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Class logo:  Broadway (2007)


Comp 460

Advanced computer gaming







Overview      Comp 460      Hall of Fame     Class information




Computer gaming is a vibrant multi-billion dollar industry that offers exciting career opportunities for computer scientists as well as visual artists.  The Rice Computer Science department and Pi Studios, a local computer game company (best known for their work on the Call of Dutyseries) are offering a full-year program designed to expose Rice students to the theory and practice of computer game creation.  This first class, Comp 160, is designed to provide a hands-on introduction to the basic math and programming skills necessary to build computer games.  In the last part of Comp 160, student groups will have the opportunity to construct a prototype of an Xbox 360 game of their own design and pitch their game concept to a fall jury consisting of the instructor and two members of Pi Studios.  


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Concept art from Bomberman 3D (2005)
With the approval of the jury, student groups may then take Comp 460 (Advanced computer game creation) in the spring.  In Comp 460, each group will add one or two Visual Arts students and develop a refined version of their proposed game that includes in-game art and a complete user interface.  At the end of the semester, each group will demo their games for a spring jury consisting of three members of Pi Studios including John Faulkenbury, Pi Studio’s Creative Director.   For Visual Arts students interested in taking Comp 460 as the Visual Arts elective Arts 460, please contact jwarren@rice.edu for more information.


Finally, at the discretion of the spring jury, some student groups may then be invited to continue work on their games, mentored by members of PI Studios during the following summer.  This mentoring may lead to the game being eventually submitted to an independent games festival such as the IGF, an internship for the students at PI Studios or, in a few cases, the game being pitched by PI Studios to Microsoft for release on Xbox Live Arcade

Comp 460

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Logo and screen shot from Beasts (2002)
Click here for a low-res video clip or here for a high-res one

In Comp 460, students design and build full-scale computer games based game proposals generated at the end of the previous semester.  For students taking Comp 160, building these proposals is part of their class work.  For other students who wish to participate in Comp 460 (such upper level CS students or Visual Arts students), please contact Joe Warren the week before Thanksgiving to begin the process of meeting other 460 students and putting together a viable game proposal for Comp 460.


In Comp 460, students will usually work in groups of 2-4 with a mixed of CS students and Visual Arts students.  Class time consists of the student group’s meeting to work on their game.  This work may consist of designing the game, building art, writing code, debugging and play testing.  There are three distinct milestones in the class:


  • Game pitch – Student groups present a pitch for their game to representatives of PI Studios during the first week of class.  This pitch usually consists of concept art and perhaps a simple playable demo built over Christmas.  These representatives give feedback in terms estimating the feasibility of building the full game and how similar the pitched games might be to other games.
  • Mid-term demo – Students spend the first half of the semester building a working prototype of their game.  The week after spring break student groups will demo their games for representatives from PI Studios and receive feedback on how to proceed with their game development for the second half of the semester.
  • Final demo – Each student group will give a formal presentation to a jury consisting members of PI Studios and other local game development companies.  This presentation will include a final pitch sheet and a complete, playable version of the game.


Based on the opinion of the jury, some students will be offered a chance to work as interns at PI Studios to continue development of their games.  During the summer, the focus will be on adding a professional look-and-feel to the game and bringing the game to state where it is suitable to be pitched to Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade.


Hall of Fame


Spring 2006 and earlier


Spring 2007 – Harebrained (video)

  • Sarah McGee (interned at PI Studios summer 2007, graduated Rice 2008, interned at Lucas Arts summer 2008, currently Master’s Student at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center)
  • John McGee (graduated Rice 2008, currently working at PI Studios)


Spring 2008 – Zenith (video)

  • Yuan Gao (exchange student at Rice for 2007-2008, interned at PI Studios summer 2008, finishing undergraduate degree at Tsinghua University in China)
  • Tamisha Anthony (graduated Rice 2008, currently working at PI Studios)


Spring 2008 – Quill Lords

  • Brian Shields (interned as at PI Studios summer 2008, currently sophomore at Rice)
  • Derek Sessions (graduated Rice 2008, current working for Microsoft)
  • Travis McPhail (currently Ph.D. student in Rice CS department)



Class information


Comp 460 is one of three upper-level computer science classes that satisfy the Engineering design requirement for Computer Science BS degrees.


Prerequisites:  Enrollment in Comp 160 the previous fall or permission of the instructor


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Rabbit from Harebrained (2007)

Time and Location:  M 2-4, W F 3-4 Symonds II


Class materials:  USB-compatible wired Xbox controller, Xbox Live account



Joe Warren

Duncan 3114




Teaching assistant: 

Po-wei Feng



Lab assistants:

            Brian Shields