Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

February, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Developing CS1/2 Programming Assignments on the XBOX 360


    I just found out that there is a special FREE pre-conference workshop on developing assignments for CS1/CS2 courses that use the Xbox 360 and XNA. If you are planning on attending SIGCSE (I'll be there!) and looking for a pre-conference workshop this might just be a good one if you have an interest in using game development to teach CS concepts.

    The announcement follows:

    ANNOUNCING FREE SIGCSE Pre-Conference Workshop
    Developing CS1/2 Programming Assignments on the XBOX 360 Console

    Prof. Kelvin Sung, Associate Professor of Computing and Software Systems, University of Washington (Bothell)

    Portland, OR – March 12, 2008

    The recent development and success of computer gaming classes and gaming-themed curricula are exciting and have demonstrated interesting potentials. However, for faculty members with no computer gaming or graphics background the outlook of adopting or developing games-related courseware materials may seem daunting. Our tutorial is designed specifically for these faculty members. Based on the recently released Microsoft XNA framework we will present a simple programming abstraction and guide participants in developing a simple 2D "Block Breaker" game. We will also demonstrate existing simple XNA-based game-themed assignments. All participants will have access to all source code and step-by-step development guides.  Further details and online registration here.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    After you win - now what?


    What happens after a team wins a software design/development competition? Well it looks good on a resume of course and you can talk about it on interviews but could there be more? Apparently there can be more. For a number of years Microsoft has been running a competition for college/university students around the world called the Imagine Cup. Several of the winners over the years have taken their projects and turned them into companies. This year Microsoft and British Telecom are sponsoring an event to help more of the winning teams to take their projects a step further with what they are calling the Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator.

    The Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator started on February 5th and will run until the 19th.  Six student teams will compete to produce innovative technologies in the field of education. Each team was a finalist at the 2007 Imagine Cup and has been invited to the Accelerator to build new functionality into their winning designs.

    Teams will be encouraged to think about commercial application of their solutions and include BT's next generation telecom services into their software. The teams are blogging about there experiences at here.

    From the announcement:

    These university students will get comprehensive training in what it takes to develop an idea from a concept into a business. After receiving in-depth guidance using Microsoft and BT platform and network assets, the teams will work to improve the software applications they created for the Imagine Cup World Finals in Korea. In addition, experts coach the students on running a startup business, developing a solid business plan, gaining venture capital, and bringing their concepts to market.

    The students maintain intellectual property rights over their projects and can create businesses from their concepts in their home country or gain venture capital funding elsewhere – the future of their dream is in their hands. The Innovation Accelerator program is designed to inspire new generations of students to apply their skills and creativity to make a difference, both globally and locally, through technology.

    The six teams participating in the 2008 Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator program are:

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    XNA, a Guitar Hero Guitar and a Game of Your Own


    Dan Waters is at it again. He's created a game and video taped the whole process in a series of 12 videos. Complete course code is available. Oh yeah, the game he created is call GuitarMatey and uses a Guitar Hero Guitar to play a game on your Xbox 360 (or Windows PC)

    About GuitarMatey

    GuitarMatey is a 3D game for the Xbox that allows you to improvise guitar music with the accompaniment of a backing track. Five pirates dance for you as you play the game. While GuitarMatey lacks a real objective or purpose, it is perfect to help you learn about developing 3D games for free using XNA and our partner tools. 

    Learning how to build GuitarMatey will teach you:

    • How to build a simple 3D model in SOFTIMAGE|XSI Mod Tool
    • How to build a more complex skinned, rigged & animated character model in SOFTIMAGE|XSI Mod Tool for use in an XNA game
    • Project setup for XNA and XSI projects
    • Pipeline & workflow between XSI and XNA 
    • How to animate a skinned XSI model in XNA using the XNAXSIRuntime library provided for free by SOFTIMAGE
    • How to creating and managing sound and audio using the DirectX XACT tool
    • How to handle input from the controller
    • How to prep an XNA PC game for XBOX 360
    • How to deploy an XNA game to the Xbox through the Creators Club
    • And many, many nuances and "gotchas" that will help make your development experience 1000% smoother

    Full details and links to the videos may be found here.

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