home | et44 - game design/play mechanics - Spring 2019


David Javelosa

Office Hours - CMD 220:


2304 2:00p.m.-5:05p.m. M CMD 271

Copyright © 2004-2019 David Javelosa unless otherwise stated.

course content

Material based on Game Design Workshop
Copyright © 2004-2008 Tracy Fullerton
used by permission of author


class assignments
resource page

week 01 notes
week 02 notes
week 03 notes
week 04 notes
week 05 notes
week 06 notes
week 07 notes
week 08 notes
week 09 notes
week 10 notes
week 11 notes
week 12 notes
week 13 notes
week 14 notes
week 15 notes
week 16 notes

: check these weekly

: information - jobs/internships, technical, design, articles, etc.

: introduction to game design and class overview
: structure of games
: working with formal elements - powerpoint
: working with dramatic elements - powerpoint
: report due working with system dynamics
: conceptualization
: prototyping
: playtesting
: functionality, completeness, and balance
: fun and accessibility - games that were never made
: midterm exam & project due controls and interfaces
: team structures
: stages of development
: the design document
: understanding the game industry - serious games
: final project due - selling yourself & your ideas



Course Description

This course covers the fundamentals of game design, prototyping and development. The focus is on building a solid understanding of play mechanics: the formal elements of play, the dramatic elements that make a game meaningful to its players, and the system dynamics that shape the overall experience. Lectures will use historical and current games and genres to illustrate key concepts.

Topics include strategy and tactics, resource management, emergent complexity, puzzles and puzzle games, social games, online environments, role-playing, interactive drama, stages of development, and the business of games. Students will learn the process of design through prototyping, playtesting and revising their own original game concepts.


Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:


Identify the formal, dramatic and dynamic aspects of games and analyze how these elements work together to create meaningful play.


Demonstrate an understanding of the history of games, game genres, and their impact on today’s game industry.


Communicate game design via physical models, project plans, and design documents.


Student Learning Outcome:


Recommended Skills:



Design, prototype and playtest an effective, original game concept.

advisory: ET42 Game Development Principles

To succeed in this course, students should have the ability to:


Navigate the internet using a web browser.


Manage files using either the Mac or Windows operating systems.


Send and receive email messages and attachments.


Use a word processing program like Microsoft Word or its equivalent.

Students that do not meet these required skills are advised to enroll in a computer skills course such as CIS 1, ET 11 or GR DES 18.








Materials and Supplies

Common household objects, deck of cards, checker pieces, etc. as needed.
Various materials depending on individual game designs. Paper, pencils & pens.


Methods of Presentation

Methods of Evaluation

Lecture, discussion, demonstration, and hands-on projects

Grading is determined by participation and the timely completion of all assignments, projects and/or exams. Assignments and projects will be judged on technical execution and mastery of the underlying concepts. All coursework submitted must be original, completed solely by you.

To receive full credit, all assignments are due on time. Students are responsible for submitting all work on time regardless of absence. Emailing late assignments is NOT allowed. A late assignment may be submitted in class one week after the due date but will automatically drop one grade level. No late assignments will be accepted after one week.

There is no extra credit available for this course.

Students must complete 75% of the coursework, including the final, to pass the course. Final projects that are submitted late will NOT be accepted.

A grade of “Incomplete” may be granted at the very end of the term, only when 90% of the course work has been completed with a “C” or better, and an unforeseen event or illness prevents the student from completing the coursework. “Incomplete” grade situations are extremely rare, and are entirely at the discretion of the instructor, within the parameters set above.

Please let the instructor know, promptly and courteously, if a mistake has been made in class, in grading, or in posting your grade to eCompanion.

Your final grade will be calculated using the following percentages:

Analysis Paper: 10%
Midterm Exam: 25%
Midterm document project: 25%
Final prototype project and document: 30%
Attendance and class participation: 10%

Total                                100%

Grading Scale




Superior performance. Excellent achievement and craftsmanship in all work. Performs beyond course requirements.




Above average performance. Consistent progress and craftsmanship. Meets all course requirements.




Average performance. Minimum time and effort spent on coursework. Fulfills basic course requirements.




Uneven performance. Minimal output and improvement in work. Requirements are only partially fulfilled.



60% and below

Fails to meet a minimum of performance levels. Does not exhibit achievement or progress.



Withdrawal Policy

Students are responsible for withdrawing from a class and must not expect faculty to initiate withdrawal procedures for them. If you wish to drop this class, If you wish to drop this class, you may do so through Corsair Connect.

General information regarding drop dates, withdrawals, and other enrollment matters may be found at the Admissions section of the SMC website: http://www.smc.edu/EnrollmentDevelopment/Admissions/Pages/default.aspx. The deadlines and dates for this term are also listed at the end of this syllabus.

After the eighth week of classes, students must have faculty approval and documentable extenuating circumstances to withdraw.  Extenuating circumstances are unavoidable circumstances that prevent students from participating in further class activities and fulfilling remaining course requirements. Poor student performance in the course will NOT be considered as an extenuating circumstance.




The sixteen week schedule is provided below for your information.  Click here for the complete schedule including 8 week sessions.


Monday, Feb. 11


Monday, Feb. 18

Students can enroll themselves into open classes until the night before the second class meeting (except online, hybrid and arranged hour classes). After that point, an instructor’s approval code will be required.


Deadline to withdraw and receive REFUND (16 week session).

Visit your Corsair Connect portal.

Deadline to withdraw and AVOID "W".

Visit your Corsair Connect portal.


Friday, March 1


Tuesday, March 14

Deadline to apply for Pass/No Pass.

Visit your Corsair Connect portal.

​Deadline to withdraw and receive GUARANTEED "W". NO FURTHER TRANSACTIONS ALLOWED. Students must use the late withdrawal process which requires faculty approval based on extenuating circumstances.

Visit your Corsair Connect portal.


April 8 - 14

Deadline to submit PETITION TO GRADUATE.

Monday, April 15


Monday, May 27

Final Exams.

June 4 - 11

End of Spring Semester.

Tuesday, June 11

Grades dues from Faculty.

Tuesday, June 18


Final Dates

2304 2:00p.m.-5:05p.m. M CMD 271

June 10, 2019 


Classroom Policy

Academic Honesty
The SMC Honor Code and Code of Academic Integrity, printed in the General Catalog, remind students of their responsibility to behave honestly and ethically. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with these codes. Other guidance is also available online:

Student Responsibilities

Honor Code

Administrative Regulation 4412

Please be extremely careful that you do not engage in any behavior that could even be construed as cheating. Outside of class, students are allowed to study together. However, copying another student's work is not acceptable. If the instructor determines that students have violated the SMC Honor Code and/or the Code of Academic Integrity, the students may be assigned no credit. Future occurrences could result in academic disciplinary action. During an exam, talking to another student, looking at another student's paper or computer screen, using cheat notes or mobile devices, etc. are not permitted.

Students are expected to attend ALL class sessions, especially the first scheduled session. Lectures and hands-on demonstrations will not be repeated for individual students. Please make a commitment to be in class on time, arriving within the first 10 minutes of class, even if you have not completed the current assignment. You are responsible for notifying your instructor in advance of any absence or scheduling conflict. You may be dropped from the class if you miss more than two consecutive classes without notifying your instructor. Students who are out for 3 sessions due to illness need to provide a doctor’s note to be reinstated back into the class.

Classroom Policy
Food or drink is prohibited in the classroom with the exception of water bottles which are permitted as long as they remain closed and kept away from all equipment. Use of the computers for purposes other than the assignments for this class is not permitted. No cell phone or smart phone use will be permitted in the classroom. Please turn off all electronic devices prior to entering the classroom.

Recording of Class Lectures
In accordance with Section 78907 of the California Education Code, students shall not use any electronic listening or recording device in any classroom without the prior consent of the instructor, except as necessary to provide reasonable auxiliary aids and academic adjustments to disabled students.

Students with Disabilities
Santa Monica College accommodates students with disabilities.  If you qualify for any special accommodations due to a disability, you need to officially process your request through the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) office as close to the beginning of the semester as possible.  If you believe you have a learning disability that has not yet been documented, please notify the instructor and make an appointment at the DSPS office for assistance.  The DSPS office is located in the Admissions/Student Services Complex, Room 101, and the phone numbers are (310) 434-4265 and (310) 434-4273 (TDD). Scheduling of accommodated exams will be arranged on a case-by-case basis.

Emergency Prepardedness
The safety of students at SMC is a priority. Please note that emergency procedures are posted in this classroom and every classroom. Also, procedures for various emergencies are delineated on the SMC website. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with these procedures today, when knowledge of what to do can be the most effective."


Students should schedule an appointment with the counselors in Student Services, CMD 116, to develop an Educational Plan. This is to ensure that you are taking the necessary courses to prepare meet your educational goals.

During the first two weeks of the semester, appointments are given on a walk-in basis only. Please contact the counselors directly to make an appointment during the remainder of the semester:

Amanda Garcia                           Ashley Wadman
garcia_amanda@smc.edu              wadman_ashley@smc.edu


College use of
student work

By participating in this course, you agree to allow your work to be used by Santa Monica College for promotional purposes. These uses include, but are not limited to, display in physical and web galleries, promotional video tapes, and printed promotional pieces. You retain complete rights to your work, and Santa Monica College may not use your work for non-promotional purposes without your prior agreement.

Some elements of the syllabus may be changed at the instructor’s discretion.  Students will be given at least 48 hours notice of changes whenever possible. If there is any aspect of this syllabus which you do not understand, or to which you take exception, please let the instructor know within the first week of class.



Copyright © 2004 - 2019 David Javelosa