for your game, everyone must still sign up for one of the two tracks above; the track determines the labs that you must take.

Students enrolled in the CS course must take the programming track. INFO students are allowed to choose either track.


How is the course graded?

This course is project-based. Therefore, the majority of the grading is going to be at the group level. To make sure that individuals are assessed fairly, we have a sophisticated assessment policy to determine your contribution to the team. Part of your grade is assigned individually, while the other part of your grade is assigned as a group (e.g. all members receive the same grade regardless of effort).

Group Grade

Game Grade (25%)
The game grade is determined entirely at Showcase, and reflects the quality of your finished product on the following scale.
  • A: Game is well-made and fun to play
  • B: Game is stable, but less fun than it could be
  • C: Game is not fun at all, or too buggy to play
D's and F's are for extreme problems and handled on a case-by-case basis.

Course Documents (20%)
As part of the development cycle, you will write many specification documents. These are graded writing-seminar style, with many opportunities for revision.

Presentations (5%)
Every two weeks, your group will present an the progress that you have made on your game. Initial presentations are graded pass-fail. Later presentations are graded according to how your group responded to earlier feedback.

Individual Grade

Game Grade (25%)
By default this is the same as your group game grade. However, it may be adjusted by your peer evaluations. Individuals that contributed the most work or the most vision may receive a higher grade. Individuals that cause conflict or create "negative work" will receive lower grades. D's and F's are reserved for individuals that abandon their group in the middle of the project.

Game Labs (20%)
These labs from the first four weeks of class serve as a "boot-camp" for the game development issues in your area of expertise. They also help us gauge your individual ability as we give your group guidance throughout the semester.

Attendance (5%)
We will not take attendance every class. In particular, we will not take attendance during lectures. But attendance is mandatory during in-class presentations whether your group is presenting or not. We have had problems with this in past semesters, and so this is now part of your grade. Critiquing the work of your classmates is an important part of this course.

Who owns the games made in this class?

Your group retains all ownership of any game that you make in this class. It is Cornell policy that students own their own work. You are free to make derivative works and commercialize any project that you create.

However, as a student in this class, you agree to give Cornell a non-exclusive license for the game as it is submitted at Showcase. Cornell has the right to distribute that version of the game (and only that version) for promotional and non-commercial purposes.


How does the academic integrity policy apply to this class?

All students are reminded that they are expected to adhere to the academic integrity policy for any course at Cornell. The primary concern in this course is the improper use of copyrighted materials. You may not use any material — such as software libraries, art, or music — that prohibits Cornell from distributing your game non-commercially. Improper usage of copyrighted materials is a violation of the code of academic integrity, and will be treated as such.

This is particularly important if you use the Newgrounds Audio Library to add audio and music to your game. You must follow the licensing terms for any material that you use. Most of the time, this requires credit in your game. In that case, you must credit the rights holder in both you game manual and in the game itself.


When and where does the class meet?

We are piloting a new classroom for the semester: Upson 361. Some of you may recognize this classroom as the old CSUG lab. There are plans to remodel this into classroom into a design studio, and we will be showing off our class to the architects so that they can figure out how to remodel.

Both the labs and the lectures will be held in Upson 361 (we are no longer using CL3). Lectures are MWF 10:10-11:00 and include everyone. Labs, on the other hand, are assigned by section; they are TuTh 11:15-12:05 or 12:20-1:10.


How do project teams work?

Students usually work in teams of about 5-6 people. The course staff picks the teams by matching people according to the interests they indicate. The staff also tries to accommodate "pre-made" teams, but we cannot guarantee that you'll always be able to work with a particular person. Experienced artists, in particular, are a precious commodity and often need to be reassigned to balance out teams.


Does this course fulfill the technical writing credit?

CS/INFO 3152 does fulfill Engineering's technical writing credit. It does not matter whether you are in CS or INFO. You must attend all Communication Labs to earn credit. We will discuss this more in the Communication Labs.


What does CS/INFO 3152 count for?

This course satisfies a lot of requirements, which is one of the things that makes it so popular (well, that and games). You should be sure to sign up for the version of the course that best meets your needs.

Both the CS and INFO courses count towards the primary course in the game-design minor at Cornell. They also both count for the technical writing credit in the School of Engineering.

The CS course is one of the special electives for the graphics vector in the computer science major. You cannot take the INFO course and satisfy this vector requirement.

The INFO course may count as an elective in either the Information Systems track or the Human-Centered Systems track. You may chose either track regardless of your role on your team (e.g. designers who do no programming may still get Information Systems credit).


Can I be a TA?

We employ undergraduates TA as staff to help us deal with the course. Because of budget pressures, we are trying to reduce the number of TAs that we use (previous semesters used upwards of 10). Currently we are looking at 3-4 programming TAs and 1 or 2 designer TAs. As our TAs graduate, we need to fill these spots. In order to qualify for a TA position, you must have taken CS/INFO 3152 and CS/INFO 4152. Check back with the course staff at the end of the semester for TAship opportunities.


For other questions, please check out the labs, homeworks, and past projects on this site and the GDIAC site, or contact the course staff.