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I am an adjunct professor at a technical College in South Carolina. I currently teach courses in .Net programming and Oracle PL/SQL. We’ve noticed an influx of students who want to learn more about computer programming and game development in particular. Their main interest stems from their experiences with video games. I am a pretty good programmer and have done some simple 2D games in the past.

Now I have been asked to look at possibly developing an "Intro to Game Programming". The state actually allows the topic to be covered as an accredited course, just hardly any of the schools offer or have faculty that can instruct in the class. So, I am looking for advice/resources on how to structure the class. My initial outline is the following.

I plan to use Visual Studio Express C# Edition with XNA Game Development. The XNA platform is very popular and allows a familiar environment for students and it is FREE! I am personally a fan of Torque, but my students will all have been introduced to Visual Studio (via prerequisites) by the time they take this class, and I believe Torque will incur extra fees for them if they want to take work home and work outside the lab. Keep it simple – Input with Controls, 2D side scrolling, character and object animation, pong type games, basic sound effects and simple collision detection problems. Being an Intro class and students having to learn C# as they go, I can’t see trying to make this too intensive.

So, now the heart of my question – has anyone done this? What is the best book to use to teach XNA in a class room setting?

Should we try to write from scratch at the very beginning or go with a basic working game and teach the parts and then have them modify and improve as the semester goes along?

I also feel I need to make it team oriented and make the teams compete with a final demonstration of their games to be voted/reviewed by random selection of students and faculty.

Also, does anyone know of a program/business partnership where I could possibly be lent or given free hardware to use? Over 90% of my students are full financial aid (Cheraw, SC is very economically depressed) so I need access to game controllers, etc. Also, the computers we currently have (and budgets keep getting trimmed ) currently run Windows XP and not looking to be upgraded for at least another 2 years. So an opportunity to borrow some higher end machines would be great along with maybe and Xbox 360!

Also, I am open to using a platform other XNA, but I don’t want to get technically deeper than XNA – therefore going straight against DirectX with C++ is out of question. Also, it has to be free at least for educational usage.

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I recommend checking out this offer from Unity. unity3d.com/education –  Noctrine Sep 17 '10 at 17:26
    
I am going to research the Unity3d platform this weekend... I hadn't even considered mobile development... but that may ever more practical and relevant... compared to PC/Console gaming. –  MDV2000 Sep 17 '10 at 18:30
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Unity is not restricted to mobile. –  dash-tom-bang Sep 17 '10 at 21:58
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I would suggest not using an engine what so ever. If you really want to teach the basics, camera control, input handling, game loop, collision detection, etc. You should actually have your students implement this stuff! Unity and even XNA abstract away all the nitty gritty details about these tops. Real collision detection is not as simple as adding a Capsule Collider component, sigh. –  David Young Sep 17 '10 at 22:19
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Instead of Visual C# Express Edition, consider using the full Visual Studio Professional 2010 (with XNA 4.0 of course). Students can get it free from Microsoft's Dreamspark site: dreamspark.com [sidenote, I'm getting a security error in Chrome but Firefox is fine; yes it's a real Microsoft site, I promise] –  Ricket Sep 18 '10 at 14:41
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closed as too broad by Byte56 Apr 3 at 18:30

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here is what I use in the class I teach: http://www.hipergames.com/palomar/CSIS240/textbook.html At Palomar College we are part of the Microsoft educational program which allows access to Visual Studio for free to faculty and students alike. Hope this helps! Alexander Ehrath

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For a classroom setting, I haven't come across any book in particular that I thought would be good to teach a course with, but I'm no teacher either. About writing from scratch or starting with a basic game...

I think you should absolutely start with a basic working game and teach the parts. Rank them so that you've got a good idea of which you want to focus on, and have the students rip out the parts and re-code them knowing what their purpose is, what they're trying to accomplish by improving the part, and how to test it properly. If it's team oriented, then different students can take over different parts of the game toward the end of the class and try to bring their modifications together.

As far as your equipment goes, I'd start at one of Microsoft's Education pages and see what you can find. Get in touch with a representative as soon as possible.

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The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has a suggested framework for game development curriculums.

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IDGA also has a games edu mailing list. –  deft_code Sep 20 '10 at 13:42
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While I was a student, I successfully petitioned to get an intro to game programming taught at my university, WSU. The course was taught by Scott Wallace, an associate professor at the Vancouver campus. Most of the students myself included took the class at WSU Pullman (the main campus) via video streaming.

The web pages from the classes are still up. I believe 2006 was the only year the class was taught on both campuses. It's been taught off and on at the Vancouver campus since 2004. Do some url hacking, their sites are still up.

Computer Game Design 2006

I'm sure Dr. Wallace would be willing to answer some questions and give some pointers about your own class. He may be willing to share his basic course template as a starting point.

Dr. Wallace did his graduate work at UMich under John Laird. His course is based on a similar course Dr. Laird teaches: Computer Game Design and Implementation.

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While doing a BS in CS at a California State University there was only one game development course which was group based where each group was to deliver a complete game from scratch in 10 weeks. Each group consisted of 4 programmers. This single game was worth 100% of the grade.

It was straight C++ and OpenGL with weekly deliveries from all groups. One of the hardest classes I've ever had but at the same time we learned everything about how game engines really work. Rarely do students learn this anymore since most are spoiled with engines or frameworks that abstract all the "hard" stuff away.

My professor published a paper about the class in 37th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference 2007

Student Teamwork: A Capstone Course in Game Programming

The game my group created
Images from my Portfolio
Video of the game from another teammate

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