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CCCC Game Programming and Design Certificate—Our Experience thus Far. Dr. Lewis Pulsipher Certificate devised by Bob Joyce and Mike Orsega Web site for this talk: PulsipherGames.com/teaching1.htm. My Goals Today. Our experiences with our game classes so far

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Cccc game programming and design certificate our experience thus far l.jpg

CCCC Game Programming and Design Certificate—Our Experience thus Far

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher

Certificate devised by Bob Joyce and Mike Orsega

Web site for this talk: PulsipherGames.com/teaching1.htm


My goals today l.jpg
My Goals Today

  • Our experiences with our game classes so far

  • What we did in our first game class

  • How our certificate is organized

  • Discuss the diversity of the industry—much more than video games

  • I am not going to talk about game programming per se -- nor about game engines etc.


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Who am I

  • Began playing commercial wargames in 1963

  • Played the original Atari 2600 and have played some PC games heavily, but rarely play any video games these days; never owned a game console

  • Designer of five commercially-published board wargames; next one forthcoming this August (Britannia Second Edition)

  • Active designer of board and card games (playtesters solicited!)

  • My main job is teaching networking, Internet Tech


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Courses in the Certificate

  • CSC 192 “Intro to Gaming” (“Topics” class) Fall

  • CSC 293 “Game-based Programming” (3 SCH) Spring

    • Students now programming original games in DarkBasic

  • GRA 151 Graphics in Gaming (2 credit hours) Spring

    • Students programming games in Flash

  • CSC 285 Programming Project Summer

  • CIS 115 (Intro to Prog); CSC 134 C++ Programming

  • MontE Christman, the game programming instructor, is talking about Flash programming on Friday


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“Intro to Gaming”

  • Two contact and credit hours; would be better with three or four contact hours

  • Two textbooks, one about game design, one about getting into the industry

    • Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design. New Riders; 1st edition (May 2003) 

    • Break Into The Game Industry: How to Get A Job Making Video Games by Ernest Adams. McGraw-Hill; 2003.

  • Students individually required to create preliminary design for a video game and write a “game treatment” for it

  • Students in groups required to design a prototype of a non-video game (board, card, etc.)

  • No programming required in this class


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Intro to Gaming--Goals

  • Make students aware that:

    • you cannot just take some classes and walk into a game industry job

    • most people making a living from games do not work on “Big-Time” off-the-shelf video games

    • programming is a small part of video game production

    • owing to supply and demand, game programming/ production is not a way to make much money

    • enthusiasm is required, but is just a start


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Intro to Gaming--Atmosphere

  • Essentially a literacy class, should be fun

  • Provide real-world examples whenever possible

    • Negotiation

    • Experience of designing published games

  • We did not play or look at video games

    • No time

    • Students already familiar with many games


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Gaming Community

  • Game and Computer Club

    • Play video games on the “big projector”

    • Playtest non-video games

    • No required participation

  • As with all clubs at non-residential colleges, requires a high critical mass of number of students—at present even CCCC isn’t large enough


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Marketing

  • First time around:

    • Flyers in local game shop

    • College Web site

    • Night section offered, no signups

    • 10 people in day version, almost all of them were already students (or graduates) of our department

  • Next time

    • Department Web site (computers.cccc.edu)

    • Much recruiting in high school classes


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Results

  • The programming-oriented students have continued to the next two classes

  • One of the boardgames produced was quite good, being played many times by the group

  • The computer game ideas tended to be quite derivative (sounded like lots of existing games), but that’s the nature of the entire video-game industry, little risk-taking


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Video Games

  • Many types, for example:

  • “Big-time” video games (both console and PC)

    • Sold in Best Buy, Babbages, Staples, and the like

    • Very visible but only a part of the industry

    • Console and PC games are quite different

    • Con’t forget handhelds

  • Online games

    • Not the massively multiplayer games, the “other” online games

    • Some for a charge, some for advertising

  • Small games on other devices—cell phones, PDAs, etc.


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“Big-time” Video Games

  • Console games are very different from PC games

    • I used to say “computer games”; now I say “video games”

  • Console games are simpler, less “intellectual”

    • consoles are underpowered

    • consoles market to teens/ “Gen Y”

    • consoles lack keyboards

    • the buyers don’t want intellectual games

  • Attitudes toward PC games from console gamers

    • Would rather play on a console!

    • Console game sales of same game are much larger (say from 3-1 to 10-1 ratio)


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Non-computer Games

  • Family boardgames

  • Board wargames

  • Traditional miniatures battles

  • Role-playing games (D&D etc.)

  • Specialized card game (CCG, TCG)

  • Specialized miniatures games (HeroClix)

  • Euro-style boardgames


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Family boardgames

  • Have a bad reputation among adults as most involve a lot of luck

  • Still sell much more than other kinds of boardgames

  • Examples:

    • Monopoly

    • Game of Life

    • Pachesi


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Board wargames

  • Conflict oriented strategic games, often historically based

  • 15,000 individual attendees each year at “Origins” convention (31st annual in Columbus OH, June 30-July 3, 2005) (includes non-video games of all kinds)

  • Tends to be the domain of middle-aged gamers these days

  • Examples:

    • Axis & Allies

    • Risk

    • Diplomacy

    • Britannia


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Traditional miniatures battles

  • Tactical table-top battle games

  • Mostly land-based

  • One inch miniatures most popular, but there are other scales

  • Painting and collecting often as important as playing


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Role-playing Games

  • Original commercial success was D&D, 1973-4

  • Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition hardcover book sales in the millions for the past five years

    • Many D&D related novels also published

  • Most major movie/book properties have an associated role-playing game

  • 50,000 person-days attendance at “GenCon”, Indianapolis, IN (next one August 05)


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Specialized card games

  • Usually collectible cards

  • Short game play, lots of tournaments, rules change over time

  • These are the biggest moneymakers in the USA after big-time video games

  • Examples:

    • Magic: The Gathering

    • Poke-mon, Yu-Gi-Oh

    • Games for most major book/movie properties such as Lord of the Rings


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Specialized miniatures

  • Many are pre-painted, “collectibles” with a game attached

  • Examples:

    • Heroclix

    • Heroscape

  • WarHammer and related baroque Games Workshop games are a separate high-revenue hobby

    • have their own retail store

    • attractive to teenagers


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Euro-style boardgames

  • Especially popular in Germany, where families play boardgames together every week

  • Can sell over a million copies, comparable to most PC games

  • “Family games on steroids”

    • Much more strategy, but still enough chance for the kids

    • Often somewhat abstract

    • A dislike of dice is very noticeable

  • Emphasis on appearance and tactile satisfaction

  • Examples

    • Settlers of Catan

    • Ticket to Ride


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Some Observations

  • The current generation (“Y” or “millenial”—up to 25 or 26 years old) really is different from earlier generations

  • It is hard for many of them to understand that they need to work at finding a place in the industry—it won’t “just happen” even if they are skilled programmers

  • Many tend to rely on trial and error, which is how they’ve learned to play video games

  • They are disinclined to read, preferring to see or hear (via computer, usually)

  • Prensky’s “Digital Immigrants” idea


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