Computer Science 349
Wellesley College
Spring 2010
Instructor: Kevin Gold


This course will teach the design, history, and programming of games. The course will be taught in Flash; some previous programming experience of some kind will be assumed, but no previous experience with Flash will be necessary. The course will have both required reading, in which game designers and others discuss the creation of games, as well as required playing -- excellent examples from the history of video games that exemplify particular genres. The required playing is all free, and in the case of software, available for both Mac and PC. The textbook will be ActionScript 3.0: Game Programming University, which will provide code for some games that you will have the chance to improve using your new design and Flash skills. The course will culminate in a final project.


Grading will be calculated as follows:
Response Questions and Analog Games 20%
Programming and Digital Games 30%
Midterm 20%
Final Project 30%

Late Policy

Assignments are due before class begins. Do not turn your assignment in during the middle of the class -- it will count as late! You have 5 free late days to use over the course of the semester -- after that, each half day it's late will be -5%. Late days are rounded up to the nearest half.

Office Hours

Whether you're stuck coding ActionScript, or want to know whether your million dollar game idea has ever been done before, or just want to argue whether Sephiroth or Solid Snake is more badass, I'm here for you. Well, at the times listed below, anyway. My office is E104.

Times subject to change as I fly across the nation looking for my next job -- I'll announce changes on the class conference.
Monday 1pm-4pm
Wednesday 3pm-5pm
Thursday 1pm-4pm

Where can I get Flash?

You can get Flash on your own computer for free using the Wellesley license, either for PC or Mac, by borrowing the CDs from the Knapp Center or the Science Library. Do this early -- there will be a run on them when we start teaching Flash! Flash is also on the computers in E101, E160A (ask for the combination), and the few remaining MiniFocus computers, and also in several of the Jewett computer labs. Keep in mind if you spend your weekends at MIT that these are keyed to the Wellesley network.

Game Hall of Fame

Here are some of the most impressive assignments so far from the class, which have been awarded the coveted "S Rank":

New! Final Projects

Here are the final projects that were coded in Flash. Great job, everyone!


Use "View Source" for a list of picture credits.

Tue Jan 26
Fri Jan 30
Tue Feb 2
Fri Feb 5
Tue Feb 9
Fri Feb 12
Fri Feb 19
Tue Feb 23
Fri Feb 26
Tue Mar 2
Fri Mar 5
Tue Mar 9
Fri Mar 12
Tue Mar 16
Fri Mar 19
Tue Mar 30
Fri Apr 2
Tue Apr 6
Fri Apr 9
Tue Apr 13
Fri Apr 16
Tue Apr 20
Fri Apr 23
Tue Apr 26
Fri Apr 30
Tue May 4
Mon May 17
Intro: Why are games interesting and exciting? Required Reading: Tic tac toe review by Paul DeStefano; Huizinga, Homo Ludens, Ch. 1
Required Playing:Passage, Alter Ego
Assignment: Response questions (due next class)
Interactive Fiction (Text Adventures) Required Reading: Jeremy Douglass on Shade
Required Playing:Photopia
Assignment: Game in Inform (due in 1.5 wks, Tue Feb 9)
Introduction to Inform
Required Reading: Robinett on Adventure, from the Video Game Theory Reader
Required Playing:Adventure
Intro to Flash 1: Building "Adventure"-style games Flash/ActionScript 3 Reference: Rosenzweig Ch. 1-2
Intro to Flash 2: Shmups and the Grand Illusion of the Stage Required Playing:The Ur-Quan Masters (Star Control II)
Optional Reading:Rosenzweig Ch. 5 and 7
Optional Tutorial:Kongregate ActionScript 3 Shootorials
Assignment: Your First Flash Game (due in 2 wks)
Intro to Flash 3: Point and Click Interfaces and Animation Required Playing:Today I Die
A Brief History of Board Games Required Reading:James Ernest's Make Magazine article
Game Mechanics, Collectible Card Games, and Self-Modifying Games Required Reading:Mark Rosewater on Timmy, Johnny, and Spike; Richard Garfield on Magic's design
Assignment: Dvorak Deck (due in 1 wk)
Tabletop Role-Playing Games Required Reading: John Tynes, Puppetland
Required Playing: Puppetland or Risus
Effective Game Storytelling Required Reading:Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide, Mechner's Sands of Time writeup from Second Person
Assignment: RPGs and Game Storytelling (due in 1.5 wks)
Video Game RPGs Recommended Reading:Planescape: Torment design doc
Recommended playing:NetHack, Kingdom of Loathing
LARPs and Player-Driven Game Design
Kevin is in Japan, and yet, lecture will still magically happen.
Platformers I: History, design, basic programming Required Playing:N
Platformers II: Advanced techniques and animation Optional Reading: The Illusion of Life, Ch. 3
Required Playing:Braid (here for Mac demo)
Assignment: Platformer Plus (due Apr 6)
Games and Society discussion Required Reading:Griffiths and Davies, "Does Video Game Addiction Exist?"
Optional Reading: Goldstein, "Violent Video Games"
Turn-based strategy, Tower Defense, and RTS Optional Reading: H.G. Wells, Little Wars
Required Playing: Choose one: Desktop Tower Defense, Immortal Defense (PC only), Plants Vs. Zombies
Games as Simulations and Systems Required Playing:Civilization IV Demo(here for Mac demo), 1066
Required Reading: Uricchio, "Simulation, History, and Computer Games"
Assignment: Project Proposals (due in 1 wk)
New Guest Lecture!
Kevin Kulp and Dorian Hart on Industry Game Development
AI in Games Required Reading:Isla, Handling Complexity in the Halo 2 AI
First-person shooters and 3D
Required Reading: Lee, Wage Slaves
Required Reading:Ch.4 of Castronova, Exodus to the Virtual World
Last written assignment (due in 1 wk)
Massively Multiplayer Online Games
Indie Games and Game Culture Optional Reading: Play This Thing!, The Independent Games Source Required Playing: You Have to Burn the Rope
Demo Day and Final Instructions
Conclusion: Alternate Reality Games, Education, and Other Examples of Wittgenstein's Observation
Optional Reading/Playing:SF0
Demo Day
Final Projects Due
Passage Alter Ego Star Control II Ancient Egyptian playing Senet A Magic card with recursion ("View Image" to enlarge) Planescape: Torment Braid N Super Columbine Massacre RPG Plants vs. Zombies Civilization IV Amplitude World of Warcraft gold farmers You Have to Burn the Rope