Long over due


Much to my shame this blog hasn’t been updated much. But then that’s the draw back of the job it tends to eat up a hell of a lot of your free time.

Since my rants about lack of support from the gaming industry, a whole rebellion about how computing is being taught in schools seems to be taking place. The main point is folks want programming back on the curriculum.

I have some pretty strong thoughts on this, and may express them at some time in the future. All I will say is that the college where I work, teaches coding on their BTEC National ICT Diploma. Specifically we teach Event Driven Programming (using C#), Object Orientated Programming (using C#), Video Game Production (using C# and XNA). So you can see our students do a bit of programming over the two years of the course.

But what has this all got to do with a gaming blog? Not much I’m just catching up with life the universe etc etc.

However I will bring this back to games etc. The second years got their first Video Game Production assignment this week. The assignment is to design a 2D game, that after Christmas they will start coding.

The scenario for the assignment(s) is that of a Game Jam, which the students are entering. The theme for the fictional Game Jam has been chosen as “Hit the switch”.

I went with the Game Jam idea and theme, to try and give students inspiration and ideas for their game. Oh and to hopefully cut down on the number of zombie games (which the previous years students had a a tendency towards). So often you hear students moan they can’t think of anything. Well I’m hoping that by giving them a theme it will inspire them creatively.

For this assignment the students have to produce the following documentation:

  • one pager
  • ten-pager
  • beat chart
  • class diagram

For examples of the three game design documents and a description of the documents look at the book Level Up! the Guide To Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers (which is an amazing book on game design).

The basic rules given to the students are as follows:

  • Must not break college rules
  • must be 2D
  • must be written using C#,XNA and Visual Studio 2010
  • must run on windows 7
  • no matter how loosely the game must be based on the theme
  • the beat chart must contain at least 3 levels

I’ve tied the Video Game Production unit with the OOP. If planned right, bar an assignment on theory the video game can be used for both units. hence why there is a requirement for a class diagram in this assignment.

The students if they want to attempt it have to produce an infographic that explains how the design and structure can aid in the maintenance and capacity for extension of their game. This is a distinction criteria, and I wanted the students to produce something different from an essay or leaflet.

So there you have it some info on the first assignment for the Video Game Production and OOP units.

Finally I am going to do the game design bit as well, and will produce my documents here, and present them to the students as further examples.

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