CS10 Midterm Project Specification

The Goal of this Project

The goal of this assignment is to give you some experience with developing reasonably complex applications. Your experience with programming so far has been limited mainly to shorter labs and homework assignments; this project will instead span over the course of three weeks. Whether you realize it or not, you've gained a huge amount of knowledge about programming over the course of the semester. This project is designed to let you use all of this new knowledge to produce something that is interesting, useful, and challenging for you.

We want to unleash your creativity as much as possible, so the purpose of your project will really be up to you (as well as up to two other people).

Important Dates

Wed, October 6 Project proposal lab
Fri, October 8 Project proposal due
Wed, October 13 Project work in lab
Fri, October 15 Project progress report due
Fri, October 22 Project due

Project Proposal

This document should be two or three paragraphs that describes the overarching purpose of your project. Is it a game? A utility? A sound-based application? After describing the main purpose, discuss the "scope" of the project: the types of things users will and will not be able to do with it. This can include a basic plot line for a game or movie, a list of options for a utility, and so on.

This is generally a non-technical document and should describe big ideas more than a description of how it will be done.

Project Progress Report

This document should be around a page or two depending on the complexity of the project. You should describe what progress you have made towards completing your project -- among other things, we would like you to talk about:

This should be a reasonably technical document. Feel free to talk about particular blocks if it helps you communicate your solution. Briefly discussing your algorithm for particularly complex problems is welcome as well.

Project Submission

The official deadline for the project is Friday, October 22, 2010 at 11:59PM: a minute before midnight. You will submit your project on bSpace. Also, with your project, please turn in a file named README: this is a document (we recommend PDF documents) that is essentially a manual for your code. The README is directed to any user who is looking at your project for the first time and wants to know what the project is about, how to interface with the project, and what the various lists, scores, and figures mean. It shouldn't be too long: around 1 to 2 pages (ignoring pictures) will be fine. You can sprinkle your document with pictures, if you think that these pictures will explain better. (After all, a picture is worth ... what is it? A thousand bytes?)

Also, in your README, talk about what the significant programming components of your project are. For example, how did you partition your work between sprites and blocks? What can each sprite do and respond to, and what are the major blocks in your project? What are the major lists and what are their purposes? In short, talk about how your project works on an abstract level, in terms of programming components working with each other: you don't need to go into specifics.

Finally, submit a document called Partners that contains only the names of the people in your project group. Only one person needs to submit the project.

Some of your projects may be huge in terms of file size. We recommend that, before you turn in your project, you use the Compress Sounds and Compress Images options in the Edit menu to reduce the file size. The sound quality should be Normal or Low, and the image quality should be 60.


  1. There must be a clear way to start your program. Using the green flag is the recommended approach.
  2. If you create a game, it has to be a game with a purpose, in the broadest sense of the term. It could be a training game, or an educational game, or one to test an HCI question you want to answer (e.g., whether it's more efficient to use the QWERTY keyboard versus the DVORAK keyboard), or for some other purpose. It can't be just for entertainment purposes.
  3. "Style" points will be awarded for things like well-commented and nicely structured code. Poor structure can include things like duplicated code, needlessly complicated organization or program flow, etc.
  4. Create some of your own blocks.
  5. Use lists in your project in some way.
  6. You cannot work alone, but can either work in pairs or groups of three. Expectations will be higher for larger groups.


Project proposals   5 pts
Specification 10 pts
Meeting your specification 20 pts
Style 10 pts
Meets all requirements 15 pts
Total 60 pts

Other projects

Please don't use another person's project to start creating your own -- we want you to start from scratch (pardon the pun). Nevertheless, getting inspiration from other projects, programs, etc. is encouraged. Here are some Scratch projects that may be good for generating ideas.


http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/hippiegirl/497628 (good for basic game-making ideas)











  1. Remember that you have slip days! At the beginning of the semester, we gave you three slip days for homework and projects, which means that you can use these slip days to work on your projects beyond the deadline, without detriment to your project grade. However, these slip days are cumulative: this means that for all the assignments in this semester, you can only use a total of three slip days. Also, these are slip days and not slip hours: if you use the first few hours of a specific slip day, we will assume that you have used the whole slip day. Finally, since you are working in groups (you are, right?), the slip days don't accumulate: you have as many slip days as a group as the maximum of the slip days of the people in the group. We recommend that you use at most one slip day for this project, since you have a paper and a final project to work on.
  2. As you work through your projects, we ask that you comment your code to make it easier for us to grade, and also to make it easier for any person who wants to know how your code works.
  3. Please save copies of your projects frequently. In particular, if you think that your project is at a stable state, save a backup copy elsewhere, before you make any substantial changes to it. This will allow you to "roll back" to a stable copy of your project if you make a substantial buggy change.

A Word of Warning

Getting to design projects of your own can be exciting, and it is very easy to underestimate how long it will take to accomplish a particular goal. Remember: although Jon and Luke will be happy to help you bring your idea to life, you won't have lab-like guidelines for making this happen. It may take a lot longer to make your project than you think!

That being said, don't hold back if you think you can make something truly grand. We're here to help you if you've got an idea that you love.