Spring 2019  | Hunt Library, Studio A  | F 1:30 – 4:20pm
Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center

Credits: 9

Course Website:

ProfessorTom Corbetttcorbett@andrew.cmu.eduHunt 246
PTC 3319


Tuesdays & Thursdays, by appointment
Please email me ( to reserve a meeting time.


This studio course is offered for students who wish to continue their education in game development, to provide them with an opportunity to develop a more complex and fully realized game project, and to offer practical working experience with teammates from different backgrounds and disciplines.  Students will work in teams over the course of the semester to create a video game that addresses a particular challenge and set of conditions. Teams will be assigned based upon interest and ability. Each project team will be responsible for taking a game through all steps of development: from initial concept design to prototyping, playtesting, refinement, and final delivery.  Project constraints will be provided by the instructor who will serve as client, subject matter expert, and advisor to the team.

This is a 9 credit course, and will require a significant amount of outside-of-class work with your team to produce positive results.   Please reserve the appropriate amount of time for your classwork and respect the schedules of your teammates.


  • Experience the roles and structure of a game development team as you realize your own games from brainstorming to final delivery.
  • Practice the application of game design concepts to generate a new product.
  • Practice development processes of rapid prototyping and iterative design, and production methods such as “agile” development.
  • Explore the structure, methods, and economics of the games industry to understand how these affect decision-making and development.
  • Develop entertaining and intuitive experiences for emerging platforms that are playable by first-time users


The course will meet once a week on Fridays, from 1:30pm-4:20pm.  All team members are expected to be in attendance during this time.  Class time will be used for team meetings, project reviews with the instructors, progress presentations to the class and guests, and lecture periods if needed.

Students will be divided into teams that will serve as  “game studios”. Each studio will be assigned a project that will consist of a goal or idea, along with certain constraints, and must design and deliver a game that addresses and fits within these.  The instructor will be the project advisor for each team. Each team will also have a “client”, an individual who will serve as subject matter experts, will help to define the challenges or constraints of their project and will advise on the project progress throughout the semester.  Only the instructor will assign a grade to students.

There will be 4 milestones deadlines throughout the semester, and each team will formally present their project’s progress at these milestones.  Each milestone will have a particular set of deliverables and an expectation for overall level of completion of the design and delivery of the artifact.


Milestone 1: Concept / Early Prototype
Results of early investigation and exploration, conceptual designs for game, and draft production plan for development.  Teams should show their aspirations and vision of the final game, as well as some proof-of-concept of the technology or core-mechanic.

Milestone 2: Alpha Prototype

The “vertical slice” – a playable version of the game featuring the core mechanic in the larger setting (such as a level) that can be used to playtest assumptions and efficacy of design.  Technical solutions and production pipeline have been evaluated and resolved to give a clear picture of the workload to come. Playtesting with external participants should begin during this stage.

Milestone 3: Progress Check-in

The larger game is taking shape, production work should be underway and approximately 50-60% complete.  Pipeline and procedures are firmly set. Playtests are a regular occurance to evaluate current state of design and refine issues.

Milestone 4: Final Presentation

Project work is complete.  A final version of the game, including source code and assets,  is submitted. Teams will present a post-mortem assessment of their design and the development process, as well as submitting a written post-mortem report.

Week 1Jan 18Introduction / Team Selection
Week 2Jan 25
Week 3Feb 01
Week 4Feb 08Milestone 1: Concept
Week 5Feb 15
Week 6Feb 22
Week 7Mar 01Milestone 2: Prototype
Week 8Mar 08NO CLASS (Mid-Semester Break)
Week 9Mar 15NO CLASS (Spring Break)
Week 10Mar 22
Week 11Mar 29
Week 12Apr 05Milestone 3: Progress
Week 13Apr 12
Week 14Apr 19NO CLASS (Spring Carnival)
Week 15Apr 26
Week 16May 03Milestone 4: Final Presentation


Blog / Website

Teams will also be tasked with maintaining a development blog and/or website that will be updated at least once a week to document the progress of the project development.  These posts should include media (images, illustrations, video) to support and explain your concepts.

Project Post-Mortem

A written report documenting the design and development process is to be submitted at the time of the final presentation.  Further details on expected contents will be discussed in class prior to the deadline.

Project Videos

Teams will submit two videos – a 30-60 second trailer, and well as a 3 minute project summary video explaining the game, the problem the team sought to solve, and the solutions employed.

Final Game & Source

A copy of the final game will be submitted as an executable with support file, as well as all source code and assets required to compile the game.   This will be due at the time of the final presentation, details on submission will be outlined ahead of time, and may vary by project.


There is no required text for this course.  Recommended reading may be issued throughout the semester.


Interactions with the instructor, clients, guests, and your fellow students, should be treated as though this were a real-life work environment.   While this course offers opportunities to experiment with design and take greater risks than one would in the real world, you are still expected to conduct yourself as professional adults at all times, and will be held to such a standard.

  • Attendance is expected for all class sessions.  (Exception: If you are sick, stay home. Don’t infect the rest of us. Please send a note to myself or the TA explaining your absence)
  • Excused absences will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  If you know you will be out of town or have a conflicting appointment, please let me know ahead of time.  It is also your responsibility to communicate this and coordinate with your teammates
  • Be on time.
  • Be awake, engaged and participatory.
  • Be respectful of our guests, our staff, and your classmates,.
  • Be especially helpful, honest, and respectful with your teammates.
  • Do your work. Meet your deadlines and deliverables.
  • Use of electronic devices in class is acceptable so long as it pertains to game design and the topic or assignment at hand.
  • Be responsible with your food and beverages, and keep our facilities clean.


Project parameters and constraints will be delivered within the first week of the course.   Additional constraints and parameters may be added, or existing ones may evolve as the semester progresses, in response to the conditions of the project.

Expectations will be outlined at the beginning of each segment, and milestone deliverables will be defined at least 1 week prior to the corresponding presentation.

Projects will be evaluated weekly, either through the Milestone presentations, or through informal meetings with the instructor during class time.  Each team should be prepared to present their project and progress.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to turn in their own work.  Don’t cheat or plagiarize. Please review CMU’s policy on Academic Integrity.   Materials created by someone else (code, photographs, music, etc) must include proper permission and/or attribution.  Use of code libraries must be approved on a case-by-case basis. IDeATe provides a small course budget to allow us to purchase equipment, software, libraries, or assets as needed.  Any purchase must be cleared through the instructor. Students will not be reimbursed for individual purchases unless they have prior written approval from the instructor.

Intellectual Property

In accordance with Carnegie Mellon policy, teams maintain full ownership of the intellectual property of their creations for this class.   Carnegie Mellon retains a nonexclusive royalty-free license to use projects created for this class for academic, research, and demonstrative purposes.  Any reassignment of intellectual property to external parties is at the discretion of team members. For this reason, it is good practice for teams to agree upon their own IP policy and sign a written version of their agreement ahead of time.  


For the project course, a student’s course grade consists of a 20% Production Grade (i.e. “how good are team deliverables throughout the semester”), a 40% Project Grade (i.e. “how good is what you made?”), and a 40% Process Grade (i.e. “how good was the process by which you worked to make it?”).  Barring unusual circumstances, each member of a team shares the same project grade.   Process grades will be determined through a combination of instructor observation and peer evaluation.  

Grading Breakdown:

  • 20% Production Grade
    • Project Blog – 50%
    • Final Project Site / Videos – 50%
  • 40% Project Grade
    • Milestone 1: Ungraded, focus on feedback on project
    • Milestone 2: 20%
    • Milestone 3: 30%
    • MIlestone 4: 50%
  • 40% Process Grade
    • 1st Process Grade (after Milestone 1) – 20%
    • 2nd Process Grade (after Milestone 2) – 30%
    • 3rd Process Grade (after Milestone 4) – 50%

Grades for this course are assigned based on the following table:

Exceeds expectations
Meets expectations
Meets requirements, but not expectations
Below requirements and expectations


Please read and become familiar with the IDeATe lending and purchasing policies, which can be accessed at The IDeATe facilities are shared student resources and spaces. As such, all members of the IDeATe community are expected to be respectful of the equipment, the spaces, and fellow students and their projects. Always clean up after completing your work, put things back in their correct place, and leave the lab in better condition than you found it.

Students may be required to purchase materials to complete class projects. For convenience, some materials are available for borrowing and for purchase at IDeATe Lending (Hunt A29).


Take care of yourself.  Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in danger of self-harm, call someone immediately, day or night:

CaPS: 412-268-2922

Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

If the situation is life threatening, call the police:

      On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323

      Off campus: 911