While I strongly recommend team projects, the requirement for this
course is the development of a project and that can be a team or
While there are considerations on both sides, the key reasons for
developing the project as a team are both for development and design.
The ability to spread the work is clearly important, but the ability
to work together to grow and develop ideas is equally important.
The requirement that the game is a serious game means that there
is agoal beyond entertainment.
The most typical goals are education, training, health, exercise, or
as a work of art.
The education and training is normally a fairly traditional topic
that one would normally attend a class or lecture to learn or
could be taught in a apprenticeship or by trial and error.
I will consider options that are more light-hearted.
This last of these, art, is clearly still entertainment, but it opens the
opportunity to for a game whose primary motivation is to create or
invoke a specific emotion.
While all games are intended to do that to some degree, the serious
game does it to a degree that others do not.
(See Past Games for games that have been
developed in the past.)
Steps for building your game:
Select a team
(Due January 21)
Develop your concept to a degree that you all can agree on it.
The result of this concept is a written document of a single page
that outlines what the goal of the game is and roughly how it will
it will work.
This description need not be much more than the genre or key
mechanisms that are to be used.
The goal is to deistinuish at the level of wheter you are
building an RPG, a first person shooter, or a puzzle-solving
A do not ask specifically for a genre, because classifications
are not necesarily beneficial.
(Due January 28)
Rather than turning in paper copies of the requested materials
and rather than assuming that you will not refine the ideas,
each team is to create a web space where the materials requested
throughout the semester will be posted.
I recommend using a publicly available tool, but you are
also welcome to put up your own web site.
As we meet in biweekly meetings, we will review the
content of the website to understand how the game is
progressing and changing.
This material will not be graded;
it is intended to be working, helpful materials that help you
build an effective, enjoyable game.
(See Deliverables, for the materials
that I will expect at the end of the semester.)
(Due February 7)
As we discussed in class,
there are a number of key elements of a game
that can help you think about how the game is played.
Specifically, you should identify for your game the following:
Note that the importance of these aspects will differ considerable
The goal is NOT to force you to make up answers, but to assure
that you have considered all of these elements and why they
are or are not relevant to your game.
(Preliminaries due February 11)
- Goals of the game
- Narrative and backstory
- Types of challenges provided
- Space in which the game is played
Objects used in the game, their attributes and states
(including which are known and which are secret)
- Key playing skills
- Role of non-predictability (human and chance)in the game
- Rules of the game
To assure that you have a solid development plan in place, you
need the following:
(Due February 11)
the development platform that you will be using
installed and running on each developer's computer
the roles that each team member will play and the division
the assets (graphics, sound, ...) that are required and how
you will obtain them
how code will be shared: version control system
project plan -- that is a schedule
Mockup or prototype of the game.
The purpose of this step is to turn concepts into reality.
The format of the game is less important than its
ability to help you and me visualize the game.
For some teams, it may be a board version of the game;
for others it may be a "Wizard of Oz" model;
and for some it will be a running prototype of some of the key
game play elements.
These will be presented in class.
(Due February 18)
There will be two class demos of the project.
The key purposes of these demos are to get feedback from other students
and to motivate you to make progress.
(Due March 4 (day before Spring Break) and April 1)
While the format of the deliverables is at the team's discretion,
all of them need to be electronic and accessible form the web site.
You are to prepare the game for me to play.
I do not want to compile it.
You may assume that I have Python and Java installed and a
Steam account or Half-Life 2 installed.
If there are specific release requirements or other prerequisites
required beyond that, please be explicit.
You are to give me complete installation requirements and instructions.
Of course, giving me a simple executable is best.
This is basically the concept document.
It should give a 2-3 sentence description of your game,
describe the purpose of the game, the genre, and the target audience.
You should include the most salient features and game highlights.
It should be in an attractive format and should be no more than a
This should be a complete description of your game as you
envision it -- NOT as you implemented it.
What would the game look like if you had all the time that you wanted?
Be sure to identify the things that didn't get implemented.
Included should be the back story,
a description of the characters and game world,
and a full description of each level and transisition.
Explain what success and failure in the game means
and what the user is learning as they play.
(e.g., completing level 3 means that user has learned the
nomenclature of algebra).
For another version of a game design document, see
There are lots of definitions of development and design specifications.
What I am interested in is the documentation needed by someone
who may take over this game and want to fix it or enahnce it.
Identify the tools and systems needed.
Describe enough of the structure, key modules and data structures
so that the new developers can find their way around the system.
Of particular interest are how they would add more levels,
change the difficulty, capture scores, or change the graphics.
If they want to add more content, how would they do it?
This document will be significantly different for each project,
but imagine that you are taking the course next year
and want to enhance this game.
What would you want to know?
This year all games were built from scratch.
I think that all were written in Java.
- RPG to learn about Mayan culture
- robot fighting game to teach programming concepts
- storyboarding game
This year the entire class worked on Kidney Kids, a game to
help adolescents with chronic kidney disease learn the skills
needed for caring for themselves.
This year all games were built from some basis.
- teaching math game mod of Half-Life
- teaching cell biology in a first person shooter built on an open source game
- disaster preparedness puzzle game built on open source python games