1. A Crash Course in Game Design - syllabus

People are bugging me about what we're gonna cover and when, so here is a
preliminary Syllabus and Schedule:

Week 1 - A general introduction to the course
 I. What we'll do over the course of the next few weeks, general issues
    we'll cover, and how we'll put the whole thing together.  including
    a general schedule for the project.

 II. We'll discuss the difference between a GAME IDEA and a GAME DESIGN
     and very generally the parts of a game design specification, including:
     a) Project Codename
     b) General description
     c) Screen Description and User Interface Specification
     d) Art Specification
     e) Paragadigm Specification (How are we going to do each part?)
        1) functions needed
        2) flow chart
     f) AI Specification - What our characters need to know, how they will
                           find out, and what they'll do about it.

Week 2 - Specifying the game idea
We'll discuss putting down in words the game idea, including what the
player sees and does.  This becomes the General Description.
We'll also choose a project codename for this game. I'm leaning toward

Week 3 - Screen Descriptions and User Interface Specification
We'll cover the need to put down what will be on each screen, and how
each screen will work.  Game controls, and user feedback systems (sounds,
blinky lights, between maze cartoons, scoreboard, etc)

Week 4 - Art Specification
What artwork do we need, what it should look like, Sprite sizes, resolution,
colors, animations, fonts, mazes, etc.

Week 5 - Paradigm specification
How are we going to do this game, what functions will we need and how are
we going to attack this beastie.  Game flowcharts and what the player
sees are detailed here.

Week 6 - AI Specification
This is the fun one.  What will cause the characters to react, how are they
to know to react, and what is their reaction?  It takes some planning to
get a ghost to wander aimlessly through a maze, and more to make him attack
on sight.

Week 7 - Design Spec loose ends.
Whatever else we need to cover before programming begins

Week 8 - Week 10 - data structures, virtual screens, sprite loaders, and
updating the screen.
This is everything it takes to get the sprites from the paint program to
being drawn on the screen.
You get the idea.
It's gonna be a long time before we actually start writing code, but that's
how it works.  You design all the parts BEFORE you code any of them for real.

As I do a game, I sometimes prototype parts as I design to get a general
idea of how it will work, but almost NEVER before I get to the Paradigm Spec

In real life the design spec takes about a week to do, but I've been
doing it for 15 years, and I want to have sufficient time for
questions and answers

In each session I will give the material and then you guys post any
questions, or comments to the group or e-mail them to me and I'll respond
on the group.  All the specs will be available with images on my Euphoria
page, and mirrored here in ASCII.

We should be ready to start on Wednesday.  Any questions?

Michael Packard
Lord Generic Productions
lgp at exo.com http://exo.com/~lgp
Euphoria Page - http://exo.com/~lgp/euphoria.htm

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