Game Design


  • Course Title: Game Design (mwd 230)
  • CRN: 42671
  • Credits: 4
  • Prerequisites: mwd 110 or permission from instructor
  • Days: Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Time: 2:55–4:10 pm
  • Room: 316, Charles A Dana Hall
  • Dates: 4 September–14 December 2019
  • Professor: Roy Vanegas (pronounced “vuh-nay-gus”)
  • Email: vanegas at hartford dot edu
  • Phone: 860.768.5925
  • Office: Charles A Dana Hall, Room 310B
  • Office hours: Drop-in or by appointment on the following days:
    • Mondays: 10:00–11:00 am and 1:30–2:30 pm
    • Tuesdays: 9:00–11:00 am
    • Wednesdays: 10:00–11:00 am and 1:30–2:30 pm


This lecture and project-based course focuses on the theoretical and practical approaches to good game design. Students study art and design principles for developing engaging games, including game play, game balance, storytelling and narrative, character development, software engineering, animation, graphic design, music and sound effects, and game aesthetics. Using these principles, students analyze many types of games and design games of their own. The principles learned in this class apply to the casual game genre that includes platform games, scrolling games, tile-based games, card games, puzzle games, and shoot-’em-up games. Throughout the course there is an emphasis on the importance of play testing and revision, including documenting design.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will understand...

  • and communicate the definition of what a game actually is;
  • how to critically review games of all types;
  • and, how to design and build games.


Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

[Cover image of Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design.]
Edition: 2
Author: Scott Rogers
isbn: 978‒1‒118‒87716‒6


Important Dates

  • No class: 27 November (Thanksgiving recess)
  • Assignment 1 due: 25 September
  • Assignment 2 due: 12 October
  • Assignment 3 due: 4 November
  • Final project due: 16 December

Check the University’s official calendar for other important dates.

Note: Time permitting, I will make every attempt to cover the topics listed below in order. However, depending on the cadence of the class, some topics may be overlooked.

Week Topics Homework
  • Detailed syllabus breakdown
  • None
  • Open GitHub accounts
  • Intro to Git
  • Git cloning
  • Git committing
  • Git pushing
  • Git pulling
  • Git branching
  • Git forking




  • level 3: Writing the Story!
    → pages 43–62
  • level 4: You Can Design a Game, but Can You Do the Paperwork?
    → pages 65–89
  • Study in-class examples


  • level 5: The Three Cs, Part 1: Character
    → pages 93–127
  • Study in-class examples
  • Using screen dimension-related functions, such as displayWidth, displayHeight, and fullScreen()
  • Working with random numbers
  • How to trace an image for rendering in Processing
  • Edge detection
  • Working with mouse events


  • level 6: The Three Cs, Part 2: Camera
    → pages 131–159
  • level 7: The Three Cs, Part 3: Controls
    → pages 163–177
  • Study in-class examples
  • Assignment 2 due
  • Working with audio
  • Loading images
  • State machines
  • Revisiting for loops


  • level 8: Sign Language: hud and Icon Design
    → pages 181–207
  • Study in-class examples
  • Collision detection — theories and examples
  • Processing in the browser: p5.js


  • level 9: Everything I Learned About Level Design, I Learned from Level 9
    → pages 209–254
  • level 10: The Elements of Combat
    → pages 257–301
  • Study in-class examples
  • Using Gulp as a task runner for P5.js
  • Revisiting the seven structures of programming
  • Privatizing your project repo


  • level 11: They All Want You Dead
    → pages 305–351
  • level 12: The Nuts and Bolts of Mechanics
    → pages 353–377
  • Study in-class examples
  • Pseudo-coding, on paper and on the computer
  • Following good coding practices, including variable/function naming, abstraction, and logic parsing


  • level 13: Now You’re Playing with Power
    → pages 381–402
  • level 14: Multiplayer—The More the Merrier
    → pages 405–418
  • Study in-class examples
  • Assignment 3 due
  • Working with json
  • Using json to create settings


  • level 15: Everybody Wins: Monetization
    → pages 419–423
  • Study in-class examples
  • Revisit Git, GitHub, and Git-based workflows for your projects


  • level 16: Some Notes on Music
    → pages 427–434
  • level 17: Cutscenes, or No One’s Gonna Watch ‘Em Anyway
    → pages 441–434
  • Study in-class examples
  • Moving/dragging items with mouse
  • Working with typography


  • level 18: And Now the Hard Part
    → pages 451–462
  • Study in-class examples
  • Holiday break
  • Holiday break
  • One Sheets
  • Markdown Tutorial
  • Work on final project
  • Study in-class examples
  • Open labs
  • Work on final project
  • Study in-class examples
  • Final project presentations
  • Holiday break

Class Policies

  • Consuming food in class. There is no eating inside our classroom, either during class or while on break. Eat before or after class. Drinks in covered containers, however, are allowed.
  • Grading. I do not give grades — students earn them. The grade you earn is based strictly on a formula clearly listed in your syllabus, under the Grading Standards section.

Advice on Succeeding in Class

We will go over the following document in detail on the first day of class.


There are four projects for the semester: three homework-type assignments and one final project. (See the grading standards section regarding how each is used to calculate your grade.)

  1. Assignment (due 25 September 2019)
  2. Assignment (due 12 October 2019)
  3. Assignment (due 4 November 2019)
  4. Final project (due 19 December 2019)

Grading Standards

Grading Formula

Your grade for this course — explained by The University of Hartford here — will be computed using the following formula:

  1. Assignment 1 — 12%
  2. Assignment 2 — 12%
  3. Assignment 3 — 12%
  4. Final project — 54%
  5. Attendance and participation — 10%

This grading formula is unbending and will be adhered to strictly.

Important Note

Please, please do not try to negotiate a grade with me. By asking me to treat you favorably, you’re asking me to put you above your classmates. Manage your time well; I do not accept late work.

Academic Honesty

You are reminded of the college’s academic honesty policy. Ensure all the work you submit is your own.

Students with Disabilities

Read about how The University of Hartford supports students with disabilities:


My email address is vanegas at hartford dot edu. However, I only communicate with students over email in emergency situations (pet emergency, personal tragedy, etc). For matters related to the class, you’re advised to see me in person before or after class, or during my office hours (see below).

Office Hours

My office hours are walk-in for quick questions and by appointment for more involved academic inquiries.

  • Office: Charles A Dana Hall, Room 310B
  • Office hours:
    • Mondays: 10:00–11:00 am; 1:30–2:30 pm
    • Tuesdays: 9:00–11:00 am
    • Wednesdays: 10:00–11:00 am; 1:30–2:30 pm

If neither of the aforementioned times agrees with your schedule, we can make alternate arrangements to meet.