Syllabus: CSE 4990 / 6990 Computer Game Technology

Dr. J. Edward Swan II <>
Spring 2008
Course Time and Location
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 am–12:15 pm, 103 Butler Hall
Office Hours and Location
Tuesday and Thursday, 1:15 pm–2:30 pm, 321 Butler Hall
Catalog Description
Three hours lecture.  Study the principals, practice, and techniques of interactive computer game design, including design theory, design process, and design production.  Analyze existing computer games.  Build interactive computer games in a small, interdisciplinary group format. 
Course Prerequisites
Students must have senior or graduate standing.  Students with an engineering background must have taken CSE 4413/6413 (Principles of Computer Graphics) or equivalent, with a grade of C or better.  Students with a design background must have digital media experience.  
Required Text
Game Design: Principles, Practice, and Techniques—The Ultimate Guide for the Aspiring Game Designer; Jim Thompson, Barnaby Berbank-Green, Nic Cusworth; John Wiley & Sons, 2007; ISBN: 978-0-471-96894-8.

Grading Scale

90% – 100% A
80% – 89% B
70% – 79% C
60% – 69% D
0% – 59% F

Graded Activities

First game: 15%
Second game: 20%
Third game: 25%
Class Presentations and Assignments: 10%
Midterm: 15%
Final: 15%

Games: The primary activity of this class will be collaboratively developing three games in an interdisciplinary small team format. 

Class Presentations and Assignments: Students will make class presentations, and may complete additional assignments.  The class presentations will primarily involve demonstrating and analyzing existing computer games, but they may also involve presenting various game design topics.

Midterm: We will have one open-book, open-internet midterm exam, which will consist of typed essay questions.  It may also involve analyzing and critiquing a game, using analytical concepts discussed in class.

Final Exam: Our final exam will be similar in format to the midterm exam.

Game Design Assignments

In this class, students will spend the majority of their time designing and implementing computer games.  This will occur in small teams of students; we will aim for team sizes of 2–5 members.  Students will be randomly assigned to teams.  We will design three games; after each game, teams will disband and new teams will be formed.

During the design process, teams will present periodic progress reports in class.  On the day a game is due, teams will present their game to the class, and will turn in source code and other materials related to the game.  Teams may be required to turn in game-related documentation as well.

Grading: I will subjectively grade the games.  The primary grading criteria will be the degree to which the game meets its assigned objectives.  Additional criteria may include evidence of how much effort the team has invested in the game, creativity, and the quality of submitted materials such as code, design documents, concept drawings, research results, etc.  The result of this grading process will be a team grade

The baseline grade for each team member will be equal to the team grade, but may be modified up or down based on peer feedback and instructor feedback

Peer and Instructor Feedback: After each game is completed, team members will be asked to anonymously evaluate each other along dimensions related to contribution level and how easy they are to work with.  A team member's grade may be modified either up or down by this feedback.  Each team member will receive an anonymized version of this feedback.  In addition, I may further adjust a team member's grade up or down, based on my observation of the team member's contribution level, both to the development of the game as well as to the class as a whole.  I will communicate any such grade adjustment to each affected student. 

Peer and Instructor Feedback may adjust a team member's grade up or down by at most one letter grade (10% of the total points the game is worth).   

Missed Exams

Occasionally students miss examinations. Sometimes the student knows about these absences in advance, and sometimes they happen unexpectedly.  If you know in advance that you will be absent and you wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with me before the date of the exam, and I will let you know whether or not the absence will be excused.  If your excused absence will occur during an exam, then I will make arrangements for you to take the exam early.

If you miss an exam unexpectedly and wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with the me at the earliest opportunity possible after the absence, and provide documentation to support your claim that the absence should be considered excused. If the absence is excused, then I will substitute the average number of points of your other exams for the missed exam.

For unexcused absences from examinations you will unfortunately receive a score of zero points.

Academic Honesty / Misconduct and Collaboration

In this course, students are expected to uphold the Honor Code of Mississippi State University:

As a Mississippi State University student I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do.

Upon accepting admission to Mississippi State University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor Code.  Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work.  Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the MSU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor Code.

For additional information please visit:

Students are also expected to maintain the standards of academic honesty that are described in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering's Academic Honesty Policy.  These standards apply in their entirety to the midterm and the final exam.  However, in the real world people work in teams, and games will be developed collaboratively by teams of students.

As a professor at Mississippi State University, I am required to report all incidents of academic misconduct.

Additional Policies

Attendance and Audits: Attendance is required in this class.  As discussed above, attendance my influence a student's grade through Instructor Feedback on game design assignments. In addition, I will take roll, and I will list absences on midterm and final grade reports. Students who miss class are still responsible for the material covered and for any assignments distributed.  Students who are auditing the course must attend at least 75% of the class meetings in order to receive a passing grade.

Personal Electronic Devices: Students must respect their fellow students and not disrupt class. Therefore, cell phones, pagers, other such alarms, or personal conversations which disturb the lecture are not allowed.  Students with personal laptops are encouraged to bring them to class; however, laptops are not required for this course.

Grade of Incomplete (I): Following MSU policy, incomplete grades will only be given in extreme circumstances, such as illness, death in a student's immediate family, or similar circumstances beyond a student's control.

No Food or Drinks in Class: It is the CSE department's policy that you can't eat or dink in Butler hall classrooms.

Drop / Add Policy: This class follows Mississippi State University's Official Drop/Add Policy:

Add/drop without penalty: A student has through the fifth class day into the semester to add a course and through the tenth class day to drop a course without being assessed a fee or academic penalty.

Drop after the tenth class day through the 30th class day into the semester: A student who elects to drop a course during this period must receive the approval of his/her advisor, will be assigned a W on his/her academic record, and be assessed a fee. The advisor who permits the drop will specify its effective date.

Drop after the 30th class day into the semester: A student cannot drop courses after this period except in documented cases of serious illness, extreme hardship, or failure of the instructor to provide significant assessment of his/her performance. A request to drop a course during this period must be approved by the student's advisor and academic dean. The dean who permits the drop will specify its effective date. A student receiving permission to drop will receive a W on his/her academic record and be assessed a fee.

Faculty are expected to provide a student with significant evidence or assessment of his/her class performance within the first six weeks.

Last modified: January 10, 2008