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

All programmers must have taken CS 2110. Programmers need to understand Java and working with IDEs. In addition, game programming involves the creation of a lot of custom data structures. We recommend that your team's Lead Architect be chosen from someone who has taken CS 3110.

Designers

Designers should have some ability with UX wire frames, 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 also highly recommended.

Track Restrictions

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. In particular, 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.


Is ENGRC 3152 Required?

All students enrolled in either CS or INFO 3152 must take the companion course ENGRC 3152. There is no extra meeting time for this course. It is part of the discussion sections for this class. Students who do not enroll in this course will be dropped from the main course.

This course will have its own grade, but it will not have any additional assignments. Instead, it is a structured time to work on the materials necessary for CS/INFO 3152. In addition, this course is necessary to earn credit for the School of Engineering Technical Writing Requirement.


How is CS/INFO 3152 graded?

The main course is project-based. Therefore, the majority of the grading will 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 in CATME. 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 and Group Contributions (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. Critiquing the work of your classmates is an important part of this course.

In addition, every team member is expected to contribute to the team documents, as well as provide individual reports through CATME. The latter will be part of the two week report at the end of each milestone. This will allow us to measure how well you are contributing to the team.


How is EGRC 3152 graded?

There are no new assignments for ENGRC 3152 beyond those described above. You will be graded on the documents and presentations that you make for CS/INFO 3152 and will receive the same grade that you received in that class. Hence your grade for ENGRC 3152 is essentially the same as CS/INFO 3152 except for the final project and the game labs.

The breakdown of grades for this class is tentative, but we expect it to be roughly as follows:

•  Charter & Group Reports (15%)
•  Concept Document (15%)
•  Gameplay Specification (15%)
•  Architecture Specification (15%)
•  Design Specification (15%)
•  Game Manual (15%)
•  Attendance & Presentations   (10%)

Your grades for each of these will posted in the CS/INFO 3152 CMS, as the grades will be identical to what you earned for that 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?

Because we are still waiting on them to finish our spiffy new classroom in the Upson renovation, we are out in the hinterlands this year: Savage 200. Savage Hall is the Nutritional Sciences building next to Bailey Hall. This is the location of our lectures MWF 10:10-11:15.

Why are we in this room? Because we need a room with tables and chairs that supports a projector and will hold 72 people. On the Engineering Quad, the only room like this is Olin 245 until the Upson renovation is done. We have highest priority for the new Upson classrooms.

The labs are held in Uris CL3. This class used to use this lab for many years before the move to Gates Hall. As Gates has become more and more crowed with the huge increase in majors, CL3 has been newly renovated for this class. In addition, we have access to this lab after hours for design meetings.


How do project teams work?

Students work in teams of about 5-6 people. As a general rule, each team should have at least a character designer, a UX designer, and three programmers. One of the programmers will have taken 3110, as we find that this is a necessary pre-requisite to be a lead programmer.

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 will 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?

In the past CS/INFO 3152 fulfilled the School of Engineering's Technical Writing Requirement. However, that is now fulfilled by the companion course ENGRC 3152. You will satisfy the technical writing requirement by taking that class. However, all students must take ENGC 3152, even those that do not need technical writing credit.


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. The companion course ENGRC 3152 satisfies the technical writing requirement 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. Each year we look for 3 - 4 programming TAs and 1 or 2 designer TAs. We will take students that have completed CS/INFO 3152, but give priority to students that have finished CS/INFO 4152 as well. To become a TA, fill out the online application in the Fall semester. Applications for Spring courses close at the end of November.


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