GDD 1 (2020/21)



Game Design and Development 1 is an introductory course about Game Design, Game Mechanics, Game Art, Gamer Psychology and more.

The course consists of interactive presentations, guest lectures, individual assignments and a group assignment where you design and implement your own game.

This semester most of the lecture will be held online. The lectures will be streamed on Twitch, and discussions will take place on Discord. If possible, some tutorials will be held at university.


This table shows when lectures are held and submissions are due. This semester’s schedule is subject to change, some dates will be updated based on current circumstances.

2020-10-07[Lecture] Course Introduction
2020-10-09Send Discord Names (Submission)
2020-10-14[Lecture] About Games, Game Prototyping, Game Design Document
2020-10-16[Tutorial] Unity (by Michael Holly)
2020-10-21[Lecture] Game Dev Process
2020-10-23[I-01] Mini Game (Submission)
2020-10-28[Lecture] Game Engines Overview
2020-10-30[G-01] Group Registration + Game Idea (Submission)
2020-11-04[Lecture] Game Design Overview
2020-11-06[G-02] Game Design Document Draft (Submission)
2020-11-11[Lecture] Gamer Psychology
2020-11-13[Tutoring Interview] Game Design Document Draft
2020-11-18[Lecture] Game Design Pattern
2020-11-20[Tutorial] Intro to Game Art ? (by Erin List)
2020-11-25[Lecture] Time Estimation
2020-11-27[Tutorial] Intro to Blender (by Saeed Safikhani)
2020-12-02[Lecture] AI in Games
2020-12-4[Tutorial] GIT Workflow (by Michael Holly)
2020-12-09[Lecture] Testing of Games
2020-12-16[Lecture] Game Polishing
2020-12-18[G-03] First Prototype (Submission)
2021-01-08[I-02] Talk Summary (Submission)
2020-01-13[Lecture] AI in Games
2020-01-15[G-04] QA Feedback (Submission)
2021-01-20[Lecture] Security in Games
2021-01-22[Tutoring Interview] Development Progress
2021-01-29[G-05] Full Game (Optional Submission)
2021-03-05[G-05] Full Game (Submission)
TBAFinal Presentation

Slides & Lecture Content

[Slides] Introduction
[Game Analysis] Game Dev Tycoon

Game Design Elements
[Slides] 1 Game Design Elements

[Game Analysis] QWOP

[Link] What Makes a Game?
[Link] Jordan Melcher’s Journal: “The Making of Prince of Persia”
[Link] GDC Video: Classic Game Postmortem: PRINCE OF PERSIA

Game Taxonomy and Iterative Design

[Slides] 2 Taxonomy

[Link] Post-GDC: Cliff Bleszinski Says Iteration Won Gears of War

Game Engines

[Slides] 3 Game Engines Overview

Gamer Psychology

[Slides] 4 Gamer Psychology

Game Design Guidelines and Game Dev Roles
[Slides] 5 Game Design Guidelines

Game Art

[Slides] Intro to Game Art

AI & Performance


Unity Tutorial
[Slides] GDD Unity Tutorial
[GitHub] MiniGame

Unity Git Workflow Tutorial
[Slides] GDD Unity Git Workflow Tutorial

Individual Assignments

[I-01] Mini Game

Task Description

Create a classic little 2D side scrolling Shmup (“Shoot’em up”, think R-Type, Gradius, etc.) game with Unity* to get a hold of game development basics. You can find a detailed task description here.

* If you have already found a group and you are sure you want to use a different engine for your group project, you can request to use another engine.


Export your game as WebGL build and upload it to GitHub pages or a similar service, enter the link on TeachCenter within the deadline in the schedule.

[I-02] Talk Summary

Task Description

Watch and summarize a GDC talk. Select a talk you are interested in from the [talk list] and use the template to summarize it.


Create a PDF and .tex file with the naming convention:

If you added images to your document please zip your files and include them in the submission.

# is your matriculation number, hence a student with matr. nr. 012345678 should hand in the files:

Upload the files to TeachCenter within the deadline in the schedule.

Group Assignments

[G-01] Group Registration, Game Idea

Task description

Find a group of 4-5 people and decide on a game idea that satisfies the topics and guidelines. If you don’t have a group already you can find group members on Discord. Describe your idea in a few sentences, you can add a small sketch if you want to. Also, decide on a fancy name for your group.

Topics & Inspiration

The inspirational topics for 2020/21 are:

Topic 1: Science / Engineering

Topic 2: Nature / Zoo(-animals)

Topic 3: Climate Change

Topic 4: COVID-19

Your game idea should touch one or more of these topics (creative ways of touching a topic are possible).


Keep important aspects such as race, gender, culture etc. in mind.

Motor (e.g. more than one type of input device), Cognitive (e.g. contextual in-game help), Vision (e.g. color blindness safe colors), Hearing (e.g. subtitles), General (e.g. difficulty levels). You can draw inspiration from here.


Create a PDF with the naming convention:

## is your group number, hence group 5 sends the file gdd1_g-01_game-idea_05.pdf.

First, enter your group on TechCenter, then upload your file and enter your group name within the deadline in the schedule.

[G-02] Game Design Document Draft

Task Description

Use the Game Design Document Template* to create the first draft of your game design document. Keep the topics and guidelines listed above in mind.

*You can use a different software to create your Game Design Document if you can export a PDF and keep the structure of the document.


Create a PDF with the naming convention:

## is your group number, hence group 5 sends the file gdd1_g-02_game-design-doc-draft_05.pdf.

Upload the file to TeachCenter within the deadline in the schedule.

[G-03] First Prototype

Task Description

Create a prototype according to the topics and guidelines. The prototype should show what your game will look like (e.g. blockouts of levels) and it should demonstrate the core mechanics of your game.

Create a page for your game on, you do not need to upload a build yet, but add a short description and screenshots that promote your game.


Upload the build to TeachCenter and add a link to your page within the deadline in the schedule.

[G-04] QA Feedback

Task Description

Test a game from another group. The QA Strategy section below outlines what to look out for during testing.

Provide a small report (.txt file, or excel sheet) with a list of issues you’ve found:
[ID / Type of issue (1-3) / Description of issue / Severity of this issue (A extremely bad – C nice to have) / Tips for improvement]

#4 / 1 / The game controls are not clear / B / Explain the controls on the start screen
#5 / 3 / Driving into a tree for 100 times crashes game / C / Find root cause for the crash

You should test the player experience, the usability, and QA (alias bugs).

QA Strategy

Type 1: Player Experience (Game Design)

  • Fun?
  • Confused/bored/frustrated?
  • Design good?
  • Idea clear?
  • Mechanics?
  • Level too long/short?
  • Do you understand the game?

Type 2: Usability

  • Interface intuitive?
  • Easy to use?
  • Controls understandable?

Type 3: Quality Assurance (Severe Bugs)

  • Test intensively
  • Find bugs


Create a PDF with the naming convention:

## is your group number, hence group 5 sends the file gdd1_g-04_qa_05.csv.

Upload the report to TeachCenter and send it to the the other group via e-mail or Discord within the deadline in the schedule.

[G-05] Full Game

Task Description

Fully implement your game and create a presentation for the final exhibition.

Short “pitch” (max. 4-5 minutes!) – try to “sell” your game/game idea. You can show your video or play the game live (or both if time).

Please bring your own equipment for the exhibition. In case you are missing hardware contact the tutors in advance. If the exhibition cannot be held at university there will be some kind of online exhibition.


Printout PDF as part of your online submission

  • Title page: Game title + who worked on this game (+
  • Your final Game Design Document


  • readme.txt with the following information, so that we can feature your games on the website:
    (1) short game description
    (2) all names + matr. nr
    (3) Technologies used
    (4) Credits
    (5) Link to build for feature on website (such as on
  • Digital Game design document
  • 4-6 screenshots
  • a small video of the gameplay (ca 2-3 minutes)
  • Build and source code of your game


Bring the printout and the DVD to the presentation. If there is no offline presentation, a PDF file replaces the title page and a zip file replaces the DVD, and all deliverables should be uploaded to TeachCenter within the deadline in the schedule.

Update the details about your game on your page and join this year’s game jam. We encourage you to upload the video and a build of your game to to make it available to a broader audience.

If you want to develop your game further and publish it not only within the scope of this lecture, we are happy to help and answer any remaining questions.

Links & More



You need to submit all assignments for a positive grade. 

Group Assignments70%

Game Collection

A collection of games created in previous GameLabGraz lectures

Your game goes here.
2020 GDD2 Games
2019 GDD1 Games
2018 GDD2 Games
2017 GDD1 Games

Book Recommendations

Johanna’s personal book recommendations and books the lecture draws inspiration from.

Jane McGonigal – Reality is Broken (+++)
One of my favorite books. Jane McGonigal gives some inspirations and ideas of how to use games in different contexts. Reads like a novel and avoids theoretical aspects.

Jesse Schell – The Art of Game Design (+++)
This is the book I am using a lot for my lecture. Very good summary of the most important design aspects from different points of view (technical aspects, player psychology, all different design things).

Scott Rogers – Level Up (2nd Edition) (+++)
Also a very good design on game design. I’ve especially enjoyed the bonus chapters with inspirational lists for environments, game mechanics, and different templates as an inspirational resource for your games.

Jeremy Gibson – Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping, and Development (++)
This book gives also a very nice introduction to game design techniques, but in a more practical manner. The main part of this book is a unity and C# tutorial.

Raph Koster – A Theory of Fun (++)
I simply love the style of this book. It has comics and sketches ?

Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (+)
Wonderful book (THE book) about the flow experience with neat examples from all different fields.

Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman – Rules of Play (+)
Very interesting book on game design with a lot of practical examples. Note: Amazon credit me a small referral amount, should you purchase a book after following these links.