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

May, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    XNA For Zune Game Development Now In Beta


    The XNA team has announced that the Community Technical Preview of XNA GSE 3.0 is now available. The big news in this is that now it is possible to develop games for the Zune. So yes, now a handheld device that will play XNA based games. Check out the official announcement here for the details on what, where, when and how. Hey, just in time for something new for after the AP CS exam. :-)

    In related news, there is a demo of developing for the Zune on Channel 9 as well. Take a look here.

    Edit: More Zune XNA links at

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Class Programming Project Ideas


    It is often interesting what one finds by reviewing referral links (the information that shows how people get to a blog or web site). One of the sites I found last week was Vince Huston’s “Teaching Programming” page. Besides having a number of useful links (including one to my blog – thanks!) is a list of useful programming project ideas. Now some of the projects he lists are fairly well known (Towers of Hanoi for example) but some are less so. But there is added value on this site.

    First off, on the main page, he lists opportunities for each project – topics where the project fits into the curriculum in three areas:

    • Introductory opportunities
    • Data structure opportunities
    • Algorithm opportunities

    Also on the main page is a link to a write up for each project. Some of them are very detailed but all of them include screen images of possible solutions (sometimes both as console projects and windowed/GUI projects) and discussion/thinking points about possible solutions. He doesn’t have completed solutions available (that I saw – he might have if you contact him directly) but there is sample code in several of the write ups. He works mainly in C++ and Java but these projects should all work in Visual Basic .NET or C# just as easily. (And sure, lots of other languages. :-) )

    If you are looking for some projects to end the year or to add into next years plans these projects may be a place to start.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Getting Started Tutorials for Zune Game Development


    Well it hasn’t taken long for more people to jump on the XNA 3.0 Community Technical Preview that was announced last week. Sam Stokes has a blog post showing the step by step that one needs to take to get the software installed and ready to run. He’s got a lot of screen captures to really make it clear what is going on.

    Dan Waters who has cranked out a number of previous helpful videos and code samples does it again with his latest work. Here Dan posts a video introduction to creating a game for the Zune. The video can be downloaded as can the sample code that he uses in the demo itself. This may be a good way to jump start your own experimentation with programming games for the Zune.

    BTW if you are interested in seeing what high school students are doing in the way of creating XNA games, Brian Scarbeau has been posting video of his student’s work on his blog. It’s interesting to watch as they implement games in their own image as they test out the programming and game development knowledge that they have been learning this semester. It will be interesting to watch what they create as time goes on and their programming knowledge increases.

    Lastly, don't forget that the online forums for XNA are a great resource for getting questions answered and problems solved. I see discussion on programming for Zune devices there already.

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