One of the things that often makes Imagine Cup entries a good educational experience is that they require planning and team work. A good Imagine Cup entry is seldom a one person project. Many universities use the Imagine Cup, especially the Software Design event, as senior projects. The Game Event makes a great team project even earlier in ones education however. Pat Yongpradit has been using the Imagine Cup Game Design event as a group project for several years now. He’s had a team make it as far as the US Finals in that category. This is quite an accomplishment as most of the competitors are university students. Still, he has great students and is an outstanding teacher.  For the Fall round of the US game competition he has 8 teams of students who have entered and submitted for round one. Recently he shared some of the documents he uses with his students.

What I have copied below is the schedule and role breakdown that he is using this year. I would imagine that in many teams the work is not as strictly broken down as these but even there this document serves as a great description of what needs to be done and by when. Getting high school students to not wait until the last minute can be a challenge as any teacher or parent of high school students can readily attest. This means that making deadlines clear is critical as are intermediate status checks.

Pat is also having his students write reflections at the end of each phase. Each team member completes and individual reflection and the group as a whole does a second reflection in a discussion lead by the student manager. (I have copies of his Phase 1 reflections that Pat told me I could share with interested teachers. AlfredTh (at) Microsoft.com if interested) A number of teachers I have talked to over the years have found the goal of completing a big project for entry into a competition can serve as a good motivator for students. Adding the value of teamwork, planning and examination of the project/plan against results makes this a very complete learning experience. Maybe it will work for you as well? This is the year I really want to see a high school team not just do well at the US level (a HS team came in third in the US last year) but go all the way to the world-wide finals in Australia (this year’s venue.) If you decide to try this with your students (there is a new US round in the spring) let me know if I can help.

NOTE: some of the deadlines and schedules are a little different for the World-wide Imagine Cup. Also, the US Game Design entries do not automatically feed into the world-wide Game Design so US students will want to submit their entries to both using http://imaginecup.us and http://imaginecup.com

NOTE: Also IT students will want to check out the Imagine Cup IT Challenge which is an individual event and which challenges student’s knowledge of systems and network management.

Phase

Designer

Manager

Programmer

Artist

 

Phase 0: Sept 16th

Complete GDD for approved idea.

Storyboard.

 

Schedule: Deadlines per role, Meeting times.

Create team on site, team name, invite members.

Submit storyboard to site.

 

List of Concept Code to reflect main algorithms.

XNA research – videos, tutorials, books.

Storyboard, create team logo

Phase 1: Sept 30th

Physical Game

Play-by-play script or gameplay flowchart of first level

Group Reflection

Updated schedule

Online Group Calendar w/ long-term and short-term, person-specific deadlines

 

Concept Code for main algorithms.

Concept art: Screenshots for all major screen types

Phase 2: Oct. 7th

Submission video script

Level Designs and Progression

Sprite list

Help with Pseudocode

 

Updated schedule

Submission game summary

 

Complete code overview:

Pseudocode (UML Diagram, etc.)

Game Structure w/ all screens (rough)

Sprites, Sprite sheets, dummy graphics for everything else

Phase 3:  Prototype 1

Oct. 18th

Audio: Effects and Music picked

Updated team schedule

Created programming schedule

Schedule Check

Game works and 50% play

 

Backgrounds

 

Phase 4: Prototype 2

Nov. 1st

 

 

Play Test Descriptions, Measurements

Criteria for testing

Criteria for testing

Get testers

Set up testing schedule for testers

Audio: Effects and Music coded

100% gameplay

Game is “done”, ready for play testing

Title Screen, End Screens, Cut scenes, Pause screen

Phase 5: Testing

Nov. 4th

Areas for Improvement

Getting outside testers,

Assigned improvements, Game summary

Test run of submission to site

Algorithm testing, glitch testing

Tested graphics cohesion, impact, size, clarity

Code Release

Nov. 7th (deadline)

Video and summary

Submitted package to site

 

Level additions if possible

Clean and polished

 

Fixed all graphics

Polished