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This textbook was authored for the CIS 580 - Fundamentals of Game Programming course at Kansas State University. This front matter is specific to that course. If you are not enrolled in the course, please disregard this section.

CIS 580 - Fundamentals of Game Programming

Instructor Contact Information

  • Instructor: Nathan Bean (nhbean AT ksu DOT edu)
  • Office: DUE 2216
  • Phone: (785)483-9264 (Call/Text)
  • Website:
  • Office Hours: MW 10:30-11:30 or by appointment

Preferred Methods of Communication:

  • Chat: Quick questions via Discord are the preferred means of communication.   Questions whose answers may benefit the class I would encourage you to post in the #cis400 channel, as this keeps a public history your classmates can review.  More personal questions should be direct messaged to @Nathan Bean.
  • Email: For questions outside of this course, email to is preferred.
  • Phone/Text: 785-483-9264 Emergencies only! I will do my best to respond as quickly as I can.


  • CIS 501
  • MATH 221
  • A physics course

Students may enroll in CIS courses only if they have earned a grade of C or better for each prerequisite to these courses.

Course Overview

Fundamental principles of programming games. Foundational game algorithms and data structures. Two-dimensional graphics and game world simulation. Development for multiple platforms. Utilization of game programming libraries. Design of multiple games incorporating topics covered.

Course Description

This course is intended to introduce the fundamentals of creating computer game systems. Computer games are uniquely challenging in the field of software development, as they are considerably complex systems composed of many interconnected subsystems that draw upon the breadth of the field - and must operate within real-time constraints. For this semester, my goals for you as a student are:

  1. To develop a broad understanding of the algorithms and data structures often utilized within games.
  2. To recognize that there are many valid software designs, and to learn to evaluate them in terms of their appropriateness and trade-offs.
  3. To expand your games portfolio with fun, engaging, and technically sophisticated games of your own devising.
  4. To practice the software development and communication skills needed to participate meaningfully within our industry. All of our activities this semester will be informed by these goals.

Major Course Topics

  • Game Loops
  • Input
  • Sprite Rendering and Animation
  • Collision Detection and Restitution
  • Physics Simulation
  • Parallax Scrolling
  • Tile Engines
  • Game State Management
  • Content Management
  • 3D Rendering Fundamentals
  • Rendering and Animating Models

Course Structure

A common axiom in learner-centered teaching is “(s)he who does the work does the learning.” What this really means is that students primarily learn through grappling with the concepts and skills of a course while attempting to apply them. Simply seeing a demonstration or hearing a lecture by itself doesn’t do much in terms of learning. This is not to say that they don’t serve an important role - as they set the stage for the learning to come, helping you to recognize the core ideas to focus on as you work. The work itself consists of applying ideas, practicing skills, and putting the concepts into your own words.

This course is built around learner-centered teaching and its recognition of the role and importance of these different aspects of learning. Most modules will consist of readings interspersed with a variety of hands-on activities built around the concepts and skills we are seeking to master. In addition, we will be applying these ideas in iteratively building a series of original video games over the semester. Part of our class time will be reserved for working on and discussing these games, giving you the chance to ask questions and receive feedback from your instructors, UTAs, and classmates.

The Work

There is no shortcut to becoming a great game programmer. Only by doing the work will you develop the skills and knowledge to make your a successful game developer. This course is built around that principle, and gives you ample opportunity to do the work, with as much support as we can offer.


Each module will include assigned readings focusing on both game programming theory and concrete approaches using MonoGame. You will need to read these to establish the theoretical and practical foundations for tackling the tutorials and original game projects.


Each module will include tutorial assignments that will take you step-by-step through using a particular concept or technique. The point is not simply to complete the tutorial, but to practice the technique and coding involved. You will be expected to implement these techniques on your own in your game projects - so this practice helps prepare you for those assignments.

Original Game Programming Assignments

Throughout the semester you will be building original games incorporating the techniques you have been learning; every two weeks a new game build will be due. These games can be completely new games, or build on games you turned in as a prior project, incorporating the new assigned techniques.

These original game projects are graded using criterion grading, and approach that only assigns points for completing the full requirements. However, the requirements will be brief and straightforward, i.e.:

Create a game that detects collisions between sprites and responds by altering the simulation in a significant way (i.e. changing sprite direction, removing sprites from the game, increasing or decreasing health, etc).

Games that meet the assigned criteria will be awarded 70 points.

In addition, games that fulfill aesthetic goals of being engaging and/or eliciting emotions from the player (other than frustration) will be awarded an additional 30 points. This is largely focused on what separates a game from a technical demo. Your game doesn’t have to be world-shattering to earn these points, just playable and somewhat fun.

You have the option of collaborating with other students in the class to create larger, group games for any original game project after the first four. As part of participating in a group development effort, you must complete a peer review for each of your teammates, due along with the game. The results of the peer review will be shared with your teammates to help develop teamwork skills. Additionally, your individual grade for the game assignment may be modified based on the peer review feedback.


Over the course of the semester, you will have the opportunity to have your games be workshopped by your peers. This is a valuable opportunity to gain critical feedback on your work, and you can earn up to 100 extra credit points (the equivalent of one game assignment) for each game you workshop.

Each week you should download and play the games that will be workshopped that week and be ready to discuss the game in class.


There will be no exams given in this course.


In theory, each student begins the course with an A. As you submit work, you can either maintain your A (for good work) or chip away at it (for less adequate or incomplete work). In practice, each student starts with 0 points in the gradebook and works upward toward a final point total out of the possible number of points. In this course, it is perfectly possible to get an A simply by completing all the software milestones in a satisfactory manner and attending and participating in class each day. In such a case, the examinations will simply reflect the learning you’ve been doing through that work. Each work category constitutes a portion of the final grade, as detailed below:

38% - Activities (The lowest score is dropped)

42% - Original Game Projects (7% each, 7 games total)

20% - Final Game

Extra Credit

14% - Workshops (7% each, 2 workshops total)

Letter grades will be assigned following the standard scale: 90% - 100% - A; 80% - 89.99% - B; 70% - 79.99% - C; 60% - 69.99% - D; 00% - 59.99% - F


Collaboration is an important practice for both learning and software development. As such, you are encouraged to work with peers and seek out help from your instructors and UTAs. However, it is also critical to remember that (s)he who does the work, does the learning. Relying too much on your peers will deny you the opportunity to learn yourself.

Game development is almost always a team activity, so you may choose to tackle the later game projects in a team. Obviously, a high degree of collaboration is expected here. Be aware that this does not mean you have the opportunity to let your team do all the work. Students who have not contributed (based on their peer reviews) will receive a 0 on team game projects.

Late Work


Read the late work policy very carefully! If you are unsure how to interpret it, please contact the instructor via email. Not understanding the policy does not mean that it won’t apply to you!

Every student should strive to turn in work on time. Late work will receive a penalty of 10% of the possible points for each day it is late. If you are getting behind in the class, you are encouraged to speak to the instructor for options to make up missed work.


We will be using Visual Studio 2019 as our development environment. You can download a free copy of Visual Studio Community for your own machine at You should also be able to get a professional development license through your Azure Student Portal. See the CS support documentation for details:

MonoGame is available through the Nuget package manager built into Visual Studio. You can install MonoGame project templates by following the directions here:

Discord also offers some free desktop and mobile clients that you may prefer over the web client. You may download them from:

To participate in this course, students must have access to a modern web browser, broadband internet connection, and webcam and microphone. All course materials will be provided via Canvas. Modules may also contain links to external resources for additional information, such as programming language documentation.

This course offers an instructor-written textbook, which is broken up into a specific reading order and interleaved with activities and quizzes in the modules. It can also be directly accessed at

Additionally, we will be using Robert Nystrom’s Game Programming Patterns, an exploration of common design patterns used in video games. It can be bought in print, but he also has a free web version at

Students who would like additional textbooks should refer to resources available on the O’Riley For Higher Education digital library offered by the Kansas State University Library. These include electronic editions of popular textbooks as well as videos and tutorials.

Subject to Change

The details in this syllabus are not set in stone. Due to the flexible nature of this class, adjustments may need to be made as the semester progresses, though they will be kept to a minimum. If any changes occur, the changes will be posted on the Canvas page for this course and emailed to all students.

K-State 8

CIS 580 helps satisfy the Aesthetic Interpretation tag in the K-State 8 General Education program. As part of this course, you will both develop and critique computer games, which constitute a form of aesthetic expression that is both similar and dissimilar from literature and film.

Academic Honesty

Kansas State University has an Honor and Integrity System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one’s work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor and Integrity System. The policies and procedures of the Honor and Integrity System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. A component vital to the Honor and Integrity System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: “On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work.” A grade of XF can result from a breach of academic honesty. The F indicates failure in the course; the X indicates the reason is an Honor Pledge violation.

For this course, a violation of the Honor Pledge will result in an automatic 0 for the assignment and the violation will be reported to the Honor System. A second violation will result in an XF in the course.

In this course, unauthorized aid broadly consists of giving or receiving code to complete assignments. This could be code you share with a classmate, code you have asked a third party to write for you, or code you have found online or elsewhere.

Authorized aid - which is not a violation of the honor policy - includes using the code snippets provided in the course materials, discussing strategies and techniques with classmates, instructors, TAs, and mentors. Additionally, you may use code snippets and algorithms found in textbooks and web sources if you clearly label them with comments indicating where the code came from and how it is being used in your project.

Be aware that using assets (images, sounds, etc.) that you do not have permission to use constitutes both unauthorized aid and copyright infringement.

Standard Syllabus Statements


The statements below are standard syllabus statements from K-State and our program.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who need classroom accommodations, access to technology, or information about emergency building/campus evacuation processes should contact the Student Access Center and/or their instructor. Services are available to students with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, medical conditions, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety. If you are a student enrolled in campus/online courses through the Manhattan or Olathe campuses, contact the Student Access Center at, 785-532-6441; for K-State Polytechnic campus, contact Julie Rowe, Diversity, Inclusion and Access Coordinator, at or call 785-826-2971.

Expectations for Conduct

All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article V, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.

Mutual Respect and Inclusion in K-State Teaching & Learning Spaces

At K-State, faculty and staff are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. K-State courses, labs, and other virtual and physical learning spaces promote equitable opportunity to learn, participate, contribute, and succeed, regardless of age, race, color, ethnicity, nationality, genetic information, ancestry, disability, socioeconomic status, military or veteran status, immigration status, Indigenous identity, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, religion, culture, as well as other social identities.

Faculty and staff are committed to promoting equity and believe the success of an inclusive learning environment relies on the participation, support, and understanding of all students. Students are encouraged to share their views and lived experiences as they relate to the course or their course experience, while recognizing they are doing so in a learning environment in which all are expected to engage with respect to honor the rights, safety, and dignity of others in keeping with the (K-State Principles of Community)[].

If you feel uncomfortable because of comments or behavior encountered in this class, you may bring it to the attention of your instructor, advisors, and/or mentors. If you have questions about how to proceed with a confidential process to resolve concerns, please contact the Student Ombudsperson Office. Violations of the student code of conduct can be reported here. If you experience bias or discrimination, it can be reported here.



This is our personal policy and not a required syllabus statement from K-State. It has been adapted from this statement from K-State Global Campus, and the Recurse Center Manual. We have adapted their ideas to fit this course.

Online communication is inherently different than in-person communication. When speaking in person, many times we can take advantage of the context and body language of the person speaking to better understand what the speaker means, not just what is said. This information is not present when communicating online, so we must be much more careful about what we say and how we say it in order to get our meaning across.

Here are a few general rules to help us all communicate online in this course, especially while using tools such as Canvas or Discord:

  • Use a clear and meaningful subject line to announce your topic. Subject lines such as “Question” or “Problem” are not helpful. Subjects such as “Logic Question in Project 5, Part 1 in Java” or “Unexpected Exception when Opening Text File in Python” give plenty of information about your topic.
  • Use only one topic per message. If you have multiple topics, post multiple messages so each one can be discussed independently.
  • Be thorough, concise, and to the point. Ideally, each message should be a page or less.
  • Include exact error messages, code snippets, or screenshots, as well as any previous steps taken to fix the problem. It is much easier to solve a problem when the exact error message or screenshot is provided. If we know what you’ve tried so far, we can get to the root cause of the issue more quickly.
  • Consider carefully what you write before you post it. Once a message is posted, it becomes part of the permanent record of the course and can easily be found by others.
  • If you are lost, don’t know an answer, or don’t understand something, speak up! Piazza allows you to send a message privately to the instructors, or post anonymously so other students don’t know your identity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions anytime, as you can choose to do so without any fear of being identified by your fellow students.
  • Class discussions are confidential. Do not share information from the course with anyone outside of the course without explicit permission.
  • Do not quote entire message chains; only include the relevant parts. When replying to a previous message, only quote the relevant lines in your response.
  • Do not use all caps. It makes it look like you are shouting. Use appropriate text markup (bold, italics, etc.) to highlight a point if needed.
  • No feigning surprise. If someone asks a question, saying things like “I can’t believe you don’t know that!” are not helpful, and only serve to make that person feel bad.
  • No “well-actually’s." If someone makes a statement that is not entirely correct, resist the urge to offer a “well, actually…” correction, especially if it is not relevant to the discussion. If you can help solve their problem, feel free to provide correct information, but don’t post a correction just for the sake of being correct.
  • Do not correct someone’s grammar or spelling. Again, it is not helpful, and only serves to make that person feel bad. If there is a genuine mistake that may affect the meaning of the post, please contact the person privately or let the instructors know privately so it can be resolved.
  • Avoid subtle -isms and microaggressions. Avoid comments that could make others feel uncomfortable based on their personal identity. See the syllabus section on Diversity and Inclusion above for more information on this topic. If a comment makes you uncomfortable, please contact the instructor.
  • Avoid sarcasm, flaming, advertisements, lingo, trolling, doxxing, and other bad online habits. They have no place in an academic environment. Tasteful humor is fine, but sarcasm can be misunderstood.

As a participant in course discussions, you should also strive to honor the diversity of your classmates by adhering to the K-State Principles of Community.

Face Coverings

All students are expected to comply with K-State’s face mask policy. As of August 2, 2021, everyone must wear face masks over their mouths and noses in all indoor spaces on university property, including while attending in-person classes. This policy is subject to change at the university’s discretion. For additional information and the latest on K-State’s face covering policy, see this page.

Academic Freedom Statement

Kansas State University is a community of students, faculty, and staff who work together to discover new knowledge, create new ideas, and share the results of their scholarly inquiry with the wider public. Although new ideas or research results may be controversial or challenge established views, the health and growth of any society requires frank intellectual exchange. Academic freedom protects this type of free exchange and is thus essential to any university’s mission.

Moreover, academic freedom supports collaborative work in the pursuit of truth and the dissemination of knowledge in an environment of inquiry, respectful debate, and professionalism. Academic freedom is not limited to the classroom or to scientific and scholarly research, but extends to the life of the university as well as to larger social and political questions. It is the right and responsibility of the university community to engage with such issues.

Campus Safety

Kansas State University is committed to providing a safe teaching and learning environment for student and faculty members. In order to enhance your safety in the unlikely case of a campus emergency make sure that you know where and how to quickly exit your classroom and how to follow any emergency directives. To view additional campus emergency information go to the University’s main page,, and click on the Emergency Information button, located at the bottom of the page.

Student Resources

K-State has many resources to help contribute to student success. These resources include accommodations for academics, paying for college, student life, health and safety, and others found at

Student Academic Creations

Student academic creations are subject to Kansas State University and Kansas Board of Regents Intellectual Property Policies. For courses in which students will be creating intellectual property, the K-State policy can be found at University Handbook, Appendix R: Intellectual Property Policy and Institutional Procedures (part I.E.). These policies address ownership and use of student academic creations.

Mental Health

Your mental health and good relationships are vital to your overall well-being. Symptoms of mental health issues may include excessive sadness or worry, thoughts of death or self-harm, inability to concentrate, lack of motivation, or substance abuse. Although problems can occur anytime for anyone, you should pay extra attention to your mental health if you are feeling academic or financial stress, discrimination, or have experienced a traumatic event, such as loss of a friend or family member, sexual assault or other physical or emotional abuse.

If you are struggling with these issues, do not wait to seek assistance.

For Kansas State Polytechnic Campus:

University Excused Absences

K-State has a University Excused Absence policy (Section F62). Class absence(s) will be handled between the instructor and the student unless there are other university offices involved. For university excused absences, instructors shall provide the student the opportunity to make up missed assignments, activities, and/or attendance specific points that contribute to the course grade, unless they decide to excuse those missed assignments from the student’s course grade. Please see the policy for a complete list of university excused absences and how to obtain one. Students are encouraged to contact their instructor regarding their absences.

©2021 The materials in this online course fall under the protection of all intellectual property, copyright and trademark laws of the U.S. The digital materials included here come with the legal permissions and releases of the copyright holders. These course materials should be used for educational purposes only; the contents should not be distributed electronically or otherwise beyond the confines of this online course. The URLs listed here do not suggest endorsement of either the site owners or the contents found at the sites. Likewise, mentioned brands (products and services) do not suggest endorsement. Students own copyright to what they create.

Original content in the course textbook at is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA license by Nathan Bean unless otherwise stated.