CS 4803B
Electronic Game Programming

Winter 1998
College of Computing 102
MW 4:35-5:55

This course will provide an introduction to current and future techniques for electronic game design and programming. Topics will include graphics game engines, motion generation, behavioral control for autonomous characters, interaction structure, and social and interface issues of multi-user play.

Jessica Hodgins
214 College of Computing
Office Hours: Just drop by or send email to schedule an appointment.

Amy Bruckman
255 College of Computing
Office Hours: Drop by Tuesdays 4 to 5:30, or email to make an appointment.
Teaching Assistant
Ron Metoyer
206 College of Computing
Office Hours: Tuesdays 12:00 -1:30, Thursdays 3:00 - 4:30, or email to schedule an appointment.

General Information

There are two optional texts for the class:

Joystick Nation : How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds by J. C. Herz, Michael Pietsch (Editor)

Black Art of 3d Game Programming : Writing Your Own High-Speed 3-D Polygon Video Games by Andre Lamothe

The tutorial for the Motivate software is available in the bookstore as class notes for CS4803B. WARNING: the bookstore has xeroxed only the even pages of the tutorial. We're working on getting this fixed but double check your copy before you pay for it.

The textbooks will be supplemented by handouts in class and pointers to web pages.

The Herz book is arriving at the bookstore somewhat late, and there may not have been enough copies of either book ordered. You may want to try Amazon Books instead.


An accurate syllabus for the past and an approximate syllabus for the future appears below.

Week of Mon Wed
January 5 no class Introduction and Overview of Course (asb + jkh)
notes (asb)

Assignment 1 out
January 12 Game Genres (asb)

Herz chapters 1 and 2
What makes a game fun? (asb)

"Enjoyment and the Quality of Life," chapter 3 of Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. On electronic reserve.
January 19 Holiday
Tutorial on Motivate (metoyer)
January 26 User Interface Controls for Games (asb)

Some Thoughts on Game Design, by Andrew Glassner.

Assignment 1 due
Assignment 2 out
Low-level Behaviors (jkh)
Keyframing: Slides

Reading: Chapter 4 in Black Art

Project Proposal due (Advanced)

February 2 Low-level Behaviors (jkh)

Motion Capture: Slides
Simulation: Slides
Motion Capture White Paper from SGI
see also Motion Capture links below
High-level Behaviors (jkh)

High-level Behaviors: Slides
Reading: Chapter 7 in Black Art
Creating Intelligent Creatures (CGW)
see also AI in Games links below

February 9 Graphics for Games (jkh)
Reading: Chapter 10 in Black Art
Assignment 2 due
Assignment 3 out
Graphics for Games (jkh)
Reading: Chapter 10 in Black Art
First Progress Report due (Advanced)
February 16 Play Testing
David Rosenbaum, GTRI
Play Testing Article from Game Developer Magazine
Design for Boys and Girls (asb)

Reading: Assignment#3 out
February 23 Community for Multi-user Environments (asb)


Technology for Multi-user Environments: Slides
Mostafa Ammar and Jessica Hodgins

Reading: Chapter 9 in Black Art Multiplayer Internet Games from Intel
Progress Report due (Intro)
Second Progress Report due (Advanced)
March 2 Interactive Narrative (asb)

Future Gaming Technology
Dov Jacobson
BIG FUN Development Co.
March 9 Game Design
Andrew Greenberg
Holistic Design
Amy Kerley Moorhouse
March 17 Tuesday 6-7 and 9-10
Final Presentation Setup in 102

March 18 Wednesday 11:30-2:20 and 6-9
Final Presentations (final exam slot + evening session)
Assignment 3 due

Assignments and Grading

Collaboration and team projects are encouraged but must be coordinated through the instructors. We will maintain a database of models, skills, and behaviors for the use of the members in the class. You may also use models that you find on the web (start with the Avalon site maintained by Viewpoint). In your final report you must list each element of your game and include a description of whether you developed it from scratch or where you got it and whether you modified or extended it. Project teams must turn in separate reports although you may share figures.

We will maintain a lending library of games that can be checked out from Tonya Dunson in CoC 244 between 8-5pm M-F. Students will be asked to show an ID when checking out a game and may keep a game for up to 48 hours (unless demand gets too high). The games library will include PC games, Mac games, Nintendo 64 cartridges, and Playstation CD's. We will install a Nintendo 64 and a Sony Playstation in the undergraduate lounge area on the first floor of CoC. PC games that run under NT can be used in the cluster on the first floor. Mac games and PC games that run only under Windows '95 will have to be run outside CoC on home computers, unfortunately. You can also download demo versions of games from Gamespot and access MUDs such as Muddy Waters .

There will be three assignments (due on the dates listed on the syllabus). You have 5 late days that you may use for any of the assignments during the quarter but further extensions require an excellent excuse. Grading will be based on assignments (90%), and class participation (10%).

The three assignments will be

Students who come to this course with particular interests or a very strong background may arrange to do a project instead of the last two assignments. For these advanced students, one page project proposals are due during the fourth week of classes. During the quarter the students must turn in two project updates (on the dates marked on the syllabus). A final presentation of the projects will be made during the final exam period (or during an earlier class period for graduating students). A written description of the project will be due at the time of the final presentation. Grading will be based on projects (60%), class participation (15%), the first assignment (25%).

Special Events

Designing Computer Puzzle Games

Scott Kim, Scott Kim & Associates
Thursday 1/15 12pm, 102 MiRC, GVU Brown Bag


Computer puzzle games like Tetris, Myst and The Incredible Machine have always had wide appeal to males and females of all ages. In this talk I will talk about the thinking that goes into designing a puzzle game, based on my experience designing such works as the Myst-like game Obsidian, the puzzle collection Heaven & Earth, and the monthly puzzle in NewMedia Magazine. What types of puzzles work well on computer? What types of puzzle games are there? How do you design one? What future trends can we look forward to? The talk will include both discussions of theory, and demonstrations of particular games.


Scott Kim is an independent puzzle designer and computer artist. Publications include the art book Inversions, the book The NewMedia Magazine Puzzle Workout, puzzles for the CD-ROM game Obsidian, and the educational CD-ROM + book VizAbility. He is currently designing puzzles for the web and online environments. He has a BA in music and a PhD in Computers and Graphic Design from Stanford University.

Additional Information and Interesting Links

Principles of Game Design

Glassner's Thoughts on Game Design

Graham's Craft of Adventure

Gil Williamson's Computer Adventures, The Secret Art

UNT LARC's Laws of Game Programming


Applying Game Design to Virtual Environments

Links to annotate The Ultimate Game Developers Sourcebook

Motion Capture in Games

The Technology

Motion Capture Comes Alive (quick overview)

CGW Feature: Cyber Acting

CGW Feature: Digital Dancing

Using MC to get personalities

Motion Capture White Paper (excellent introduction)

Dealing with the Data: Bodenheimer, Rose, Rosenthal, and Pella (more details about the process from Eurographics Workshop)

Companies doing Motion Capture


Adaptive Optics Associates


Ascension Technology Corporation

Biomechanics Inc.


Lamb and Co.

Motion Analysis Corporation

Northern Digitial Inc. (Optotrak)

Reviews/Press Releases for Games that use Motion Capture

Alien Trilogy

Tomb Raider II

Iron Man/X-O Manowar In Heavy Metal

Madden '64

AI in Games

Steering Behaviors by Craig Reynolds

Good Summary Page

Creating Intelligent Creatures from CGW

Evolving Tron Game from Brandeis

All about genetic algorithms

Karl Sims' Creatures



Ultima On-line

Descriptions of development houses

Z-axis (developers of Dance Zone)

The Commercial Marketplace: Article in Red Herring

Models and Sounds

Sound Files

3D Models

Games for Girls


Purple Moon

NYTimes review of Purple Moon

Planet Girl

Smart Girl Reviews of Games

Audio in Games

Collection of Articles from Game Developer


of 3d Shooters from Gamespot



Game Developer


PC Gamer



The Gaming Planet (demos)


Ultra Game Players Online

On-Line Gaming Review

Journal of Computer Game Design contents on-line

Gaming Conferences

Computer Game Developers Conference

E3 (in Atlanta!)

Gaming Associations

Computer Game Artists

The Entertainment Software Producers Organization at Gatech

Other Game Programming Courses

John Laird's class at UMich


Full Sail

Ian Parberry's class the University of North Texas

Ian Parberry's comments on becoming a game programmer

The Entertainment Software Producers Organization at Gatech

Contact Information:

Jessica Hodgins
College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332-0280