Sample midterm and final questions
Listed below are enough questions for several midterms and
finals. Note that some new questions were inserted in the 'middle'
of the list, so read it through carefully.
Not all questions are equally difficult (or equally time consuming)
and so would be not all be worth the same.
- Give an example of a game with weird physics. Pick a
game which is supposed to be based on physical laws (of some
reasonable universe, i.e. not Tetris nor even Super Mario) and
explain carefully how some phenomenon in the game is not
based on normal} physics. Be precise about what exactly is
abnormal about the behaviour - give laws, quantities,
relations, etc using mathematical formulations.
- What is event-based programming? Explain the technical details
involved, as well as the control flow of such a program. Why is
this the preferred model for real-time games? Also, explain why
polling is bad.
- Give and explain at least 3 different physical laws which
are important in physical simulations (using formulas and
- Justify the statement ``A game is just a real-time database
with a pretty front-end''.
- What is the principal job of the ``physics engine''
component of a (physics-based) game? Describe it in terms of
secrets and services.
- Discuss the components that make up a modern game.
- Give 3 different examples of 'dynamical systems' which
frequently occur in games. Make sure to label which are continuous
and which are discrete.
- Ch.1: What is a game? Give a short description of the 4
fundamental components of a game.
- Ch.1: How do games entertain? Explain some of the different
ways a game entertains.
- Ch.1: List the 3 kinds of immersion and give an example of each
(examples don't have to be the ones given in class)
- Ch. 2: (Design process) What are the two most common misconceptions of
game design? Illustrate these with examples
- Ch. 2: There are several ways to drive game design; the
book emphasizes being player-centric. List some advantages and
disadvantages of being player-centric, and contrast this with
some other approaches
- What is the control flow of the major components of a game?
How does one achieve decent frames-per-second without threads
and a GPU?
- Ch. 4: What are the dimensions of a game world? Explain each
dimension and give an issue relating to each dimension
(typically giving 4 of the 5 would be sufficient for full marks)
- Ch. 4: What are the advantages of borrowing a known setting for
- Ch. 5: What are the different categories of choices given to
players when designing their own avatar?
- Ch. 5: What is the difference between functional and cosmetic
attributes in game customization? Give examples.
- Ch. 5: Give various ways in which creative play can
- Ch. 6: What is the difference between specific and
- Ch. 6: There are several issues to consider while designing
the visual appearance of characters. Discuss 4.
- Ch. 6: An important aspect of designing main characters is
character depth. What are different ways one can
impart depth to one's character? Give specifica examples
in each case.
- Ch. 6: Discuss character dimensionality, in terms of
emotional dimensions that the characters can show. Illustrate
your answer with examples.
- Ch. 7: What are the reasons to put stories in games? And when is it
a waste of time?
- Ch. 7: What are the key concepts in storytelling?
- Ch. 7: Storytelling, especially in a game, can proceed in various
different ways. What are they, what are the advantages /
disadvantages, and give examples.
- Ch. 7: What is a scripted conversation? How would one implement
- Ch. 7: Game series interact with storytelling in complex ways.
Explain the various ways a story can be woven into a game
- Ch. 8: Give some general principles of player-centric
- Ch. 8: Give some "What the player needs to know" and
"What the player wants to do", and link them to issues of
- Ch. 8: Outline some techniques for 'Managing Complexity'
- Ch. 8: Explain issues of perspectives, and what game genres
'fit' each perspective.
- Ch. 9: How do you maximize your chances that your game is "fun"?
- Ch. 9: Explain the hierarchy of challenges.
- Ch. 9: Explain some of the commonly used challenges
(there are lots, and a certain amount of complexity would be
expected in the answer to this question, in other words it
would likely be worth a non-trivial number of marks, corresponding
to requiring non-trivial details).
- Ch. 10: What is `Core Mechanics'? In detail, what does the
game engine `do' that corresponds to core mechanics?
- Ch. 10: Explain resources, entities and entity-relations, as
they pertain to code mechanics.
- Ch. 10: Explain the concepts of the `internal economy' in
a game, including the ideas of drains, sources, converters, traders
and production mechanics. What are feedback loops, mutual
dependencies and deadlocks in this context? Furthermore,
explain the difference between static and dynamic equilibrium.
- Ch. 11: What is a dominant strategy?
- Ch. 11: Explain how rock-paper-scissors is a perfectly balanced
- Ch. 11: How does one create balance in an asymmetric game?
- Ch. 11: How would you go about making a PvE game fair?
- Ch. 11: Explain the different types of difficulty
(absolute, relative, perceived). What is a difficulty
- Ch. 11: What are the advantages of difficulty modes?
- Ch. 11: What is positive feedback, and how does it help
balance a game?
- Ch. 12: What is ``level design'' (the 6 parts of the user
experience that must be designed for a level)?
- Ch. 12: Discuss some of the Key Design Principles (there are
10 of them).
- Ch. 12: Pick one of 'layout' or 'pacing' and discuss.
- Ch. 20: What is `artificial life' ?
- Overall: There are some very serious mistakes one can make
when designing a game. Pick and explain 5.
The structure of chapters 13-20 is very similar, so the questions
for these chapters will be generic. X below stands for one of
action, strategy, role-playing, sports, vehicle simulation,
construction and management simulation, adventure, or artificial
life and puzzle.
- Pick 3 genres and give examples of its sub-genres.
Explain and give examples.
- Pick 3 genres and explain some of the game features specific
to that genre.
- Pick 3 genres and explain some of the important game
core mechanics most prevalent in that genre.
- Pick 3 genres and explain issues of the presentation layer
which are important for that genre.