Unit 39 Computer Games Design and Development

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To provide learners with an understanding of computer games development as an underpinning technological concept in the fields of computer gaming and systems development.

Unit abstract

It is often easy to forget that behind the polished high-definition graphics and increasingly cinematic content of modern computer games is a highly skilled team of designers and programmers. With more sophisticated environments and new ways of interacting with computers, computer game developers now have the choice to extend into many software development realms. Linking to any of the programming units, this unit enables learners to use any suitable platform to explore design requirements and methods of user interaction as well as the coding demands required for the differing types of gaming environments. Whilst it is essential to offer learners an overview of the differing gaming environments, unit delivery for the development of a game should focus on one specific environment and the required user and technological interactions. This unit is not suited to learners who do not have experience in programming and should ideally be delivered when the learner has completed procedural programming, object-oriented programming or event-driven programming.

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Learning outcomes

1 Understand computer games development

Types of computer game: genre eg action, role-play, adventure, strategy, simulation, sports, combat, educational, puzzle, personal development, skills based; development areas eg graphics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), audio, role, scripting; interaction design eg Graphical User Interface (GUI), online, social, integration with media
Platforms: devices eg personal computer, hand held console, stand-alone platform, mobile phone, internet, network, web page
Programming: requirements eg mathematical, simulated physics, GUI components, interface
User control: interaction eg voice, movement, mouse, keyboard, touch screen, floor based, headset, simulated artifact
Impact of gaming: concerns eg time spent, social isolation, cost, separation of reality from actuality, addiction; benefits eg development of thinking, skills development, social interaction, impact on device development, impact on device accessibility
Psychological factors: effects eg use of sound, high score listings, competitive element, peer pressure, fun, educational value, expectations, personal development, skills acquisition

2 Be able to design computer games

Design: tools eg storyboards, pseudo code, narratives, action lists, graphical tools, actor interaction dialogues
Development environment: language eg event driven, object oriented, procedural; considerations eg development facilities, gaming resource offered, library availability, interaction resources, platform compatibility, platform portability
Programming: use of eg data types, conditional statements, control structures, objects, listeners, syntax rules, parameter passing
Program design: considerations eg purpose, modularity, systematic approach, data dictionary, structure charts, flow charts, pseudo code, state diagrams
Units: elements eg functions, procedures, methods, widgets, GUI components, symbols, avatars, characters
Delivery: environments eg desktop, application, mobile app, web based, utility, web based, applet, handheld, console based

3 Be able to develop computer games

Implementation: language eg event driven, object oriented, procedural; working application
Programming: use of programming standards; relationship to program design
Coding: use of conventional language commands; material produced is unique; use of library classes
Pre-defined: types eg class library, downloaded, imported, reversion code
Complexity: implementation of user interaction: assurance of user benefit; assurance of use
Components: features eg multimedia, sound, audio, visual, data management, file management
Environment: tools eg games programming software

4 Be able to test and document computer games

Mechanisms: procedures eg checking valid declarations, debugging code, checking naming conventions, checking functionality against requirements, error detection, error messages, compiler errors, runtime errors, in code response, dry running
Supportive documentation: test plan; test results; technical documentation eg data dictionary, action charts, action tables, input-process-output tables, class and instance diagrams, data flow diagrams; user guidance; game playing instructions
Feedback: record feedback, eg surveys, questionnaire, interviews; analyze feedback; present results
Testing methods: test strategy eg black box, white box, interface; iterative approach (testing at various stages of development); test plans and test cases; test logs; test evidence; test reports; retests done


  • Harbour J, Smith J and LaMothe A (editor) – Beginner’s Guide to Darkbasic Game Programming (Muska & Lipman Publishing US, 2003) ISBN 1592000096
  • McShaffrey M – Game Coding Complete, 2nd Edition(Paraglyph Inc US, 2005) ISBN 1932111913


  • Allegro                                                     www.talula.demon.co.uk/allegro
  • Game Developer                                     www.gamedev.net
  • Game Programmer                                 www.gameprogrammer.com
  • Game Programming Wiki                        www.gpwiki.org
  • Game Programming                               en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_programming
  • Game Tutorials                                       www.gametutorials.com
  • The Game Creators                                www.thegamecreators.com
  • Ultimate Game Programming                  www.ultimategameprogramming.com

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