CS/INFO 3152: Introduction to Computer Game Development

Assignment 13
Game Manual

Due: Saturday, April 22nd at 11:59 pm

Your final (formal) document for this class is the game manual. The manual is intended to provide a quick tutorial of the game, so that the player can get started immediately. For this first draft of the manual, we are not requiring that you finalize all artwork (in fact, it is common for artwork to still be in flux up until Showcase).


Designing your Game Manual

While printed manuals are certainly going away, most games still have a some form of manual. It may be an interactive set of instructions in the game, or a PDF file that ships with the game. Despite trends towards interactive instructions, we are going to stick with the latter format. You need to be able to design a classic game manual before you move on to a something more complicated, like an interactive manual.

The format of your game manual is largely up to you. One of the design TAs can help you with layout suggestions if you need help. You should also look at many of the examples below for inspiration.

With that said, there are some "minimum requirements" for your game manual. Your manual should contain (at a bare minimum) the following information.


System Requirements

What are the minimum system requirements for your game. While you have probably not tested it out on all systems, you should try to make a reasonable guess. OS requirements are particularly important.


Installation

Even though this game is in Java, not everyone has the same Java VM or the appropriate OpenGL libraries. Therefore we recommend that you use packr to create an installer for your game. However, if you are free to use other solutions. But whatever you do, you must have the installation instructions clearly explained here.


Basic Objectives

You should provided an overview of your game and identity the basic objectives. This is a really good place to put some backstory if you wish.


Gameplay and Controls

You should outline the primary actions and show how the user activates them (e.g. keyboard, mouse, gamepad, etc.). While interactions are less important, it is a good idea to highlight the major game entities, and describe how the player interacts with them.


Credits

The last page of your manual should be the credits. List everyone on your team and their role (to the best approximation). In addition, if you used any third party assets or libraries that require attribution, you should list them here as well. This is particularly important for audio assets; most of the Newgrounds audio library requires that you acknowledge the music in the credits.


Examples

Manuals have not changed too much in this class, and so we have plenty of examples to show you. All of the manuals below have a very different style, and illustrate the amount of freedom that you have in designing your manual.

Dash

You should be very familiar with the 2014 Showcase Winner Dash by now. In addition to being one of the most recent manuals here, it is one of the most beautiful manuals ever designed for this class.

Arc-en-Ciel

Arc-en-Ciel was the audience favorite at the 2015 Showcase. This is a much more flowery manual than the one for Dash; you should not be compelled to have this much art. However, it has fantastic installation instructions, and it should be the model for your game.

Dodgeball Damnation

Dodgeball Damnation was another popular game at the 2015 Showcase. While we are not a fan of the messy links in the installation section, the description of the controls is excellent. Notice how well the images work together with the text.

Graviscape

Graviscape was a puzzle platformer at the 2013 Showcase. The manual is very minimal, but elegant. It introduces the controls and all of the major gameplay elements to the player. This is the type of manual you should be striving for.

ChronoBot

The manual for ChronoBot is one favorite manuals from the "old days" (back when this class was called CIS 3000). It is a very minimal manual, combined with some elegant graphic design. It shows that you can have a high quality manual without a lot of text or art.

Lifted

We have used Lifted as an example for many of the documents in this class. This game had a great artist who was also talented at design and it really showed all of the way through the project.

Reflexio

The Winner of the 2011 Winter Showcase, Reflexio was a game that was easy to pick up and play, as reflected by this manual. Another nice thing to note about this manual is that it is formatted so that it can be printed out and stapled into a booklet.

Ensembler

The Director's Choice game for the 2011 Winter Showcase, Ensembler was a rhythm game for conducting classical music. Because the style of this game was so different from anything anyone had seen before, players needed more guidance on how to play the game. This is evident from the explicit tutorials in this manual.


Submission

Due: Saturday, April 22nd at 11:59 pm

You should submit a PDF file called manual.pdf representing your game manual. As usual, we ask that the file be a PDF so that we can annotate it in order to return it to you with feedback for possible revision. More importantly, we are expecting some art assets in this manual, so you will need to use PDF for that reason as well.

As with every other document in this course, this is not the final draft of your manual. You will get another chance to revise this manual for final document portfolio. However, because we are so close to that assignment, there is no chance for intermediate revisions before that assignment. Therefore, this assignment is different from the rest. For the game manual "final" document portfolio is actually just another draft. The final, final version of your game manual is to be submitted at Showcase.