DIGM 465: Introduction to Gaming


Tuesday, Thursday 12:30PM – 3:20PM

Prof. Diefenbach

Office Hours: TBD

Emergency Phone : 215.514.1386



Course Description


This course will introduce students to the digital game design process.  Students will learn how the individual skills of modeling, animation, storytelling, programming, user interface design, etc. are coordinated to produce interactive media experiences for various markets, devices, and purposes.  This course will teach the role of the executive producer and the development team in taking a game from concept to design document to production.  Students will work in small teams to research, plan, and implement a pre-production effort which will be go into production in the follow-on course.



Classes will be a combination of instruction and tutorial, class discussions, individual and group assignments, lab and presentation period, and team building exercises.  Class participation is an important part of your evaluation and grade.  In addition, students will be required to work in teams outside of class in the computer labs, doing research online and in books and journals, and hands-on exposure to various video games.  The library will maintain a collection of various games and hardware in a game room that students will have access to.  In addition, a second game room will be established in a room yet to be determined.


Students will work in groups throughout the term.  Every week, an assignment will be presented and the group will research, write, and present their findings and decisions in a paper and 5 minute class presentation.  Team members will alternate with the presentations, and each team member will present twice during the term.


Each student will also be required to give a 10 minute presentation on a video game of their choice as it relates to various class topics.


Students will have various opportunities to give feedback on the class as well as their concerns and comments throughout the term.


Special guest lecturers from industry may also give presentations during the term.


You are expected to attend all classes.  Class participation is an important part of your grade.  If a student must miss class, it is the student's responsibility to contact me by phone the day prior to the missed class.  Students will also be responsible for getting missed notes from the other students.  


Course Requirements

Grading Policy/Rubrics

Grades will be based on several criteria:


Class participation will be graded on how well the student contributes to class discussions, contributes his or her own ideas and thoughts, and demonstrates keeping up with the assigned material.  A student that demonstrates an eagerness to participate and shows some thought and preparation behind their comments will have no trouble achieving an A for this part of their grade.  A student who only occasionally contributes and often rehashes ideas or shows a general lack of understanding of the homework topics can hope for a C.


The Design Documents and Demo will be judged as an External Producer would judge it: based on its salability for moving into production.  For this, the more features, assets, look and feel, story and backstory, and gameplay aspects that can be demonstrated in a cohesive manner, the better the grade.  A team which supplies these components yet does not generate a clear picture of what the production game would entail can only hope for a B or C.  A team which gives a clear picture of what the final game would be and has added originality in concept, assets, or implementation will receive an A grade.  Students can not simply rely on an existing game’s level builder features and expect to receive a good grade.




Copying text, artwork, models, or animations without credit, whether copyrighted or made freely available on the web, is considered plagiarism for the purposes of this class (as it is in industry) and is forbidden.  One illegal asset can open an employer up to litigation.


Having another student perform your tasks for you is considered cheating.  Group evaluations, class participation, and project debriefings are a very effective means of determining this type of cheating, so do not cheat. 


Cheating will result in at minimum a failing of the assignment and an automatic decrease of one letter grade for your final grade, and may result in your failing the course.  Cheating and plagiarism are often done not due to sinister intentions, but because of laziness, fear, lack of preparation, overloaded schedule, or other reasons.  If you are having a problem in class and are fearful that your grade may suffer, please, please come talk to me about it rather than attempting some shortcut.  I am always eager to try to help, and I do not want to have to fail anyone.




Class Topic



The Design Document and design considerations



One-pager, Executive Summary

Game Concept Presentation


 Game Concept Review

Revise documents and Presentation



Engines and Assets

Research engines, engine demos, platforms, technologies, and assets. 



Engines: Part II:

Scripts and Behaviors,


GameStudio tutorial

Torque documentation

Make engine choice.

Identify risks: technical, production, creative.  Begin design document.



Production and asset management

Introduce Perforce

GDD Template
GDD Examples

Preliminary design document due next week (roles, drawings, PowerPoint, models and animations, etc.)




Detail scripting and behavioral requirements.  Demonstrate proof-of-concept if feasible.




Detail behavioral requirements.  Demonstrate proof-of-concept if feasible.




**Assets due**






Testing and QA





Final Design Document and Demo Due.  Group presentations.