Computer Game Design Class
Dr. Héctor Muñoz-Avila
• My own
Disclaimer: I use these notes as a guide rather than a comprehensive coverage of the topic. They are neither a
substitute for attending the lectures nor for reading the assigned material
A Brief History of Research on
Game AI at Lehigh
Research on AI & Computer
Games at Lehigh
Aaron Battalion
Todd Fisher
Hai Hoang
Stephen Lee-Urban
Marc Ponsen
Megan Vasta
Chad Hogg
Joe Souto
Kit Ming Chang
Frank Cremen
John Gerace
Ben Mautner
Chris Olsisnki
Jarret Raim
Justin Karneeb
Kellen Guillespie
Matt Dilts
Alexandra Coman
Ulit Jaidee
Dustin Dannenhauer
Giulio Finestrali
Seth T. Denburg
Nicholas E. Roessler
Nick Wuensch
Pete Biencourt
Matthew Kilgore
Steven R. Stinson
Matthew Mitchell
The Origins
• Long term interest on Games
• 2002: Aaron Battalion & Todd Fisher wanted to do an
Ind. Study on “Game stuff”
• 2003: First Installation of Unreal Tournament Bots at
First Steps: 2003
• Kit Ming Chang report on Age of Empires Rule-Based
System: “CLIPS”
• Frank Cremen, Ben Mautner and Chris Olsisnki build
Poker game
• Small grant from NRL on game (military simulationrelated) research
Continuation - 2004
• Exploratory paper on hierarchical explanation in games
• Exploratory paper on using hierarchical planning for
controlling a team of Unreal Tournament bots
• First class Game Programming at Lehigh
– Graduate-level course
• Exploratory grant from DARPA on game (military
simulation-related) research
Expansion - 2005
• Paper on using hierarchical planning for controlling a team of
Unreal Tournament bots in the First International Conference
on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment
• Work on translation of gaming language to AI languages
• Paper on Reinforcement Learning in Real Time Strategy
Games (at Innovative Applications of AI conference)
• Grant from DARPA on game (military simulation-related)
• Donation from Poker Academy
• AI Game Programming course taught for the second time
– Undergraduate (senior) level and graduate level
Expansion II – 2006 - 2008
• Chapter appeared AI Game Programming Wisdom 3 on
hierarchical planning for controlling a team of Unreal
Tournament bots
• First time Game Design Class is taught
• Grants from different sources involving game research
• Cognitive study on how “fun” is affected by game
• Over 30 articles, book chapters and conference papers
on the topic of Game AI
• Continuous work on this area: 6 MS thesis over the last
years. Some topics:
– Learning to play in a turn-based RPG game
– Learning to play in a team-based first-person shooter
– Mimicking player’s actions
• Game design and AI Game Programing taught 4+ times
• PC of main conference in the field (AIIDEE since its
inception) and Associate Editor in main journal (IEEE
Transactions of Computational Intelligence and AI in
Myths About Computer Game
Myth # 1: Computers have to play as good as possible
Myth # 2: Only programmers can design computer
Myth # 3: Succesful games need deep storylines
Myth # 4: Computer graphics “make” a game
Myth # 1: Computers have to
play as good as possible
You know what is an attack “Kung Fu” style?
•Only 2 enemies
are attacking at any
point of time
•The other
“appear” busy
•Same idea is
implemented in
many games
• But sloppy Game AI programming can
lead to player frustration
Myth # 2: Only programmers can
design computer games
• In the “old times” it was like that
• Modern tools allow the design of “AI” behavior without
need of a computer programmer
Myth # 3: Successful games need
deep Storylines
Myth # 3: Successful games need
deep Storylines (II)
Storyline: "Murderous aliens have landed in futuristic Los Angeles, and
humans suddenly find themselves atop the endangered species list. The
odds are a million-to-one, just the way Duke likes it!"
Duke Nukem 3d
• Released in 1996
• Crude humor
 “That's gotta
• Simplistic and
predictable storyline
• Some games are memorable not only
because of solid gameplay but also strong
Myth # 4: Computer graphics
“make” a game
• Tale of two games:
Game # 1:
Game # 2:
•Top-notch (for its time) 3D
•“beautiful” people
•“Realistic” physics
encoded in game
•2D graphics
•Graphics highlight: Lead
designer appears in the game
•Roles a dice to decide who wins
Game # 1: some screenshots
Game # 2: Screenshot
Myth # 4: Computer graphics
“make” a game
• Tale of two games:
Game # 1:
Game # 2:
•Trespasser (PC version)
• score:
•Graphics grew old pretty
•Civilization II
• score: 9.2/10
•Graphics are functional
•Considered one of the best
games of all time
Ok So What is a Good Computer
Game Design?
• We don’t know
– No easy answer
– So no “recipe” for creating good games
• We know that many (most?) games developed fail
because of inadequate design
• Strong evidence that “gameplay mechanics” have a
crucial role in the success of a game:
– Civilization
– Diablo
– World of Warcraft
– Heroes of Might and Magic
• We are going to study a model inspired by cognitive
science and other fields.
– We may not agree completely with this model. But provides a
good base for discussion into a complex topic
Computer Game Design Class
Narrative storyline
Game mechanics
– rules of play
Concept art
Computer Game Design Class
• “Designing/programming games is not a game”
• URL of the course:
• Text book:
– Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
• Author: Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman
• Optional text book:
– Game Design: Theory & Practice
• Author: Richard Rouse III
• Available electronically in campus computers
• Additional reading:
– The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses
• Author: Jesse Schell
Student’s Work (I)
• Written examinations:
– 2 tests (20% each)
– A final exam (35%; cumulative)
• Material for evaluations:
– Classes
– Chapters covered from text books
• In class we will typically cover only part of a chapter
• You are responsible for the whole chapter
• Strongly suggest that you read as we cover the topics
• Other work:
– Design project (15%)
– Homework assignments (10%)
• Attendance to class is required
– This is after all an elective course
Student Work (II)
Design Project:
Select a game of your choice
Write a document (10-15 pages) analyzing its design
according o the methodology studied in the course
Class presentation of the design
Groups of 2 or 3 people
Optional: (extra-credit)
Class presentation about a topic of your choice
Creation of a new game (groups of 2 or 3 people)
This may exempt you from the Final Exam. Most students end
up taking this option

Computer Game Design Class