Video Game Development
12 Computer science game project ideas
Most high school computer programming classes end in an ISP, ISU, or a science fair type of a design project. A good computer science project topic could be a challenge to come up with, though it usually ends up involving some video game ideas. So if you want to impress your friends, get a killer grade, or simply want to pass that programming course you were too late to drop – read on for suggestions.
Beginner video game project ideas
Vanilla flavoured, basic game ideas – classic, easy to make, perfect to get that project over with:
- Tic Tac Toe – easiest way out, especially with Java or Visual Basic. Drag and drop a few buttons into a form, have players take turns clicking on them, and add a few if statements to check for wins. Start to finish in 30 minutes of work, just grab your laptop to that washroom break upon the realization that the due date is today.
- Pong – another easy project idea. Being one of the first video games made, today’s technology clearly requires minimal programming on your part. Bounce the ball around, and possibly add a couple more if statements than in the previous title. Watch out for the keyboard input, that could be new.
- Who wants to be a millionaire? – or any other flavour of a quiz game. It could be simple, fully text based, and it’s arguably the only educational game on the block. The trick is to write a function to read all the questions from a datafile, instead of copying the same blocks of source code all over the place. Remember, it’s a game with 15 questions, not 15 “one question” games stuck together.
Intermediate computer programming projects
Chocolate flavour – common ideas that are still popular. You should probably consider one of the following titles:
- Pacman – an icon of a video game, this programming project is going to be “choose your own adventure” style. The wall collision might be tricky at first, but there are plenty of approaches to try: reading colour information off screen, math, tile maps… You could totally get away with just letting the ghosts run around in random directions, smacking against the walls (because you got that collision detection working, right?), but if you are interested and have enough time – each ghost could have a unique AI, just like in the original game.
- Tetris – you are the master of arrays, and know how to figure out if there’s enough space under a block to continue falling. That’s about it really. Your code ninja skills can further be sharpened with graphic effects, combo points schemes, and having your computer scream TETRIS! when that long stick comes at just the right time.
- Bomberman clone – another fun idea. Your friends from the Beginner Projects will gladly start testing bugs out as soon as you get that multiplayer working. Idea is very similar to that in Pacman, but it’s 42% more fun when you have power ups! Super Power Glove!. Just don’t scream “bomb” in class, it could be taken the wrong way…
Advanced computer science project topics
This is the Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chips Frappucino Blended Creme type of a game design project, with a cherry on top.
- Mario clone – meaning a platformer. Kind of like Bomberman, but you broke out of a confined box. More space = more possibilities. You get to attempt to catch that scrolling screen’s edge. You get to jump. You get to jump on your enemies’ heads! Well actually you could still keep all those bombs and powerups to mix the gameplay up a bit and make it unique.
- Overhead shooter – technically another platformer programming project, but turned on its side and with more firepower. It could be shoot-em-up, down, or sideways style. Mario has gotten a jet fighter, in futile hopes of taking a shortcut to another castle. Now it’s kind of like Tetris, but falling boxes have been replaced with moving tanks… or shiny polygons. Think Supersize! Think ridiculously overpowered upgrades with stunning graphical effects. Now that’s a project.
- RPG – if you hate your life (and some apparently do), this obviously final year attempt at video game programming glory is likely to end badly. The game engine itself is often fairly spread out (world travel, town travel, shops, fights, etc) and requires an ungodly amount of effort. That leaves you with practically no time to design any plot or story for this project. Though some students chose to concentrate on a limited part of the game, putting together a demo segment to salvage such game design project into something more presentable.
Best computer project examples
Your rolled a 20 and looted the science fair prize money. Your game’s exceptional design is executed with computer engineering level of precision. Your uber attention to detail highlights
how little time you have outside this computer project extensive knowledge of video game development.
- Adam Bielinski’s Forces is fun and unique. Part physics, part shooter, part powerups offers simple by addictive play. Was a featured game on the Great Games Experiment. Developed with Turing programming language.
- Mazer’s Evasive Maneuvers is a very polished, multiplayer type of a space shooter. Upgrades, powerups, special weapons and abilities. In an attempt to score bonus project points, a special spaceship was designed to be unlocked just by the teacher, but I think the school had some rule about project marks being capped at 100%. Developed with Turing programming language.
- Celestial Conquest is a MMORPG game in development by Robert Taylor and James McLean. Clearly an overkill for any high school computer class, it is also exceedingly fun to play with classmates. And yes, just like any other RPG student project, it doesn’t have a story line. Also developed with Turing programming language.
Pick an appropriate difficulty level to keep things interesting. Remember, it definitely helps to plan ahead. Get something basic working first, then start adding more features. Simple game’s source code could always be extended to make it more interesting, but if you end up with a mess of a complicated project – you’re in trouble. Finally, if you are ever stuck – seek help and tutorials, there are many resources available online.
Think you have a better idea for a computer science project (doesn’t really have to be a video game)? Share in the comments!