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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Give and explain at least 3 different physical laws which are important in physical simulations (using formulas and pictures).
  4. Justify the statement ``A game is just a real-time database with a pretty front-end''.
  5. What is the principal job of the ``physics engine'' component of a (physics-based) game? Describe it in terms of secrets and services.
  6. Discuss the components that make up a modern game.
  7. Give 3 different examples of 'dynamical systems' which frequently occur in games. Make sure to label which are continuous and which are discrete.
  8. Ch.1: What is a game? Give a short description of the 4 fundamental components of a game.
  9. Ch.1: How do games entertain? Explain some of the different ways a game entertains.
  10. 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)
  11. Ch. 2: (Design process) What are the two most common misconceptions of game design? Illustrate these with examples
  12. 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
  13. 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?
  14. 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)
  15. Ch. 4: What are the advantages of borrowing a known setting for a game?
  16. Ch. 5: What are the different categories of choices given to players when designing their own avatar?
  17. Ch. 5: What is the difference between functional and cosmetic attributes in game customization? Give examples.
  18. Ch. 5: Give various ways in which creative play can be constrained.
  19. Ch. 6: What is the difference between specific and non-specific avatars?
  20. Ch. 6: There are several issues to consider while designing the visual appearance of characters. Discuss 4.
  21. 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.
  22. Ch. 6: Discuss character dimensionality, in terms of emotional dimensions that the characters can show. Illustrate your answer with examples.
  23. Ch. 7: What are the reasons to put stories in games? And when is it a waste of time?
  24. Ch. 7: What are the key concepts in storytelling?
  25. Ch. 7: Storytelling, especially in a game, can proceed in various different ways. What are they, what are the advantages / disadvantages, and give examples.
  26. Ch. 7: What is a scripted conversation? How would one implement this?
  27. Ch. 7: Game series interact with storytelling in complex ways. Explain the various ways a story can be woven into a game series.
  28. Ch. 8: Give some general principles of player-centric user-interface design.
  29. Ch. 8: Give some "What the player needs to know" and "What the player wants to do", and link them to issues of user-interface design.
  30. Ch. 8: Outline some techniques for 'Managing Complexity' in games.
  31. Ch. 8: Explain issues of perspectives, and what game genres 'fit' each perspective.
  32. Ch. 9: How do you maximize your chances that your game is "fun"?
  33. Ch. 9: Explain the hierarchy of challenges.
  34. 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).
  35. Ch. 10: What is `Core Mechanics'? In detail, what does the game engine `do' that corresponds to core mechanics?
  36. Ch. 10: Explain resources, entities and entity-relations, as they pertain to code mechanics.
  37. 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.
  38. Ch. 11: What is a dominant strategy?
  39. Ch. 11: Explain how rock-paper-scissors is a perfectly balanced game.
  40. Ch. 11: How does one create balance in an asymmetric game?
  41. Ch. 11: How would you go about making a PvE game fair?
  42. Ch. 11: Explain the different types of difficulty (absolute, relative, perceived). What is a difficulty progression?
  43. Ch. 11: What are the advantages of difficulty modes?
  44. Ch. 11: What is positive feedback, and how does it help balance a game?
  45. Ch. 12: What is ``level design'' (the 6 parts of the user experience that must be designed for a level)?
  46. Ch. 12: Discuss some of the Key Design Principles (there are 10 of them).
  47. Ch. 12: Pick one of 'layout' or 'pacing' and discuss.
  48. Ch. 20: What is `artificial life' ?
  49. 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.

  1. Pick 3 genres and give examples of its sub-genres. Explain and give examples.
  2. Pick 3 genres and explain some of the game features specific to that genre.
  3. Pick 3 genres and explain some of the important game core mechanics most prevalent in that genre.
  4. Pick 3 genres and explain issues of the presentation layer which are important for that genre.