CPSC 436D Video Game Programming
Spring term 2017/18

This course provides an introduction to video game programming.

The course material will cover game programming techniques and technologies, including rendering, input, memory management, real-time software development for games; start-to-finish simple video game design and implementation; project management; teamwork and team management.

Students will learn to plan, manage and implement from scratch a video game over the course term. They will learn to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical, real-life setting and acquire hands-on problem solving skills.

 You should be able to take the course if you satisfy the following pre-reqs: One of MATH 200, MATH 253 and one of MATH 152, MATH 221, MATH 223 and either (a) CPSC 221 or (b) all of CPSC 260, EECE 320. Please see the official UBC course description for the prerequisite specifics.

Instructor: Alla Sheffer.

Office Hour: Monday 2-3 X651

Contact: We will use Piazza for all the announcements and questions.

Course Work

This is a hands-on, project-based, course. As such the grading is 100% homework based with most of the grade based on your contribution to a team video game project.

Mark distribution: Intro Individual Assignment (5%):  Team Video Game Project (95%)

For more details see the course policies

Course Syllabus/Overview

Why? Video games and game development represent a billion dollar industry, and there is a high demand for programmers at all levels with experience in this area. Vancouver is a major game industry hub with both major studios (Electronic Arts; Activision; Microsoft Research) and smaller groups (Blackbird Interactive; Capcom Vancouver; East Side Games).

In addition to being a relatable and exciting software domain, game implementation can provide valuable portfolio pieces for new students seeking jobs. Game development combines programming problems from areas such as artificial intelligence and computer graphics with the opportunity for creative and imaginative endeavors.

It is simply FUN!!

What? An opportunity for students to gain experience developing a video game from start to finish, and to acquire basic knowledge on core elements of video game development.

How? During the span of the course, students will work in teams of approximately 6 people to create a complete small to medium-sized (2D or 3D) video game (no prior experience with computer graphics is required). The games will be implemented from scratch: you will be provided with a minimalist starting template and will be expected to write most/all the rest of the code yourself; you will be able to add externall libraries for "bells and whistles" as long as these do not replace coding of key milestones. We will not rely on any game engines in the development to allow students to implement themselves and better understand core game components. 

Students completing the course will learn about and implement basic methodologies across areas of computer science that are involved in the programming of a video game - computer graphics, artificial intelligence, path planning, audio programming, and software design. Theiy will become familiar with software development elements such as memory management, "bare metal" hardware programming, and real-time algorithm implementation.

Students will also be familiarized with standard software engineering tools such as debuggers, profilers, and multi-user revision control. The final project for this course will be a completed video game that students can take home and exhibit to friends, family, and potential employers.


Classess (lectures/labs) are scheduled on Wed and Friday 15:00-17:00 at ORCH 3018 .

These will consist of four elements: lectures, class status review meetings; team meetings with instructor; and team meetings with TA.

We will have more lectures early in the term (up to three hours), with meetings gradually taking over toward the end.

Lecture materials will appear here as we proceed, with no guarantee we'll post everything. So do come to the lectures!

Once teams are set, we will have weekly agile status review meetings (one hour) with a rep from each team reporting on weekly progress (~3min per team).

Teams will also meet weekly with the TA and Bi-weekly with instructor to discuss progress.

01 - Intro[PDF]
02 - Rendering Pipeline, Part I[PDF]
03 - Shaders and OpenGL[PDF]
04 - Rendering Pipeline, Part II[PDF]
05 - Transformations[PDF]
06 - 2D Geometry: Curves[PDF]
07 - Gameplay: Basics[PDF]
08 - Gameplay: Strategy[PDF]
09 - Programming 101[PDF]
10 - Physics Based Animation 101[PDF]
11 - Collisions[PDF]
12 - Advanced GLSL[PDF]
13 - EA (Craig Peters) [PDF]
14 - BlackBirdInteractive (Yggy King) [LINK]

Course Milestones

#Date Released (tentative)Date dueLinks
Hello World Intro to Video Games Jan 1st Jan 12 Assignment template is here (individual assignment)
Team Project Jan 1stApr 14
Project milestone breakdown (milestones document)   
Project Pitch (mini milestone) Jan 12  
Proposal Jan 19 
Basic Graphics Feb 9 
Core Game Logic & AI Feb 23 (shifted to Feb 26) 
Physics & Collisions Mar 9 
Robust Play Mar 23 
!!!Grand Finale!!! Apr 14 

TAs: Edoardo Dominici, Chrystiano Araujo
Please contact them via Piazza.

TAs will be able to answer your questions regarding the assignment/projects during  regular meeting times.

To submit your programming assignment/milestone code, please use handin.

Each milestone is due 23:59:59 pm on the day specified, measured by the handin. No late submissions accepted, except for the grace days:

Grace days: Each team may use up to 3 grace days per term. We will keep track of your grace days. Use these as you wish to help manage your time, but use them wisely. You can use all three on one milestone, or one day for each of three milestones. Grace days are counted as integers, i.e., if you are one hour late, that counts as one grace day. Weekends (Sat/Sun) do not count (so submitting a milestone on Monday instead of Friday counts as one day). Once your grace days are all used, late submissons will receive a grade of zero.

Grading: We will use "face-to-face grading," i.e., you will be required to demonstrate that you understand why your program works. You must be able to explain every single line you wrote!

Resources and Prior Offerings

Examples of games writiten by previous students can be found here.

The course has no textbook.

Links to other useful webpages will be added here as the course progresses.


Plagiarism: Shortly: don't cheat. What's considered cheating in CPSC 436D: here. What department does with cheaters: here.

Missed work: Policy here.

Dropping: Because of the high demand for this course, the drop deadlines will be strictly enforced. No drop forms will be signed by the instructor after the first drop deadline. After that date, you will not be given permission to drop, and you will either have to complete the course or receive an "F" for the course at the end of the term. This policy has been adopted to encourage students to make a serious commitment to the course or to drop it early so that other students waiting to get into the course can register for it.

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