CS/INFO 4152: Advanced Topics in Computer Game Development

Frequently Asked Questions
and Frequently Answered Answers

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

CS/INFO 4152 is open to anyone who has taken CS/INFO 3152. Teams are built the same way that they are in that course, and the assignments and milestones follow the model established by that class.

In addition to CS/INFO 3152, this course has other prerequisites specific to each track.

Programmers

Programmers should have taken of the following: CS 4620, CS 4700, CS 4758, or CS 5414. We want programmers to have have taken an advance computer science course relevant to computer game development, and to apply that knowledge to this course. Students with extensive programming experience can obtain instructor permission to be exempt from these prerequisites.

Designers

Designers should have taken INFO 3450. We do not want the designers to be relegated to artists or 3D modelers. We want them to be in charge of the user experience and user testing, which is why INFO 3450 is a prerequisite. Students with extensive HCI experience can obtain instructor permission to be exempt from this requirement.

Track Restrictions

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

Masters students are exempt from all of these requirements as they are not permitted to take 3000-level courses, and are assumed to have had the relevant course-work as part of their undergraduate education. Masters of engineering students in the computer science department are permitted to take CS 4152, while professional masters students in the information science department are permitted to take INFO 4152.


How is the course graded?

This 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). For those of you who have taken CS/INFO 3152, the process may seem very similar to what we have done in the past.


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 (30%)

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 (30%)

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.

Participation and Reports (10 %)

Class participation is graded according to your contribution in during design and playtesting discussions. This grade also includes mundane factors such as attendance.

In addition, every student is expected to make regular reports through CATME. This will be part of the two week report at the end of each milestone. Students who do not fill out these reports will lose points.


Do I have to take ENGRC 4152?

All students enrolled in either CS or INFO 3152 must take the companion course ENGRC 4152. There is no extra meeting time for this course. It represents the extra discussion section 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 will be graded on a subset of the factors listed above.

  • Course Documents (70%)
  • Presentations (15%)
  • Attendance and Reports (15%)

As these are often the highest grades that you will be assigned in the course, we expect students to make higher grades in the ENGC course than in the main 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?

Unlike CS/INFO 3152, this class has historically met three times a week (long ago it used to meet only two times a week, but that was horrible). However, at the request of last year's class, we have added an extra hour. Unlike 3152, this extra hour is not for additional activities. It is simply to give you supervised time to work on the assignments you already have.

The lecture section is once again in Savage 200, our 3152 classroom from last year. While this is not a great classroom, we are still waiting on the Upson renovations for our new classroom. This is the location of our classes MWF 10:15-12:05.

The discussion sections are Th 9:05-9:55 and Fri 3:35-4:25. We are still scheduling these rooms. They will be announced at a later date.


How do project teams work?

Students usually work in teams of about 4-6 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 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.


What does CS/INFO 4152 count for?

Both the CS and INFO courses count as the second major course in the game-design minor at Cornell.

The CS course is one of the special electives for the software engineering 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).