Paladin, a cooperative VR videogame created in cs426 S16
by students Kamil Piekutowski, Maciej Szpakowski, Shi Yin (CS)
and Olga Ziminska (Writer).

cs426 @UIC
Video Game Design and Implementation

Spring 2018
Instructor: Prof. Liz Marai
Wed 4pm-6:30pm
ERF 3036 Upstairs-EVL


Class Information






Class Information

All class-related information (including handouts, electronic readings, and assignments) should be accessed through the CS426 web portal located at:

For a quick view of results, please see the gallery of final projects: Gallery.

1:: Prerequisites and Attendance

Prerequisites: CS251 (Data Structures).

The class meets Thu 3:30-6:00pm in ERF 2068 CyberCommons. Attendance is mandatory, as this course employs massively in-class exercises, presentations, discussion, and critiques. Class will start right on time, always with a quiz; being consistently late (e.g., 2 or more times) is subject to the ``fair-play`` penalty described in Section 9. :-)

On many class meetings, this class will have a restrictive policy regarding laptops and smart phones. Devices need to be off for the duration of class discussion and critiques, unless they are specifically requested by the staff for specific tutorials and exercises. We need you to be present, active and alert for the duration of the entire class.

2:: Textbooks

While there is a wealth of gaming books available, few enough resources are dedicated to video game design and implementation for computer science and engineering majors. This does not mean that we will not read in this class; quite the contrary. However, most of the class readings will be online. We will read additional articles as necessary (electronic copies will be provided for these). The book we require for this class is:

  • Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Third Edition, by Tracy Fullerton.

3:: Staff

Liz Marai, SEO 932
Email:   gmarai at uic.edu
Office Hours:   M 4pm-5pm, Th 6:30pm - 7pm or by appointment.

Graduate Teaching Assistant:
ADK Datta, SEO 1330.
Email: adatta9 at uic.edu
Office Hours: Friday from 10:00 AM- 12:00 PM and Tuesday from 5:00PM - 7:00 PM. and by appointment.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:
Jae Rim Choi, SEL CS lounge
Email: jchoi215 at uic.edu
Office Hours: Wednesday from 1:20 - 4 and by appointment.

4:: Course Grade, Assignments, and Final Project

The course grade will be decided based on the following factors:

  • Final project, including intermediate deliverables (40%)
  • Class participation (20%)
  • Quizzes, assignments and in-class exercises (40%)
To make sure students read the assigned materials before class, there will be one quiz per assigned reading, with 1 point for attendance and 4 points for correct answers. We will drop your three lowest quiz scores. You need to bring in your icliker to each class meeting. There will be no formal test or exams aside from the quizzes. Don't make me regret it!

Classes will be divided among short lectures, discussions and debates, in-class exercises, quizzes, design critiques, student presentations, and group meetings.

Many of the assignments will be done in groups. Please note that in this course, as in real life after graduation, whom you get to work with for several exercises is determined by us/your project manager, not by you. When appropriate, all members of a group will earn the same grade, barring exceptional circumstances. We will closely monitor member contributions to the group work, as well as repeatedly ask for peer-based feedback.

Your primary grade will come from the course projects. While the class discussion and debates will not define your grade, your performance on them can alter your grade (in particular, not paying enough attention to them can cause you to lose a letter grade or more).

Sometimes you may think that you have been graded unfairly. Please take this up with the TA who graded your assignment. If there is still a problem, Dr. Marai is the final word in grading and will be happy to hear what you have to say. Also, once the grades have gone out, you will only be given two weeks to lodge a protest. In other courses, students have tried to get points back on all of their assignments in the last week of class, and though we would like to promote fair grading, we would like to dismiss malintentioned hassling. Our first priority is fairness (both to us and to you), so please do complain about grades if you don't agree with them.

Last, but not least, this edition of CS426 emphasizes teamwork and oral communication skills, both essential componens of game design and implementation. This emphasis is reflected in both assignments and the class participation component of the grade. To help define successful oral communication, we provide two grading rubrics, one for student presentations and the other one for class discussion (see Section 9 below).

5:: Late Policy

We will not accept late assignments. The assignments will sometimes be timed to coincide with a lecture on a topic, so completing the assignment is crucial class preparation. After the class, the assignment will have much less value. The more deadlines you make, and the more serious the ones you keep, the better your grade. An assignment that is 5 minutes late will receive 0 points.

6:: Collaboration

You may not discuss the assignment with anyone outside of the permitted group (by default, nobody else) with the sole exception of the course staff.

If you have questions, please send them to the course staff at i426 at cs.uic.edu. If the question or answer are of general interest, please post it to Piazza. Failure to follow this rule may be viewed as violation of the collaboration policy.

The project is, naturally, a group activity. Groups will communicate internally in ways defined by the group leadership. Groups may communicate with one another in clearly permitted ways (as defined by the course project requirements).

7:: Academic Honesty

The University has an Academic Code that governs all our transactions. In this course, we interpret this code as: All submitted work must be your own. You may not submit as yours work done by a classmate, by a friend, by someone on the internet etc. Always give proper credit. We expect that you, as students and scholars, will abide by this faithfully and fully. Cheating in this course will result in an F for the course.

8:: On Writing

We care about your ideas, and we also care equally deeply about the quality of your writing. We care about spelling, capitalization, punctuation, sentence construction, paragraphs, and so on. Avoid passive speech except where appropriate. Extremely good ideas expressed very poorly will earn a very poor grade.

9:: On Oral Communication and Discussion of Readings

We care equally deeply about the quality of your speech -- be it during team communication, results presentations, or deploying the game for testing. We want you to be successful, and to this end this semester we provide grading rubrics for class presentation and class participation (see syllabus).

It is important that you read the required class readings for a given class *before* the class meets. These readings are carefully selected to stimulate class discussion; reading them after class is far less useful. Therefore, we ask you to submit to Piazza short comments for each reading *by 11:59pm the day before class*. Each reading will feature on the wiki a "Lessons learned" section, and a "Topics for Discussion" section. Under "Lessons learned", please enter up to three sentences summarizing what you've learned from the paper or chapter (phrased as statements). Under "Topics for Discussion" please enter three items that you'd like to propose for discussion (phrased as questions). This will allow the presenters and discussion leads to come prepared to address class questions -- including amazing illustrations and examples and so forth :-). To encourage everyone to submit their comments on time, we implement the "fair-play" penalty for being late on Piazza. Entering comments late (or not at all) will result in having to prepare a mandatory 5-minute technical, entertaining skit for the following class meeting.

10:: Students With Disabilities

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the UIC Disability Resource Center (MC 321), 1200 West Harrison Street, 1190 SSB Chicago, IL 60607-7163 (312) 413-0886, as early as possible in the term. DRC will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

11:: Recording and Copyrights

Audio/Video Recording
To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classrom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student's own private use.

Copyrighted Material
All material provided through this web site is subject to copyright. This applies to class/recitation notes, slides, assignments, solutions, project descriptions, etc. You are allowed (and expected!) to use all the provided material for personal use. However, you are strictly prohibited from sharing the material with others in general and from posting the material on the Web or other file sharing venues in particular.