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T-637-GEDE, Game Engine Architecture, Spring 2014

Basic Info

  • Instructor: Hannes Högni Vilhjálmsson, Marinó Vilhjálmsson
  • Contact: Hannes: Office in Venus floor 2, telephone 559-6323, and email hannes[ ] (open office hours)
  • Contact: Marinó: marinov10[]
  • Theory/Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:20-13:55 (M104)
  • Practical/Labs: Wednesdays 10:20-11:55 (group 1) / 12:20-13:55 (group 2) (M121)
  • Online Forum: Piazza Course Page


The course covers the theory and practice of game engine software development, bringing together topics that range from large-scale software architectures and modern game programming paradigms to the design and implementation of subsystems for rendering, resource management, user interfaces, sound, collision, physics and animation. Through practical lab exercises and group projects, the students will get technical hands-on experience in C++ game development, including the use and development of supporting tool pipelines.


The course text book is "Game Engine Architecture" by Jason Gregory, published by AK Peters in 2009. You will be expected to have this book and read the chapters as we work our way through it.

Other books you can loan from library (reserved for this course): Game Programming Gems 1 through 8 (various), GPU Gems 3 (Nguyen), OGRE 3D 1.7 Beginner's Guide (Kerger), OGRE 3D 1.7 Application Development Cookbook (Peterson), CryENGINE 3 Cookbook (Tracy), Unity 3.x Game Development Essentials (Goldstone). You also have access to Game Developer's Magazine (several years).

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Explain game engines and their role in game development
  • Compare and evaluate game engines with respect to game development goals and system requirements
  • Sketch the typical components of a run-time game architecture
  • Use industrial standard C++ development tools and version control tools
  • Explain and use data structures that are commonly used in game development
  • Explain what goes on in a typical game loop
  • Design and implement low-level engine systems that deal with start-up/shut-down, memory management, engine configuration, file system, game resources, game loop, rendering loop and interface devices
  • Apply 3D math, covering points, vectors, matrices and quaternions, for solving game world problems
  • Explain what goes on in the rendering pipeline
  • Use programmable shaders
  • Explain the anatomy of a game world, game objects, data-driven game engines and the general construction of a run-time game-play foundation system


During the semester, students should complete three problem sets, one engine presentation and a final project. Problem sets should be done individually, but the engine presentation and final project in groups of up to 3 people in size. Students discuss final project ideas with instructor in week 7, demonstrate the project in week 12 and turn in a report on the project before exams start. Everything that has to be turned in, should arrive no later than at 23:59 on the due date, or else incur 10% penalty for each additional day, including weekends and holidays.

PROB1First Problem Set Weeks 1-3 Thu Jan 23Fri Jan 315%
PRESENTPresentation Existing Game Engine Thu Jan 16Thu Feb 1310%
PROB2Second Problem Set Weeks 4-7 Tue Feb 25Tue Mar 045%
PROB3Third Problem Set Weeks 8-11Fri Mar 28Sun Apr 065%
PROJECTFinal Project “New” Game Engine technologyThu Feb 20Thu Apr 0335%
Total 60%

Lab Projects

The practical classes on Wednesdays will be in the form of self-guided lab projects with assistance. The focus will be on C++ development using the Ogre 3D graphics engine and related game libraries. These projects will not be graded, but demonstrating successful results to the instructor will count towards participation grade. In addition, all source code should be uploaded into MySchool to register the completion.

Online Quizzes

Throughout the semester the instructor may provide several online quizzes in MySchool from the theoretical material. These quizzes are meant for students to review recently covered material and will not directly count towards the final grade.

Discussion System

Please use this course discussion system for posting questions regarding labs, problems or projects - or in fact anything you wish related to the course - rather than sending us emails. That way we can build a shared repository of useful questions/answers (you can of course still send us emails, but consider first whether you can post things here instead).

Piazza Course Page

Tentative Schedule

WeekLecture (Tue)Lab (Wed)Lecture (Thur) Due
01 (JAN 13-19) Chapter 1: Introduction "LAB1: Ogre Startup Sequence" Chapter 2: Tools
02 (JAN 20-26) Chapter 7: Game Loop and Time (A)
+ Ogre 3D
"LAB2: Making a scene" Chapter 7: Game Loop and Time (B)
+ Engine Review
03 (JAN 27-02) Chapter 4: 3D Math for Games "LAB3: Applying Math" Chapter 5: Engine Support Systems PROB1
04 (FEB 03-09) Chapter 6: Resources "LAB4: Resources" Chapter 3: Software Engineering (A)
05 (FEB 10-16) Chapter 3: Software Engineering (B) Problem Set 1 Review Engine Presentations PRESENT
06 (FEB 17-23) Chapter 8: Human Interface Devices "LAB5: Human Interface Devices" No Class
07 (FEB 24-02) Chapter 10: Rendering (A) "LAB6: Scene Graph" Chapter 10: Rendering (B)
08 (MAR 03-09) Chapter 10: Shader Programming (A) "LAB7: Programmable Shaders" Chapter 10: Shader Programming (B) PROB2
09 (MAR 10-16) Guests: Svanhvít + Jon
CCP Tech Artists
"LAB8: Particle Systems" Chapter 14: Gameplay Foundation Systems
10 (MAR 17-23) Guests: Steve + Logi
CCP Graphics Programmers
Final Status Meetings Guest: Patrick
CCP Engine Expert
11 (MAR 24-30) Guest: Harri
Atomstation Networking Expert
"LAB9: Physics Optional"
Final Project Work
Guest: Claudio Pedica
Gagarín Animation and AI Expert
12 (MAR 31-06) Exam Review Final Project Work Final Demos PROJECT


Please note that there is a 70% attendance requirement. You must pass this attendance limit in order to take the exam. Please inform the instructor if this is hard for you for some reason such as scheduling conflicts or sick leave.

Participation Grade

Participation grade will be based on: (1) Attendance, (2) Completing lab projects, (3) Participation in online discussion. To the extent possible, this will also be based on how actively the student participates in in-class discussion (based on instructor's subjective assessment).

The base participation grade will be calculated as 10 * (0.5*(Labs_completed/8) + 0.5*(Portion of lectures attended)). The teacher can then add possible bonus points to this base grade based on optional lab points or a subjective evaluation of the student's participation throughout the semester (into which the online discussion may factor).


Part of CourseTotal Weight
Participation 5%
Lab Work 5%
Problem Sets 15%
Engine Presentation 10%
Final Project 35%
Final Written Exam 30%
Total 100%
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