McMaster University
Game Design

SFWR ENG 3GB3, Term II 2021/22

Assignments    Midterm information     Final information    

Lectures and Tutorials

Lectures: Monday, Thursday 12:30-13:20, Tuesday 13:30-14:20, Virtual for a while, then in ETB 228



Dr. J. Carette, email: carette at mcmaster dot ca.

Office hours: by appointment.

Teaching Assistant

Sasha Soraine (sorainsm)


Required: Fundamentals of Game Design, 3rd Edition by Ernest Adams. The link is to the online version.

Course Objectives

The calendar description says: Game concepts. Creative and expressive play. Storytelling and narratives. User interfaces for games. Gameplay. Core mechanics. Game Balancing. Software architecture of games. Level design. Genres. Physics Engines.

Learning objectives

  1. Students should know and understand
    1. enough physical laws to be able to design a game around them
    2. basic game concepts
    3. character design, narrative, challenges, level design
    4. user interfaces, core mechanices, balancing
    5. architecture of game engines
  2. Students should be able to
    1. Use a framework to design a playable game
    2. Present a focused aspect of ``game design''
    3. Analyze gameplay using appropriate terminology


Students should understand: basic software architecture; should know how to program.
If you are not an avid gamer, this course likely isn't for you. In-depth knowledge of a lot of games will be assumed.

Mapping to graduate attributes

Knowledge base for engineering

4. Competence in Specialized Engineering Knowledge - 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5


1. Recognizes and discusses applicable theory knowledge base - 1.1

2. Selects appropriate model and methods and identifies assumptions and constraints - 2.3


2. Presents instructions and information clearly and concisely as appropriate to the audience - 2.2

Use of engineering tools

2. The ability to use of modern/state of the art tools - 2.1


1.1 Physics for Games Cannot relate physical laws to game mechanics Weak grasp of the connection Understands the connection Can use the connection in clever ways
1.2 architecture of game engines Does not know the components that make up engines Knows the components but does not understand what they do Knows the secrets of most components Thorough understands how game engines are constructed
1.3 Basic game concepts Weak grasp on basic definitions Can only recall basic definitions Understand basic definitions Thorough understanding
1.4 character design, narrative, challenges, level design Weak grasp on basic definitions Can only recall basic definitions Understand basic definitions Thorough understanding
1.5 user interfaces, core mechanices, balancing Weak grasp on basic definitions Can only recall basic definitions Understand basic definitions Thorough understanding
2.1 Use a framework to design a playable game Barely able to create a world, no game Can create a playable world, but it is not really a game Can create a playable, interesting looking game Game is creative, imaginative, fun
2.2 Present a focused aspect of ``game design'' Presentation in unintelligble Presentation is understandable, but very shallow Presents the required material, with good depth Presents well, with interesting examples and class interaction
2.3 Analyze gameplay using appropriate terminology Cannot related games and gameplay Relation between games analysed and qualities of gameplay weak Solid analysis of gameplay Extremely well illustrated and thorough analysis

Course Information on Web, and Slides

The latest version of this outline and the most "up-to date" information as well as hand-outs can be found on the course web page.
(Or go to my home page and then to the course page). The assignments can be found there as well.

Mid-terms, Exams, and Grading



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Course modifications

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy [].

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Individual assignments have to be solved by one person only, any outside source, this includes asking other people, or using any books or information found on the web has to be documented. In complience with the senate regulations on academic integrity I remind you that: People who let other people copy are as guilty as the ones who copy. You are allowed to consult outside sources, meaning textbooks or the web, but any use of an outside source must be documented. Similarly, group assignments must be solved by members of that group only, and the above policies apply as well.

In the case the instructor or a TA has the impression that an assignment is copied, the instructor can ask the corresponding students to explain exactly how the assignment was prepared and take appropriate actions.

Online Component

In this course we will be using Avenue. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

January 2022