Game Programming In School

How mainstream is the science of game programming becoming?

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#1 MadPlumber  Icon User is offline

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Game Programming In School

Post icon  Posted 28 July 2007 - 10:35 AM

Is game programming a science they teach at your school or college? What is their methodology? What has been the success of its inclusion into the curriculum?

I was amazed to have seen the course offered at my community college and had to immediately speak with the CIS professor who was teaching it as to what it was all about. After showing me demos of a caveman sprite running across the screen and first-person tank program of sorts, I was sold on the course.

I attended the course for the first-ever time it was taught at the school. Harbour's "Beginning Game Programming" paperback was somewhat the template for how the course was taught. The instructor pointed out several errors in the code written in the book and provided his own corrected code on the college's server. I should note that it has been my experience with this professor that I have not need to use books for thorough reading but rather for occasional reference, and it is somewhat my chagrin that I didn't use Harbour's book as much of a reference either.

For the first one or two classes, we discussed our favorite video games and some of the principles behind video games as we watched a demonstration of a few popular games on the projector via a Super NES emulator.

Next came my favorite part of the course: seeing student projects from another school! It was a laugh riot seeing the amateur quality of these games. In my head, I was thinking: these guys are chumps! I can make better games than that! No flies will be on me!

The course would then be taught in much of the order of the Harbour book, demonstrating the blitting of a bitmap on the screen, blitting in various positions, accepting inputs, loading sounds, timing, and whatnot. The code for utilizing these DirectX tools is complicated. It's really hard to tell sometimes what each element of the code exactily does for what's going on on the screen.

As you go through the class, you shed your original misconceptions of what was being taught and what your tools actually provide. One thing to know is that game programming teaches you nothing new about programming. It provides you with a set of tools to utilize the graphical capacities of DirectX. Everything else is up to you.

By the time you get to the mid-term project, you end up taking a big dose of humble pie as you realize it's hard to make a killer game all by yourself and the project you turn in doesn't look that much more impressive than those other projects you mocked. Do not worry; you are not graded harshly if your game sucks (even though that's how it works in real life).

It is important to be inquisitive and to entertain your interests. I was highly interested in tiled video games and had developed functions for drawing a tiled map on the screen.

We never got to any of the three-dimensional material at the end chapters of Harbour's book. Rather, the last portion of the course was spent on producing the final project. And it would still be my disappointment that my game would still be grossly amateurish.

Computer Science II was the prerequisite for taking the course. I had taken that course, but I unfortunately had not remembered any of the elements that that particular course taught, especially the object-oriented programming portion of the course. Knowing the paradigm of object-oriented program helps tremendously in the science of game programming, but do not feel you need to know it to take this course. Still, it is a useful paradigm that you should adopt as it has helped me tremendously.

After I had finished the course, I produced my own project outside of the class, probably taking a few months. After having gone through the rigors of using DirectX alone, now I am learning to use other libraries, such as Allegro, in the development of my own engines and games.

Thanks for visiting and please share your own experiences!

This post has been edited by MadPlumber: 28 July 2007 - 10:42 AM


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#2 skyhawk133  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 28 July 2007 - 10:39 AM

Great Topic! Featured on the homepage.

The school I went to offers a game programming class but I have not taken it myself.

I'm also curious to hear what others experience have been with game programming in an academic setting.
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#3 Nova Dragoon  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 28 July 2007 - 01:37 PM

I had a 400 level Computer Graphics course in college, where you could make a game for your project, and had to make one for the midterm project. That class was completely focused on the graphics though, color theory, matrix math, 3d and 2d math, then openGL and its subsystems.

While graphics are a big part of a game, you also need sound, input handling, algorithms, AI. Many facets of computer programming and science that people overlook.
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#4 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 29 July 2007 - 12:00 PM

Everything you mentioned in that course I taught myself long ago when I was 14 (DirectX graphics sound input, game design (age 13), Windows API needed for games). It feels like yesterday but I don't realize that it was over 6 years ago that I started to teach myself programming. Most kids that age don't even know how to move the mouse let alone write some game engines/video games. If you read one of my log entires (some folks call it a blog but that name sucks) you'll see that I can teach myself the art of game design no further, I can only practice to increase my skill (which I love to do).

I'm taking a generic Computer Science degree, and since I must declare a minor, I will minor in Graphic Design. I will use college to further my programming skill and graphic design skills to keep up with my game design skill. Plumber, the course you described sounds like the only course I've heard of that didn't make me sick. From commercials that glaze over the fact that it is hard work to courses with teachers who put the evil idea that video games are very similar to movies and that they should be designed as such (the latter REALLY makes me sick because video games are toys and not movies). At least I feel assured that a new video game creator such as yourself will not be tainted by those evil views. You see video games are hard work and that they need to be fun like those old SNES classics you saw.

Personally I think everyone should learn game design all on their own. That is the best way since everyone will have their own style of game design, and it's easy to learn but difficult to master. All the other stuff Nova mentioned have a direct link to the quality of game play (except sound and graphics, they only hurt the gameplay if they hinder it somehow such as making rooms that are too dark or using repetitive stock sounds everyones heard a billion times).

On a side note a game that is 2D doesn't make it ametureish. Take a look at CaveStory as an example. The author used even an old 2D interface (on purpose, he was capable of using 3D even) to write it but the game itself doesn't look ameturish as it shows an example of good game design. I may even write Weaponsoul eventually in 2D, but I am not sure.

This post has been edited by WolfCoder: 29 July 2007 - 12:18 PM

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#5 Topher84  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:35 AM

The college i attend is offering several game programming (3D) classes for electives and are from what i am hearing, thinking about offering some form of BS game programming comp sci degree. In my opinion it would seem better to get a degree or well rounded knowledge of a language before I would dive into programming a game w/ APIs/IDEs. It does sound like you had a pretty nice experience and i'd like to have done that too! sounds fun!
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#6 k.sangeeth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 02 August 2007 - 03:07 AM

In school it is quite better for students to be allowed to play games and not teach the science of it. After all not everyone is concerned/interested to always know why or how!!
It is a specialist branch and should only be pursued if one is keen to learn more about it.
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#7 BrainStew  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:52 AM

I took a Windows programming course at the end of my computer engineer diploma where the final project took up half a semester and involved building a video game.

In a group of 3, we created a 3d game using .Net and DirectX. The teacher also suggested another free engine availible form a German programmer, but being the cocky dorks we are, decided to not use it. Well looking back the engine would have been alot easier then jsut using the directx sdks, but it was a better learning experience.

The game was supported by a server which allowed 4 people to join and duke it out in tanks, ships or whatever else you wanted. We used cars in a metal gear solid theme.

This course was ALOT of work, but totally fun. The project turned out pretty awesome Tthere was an optional graphics design course aswell at night to help with textures and x files, etc.

I'm still impressed we made a game that worked well in .Net. It was an awesome course and improved my skills at researching topics. Plus knowledge of sockets in .Net greatly increased.

In conclusion, if they offer a game design course in your school, take it while you can. It will be alot of work, but still really fun.
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#8 C++FTW  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 12 August 2007 - 09:52 PM

When i was in highschool i took a class at a community college, it was introduction to Maya....Maya 190....my teachers worked for disney....although they just focussed on animation and sound ....we didn't do any Mel scripting /sigh .....anyways just thought id tell mah story...btw MAYA FTW .....i guess not as much for games but...its the best for animations IMO...3dsmax for games!
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#9 gmg13  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 16 August 2007 - 03:45 AM

hi
im 13.5 and am looking into creating a simple 2d (motocross) game ,prefubly running on java.
i ,as yet do not know any programing langs ,but i want to learn .does anyone have any tips on how to get started ?
thanks ldz . :^:
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#10 Topher84  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 16 August 2007 - 08:35 AM

View Postgmg13, on 16 Aug, 2007 - 03:45 AM, said:

hi
im 13.5 and am looking into creating a simple 2d (motocross) game ,prefubly running on java.
i ,as yet do not know any programing langs ,but i want to learn .does anyone have any tips on how to get started ?
thanks ldz . :^:


Wow you just murdered the english language there... :crazy:

There are plenty of books you can snag at the bookstore which teach 2-D programming that come w/ a CD that has everything that you would need. Alternatively if you google game programming you should get plenty of references!
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#11 skyhawk133  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 16 August 2007 - 08:38 AM

View Postgmg13, on 16 Aug, 2007 - 04:45 AM, said:

hi
im 13.5 and am looking into creating a simple 2d (motocross) game ,prefubly running on java.
i ,as yet do not know any programing langs ,but i want to learn .does anyone have any tips on how to get started ?
thanks ldz . :^:


Learn java, then learn how to make a game. Don't try to learn both at the same time.
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#12 Soundwave  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 17 August 2007 - 09:19 AM

I took an 18 month program in 'Visual Game Programming' from the Art Institute. They make a very good sale with all of their demos and the fact that you are in a school with Artists and Game Designers. The final is a culmination of all three courses combined into one group project. Designers, Artists, and Programmers are all put together and have 6 months to build a game project on a Demo size scale. A couple of levels, functionality, and lots of art. Sounds great right?

Well, not so much. Their idea of "what the industry wants" and what the industry actually wants is quite skewed. They start off teaching you the basics of C++ in an 11 week course. The next 11 weeks you're provided with Advanced C++ basing most of their educating on OOP. You're taking 5 classes a week. 5 classes a week x 4 hours a class x 11 weeks a semester. That's a'lot of programming!
The shame of it is, they make you take intro to MAYA modeling, Game Design, Story Telling, and Art History. This is just your first 11 weeks. They keep piling on more art related courses because "the knowledge is what makes our students key in the industry." Well, surprise surprise when I got my new job that the industry couldn't give a flying rat's ass if you know Art History. Game companies, like the one I work for, want Software Engineers. Not 'coders'. Far too many people are taking these courses and are expected to take out of them more then they are taught. Now, I agree that this is a very good method of learning, spending your own time looking into what you're already being taught and beyond. When you have 4 other non programming related courses, doesn't make that very easy. You only have so many hours in a day to do what you can. I regret the mistake I made going to the Art Institute and taking their Visual Game Programming course because I'm in worse shape now in my industry than I was when I could barely program before.

My advice is to be very careful about what courses you take and the direction of the lessons that are given to you. I've learnt this lesson hard and that's why I'm here trying to elevate my programming level as best I can.
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#13 Topher84  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 17 August 2007 - 10:57 AM

Wow.. that is a lot of programming... If anyone calls themselves a software engineer that is laughable as there is no such thing. There is no "defined engineering" process/standard in coding and therefore cannot be called an engineering field. Its just like saying a Janitor is a Janitorial Enginner :) Grats on finishing the course and getting a job.. which company did you get on with?
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#14 Soundwave  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:21 AM

Electronic Arts Canada. I'm only doing QA right now though.
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#15 Israel  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Programming In School

Posted 17 August 2007 - 01:38 PM

Damn, my school sucks! No game programming, just VB, Java, & C++
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